Centro Cultural Sotz'ilJay
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Miércoles, 18 de Julio de 2012 13:33
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Centro Cultural Sotz'il Jay

Centro Cultural Sotz’il Jay

Ruk’u’x qasamaj jari’ ruyakik ri maya’ b’onab’äl chi ntz’etetäj chi ojk’äs…­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

Our reason to be is to reivindicate the Maya to show them we exist.

L.L. Guarcax

Centro Cultural Sotz´il Jay is a youth organization devoted to research, to education on mayan arts and it´s promotion.

¿Why “Home of the Bat” or Sotz’il Jay? Sotz’il’ is a mayan-kaqchikel term that means “Bat”. On the Memorial de Sololá (Sacred mayan document) is written that the Bat is a kaqchikel people´s totem.  Besides  ‘Ajposotz’il Jay’ or ”Bat´s home” is the lineage that led the kaqchikel people at the city-fortress of Iximché (Tecpán) until the invasion of the Spaniards back in 1524.  Nowadays, the vernacular jacket of Sololá carries an stylized Bat figure on the back and sleeves, a legacy of our ancestors that the Group embraces, naming ourselves: “Centro Cultural Sotz’il Jay” o Grupo Sotz’il.

El Centro Cultural Sotz’il Jay o Grupo Sotz’il was born in the year 2001 at a town called El Tablón located in Sololá (Tz’olojya’) around the Guatemalan highlands. Is one of the communities with a majority of Guatemalan indigenous people among it´s population (Iximulew), also it belongs to the ethno-linguistic group called kaqchikel consisting on almost a million people and is the 3rd most spoken language among the Maya o Mayab’ Tinamit. 

At the beginning we started a little bit like a game, promoting cultural afternoons, newspapers, murals, sports days.  Little by Little we noticed how much a taste of music and the will to learn how to play instruments united us, and to make of it an original proposal from El Tablón. This way Lisandro proposed that it should be a musical band from the culture, so we started looking among the community´s elder people who played and wrote music with any instrument.

That way we gathered with them, the elder who knew ancient melodies and played instruments, also tried to get to know the essence of dance under the Maya Vision.  Self taught teachers who where teaching us how to play these instruments and certain melodies.

From what we learned we started to experiment in the making of instruments, weave design, writing music, asking to neighbors.  Then we acquired other ancient instruments: snail shells used in sheepherding, tun and Cofradía Drum, flutes, chirimías, masks, rods and crosier and ancient weave.

Having all that together, we started having a music repertoire and some dances, mainly son and dances based on traditions like: planting, harvesting, collecting water.  The first music-dance proposal that we made was called Nacimiento de Jun Ajpu’ e Ixb’alamkej. (Birth of Jun Ajpu´ e Ixb´alambkej)

Our mission:

To be spokesmen and women of the Mayan ancestral wisdom to the new generations, strengthening maya-kaquchikel culture.

Association’s goals:

To promote cultural development and native artResearch, recovery, creation and drive to the culture and maya-kaqchikel art.To establish links among other cultures of other countries worldwide.

Man jumul nqatzäq kik’ix ri gati’it qamama’ chuqa’ qatinamit

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Never to embarrass the grandparents, nor the community

L. L. Guarcax

Many of the group members are family related: brothers and cousins; our grandfather D. Anastasio Guarcax y Guarcax, was a great leader who worked hard for the community development. He chose his youngest son (same name) to help him out at the meetings and transactions that he use to do, so he ended up turning into a strong community promoter for several actions.   This way, our parents and uncles realized that there was a vindictive sense in what they accomplished, they realized that the rural indigenous population also had rights that hadn´t been respected. 

That´s how us, as a new generation and founders of the Cultural Center, feel restlessness following their example, that legacy of planting a seed for the community from within.

To be able to get to know up close the maya-kaqchikel social and political organization, some of us merged to the Cofradía de El Tablón: an organization that shows a strong syncretism with catholic church but also a good source of music, dance, cultural values of the maya and socio political organization.   At the same time we started making contact with Spiritual Guides (Ajq´ija´) when we discovered that someone knew a melody, played an instrument or build it (drums and flutes) made weave design or knew a story from our town we approached to learn from them all.

Of our elder we learned music with Francisco Cuy Yaxón, Valeriano Jiatz, Silvestre Meletz, Lucio Meletz; dance from the Cofradías de Tecpán, from El Tablón and from the Indigenous people Municipality; weaving from Elsa Jiatz and Nan Santa.  We also discovered that music and dance, without spirituality makes no sense, so then we approached to La Gran Confederación de Consejos Principales Ajquij´ab, Chimaltenango (Spiritual Authorities Board of the Maya); we also learned from Spiritual Guides from Sololá: Francisca González Julaluj (also a midwife), Sandra Xoquic, Felipe García, Santiago Tzapinel, and from other places: Mario Morales Ventura, Tzunum Balam.

Our history is also written on the sacred books, temples and museums, so we turn into these and continue to do so to the date, since there is where we can find the voice of our ancestors. The uppermost would be: Pop Wuj, Chilam Balam, Anales de los Kaqchikeles, Rabinal Achí, Historia de los Xpantzay de Tecpán Guatemala, Códices de Dresde and Madrid. We learned also from the Europeans that have been in our land since the 16th century: Brevísima Relación de la Destrucción de las Indias de Fray Bartolomé de las Casas y Relación de las cosas de Yucatán de Diego de Landa.

All this deep research work about our roots led us to visit archeological places such as: Tikal, Quiriguá, Takalik Abaj, Zaculeu, Iximche, Mixco Viejo, Gumarcaj, Copán, Karminal Juyú; cerros sagrados: Beleje’ Tz’i (Totonicapán), Yamanik (Pixabaj, Sololá), Pa Pur Ch’ech’ (Tecpán), Kukulkan (Sololá), Gumarcaj (El Quiché); Antropology and Ethnology Museums, la Casa Q’ojom at Antigua and el Ixchel Museum of indigenous outfits. Also, we visited the Historical- Photo CIRMA –Centro de Investigaciones Regionales de Mesoamérica www.cirma.org.gt-, where we found pictures of how our grandparents use t olive 50-100 years ago.

All this led us to know the ancestral bases of our culture, our music, dance, weaving, theatre, but most of all math, astronomy and spirituality of the maya.  We connected with the roots of our millenary culture that prevails after being colonized many times in the last 486 years.  


By the year 2004 we had the inquietude of representing a complex story: the story of the last kaqchikel chiefs of Iximché when the invaders came, there we wanted to integrate music, dance and theatre, so it would be a choreography based in the history of our grandparents. 

Then we met Víctor Barillas, a playwright who merged into the Cultural Center ever since as the Artistic Director.  Along with him we learned scenic language adapted to our own cultural parameters, creating on stage a totally new proposal in Guatemala and Mesoamerica.Creating a full new current, the dramatic structure of the story is maya, the language we use is kaqchikel, and music and dance is recreated from what we learned of the iconographic research.  Therefore our proposal differentiates itself from western and classic proposals, the play is understood by physical, musical expression and gestures even if you don´t understand our language. 

Like that we´ve put together two plays: Kaji´Imox and Ajchowen, the first one is a recreation chorographical-historical that includes a ceremonial part: the Dance of the Nawales; the second one in the other hand, is about a comedy that recreates patio life of a typical home of the maya, through the story of the very first musician and the first word, the twins Jun Chowen y Jun Batz’.  

Nqarayij chi ronojel qasamaj nk’atzin chi nkitamab’ej nk’aj chïk winaqi’

It is our wish that all effort that we make translates into knowledge for others.

L. L. Guarcax 

Our cal lis to share with mayan youth, guatemalans in general, and other cultures our learning, the essence of our culture, our path.   This is the command we get from our grandparents, to continue their legacy.   Therefore we share our experience and give out workshops, etc.  We´ve tried to participate and contribute to the reflection and knowledge of other youngsters. 

Chi qaa’ojom qaxajoj man etz’ab’ëx ta, rujuwaxik k’ari’

nqakowirsaj ruk’u’x. Xa ke ri’ k’a nqayïk ri

qab’anob’äl ruk’in rukusaxik ri tz’intzoj

The only way our proposal will not turn into something it is not, Is to build it from a political point of view.  That´s the only way we can vindicate culture through art.

L. L. Guarcax 

On August 25th 2010, our Founder and Coordinator Lisandro Guarcax was kidnapped and assassinated, with signs of severe torture. This is a clear aggression to our organization that tries to stop our work for the vindication of our rights as Maya through performing arts.His death won´t be in vane, his legacy is still alive… like his wise words have accompany us throughout history and this document, he is among us from the grandparents dimension, turning into one of them as soon as he turned 32 years old.

Lisandro, your brothers and peers from Sotz´il Jay shall continue your legacy. 

Matyox chawe’ Tat Lisandro, Ri ak’u’x nikotz’ijan…

Thanks so much, Grandfather Lisandro, your heart is in Bloom…  

Dirección: Km 135.5 carretera a Sololá, caserío Central, Aldea el Tablón, Sololá, Guatemala
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Pagina web: www.gruposotzil.org
Teléfono: (502) 57346184
Producción: Jom Kamatsotz'-CD de música Maya; Xul Kej-cortometraje Maya; Kaji Imox, Oxlajuj B'aqtun, Ajchowen y Nan Ulew obras escénicas Mayas
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Centro-Cultural-Sotzil-Jay


  • Daniel Fernando Guarcax González
  • César Augusto Guarcax Chopén
  • Mercedes García Ordoñez
  • Juan Carlos Chiyal Yaxón
  • Marcelino Chiyal Yaxón
  • Luis Ricardo Cúmes Gónzalez
  • Víctor Barillas Crispín
  • Clara Alicia Sen
  • Yolanda Julajuj Chiroy
  • Jorge Chiyal Chumil

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