Chan K'in Viejo
(1900(?) to Dec. 23rd 1996)
The Lacandones have retained their culture through oral history and story telling. The t'o'ohil (great one; spiritual leader; guardian of tradition; storyteller) is the community's chief consultant in matters such as history, mythology, cosmology, the gods, the protocol of rituals, song and dream interpretation. In Nahá, the t'o'ohil is Chan K'in Viejo. Born in the rainforest around 100 years ago, he has had the strength to hold his people and traditions together largely through storytelling. Old Chan K'in's stories, which have their origins in classical Mayan cosmology, are at the disposition of any Lacandon of Nahá in search of guidance, or anyone else who comes to visit him. He is the classic authority, like that of an encyclopedia, to be consulted.
Chan K’in Viejo died in Naja December 23rd 1996. Besides being a momentous passing for his community, he will be missed by all those who have had the honour to study with him. He will be long remembered not only for his vast knowledge of a unique culture, but also for his amiable wit and hospitality.
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