When people consider the Maya culture, they picture an ancient civilization that built amazing pyramids but rarely visualize a living culture. Today there are more than 1.5 million people living in the Yucatán Peninsula who continue to practice ancient cultural traditions, their ways of being and understanding of the world.
Across time, Yucatec Maya communities have inherited deep cultural values and a particular cosmology,
a way of seeing and experiencing the physical world and the social universe.
More than five hundred years after the Spanish conquest of Mexico and the imposition of Christianity,
ancient Maya social and emotional values, attitudes, and beliefs still prevail within contemporary
Maya communities, many of which can be objectively observed in the daily cultural practices and social
However, the acelerating changes driven by technology, globalization, and material development, as
well as political and social forces and vices are rapidly eroding the Maya culture and wellbeing. We are
seeing the traditionally aesthetic and harmonious landscapes being rapidly disrupted, relationships
being deteriorated and living wisdom disappearing.
In 2012 Baktún was born as an alliance of organizations and individuals with the VISION to conserve the heritage of Maya communities.
The initiative promotes and facilitates the strengthening of the cultural and natural heritage of the Maya communities in the Yucatán Peninsula to preserve their cultural and natural patrimony.
LINES OF ACTION
People, culture, and nature, with human development and co-generative
processes as the core philosophy of the work.
Baktún focuses on three lines of action: Tangible, Intangible, and Natural Patrimony
• Today there are 1.5 million Maya in the Yucatán Peninsula, the great majority of whom do not
consciously identify themselves as decedents of the Maya civilization.
• Out of 2,600 Maya towns in the Yucatán, only 4 of them have a urban development plan.
• There is a wealth of pre-hispanic and colonial monuments and edifices, however, funding constraints for their restoration and conservation threatens their integrity.
• There is a lack of regulatory framework to mantain the urban landscape of Maya towns.
• There is a need to inventory vernacular and traditional architecture for its conservation.
• The abandonment of the milpa (literally, cornfield, the space for transmission, modeling, and appropriation of social emotional values and skills) towards an urbanized way of living has greatly endangered and accelerated the erosion of Maya traditions and cultural practices, including the Mayan language, where we observe a decline in the number of Mayan speakers.
• There are multiple and diverse academic studies about Maya traditions, religion, cosmology and cultural heritage, yet there is an escalating need to make this knowledge available and useful forMaya communities.
• The Maya forest is the largest deciduous forest in the world.
• The Yucatán Peninsula is the second largest reservoir of water in Mexico. It holds a rich biodiversity, including the largest world population of jaguars, and is a critical region for birds and for sustaining bird migration.
“Grandmother would tell us all kinds of stories and tales, her beliefs about the Gods’ behaviors, and how to take care of them and of ourselves.”
For the restoration, conservation and revitalization of monuments, urban landscapes and traditional architecture
Research and baselines Investigate, analyze and define the scope of work, strategies, methodologies
and tools for engaging communities and stakeholders into the Baktún
Integrated urban plan Design and implement participative diagnostics for the creation of local
community committees to become active participants of their urban
planning process and implementation of conservation projects.
Cultural normative instruments Identify existing norms and co-develop the required instruments for
preserving cultural patrimony in local communities.
Catalogue of typologies and architectural styles Record and systematize architectural typologies and criteria for municipal
and state level consideration for conservation.
For the conservation of the values, popular art,
traditional medicine, gastronomy, and strengthening the Mayan language and forms of social organization.
Arts and crafts Revitalization and capacity building of traditional Maya craft
markets, enabling local economies to thrive.
Traditional medicine Supporting the practices and systematization of traditional Maya
Patrimony guardians Capacity building for young volunteers to become guides and
guardians of the community cultural patrimony.
dia® Maya Capacity building for cultural promoters so they can create spaces for reflection and dialogue that bring voices of awareness about the Maya cultural heritage.
For the environmental protection of the Maya
forest, promotion of sustainable agriculture and fostering of biological corridors.
Flourishing with nature plan Design and implement participative diagnostics for creation of
local committees to foster active participation in the planning
and implementation of sustainable projects.
Natural normative instruments Identify existing norms and co-develop the required instruments
for preserving natural patrimony in local communities aligned
with state and federal norms and regulations.
Natural and cultural inventories Record and systematize natural diversity and agricultural,
apicultural and milpa practices in the local communities.