The Lacandon Cultural Heritage documentation consists of 25 hours of audio-video recordings of a broad sample of Lacandon speech and cultural events. The recordings were shot in natural settings, such as people's homes, the god house, and cornfields. These recordings include traditional stories, songs, spells, rituals, and ordinary conversation. The cultural events include ceremonies, cooking, farming, spinning thread, grinding corn, and weaving hammocks. A large number of recordings have been transcribed and translated into Spanish and Englis, and texts have been fully analyzed. To see the documentation procedures we followed, click on demonstration.

Text collection

The text collection contains over 300 narratives, songs, ritual speech, and conversations. These texts were provided by a variety of individuals selected from a cross-section of the community, including elderly men and women, young men and women, and children. .


Relative priority was given to documenting songs, which are predominantly sung in a ceremonial context. These are compared to secular songs, that are sung in non-religious contexts. An example of one secular song is U K'ayil Balum 'Song of the Jaguar'. According to one Lacandon man, it is sung to protect the singer from being attacked by jaguars. In this video, the man sings a part of that song.

Still other types of songs are sung to assist singers with their work, entice prey, or prevent misfortune. Women's work songs are are an example. Videos of three women's songs can be accessed by clicking here.

Language of occupation and technology

The collection includes texts that are relevant to occupation and technology. They include narratives, descriptions, and demonstrations related to farming, hunting, fishing, house construction, rituals, and crafts. This video clip above is of AM making k'ik', the little rubber figurines that Lacandones used to give as food offerings to the gods.


Few Lacandones perform religious ceremonies anymore, having abandoned the traditional religion after the death of their religious and civic leader in 1996. This is a clip of AM burning copal for the god, Akinchob, as a petition for a bountiful corn crop.




Ordinary conversation was included in the documentation, partly because it is a useful foil to more specialist genres and partly because it is interesting in and of itself. Below is a video clip of a typical conversation between two young women.






For information on where to access the Lacandon Cultural Heritage corpus, click here.


University of Victoria | Department of Linguistics | Lacandon Cultural Heritage Home |Lacandones
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