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Word Count: 4,167
The Zinacantecos have changed moderately over time but their strong heritage and belief systems have been carried through to present times The language has stayed intact over several thousand years mainly because of its importance in expressing their cosmology which in essence is the main principle upon which they live their lives They have adopted some Spanish words and are all learning Spanish in school but their own language as well as many of their beliefs and rituals are still practiced within their social units The Zinacanteco universe is based around a quadrilateral cosmos There is a center of their above world called the navel which is a mound of earth in the Zinacantan ceremonial center The entire world is extended from this navel The four points that surround this center indicate the Vashak-Men or the Four-Corner Gods The significance of these gods and their connection with nature is proven when they see natural disasters as a theory of population control or as punishment for sins An earthquake is experienced when the gods are tired and they are shifting the excessive burden from shoulder to shoulder the earthquake is thought to kill enough people to balance out the burden As I alluded to previously they also believe in an upper and lower world The upper world is the surface upon which humans live The lower world consists of monkeys and dwarfs that evolved when the gods failed at making humans the first time around The Katin-Bak translates as the place warmed by bones this corresponds to the Christian hell as it is a deep hole somewhere inside the earth The Sun is referred to as Our Father Heat Its path determines the basic directions that guide the Zinacantecos orientation on the surface of the earth The place where the sun rises or in translation the east is the most important because they direct all of their religious ceremonies and rituals in this direction
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