Perils of the Soul: The World View of A Tzotzil Indian

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Author: Guiteras-Holmes, Calixta from the library of professor George M Foster

Year: 1961

Publisher: Free Press of Glencoe, Inc

Place: New York


371 pages with glossary. Octavo (8 1/2" x 5 3/4") issued in purple boards and half black cloth with gilt light purple lettering to spine and light purple embossed imprint to cover. Afterword by Sol Tax. From the library of professor George M Foster. First edition.

One of the things a Tzotzil Indian fears most is that he will suffer the loss of his soul-an event which he views as all too possible if he fails to take the precautions which his culture has evolved to deal with his myth. The author of this fascinating book lived for more than two years with the Pedranos of San Pedro Chenalho-one of the many Tzotzil-speaking Indian groups inhabiting Mexico's southernmost state of Chiapas in the rugged countryside of the highlands-talking with them in both Spanish and Tzotzil, and gathering information about their society, customs, institutions and beliefs. Her stays in Chenalho encompassed all seasons of the year; hence she was able to observe most of the political and religious activities, all of which are related to the agricultural cycle. Also, there was a nine-year interval between her first and second stays; therefore she had the opportunity to observe the development of individuals within the society, which is accompanied by the growth of spiritual "heat," the source of all power and prestige within the group. Dr Guiteras-Holmes interviewed many of the Pedranos, both men and women; but her main informant was an extraordinarily capable-and courageous-man, Manuel Arias Sohom, a leader of his people in their rebellion against the Ladinos (the Spanish-speaking Mexican population), and an independent person able to think and act wisely for both himself and his fellow-tribesmen. His is the world view that is presented and analyzed in the last sections of the book, a world view directly connected with that of other Maya groups, past and present. The author succeeds in conveying not only factual information about the Pedranos, but also an idea of the terror-haunted lives that most of them lead in a world where myths are real. Her enjoyment in gradually coming to understand the meaning of the Tzotzil world view is plain, as is also her appreciation for the way in which the Pedranos handle the problems-both real and supernatural-they face in the course of their lives; and she is able to convey both her enthusiasm and her pleasure to the reader.

George McClelland Foster, Jr born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on October 9, 1913, died on May 18, 2006, at his home in the hills above the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, where he served as a professor from 1953 to his retirement in 1979, when he became professor emeritus. His contributions to anthropological theory and practice still challenge us; in more than 300 publications, his writings encompass a wide diversity of topics, including acculturation, long-term fieldwork, peasant economies, pottery making, public health, social structure, symbolic systems, technological change, theories of illness and wellness, humoral medicine in Latin America, and worldview. The quantity, quality, and long-term value of his scholarly work led to his election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1976. Virtually all of his major publications have been reprinted and/or translated. Provenance from the executor of Foster's library laid in.


Foster's stamp to half title and date of aquiry on front paste down. Jacket spine sunned, small chips at spine ends, tear at spine head and closed tear at head hinge else a very good copy in like jacket.

SOLD 2013

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