5 Ajaw 3 Mak (November 29, 2020): Walter Paz Joj: The Living Art of a Kaqchikel Maya Aj Tz’ib’

5 Ajaw 3 Mak: Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara

Digital Illustration dedicated to Jun B’atz’ and Jun Chuwen, Mothers and Fathers of Maya art. Walter Paz Joj

Walter Paz Joj: The Living Art of a Kaqchikel Maya Aj Tz’ib’

For many of us, this Thanksgiving has been a holiday unlike any other in living memory, and it is a time for giving thanks for all that we have amidst a year of such sorrow and tragedy. So many of us celebrate in isolation this year, grateful for the lives of our loved ones, and grieving the loss of so many who have been taken from us. As we reported last month, the pandemic has taken a great toll on our Maya friends, many of whom have since been hit by two hurricanes in what is now a record year for so many storms. Jun Raqan, the one-legged Heart of Sky walks restlessly in circles on our warming planet. May the balance be restored, and may he be appeased after so much suffering. May the Maya people endure, as they always have.

I am profoundly grateful for the work our Maya friends have been doing to bring to life the ancient script, and it is our great honor this month to feature the work of Walter Paz Joj. Walter is a Kaqchikel artist and musician from Panajachel, Guatemala on the shores of Lake Atitlán, the place of emergence for many Highland Maya people. Walter has been involved in studying the Maya script for many years, having attended and taught at multiple workshops and Congresos. For those of you unacquainted with Walter’s incredible artwork, it becomes immediately apparent that his work conjures the greatest heights of Classic Maya artistry while making it forever new and alive, rich in color and imagery, heart and soul, and using both traditional and digital media in remarkably innovative ways.

Walter Paz Joj’s work has received increasingly wider recognition through his commissioned work that includes spectacular murals as well as published artwork for multiple conferences, including the Third International Congreso on Maya Hieroglyphic Writing: Ojer Maya’ Tz’ib’ in El Remate, Guatemala in 2016, where I had the good fortune to meet Walter for the first time, and where he taught the beginner’s workshop. As an emerging scholar and artist on the cutting edge of his field, Walter will be contributing an article on contemporary Maya writing in an upcoming edition of the journal The Mayanist:


Here, we present some of the work of Walter Paz Joj for your continued enjoyment, and to promote the astounding work of this modern Maya Aj Tz’ib’.

Sib’alaj Maltyox,

Michael Grofe, President
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