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

Walter Paz Joj:

Kaqchikel, originally from Panajachel, in the department of Sololá.

Maya hieroglyphic writing student, graphic designer, illustrator, and ceramic instrument musician.Part of his work experiments with, recreates and is inspired by ancient Maya art, as well as expressions of the Kaqchikel art and language. Sharing his work on different digital platforms allows him to share Maya hieroglyphic writing with both Maya speakers and people from other cultures, for the purposes of its revitalization, access and inspiration through his illustrations and in other contexts, in the realization and development of Maya writing workshops, collaborating with different people who try to get closer to and know part of the current and ancient Maya thought. His work and graphic approach is contemporary and experimental through the use of different tools.To contact or learn more about his work:

Facebook – Instagram: Walter Paz Joj

Illustration and collaborative poster for the virtual closing of the discussion “Los tiempo de la milpa” organized by the Cabañuelas Mayas collective and at the invitation of Bernardo Caamal Itza. Walter Paz Joj.

Mural made in zone 4 of Guatemala City, organized by the “Bonito Mi Barrio” mural festival in 2018 with the intention of recovering part of the city’s streets through art and painting. Walter Paz Joj.

Graphic experimentation with the logogram that represents singing.
Walter Paz Joj.

Graphic experimentation with a logogram that represents the Sun.
Walter Paz Joj.

Graphic experimentation with writing a person’s name. Walter Paz Joj.

Experimentation with Maya script on ceramic, with acrylic ink and pencil.
Walter Paz Joj.

Acrylic painting on ceremonial Kaqchikel fabric from Sumpango Sacatepéquez. Walter Paz Joj.

Collaboration of mural painting with the artist Sibik Yohl Waax in the general cemetery of Sumpango Sacatepéquez in 2018. Walter Paz Joj.

Photographic manipulation based on a female ceramic representation applying digital color techniques. Walter Paz Joj.


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

  1. Cósmicamente impresionante. La combinación de la habilidad de plasmar el color con la ideografía y simbología ancestral es indescriptiblemente agradable; genera paz, tranquilidad y lo transporta hacia tiempos immemoriales de la vida cotidiana y el desarrollo científico y tecnológico ancestral. Mis más profundas felicitaciones a Walter. Su arte transmite la sensación de estar en las ciudades ancestrales de tiempos de bonanza artística que hoy se recrea para deleite contemporáneo. Cuánto desearía tener un mural particular en mi casa de habitación…

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  3. Gracias a MAM por compartir el arte que nos comparte Walter. Es impresionante la habilidad que tiene para utilizar la simbología maya’. Nos lleva a ser uno mismo, para sentirse parte de un legado que pocos tenemos acceso a conocer alguna parte de esa gran historia. Gracias muchas gracias por darme la oportunidad de conocer ese gran talento que tiene Walter. Felicitaciones!!!!

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