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Quiché(kēchā`), indigenous peoples of Mayan linguistic stock, in the western highlands of Guatemala; most important group of the ancient southern MayaMaya
, indigenous people of S Mexico and Central America, occupying an area comprising the Yucatán peninsula and much of the present state of Chiapas in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, parts of El Salvador, and extreme western Honduras.
..... Click the link for more information. . The largest of the contemporary native groups of Guatemala, numbering over a million, they live principally in the region between QuezaltenangoQuezaltenango
, city (1994 est. pop. 90,801), SW Guatemala. The city is the metropolis of the western highlands (it is 7,500 ft/2,286 m above sea level) and the second city of Guatemala. The city has much diversified light industry, including textile manufacturing and brewing.
..... Click the link for more information. and ChichicastenangoChichicastenango
, town, SW Guatemala. In the heart of the highlands, Chichicastenango was a trading town in ancient times. It became the spiritual center of the Quiché after their defeat (1524) by Pedro de Alvarado.
..... Click the link for more information. . From their origins, as told in the Popol VuhPopol Vuh
[Quiché,=collection of the council], sacred book of the Quiché. The most important document of the cosmogony, religion, mythology, migratory traditions, and history of the Quiché, the original Popol Vuh was destroyed by the Spanish conquistador
..... Click the link for more information. , the Quiché have retained many ancient traditions, blending them with Western customs to create a distinctive mode of life. Pedro de AlvaradoAlvarado, Pedro de
, 1486–1541, Spanish conquistador. He went to Hispaniola (1510), sailed in the expedition (1518) of Juan de Grijalva, and was the chief lieutenant of Hernán Cortés in the conquest of Mexico.
..... Click the link for more information. , with the help of the Cakchiquel or Kakchiquel, a neighboring but rival group similar in language and stock, conquered them in 1524. However, the Quiché waged periodic uprisings against both the Spanish and, later, the Guatemalan government. During the political upheaval of the 1970s and 80s in Guatemala, many Quiché fled the country for Mexico and the United States. Studies of modern Quiché communities include Ruth Bunzel, Chichicastenango (1952) and Manning Nash, Machine Age Maya (1958).
See also R. M. Carmack, Quichean Civilization (1973).
an Indian people in Guatemala. Population, approximately 580,000 persons (1967, estimate). The Quiche comprise more than 90 percent of the population in the departments of Totonicapán, Quiche, and Suchitepéquez. They also live in the departments of Quezaltenango, Solóla, Baja Verapaz, and Retalhuleu.
The Quiche language belongs to the Maya-Zoque languages. The official religion is Catholicism, although many pre-Christian beliefs are maintained. An early class state of the Quiche existed before the Spanish conquest. Its chief city was Cumarcah (Utatlán). The Quiche put up fierce resistance against the Spaniards. The chief occupation of the Quiche is farming; a significant number of them engage in seasonal work on coffee plantations. Well-developed handicrafts include weaving and pottery-making.
For the Quiche Maya, a patrilineal and patrilocal people located in twenty-six different communities across Guatemala, ancestors are important beings whose visitation in a dream is most often described as a positive experience, although they may demand appeasement in the form of religious rituals and eventual initiation into a religious organization. Human beings are classified as winak, and are distinguished from nonhumans by the feature of articulate speech. In addition, each individual possesses one of twenty faces or destinies (or “life-souls”), depending on the person’s day of birth on the Mayan calendar. The life-soul arrives at the moment of birth, is located in the heart, and if it should leave the body for any reason for any length of time, the person will die.
A close connection is believed to exist between dreaming and dying, since, when one dreams, one’s face or destiny leaves the body as if one were dead. For the Quiche, it is the free-soul, not the life-soul that wanders, which makes dreaming a less threatening experience. Quiche express little anxiety about dreaming, and in their language the verb for dreaming is transitive, indicating that the dreamer is conscious while dreaming.
According to the principal Quiche theory of dreams, the dreamer’s free-soul, after leaving the body and wandering about in the world, meets other people’s and animals’ free-souls. Additionally, the Quiche claim that the gods or ancestors approach the sleeping dreamer’s body and awaken his soul, which is supposed to struggle with the visitors until they give the dreamer a message. The dream experience is usually described as a nightly struggle between the dreamer’s free-soul and the free-souls of the deities and ancestors, who have important messages concerning the future of people. The Quiche insist that everyone dreams every night, and daily sharing or reporting of all dreams, whether evaluated by the dreamer as good or bad, is considered an important practice. All dreams are treated as immediately and necessarily open to reporting and interpretation.