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MaximonMaximon ("mah-shee-mon") is a popular post-Columbian Mayan folk deity who apparently blends aspects of the Christian Saint Simon with a Mayan god, perhaps Maam, an underworld god. Many say he represents in some part a deification of Pedro de Alvarado, the brutal would-be conqueror of Guatemala, but this seems a preposterous fantasy of the conqueror class since there is hardly anyone the Maya of Guatemala (whose warrior hero is Alvarado's opponent Tecun Uman) would be less likely to deify.

In contemporary folk belief, Maximon is an auspicious figure, and offerings of candles, cigars, flowers, incense, aguardiente or rum, money, and the like are used to lubricate the wheels of his favor. Today his blessing often appears in the form of tourist dollars.

As a symbol of abundance, Maximon is usually represented as a wealthy man of the community, dressed in a fine hat, coat, silk scarf, pantalones, and leather shoes, and often smoking a cigar. Sometimes he wears shades and packs an ammo belt.

The most famous Maximon is a large wooden figure located in Santiago Atitlán on the shores of beautiful Lake Atitlán (where his feast day is the Wednesday before Maundy Thursday) but there are also shrines in Zunil, San Andres Itzapa, Chichimula, and elsewhere. The spring feast day is said to relate to Maximon as an expression of male sexual power; he also has elements of the trickster, and as such tends to be hidden in small shrines where he is not exposed to large masses of people.

I took this photo around Christmas 2001 at a Maximon shrine in an artists' cooperative in Antigua, Guatemala.

For more on Maximon see the Buried Mirror Maximon blog pages.