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Guatemala, land of the Maya

Identifier: Film Collection no. 180

Scope and Contents

The informative narrative and lengthy, detailed scenes make this travel film useful for research. The film surveys many aspects of Guatemala. The film opens with views of a complex of Mayan ruins near Tikal, its temples, plazas, causeways, ball courts, palaces, bas-reliefs of great masks, stelae and altars, and the surrounding jungle with its ceiba, guanacaste, and mahogany trees. At the Dyers' jungle camp near a waterway, the party fishes for dinner. Howler monkeys, parrots, and a column of ants carrying bits of leaves are seen, as well as more ruins and the surrounding jungle. The party crosses the Rio Dulce on ferry boats. The cemetery at Aguas Calientes, Coban and its native market, volcanoes near Antigua, and irrigation methods employed near Zunil are shown and discussed. As textiles are woven in San Antonio, Aguas Calientes, Gurnee Dyer explores the symbols of Christianity woven into the cloth and evident in other native arts, and discusses the interweaving of Christian and pagan elements in religious life while showing scenes of the main church at Chichicastenango, where worshipers burn incense to both the Christian god and the pagan gods. Attention is given to Guatemalan tie-dye weaving in Solcaja, its village of origin. In the Momostenang market, parrots and canaries tell fortunes by pulling cards from drums. The Dyers visit the ruins of Zaculeu near Huehuetenango. While men dance wearing costumes representing monkeys, birds, and conquistadors, Dyer discusses the combination of Christian and pagan elements manifested in the dances. Textiles, weaving, spinning wheels, foot looms, road maintenance, sheep tending, corn beating, and water fetching in the areas surrounding Huehuetenango are filmed. The film ends with scenes of the villages around Lake Atitlan.


  • 1970

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Not available through interlibrary loan. Contact AMNH Library Special Collections for terms of access.


1 Film Reel (45 minutes) : sound, color ; 16 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (45 minutes)) : sound, color ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

3/4 in., U-Matic, viewing copy


Original format: 16 mm. print.



Walter Gurnee Dyer, photographer and narrator; Betty Dyer, sound.

Guatemala, land of the Maya, 1970
Iris Lee
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
200 Central Park West
New York NY 10024 USA
(212) 769-5420