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The Last Pre-Hispanic Play


José Manuel Coloch cleans one of the masks used in the Rabinal Achí in his house. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite
José Manuel Coloch cleans one of the masks used in the Rabinal Achí in his house. Photo: Santiago Billy/Comvite

Late in the evening, a group of dancers gather in a dimly lit house on a dusty road in the town of Rabinal, Baja Verapaz, 85km north of Guatemala City. Chicken buses, ox-pulled carts, and cars rush by the open door. Still, the people inside pay no mind to it. The spiritual guide inside the house meticulously lights the candles lined on the cement floor of the house. As the wicks burn in the dark, a set of masks is pulled out of cardboard boxes and placed by the candles. These are the visages of the characters of Rabinal Achí or “Dance of the Tun”.

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