info en español de Tzotziles - "Batsil Winik" Otik y Tzeltales - "Winik Atel
© 2004 Instituto Lingüístico de Verano, A.C.
info in English about the Maya language and it´s sub groups inclding Tzotzil
© 2004 Instituto Lingüístico de Verano, A.C.
Info en español de la lingua Maya y sus sub linguas incluyendo Tzotzil
Enciclopedia de los Municipios de México
Info en español de districto de Aldama
Info en español de districto de Bochil
Info en español de districto de Carranza
Info en español de districto de Chalchihuitan
Info en español de districto de Chamula
Info en español de districto de Chenalho
Info en español de districto de el Bosque
Info en español de districto de Jitotol
Info en español de districto de Larrainzar

Tzotzil people make up the largest indigenous group in Mexic´s southernmost state of Chiapas. Their traditional territory of pine-covered mountains and steep valleys occupies the west central highlands of Chiapas to the north and northwest of the city of San Cristobal de las Casas. According to Mexico's 2000 census, approximately 292,000 people (over the age of five) spoke the Tzotzil language which is known in Tzotzil as ´"Batsil K'op." The Tzotzil language (with six major dialects) belongs to the Tzeltalan subdivision of the Mayan language family and is closely related to its linguistic cousin Tzeltal. The two languages began to diverge from their common ancestor around the year 1200 AD.

The Tzotzil name for themselves is "Batsil winikatik´" – "true men." Although today Tzotzil people live in most of the 111 municipios in Chiapas, they are concentrated in ten municipios near San Cristobal. The traditional settlement pattern of the indigenous municipios is a central town or "centro" surrounded by small hamlets ("parajes") in the surrounding countryside. The centro is the location of the municipal government, schools, the principal church, a large periodic market, and small shops. Some municipios (like San Andres) do not permit "Ladinos" (non-Indian Mexicans) to live in the communities. Tzotzil men who are performing year long "cargos" of voluntary service to the community generally reside in the centro on a temporary basis, then return to their parajes after the cargos are completed.

Most Tzotzil families make their living by subsistence farming and by raising domestic animals. Families grow corn, beans, squash, and chilis – the traditional Mesoamerican crops. Other fruits and vegetables may also be grown, depending upon local conditions of temperature and rainfall. Some Tzotzil communities are cold, wet and windy while others are warmer and almost sub-tropical. Sheep are raised for wool in Chamula, Zinacantan, and San Andres. Large-scale commercial cultivation of flowers takes place in Zinacantan. In many families men and older boys work outside the municipios performing wage labor in construction or agricultural work. Since Chiapas borders Guatemala, Tzotzil men and boys compete for this work with lower-paid Guatemalan immigrants. This leads many of them to look for work in cities in northern Mexico or in the US. Many families have left the highands to homestead in the Lacandon forest region, causing conflict with Lacandon Maya people over land.

The majority of Tzotzil women and girls wear traditional dress, which consists of a huipil or blouse, an indigo dyed "enredo," (wrap or tube skirt) and woven cotton sash. Women in a number of municipios wear capes of wool or cotton. Elderly men and men performing cargos wear traditional attire, but most Tzotzil men and boys dress in western style shirts and slacks or jeans. Both men and women wear elaborate ceremonial garments on special occasions. Many women and girls know how to weave cotton and wool and make their own clothing. In some communities, women purchase fabric to make clothing from outside sources, then embroidered the finished clothing with designs specific to their communities.
Click here to

A warning about the Tzotzil region

Narrative written for Mexican textiles project by Karen Ewell 9/2005


Thanks Karen

Bob Freund