Itza people

The Itza are an indigenous people of the Maya in the Yucatan Peninsula. They were the people of the Mayan city of Chichen Itza and the last until 1697 independent Maya state in Tayasal the Petén Itzá lake in the Guatemalan department of Petén. In Petén live today descendants of the ancient Itzá, one of which described themselves at the 2002 census, nearly 2000 Itzá.


The Itza traditionally speak a variant of the Mayathan, the Itza language. This is today but spoken by only a few, mostly older people on Petén Itzá lake.


The Mayan word itza means' Wizards of water " or" enchanted water " and possibly derived from the name of the lake.


The origin of the Itza is attributed to the historic group of Ah Itzá in Yucatán. Their origin lies in the dark, but are suspected its beginnings in the Classic Maya city Motul at Lake Petén Itzá. After the decline of Classic Maya therefore they wandered in the north, where they founded their city Chichén Itzá, whose name means " at the edge of the fountain of the Itza " means. The Ah Itza dominated the Yucatán Peninsula in the post- classical period. Chichén Itzá had far-reaching trade relations, including as far as Naco in Honduras.

According to the Maya manuscript Chilam Balam of Chuyamel the Itza came from the headwaters of the Usumacinta by Yucatán and founded around the year 320, the city Siyan Can Bakhalal ( Bacalar ) in present-day Mexico Quintana Roo. To 525 they moved west and founded initially Chichen Itza and then Izamal, Thao ' (now Mérida ), Motul and Chakan Putum ( Champotón ). The Itza were living in Chichen Itza 525-692, this then left and moved to Chakan Putum where they ruled until 928.

After the arrival of the Tutul Xiu in the Yucatán Itza Chakan had to leave Putum 928. After 40 years on the run, they returned to Chichen Itza. Here their culture flourished under the influence of the Toltecs scratch. The central Mexican deity Quetzalcoatl ( Nahuatl for " Plumed Serpent " ) was worshiped here under the same major Mayathan name Kukulkan. Chichén Itzá was involved until its destruction at the League of Mayapán.

Chilam Balam attributes the downfall of Chichen Itza on a group of Mexican Putun Maya led by Hunac Ceel. This was the founder of the Cocom reign of Mayapan. In the fight against the Itza he was captured by them and thrown as a human sacrifice in the Cenote of Chichen Itza. He survived, however, spent a night in the water and was able to report a prophecy of the rain god Chac about the coming harvest. As ruler of Mayapan with the help of witchcraft, he succeeded in destruction of Chichen Itza. Archaeological Examine suggest that Chichen Itza and other places of the Itzá, including Isla Cerritos, around the year were abandoned in 1331. Around this time wandered Putun Maya from Tabasco and central Mexico.

1194 attracted the Itza to the Peten Itza Lake, where they founded their new capital Tayasal on an island. They called the city Noh Petén ("city island " ), or Tah Itzá ( "Place of the Itza ").

Hernán Cortés arrived in 1523 on his march to Honduras in pursuit of Cristóbal de Olid, shortly after the Aztec king Cuauhtémoc at Xicalango be hung with an army of Spaniards and about 600 Chontal Maya by Tayasal. Here he met the Itza rulers Ah Kaan Ek ( Canek ) and held with this from a Catholic mass. The Spaniards left behind a dying horse. For fear that the Spaniards would make the Itza responsible for the death of the horse, they built a wooden horse as a replacement.

The island city Tayasal was the last independent Maya state. Some Spanish priests came to visit and preach the gospel, but the Itzá held on to their Mayan faith. As 1618 Franciscan monks came to the city, they found also the wooden horse, which was worshiped by their reports. 1696 missionaries attempted to convert the last king of Tah Itza, which was also called Ah Kaan Ek.

On March 13, 1697 stormed a Spanish army under the command of the governor of Yucatán, Martín de Ursua, the last free Mayan city Tah Itza or Tayasal.

Current situation

In the Guatemalan Petén region families whose history can be traced back to the time of the Itza before the Spanish conquest live. Cultivation practices of the Maya as agroforestry are still used today and grown traditional food and medicinal plants.

At the last census in Guatemala in 2002, 1983 people called the Itza, but gave hereof only 1094 Itza as a mother tongue. SIL International is for 1986 even only 12 fully competent speakers and 1991 a total of 60 mostly elderly, no longer fully competent speakers on, living in San Jose Peten north of Petén Itzá lake.