Mayas from Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico, narrate strikingly similar stories that are part of their oral tradition. These similarities reflect the fact that Mayas from both areas share a common cultural tradition dating to pre-Hispanic times and a basic pattern of beliefs central to the Mesoamerican cultural complex. At the same time, the stories contain notable differences that can be explained historically and traced both to pre-Hispanic or post-Hispanic developments as they combined with ecological conditions. In this study, we compare the present expression of a series of Earth Lord accounts and explain interesting differences that we observed between two groups of Maya Indians. Our results suggest that the differences can be traced to the diverse ways by which peasants are incorporated at various degrees into the capitalist system, mainly through trade or through wage labor or combinations of these with other forms of production.

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