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Indigenous Studies (Latin America & Caribbean): Marisol (Sol) Ceh Moo

Marisol "Sol" Ceh Moo (pronounced “kay mow”) --Calotmul, Yucatan, Mexico, 1974

Sol Ceh Moo is a Yukatek Mayan novelist, poet, short story and essay writer, translator, and interpreter.  She studied Education at the Universidad de Yucatán, and Law at the Universidad Aliat. Ceh Moo has an impressive list of creative works and essays in Maya, which she translates into Spanish herself.  She has received three grants from the National Fund for Culture and the Arts to develop her creative work. In 2008 she published the novel X-Teya u puksi’ik’al ko’olel / Teya, un corazón de mujer [Teya, Heart of a Woman], making her the first woman novelist in the Yukatek Mayan language.  In that same year she won third place in the Alfredo Barrera Vásquez National Prize for Short Stories in the Mayan Language, and in both 2007 and 2010 she won first place in the same competition.  In 2014 she was awarded the Nezahualcóyotl Prize for Literature in Mexican Languages for her novel Chen tumeen x ch´úupen / Sólo por ser mujer [Just for Being a Woman].  In selecting her novel, the prize committee made the following comment: Sol Ceh Moo “dominates the literary twists and turns of Spanish and Maya; her work takes its place in the present day, leaving behind conventional themes, flower and song and/or mother earth, to talk about gendered violence and how this phenomenon is lived in the indigenous communities of the Yucatán.”  In addition to her creative writing, Ceh Moo is the producer and director of the internet radio program Nikte k’iin / Flor de Sol [Flower of sun].  She is also an active promoter of Mayan language, literature, and culture, sponsoring workshops and events throughout the state of Yucatán.  




X-Teya, u puksi'ik'al koolel / Teya, un corazón de mujer (novel, 2008)

Jats’ts’il loolilo’ob xibalbaj / Jardines de Xibalbaj (short stories, 2010)

Sujuy K'iin / Día sin mancha (novel, 2011)

T'ambilák men tunk'ulilo'ob / El llamado de los tunk’ules (novel, 2011)

Nacer mujer es pecado (novella in anthology, 2012)

Tabita y otros cuentos mayas (short stories, 2013)

Kaaltale', ku xijkunsik u jel puksi'ik'alo'ob / El alcohol también rompe otros corazones (short stories 2013)

Chen tumeen x ch’úupen / Solamente por ser mujer (novel, 2014)

Mis letras en las paredes de la vagina (Nikté t’ano’ob tu paak’il peel) (poetry, 2014)



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Information from Exhibit

The selection included here is from her 2011 novel T'ambilák men tunk'ulilo'ob / El llamado de los tunk’ules [The Call of the Tunk’ul Drums], which tells the story of Santiago Imán Villafaña, a landowner from Yucatán who rose up in rebellion against the centralized Mexican state in 1839 and helped win a brief independence from Mexico for the Yucatán Peninsula by arming and training the Mayan peasants.  Ceh Moo presents Imán’s actions and Mayan participation in his revolution as a precursor to the 1847 conflict known in English as the Caste War, where the Mayans led a full-scale revolt against white domination in the Yucatan Peninsula, and almost succeeded in driving them out. The title of the novel is a reference the tunk’ul, a kind of drum used throughout Mesoamerica since pre-Hispanic times for ritual, celebratory, and communication purposes, and is considered a living, divine being.  The sound of the tunk’ul can be heard from several miles away and appears in the novel as a means to call together the Mayas for military action. It also has a double meaning as reference to Santiago Imán as the one called by the tunk’ules to prepare the Mayas for their eventual revolt.

Text Selections

“Chen jun p’iit ximbalile’, ka’a túul máako’ob k’ucho’ob tak tu’ux yáan ka’anal ch’eo’ob, le ka tu jalkunto’ob yéetel u yej u máaskabo’obe’, ah ba’atabe’ yéetel jak’a’an óolile’ tu yiláj jach yook’ol suuke’ ti’ ku weenel ichil jun p’éel ma’alob meyajtan tuuniche’ u baakel paach jun túul tsíimin.  «Leti’ lela’ u máas nojchil, le u jelo’obo máas seebanil ku peksaal» tu ya’alajti’ yéetel jets’an óolil máasewal máake’.

—¿Bey tuno’ jach jaj tun les tsíkbale’? tu k’aatáj, layli’ ma’tu eejentik, ti’ u yet maanilo’.

—Jach beyo’, j Imán yáan ya’ab ba’alo’ob ma’ a woojeli’ ts’ó’kol’ jach u meyajo’ob ichil a kuxtale’—.  Tu nuukaj ti’ ich maaya t’áan y’eetel le jets’anilo’, je’e bix suukan ti’ u ya’alik tuláakal ba’al.

—¿Bey ba’axo’ob j Uicab?

—Betasa’ ma’ tu pajtal a na’atik, chen k’aabet u ki’imaktal a wóol tumeen a wojeltik téeche’ j Imanech, máax t’aan yéetel u juumil tunk’ulilo’ob—.  Ku ya’alikti’ ka’alikil ku bin u baalík u paach le tsíimin tuunicho’.

—Ba’ale’ jach tak in woojeltik—.  Beychaj u ya’alik.

—Ba’ax k’aabet u yuchle’, mina’an u tsolil, mix bix je’el u pajtal u na’atale’, tuláakal ku yuuchul tumeen k’aabet u yuuchul, bey tuno’, leti’ uuch ta weetelo’, le tuunich tsíimina’ jets’anilie’ a tia’al, téech kan naat’ik.

—¿Yáan u xik’nalil?

—¡Jach jaj yáan u xik’nalil!  Le k’iin ken iilaakech tu yok’ol u jo’ol tuláakal máak tu káajil tsíimin káaje’, ichil le k’iin je’elo’ yáan u páatal ma’ chen jen máaxechi’, mix máak kun pajtal y’eetel a winkilalil.  Yáan u k’uubiko’ob lu’u ti’ teech, tumeen mix máak u ka’a u k’aat ba’atel yéetel máax t’áan tumeen tunk’ulilo’ob.”

pp. 88-89

Spanish Translation

“Después de una corta caminata, los dos hombres llegaron hasta unos altos matorrales.  Al separarlos a fuerza de machete, el revolucionario, lleno de estupor, comprobó que en el lecho de zacate descansaba, perfectamente esculpido en piedra, el torso de un caballo.  «Esta es la pieza mayor, las demás son manejables», le informó con parsimonia el indígena.

—¿Entonces, lo de la leyenda es verdad?  Preguntó aún no totalmente convencido, a su acompañante.

—Claro que sí, Imán, hay cosas que tú no sabes y que son importantes para tu vida —le contestó en maya con esa parsimonia con la que parecía esculpir las palabras.

—¿Cómo cuáles, Uicab?

—Ahora no las entenderías, confórmate en saber que tú eres Imán, el llamado de los tunk’ules—.  Le decía mientras rodeaba el perfecto torso de caballo esculpido en la sustancia pétrea.

—Pero quiero saber—.  Alcanzó a protestar.

—El destino no tiene explicación, ni conocimiento lógico, las cosas suceden porque tienen que suceder, y eso pasó contigo, este caballo de piedra ya estaba apartado para que tú lo montaras y volaras.

—¿Va a volar?

—¡Claro que volará!  Cuando te vean en Tizimín sobre sus cabezas, ya no serás un ser humano cualquiera, nadie resistirá tu presencia.  Te entregarán la plaza, porque nadie quiere pelear con un ser llamado por los tunk’ules.”


pp. 241-242

English Translation

After a short walk, the two men came to a tall thicket.  When he had cut through it with the force of his machete, the revolutionary, full of astonishment, saw resting in the bed of grass, perfectly sculpted in stone, the torso of a horse. “This is the largest piece, the rest are manageable,” the Mayan informed him calmly.

“So the legend is true?” he asked his companion, still not totally convinced.

“Of course it is, Imán.  There are things that you don’t know and that are important for your life,” he answered him in Maya with that collectedness with which he seemed to sculpt his words.

“Like what, Uicab?”

“Right now you wouldn’t understand them.  Be content with knowing that you are Imán, the one called by the tunk’ules,” he told him as he circled the perfect horse torso sculpted into the stony substance.

“But I want to know,” he managed to protest.

“Destiny doesn’t have an explanation, nor logical understanding; things happen because they are supposed to happen, and that was the case with you: this stone horse was set apart for you to mount and fly on it.”

“It’s going to fly?”

“Of course it’s going to fly!  When they see you in Tizimín above their heads, you will no longer be just any human being.  Nobody will be able to resist your presence. They will hand over the plaza to you because no one wants to fight with a being called by the tunk’ules.”


Arias, Arturo.  Recovering Lost Footprints: Contemporary Maya Narratives. Vol. 2, SUNY Press, 2018, pp. 127-174.

Caamal, Giovani Balam, et al. “La importancia del tunk’ul en el ritual y canto ceremonial del Carnaval de Pomuch, Campeche. Un estudio interdisciplinario.”  Península, vol. 13, no. 2, julio-diciembre 2018, pp. 97-123.

Carrillo González, Juan.  “Tunk’ul: análisis de un instrumento musical maya en contextos rituales durante la Colonia.”  Flower World: Music Archaeology of the Americas. Mundo Florido: Arqueomusicología de las Américas, edited by Matthias Stöckli & Arnd Adje Both,  vol. 1, Ekho Verlag, 2012, pp. 127-135.

Cervera, José Juan. "Una sensibilidad femenina de raíz autóctona: Sol Ceh Moo." La Jornada Maya, 2015,

Moo, Marisol Ceh. El llamado de los tunk’ules. Conaculta, 2011.

Moo, Marisol Ceh. “From T'ambilák men tunk'ulilo'ob / El llamado de los tunk’ules.” Latin American Literature Today. Translated by Arthur Dixon,

Moo, Marisol Ceh. "Jats'ts'il Loolil'ol Xibalbaj: Jardines de Xibalbaj." Dirección de Patrimonio Cultural / Instituto de Cultura de Yucatán, 2010,