Zinacantan, nestled in the mystical land of the Mayans, sits in a valley surrounded by a patchwork of colors made from thousands of cultivated flowers and pine-forested hillsides. This vibrant town, located in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico, has been an important center of trade and commerce since pre-colonial times.
Indigenous Zinacantecos grow and export flowers to Mexico City, amongst other places. Zinacantan people, like Chamulans, are Tzotzil. The men wear distinctive pink tunics embroidered with flower motifs and may sport flat, round, ribboned palm hats, while the women don pink or purple shawls over richly embroidered blouses.
The community is strongly committed to the education of their children and to the protection of the environment through reforestation efforts. The people of Zinacantán take pride in their Mayan culture and heritage, which they express through their traditional dress, native language, and care for their traditions.
Although there is little ancient Mayan presence around Zinacantan, the nearby archaeological sites of Yaxchilan, Bonampak and the Palenque ruins can usually be discovered through the many Chiapas tours that operate in the region.
The city was conquered in 1486 by the Aztecs, during the reign of King Moctezuma Xocoyotzin. Here, the Aztecs established an important commercial center, while looking for precious merchandise such as the coveted feathers of quetzal, amber and jaguar skins, among others. During the Aztec time there was an extensive exploitation of the local salt mines, this being one of the economic activities more important of that era.
The colorful landscapes have made Zinacantán one of the most photographed communities in the region, and the colorful clothes the community wears give a singular beauty to the typical multi-colored picture of Mexico.