Xun Betan

Mayan/Tsotsil artist


Venustiano Carranza, Chiapas, México. 

Xun Betan is an anthropologist, translator, essayist and poet. It brings together many of the main qualities of this innovative generation of contemporary Mayan and Zoque artists represented by Galería MUY. The special value of contemporary native artists is that they are ambassadors of their communities, those who open them to the outside world and connect them with the world with their travels and activities. In addition to this, with his work as a writer, researcher and translator. Xun Betan is contributing significantly to the growth of contemporary Tsotsil literary heritage.

His childhood was spent among the cornfields and the books. At nine years old he moved to Venustiano Carranza with his grandparents. There he was enrolled in a monolingual Spanish school, where he faced great discrimination for speaking only Tsotsil. It was then when he began to read The Little Prince, to learn Spanish. As the years went by, he decided to translate this work into his native language. He worked for ten years on this project, which was published in Argentina in 2018.

He attended the Autonomous University of Chiapas, where he studied Social Anthropology. His research interest focuses on the study of Tsotsil language, culture and worldview, and he has collaborated on projects led by Michael Rolland, Jan de Vos and Thomas Lee. His writings are published in the supplement Ojarasca, of the newspaper La Jornada; on the Chiapas Paralelo portal; and in the San Cristobal weekly Mirada Sur. In addition to his translation of The Little Prince, he has two other publications, Poetas invisibles, and Chamote. He has also been the translator of Sbek ‘Vun, a reflection on the Zapatista seminar of 2015, and of children’s stories such as those by Berlie Doherty, Onelio Jorge Cardoso, José María Arguedas, Elena Poniatowska and Michael Ende.

He collaborates with the magazine Conmoción and coordinates the Snichimal Vayuchil workshop, literature in bats’i k’op (true language), and the relational poetry sessions at Galería MUY.


Artworks from Xun Betan's catalogue