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Lencas of Honduras  by Dave Borton

The largest indigenous group in Honduras is the Lenca people.  They live in the Western and Southern Highlands around Celaque, stretching east through La Esperanza (and including the departments of Intibuca, Lempira, and La Paz).  The Lencas are not members of the ancient, more well-known Mayans.

A small village that is easily accessed is La Campa, pop. 400, home to the Lencas.  Take a bus from Gracias (10 miles).  Make sure you buy some rough earthenware pottery that the area is known for.  Shop at the women's cooperative for a good selection of Lencan pottery at reasonable prices.  I bought a guancasco mask there.

Leonel makes unimaginably small clay figurines with precise detail that are meticulously painted.  His mother, Doņa Desideria, makes a variety of pottery.  Anyone can point out their home in Barrio San Matias in La Campa.

Lencas attend the Sunday traditional market (probably the most interesting one in Honduras) in Belen Gualcho on Sunday mornings.  It is a 2.5 hour bus ride from Santa Rosa de Copan.  It is easiest to arrive on Saturday, staying at the Hotel Belen (try the Hospedaje de Doņa Carolina if full).

The Lenca language is all but dead.  Much of the Lenca culture has been lost since the 1920's.  Lenca men are expected to join in communal efforts -- tending the Lenca forests, clearing the underbrush to reduce forest fires, assisting widows with farming, etc.

(Wendy continues)

The Lencas have a special dance called the guancasco.  La Campa's Guancasco draws 300,000 over a week's time.  The Guancasco is the meeting of two villages for the purpose of celebrating peace between them on the occasion of the patron saint's fair. 

When you go to Lenca villages, you should definitely visit the churches which have saints with handmade clothes that people give to the saints to thank them for some prayer answered during the year.  Another popular place to go is Ojojona south of Tegucigalpa which also has a large guancasco.

Return to Indigenous Groups of Honduras overview.

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