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
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.
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
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.
Indigenous Groups of Honduras overview.
If you have pictures of the Lencas you
would like shared with others,