Recapturing ancient beauty

Updated: 2011-10-30 07:50

By Rodrigo Abd (China Daily)

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Recapturing ancient beauty

Photographer Rodrigo Abd takes old-style photography to a traditional culture festival in Guatemala.

At the Rabin Ajau National Folkloric Festival and Indian beauty contest, don't go looking for a swimsuit competition or speeches about world peace.

Unlike traditional beauty contests, the panel of judges rates the participants not only for their leadership skills, but their commitment to the rescue and maintenance of Mayan values. To become Guatemala's Rabin Ajau, or Queen Daughter, women ranging in age from 14 to 26 go through numerous rounds of competition, including a speech that must be given in their native dialect and Spanish. Rosa Lidia Aguar Castro, 23, wept after she was selected the new Rabin Ajau.

In between these events, Associated Press photographer Rodrigo Abd used a 19th-century-style wooden box camera as he captured a portrait of each participant in Guatemala City. The contestants had to hold still for up to two minutes as Abd made exposures with light shining directly from the lens onto photo paper inside the box camera.

 Recapturing ancient beauty

Matilde Teresa Bol Maas, 16, representing Lanquin in Guatemala's Alta Verapaz state.

 Recapturing ancient beauty

Ana Esperanza Gutierrez Chuni, 16, representing Palin, in Guatemala's Escuintla state.

 Recapturing ancient beauty

Rosa Lidia Aguare Castro, 23, was elected the new Mayan Queen or Rabin Ajau.

 Recapturing ancient beauty

Juana Choc Tzop, 18, representing Ixcan, in Guatemala's Quiche state.

 Recapturing ancient beauty

Maria Magdalena Lucas Lopez, 21, representing San Pedro Soloma, Huehuetenango.

 Recapturing ancient beauty

Matilde Evelyn Ivonne Tzunec Bixcul, 19, representing Solola, in Guatemala's Solola state.

 Recapturing ancient beauty

Heidi Sofia Chitop Grave, 15, representing San Miguel Uspantan, in Guatemala's Quiche state.

Recapturing ancient beauty 

Teresa Gonzales Ixtetela, 18, representing San Pedro La Laguna, in Guatemala's Solola state.

(China Daily 10/30/2011 page6)