Their language, which is actually supplanting Spanish to a great extent, is still spoken by about 300,000 persons, of whom two-thirds are pure Maya, the remainder being whites and of mixed blood.The Mayan linguistic stock includes some twenty tribes, speaking closely related dialects, and (excepting the Huastec of northern Vera Cruz and south-east San Luis Potosi, Mexico) occupying contiguous territory in Tabasco, Chiapas, and the Yucatan peninsula, a large part of Guatemala, and smaller portion of Honduras and Salvador.The ancient builders of the ruined cities of Palenque and Copan were of the same stock.There was a distinct class system in ancient Maya times.As many as twenty such states existed on the Yucatan Peninsula, but although a woman has, on rare occasions, ascended to the ruling position, she has never acquired the title of 'mah kina'.
Similar to the Greeks, they were religiously and artistically a nation, but politically sovereign states.
Between the ruling class and the farmer/laborer, there must have been an educated nobility who were scribes, artists and architects.
Evidence of their skill and innovation remains in works of stone, stucco, jade, bone, pottery, obsidian and flint.
Taxes were paid in kind through authorized collectors.
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