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QUICHE or KICHES, a tribe of Central American Indians of Mayan stock. They inhabited western Guatemala, where their descendants still survive. They were at the time of the conquest the most powerful of the three Mayan peoples in Guatemala, the other two being the Cakchiquel and the Zutugil. Their chronicles are said to date back to the 8th century. Their sacred book, the Popol Vuh, containing a mythological cosmogony, survives in a 17th-century manuscript written by a Christianized Guatemalan. To this tradition may be due the remarkable similarity of the Quiche creation story to that of the Old Testament. Their capital was Utatlan, near the site of the modern Santa Cruz Quiche, and was skilfully fortified. They had an elaborate system of government and religion. Records were kept in picture-writing. The Quiche were the first Indians met by Pedro de Alvarado in 1524 on his expedition into Guatemala.

See further CENTRAL AMERICA and MEXICO; for the Popol Vuh see English edition by L. Spence (1909); see also Nuttall, Ancient American Civilizations (Camb. Mass., 1901), and W. Bollaert in Proc. Roy. Soc. Lit. vii. 1862.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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