The following was recorded from the Participant. They are marked as TM. I am marked as DG.
TM: So there’s the, uh, the Mayan Jin-a little different from the ones we talked about in class-but they [the Belizeans] believe that when you’re walking in the jungle and you trip for, like, no reason, or you hear a weird noise, or something–a twig snaps or something, whatever happens, it’s actually these Jin–they’re not evil creatures, um, that get in your way or make you fall or make you lose your way… But they [the Belizeans] believe that the Jin are actually pieces of um…liver from people who died, so their livers become animated after they die. And so their livers become animated and go out in the jungle and…cause everybody a bunch of trouble, and so I, I, I’ve probably heard that from about three different people I’ve talked to in Belize… So I don’t know if it’s outside of Belize, if that’s the story. Um I’m pretty sure I just tripped because I’m clumsy but I like to blame it on the Jin (laughs).
DG: Where did you hear it from?
TM: Well a few [people]… I heard it from one person when I fell down–I tripped over something out in the jungle. Ah the guide I was with said “Oh it must be one of the Jin’s”, and I was like, “Is that someone’s last name?” So he told me the story, and I thought he was just trying to make me feel better about tripping, but then I asked a couple more people about it. Um, two of my friends– the first one that told me about it was male–and the other two–he was probably around 40 to 50– and the two women I asked about it too were the same age range and they both had heard of it too so…
The conversation was recorded while sitting in a hallway outside of a classroom on a university campus. The context of the original Jin story was told while the interviewee was hiking in Belize, and later confirmed by two others.
The interviewee is a professor at the University of Southern California. They are also a practicing archeologist. Originally from Chicago, IL, they now live in Los Angeles, CA, with their husband. The interviewee worked in Finance before pursuing a teaching degree.
I thought this folklore item was great. First, just the idea of the interviewee thinking the guide had told her about the Jin in order to make her feel better about tripping was amusing. But also, much of the folklore I’ve collected has been passed down through family, so to see a folklore that TM saw from three different people, of different genders (although around the same age) was interesting. Additionally, this was the furthest piece of folklore I’ve collected. The woods are always full of warning folklore stories, so this one allowed for cultural and religious beliefs of the area to create the folklore.