Maya Ruins Revisited: In the Footsteps of Teobert Maler
11.25" x 12.25" x 1.25"
Essays by Stephan Merk and Alma Durán-Merk, Jeremy A. Sabloff and Khristaan D. Villela

Published by Peyton Wright Publishing

The book can be ordered from the University of Oklahoma Press. It can be purchased in Santa Fe at Peyton Wright Gallery.

2021 Best Photography Book, National Indie Book Awards

2021 Silver Medal Winner in Photography, Independent Publishers Book Awards (IPPY)

2021 Photography Book of the Year, Independent Press Awards

2021 Photography and Coffee Table Book of the Year, Foreword INDIES Awards, Finalist

Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Finalist

Maya Ruins Revisited: In the Footsteps of Teobert Maler, by William Frej, is a truly outstanding book on many levels. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, a remarkable photographer named Teobert Maler explored large areas of Guatemala and the Yucatán, discovering hundreds of unknown Maya temples and cities and photographing what he found. These photographs were not only extraordinary for their artistic brilliance, but they created an important record of what these Mayan ruins looked like unrestored and unexcavated, still buried in jungle growth. Now, over a century later, William Frej has retraced the explorations of Maler and photographed many of his sites, often from the same vantage points. The result is a gorgeous and haunting book of photography, exploration, history, and adventure, enriched by essays from several well-known Maya scholars. While some of these Maya sites have been cleared, many remain untouched, remote, and almost unknown, visited only by Mayan beekeepers. I highly recommend this fascinating and beautiful volume, which is sure to become a classic.
Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Lost City of the Monkey God

William Frej's book provides the viewer with that rare "depth of field" seldom captured by either the committed scholar or the more casual traveler when examining an ancient civilization. His photographs of Classic and Postclassic Period Maya architecture and their settings show the enduring history of a remarkable society removed for centuries from our global comparative histories and only first revealed to Western audiences some six or seven generations ago. Frej's large format photographs graphically illustrate a history of exploration and provide a visual introduction to a more recent narrative of inquiry. HIs is a story of societal resilience and longevity in a less forgiving tropical environment revealed through both the sharp and subtle tones of his exquisite black and white photography.
Vernon L. Scarborough, Emeritus, Distinguished University Professor, Anthropology, University of Cincinnati

As a photographer myself, I often wonder if a visual image, a photograph, or a painting has the power to alter our attitudes and perceptions of each other. Can it help us understand and appreciate a vastly different culture from our own? I am happy to say that William Frej, wiht his humanist point of view of the world, uses his images to do just that, taking us on a journey through time that helps us appreciate and understand this fascinating ancient culture. Maybe that's the challenge we are facing today if civilization is to survive.
Antonio Turok, internationally-known documentary photographer based in Oaxaca, Mexico, and author, most recently, of La Fiesta Y La Rebelión (Era 2019)

If you read only one book about Pre-Columbian Maya ruins, make it this extraordinary compilation of more than 138 glorious photographs by William Frej of remote ruins in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. Frej was inspired in part by nineteenth-century archaeologist/adventurer Teobert Maler, 39 of whose historic photographs are presented alongside Frej's contemporary images of the same sites. The aesthetic pleasures are augmented by beautifully written informative captions and current scholarship. Best of all, you can travel from your armchair through history and don't have to brave the jungle heat, snakes, and insects.
MaLin Wilson-Powell, former curator at the New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, and the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas, is an independent curator and author of nine books.

About the Artist
William Frej began his career as an architect and later served as an international development specialist, living in Nepal, India, Indonesia, Poland, Kazakhstan, and Afghanistan over a period of 27 years. Always with his camera at his side, he has been photographing indigenous people and their environments for over 40 years, documenting the changing lifestyles and architecture of many of the world’s unique and ancient cultures.

The photography captures both the stunning high peaks and remote mountain ranges of Asia, as well as the living cultures and religious ceremonies in the faraway regions of the Great Himalayan Range, the Ghats of Varanasi, India, rituals in Guatemala and Mexico, and the stone monuments of Cambodia’s Khmer. Frej’s transcendent photography will transport the viewer to these places of mountain grandeur and still vibrant religious practice.

Frej and his wife Anne first visited Nepal in 1981 on a month-long trek around Manaslu, the eighth highest peak in the world. Inspired by the practice of Tibetan Buddhism they encountered in remote mountain villages, this trek led to a lifelong quest, documenting both the world’s highest peaks, as well as the resilient people living throughout the roof of the world.

They returned to Nepal in 1982, and in 1985, they took a two-year sabbatical walking to the base camps of the world’s highest peaks. Starting in the mountains of northern Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor, the Frej’s walked over 3,000 miles on their personal pilgrimage through Pakistan, India, Nepal and Tibet. Throughout this sojourn, Asia’s highest peaks and their outposts of remote civilizations and religions provided a wealth of subject matter for photography, documenting peaks, people and ceremonies seen by only a few.

Their quest continued over next three decades, until the present, returning to the Himalayas many times, living in Central Asia and Afghanistan, and documenting not only mountains, but ancient religious ceremonies that still define a way of life for Asia’s Hindu, Bon and Buddhist peoples. Frej’s June of 2018 visit to the Indian Himalaya retraced the steps of India’s devout holy men, the Sadhus, to Gaumukh glacier, the source of the holy Ganges, and continued through Ladakh, visiting 24 remote monasteries and participating in ceremonies at Lamayuru and Hemis Monasteries.

Frej has also spent considerable time the past five years documenting both the religious rites of Mexico’s indigenous communities and the contemporary Maya, and the ancient cities their fore-bearers so skillfully created over a millennium ago. His images of Semana Santa, Dia de los Muertos and the Feast Day of San Ildefonso transport us to a place that imbues strong transformational power.

In 2014, his one-person photographic exhibition Enduring Cultures was featured at Galeria La Eskalera in Merida, Mexico. It included black and white and color photography from Afghanistan, Upper Mustang, Nepal, and San Agustin Etla, Oaxaca, Mexico. His photography was featured in a major exhibition which opened June 2015 at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, titled Tradicion, Devocion Y Vida: 80 years of Black and White Photography in New Mexico and Mexico. His photography on Day of the Dead in Oaxaca, Mexico was exhibited October-December 2015 in a one-person show at Peters Projects Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A number of his photographs were exhibited at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art in their exhibitions Chimayo: A Pilgrimage through Two Centuries and Mirror Mirror: Frida Kahlo Photographs, in 2017. He was selected to participate in an exhibition titled Faith in New Mexico at Editions One Gallery in Santa Fe.

Peyton Wright Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has mounted several major exhibitions, including: The Maya, Photography by William Frej, 2016, of 32 large-scale, black and white photographs of Mexico’s remote, off-the-grid Mayan ruins; Ancient Kingdoms, Hidden Realms,2017, an exhibition highlighting the Mayan and Khmer kingdoms; Ritual of the Cora, 2019, documenting the Holy Week ceremonies of the Cora people in the Sierra del Nayarit, Mexico; Maya Ruins Revisited: In the Footsteps of Teobert Maler, 2020, a unique pairing of archival material with Frej’s current imagery of the same locations; Seasons of Ceremonies, 2021, chronicling religious rituals in Yucatán, Chiapas, and Oaxaca, Mexico and Rabinal, Guatemala; and Travels Across the Roof of the World, 2022, with his wife Anne Frej, chronicling a sweeping yet intimate view of the breathtaking peaks, splendid valleys, and extraordinary people of the Himalaya.

Frej’s photographs were also featured in one-person exhibitions, Nomads of Kyrgyzstan in Almaty, Kazakhstan in 2008 and Himalayan Pilgrimage at the Museum of Asia and the Pacific in Warsaw, Poland in 1998. His photographic work Taninbar to Tibet was featured in a one-person show at the Duta Fine Arts Museum and Gallery in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1991. Mr. Frej’s other exhibitions include the Tucson Art Center in 1972, The Eye Gallery in San Francisco in 1977, and the San Francisco Arts Festival in 1976 and 1977. His photographs of Peru received purchase awards from the San Francisco Arts Commission and the San Francisco Arts Festival in the 1970s.

His photographs of the Himalaya, India and Africa were featured in the Edwin Bernbaum book, Sacred Mountains of the World and his photographs of India’s Tilwara camel fair were highlighted in Adventure Travel Magazine. Mr. Frej’s photographic work is represented in numerous public and private collections throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.

He is represented by Peyton Wright Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

His book of black-and-white photographs, Maya Ruins Revisited: In the Footsteps of Teobert Maler (Peyton Wright Gallery, 2020), has won sixteen awards. His second book, Seasons of Ceremonies: Rites and Rituals in Guatemala and Mexico (Museum of New Mexico Press, 2021), has won thirteen awards including four “photography book of the year” awards and the Gold Medal Best Photography book for 2021 from Foreword Indies/Foreword Reviews.

View the current catalog