The Mazatecs call themselves Ha shuta Enima, which in their language means "those of us who work in the forest, humble people of habit".. According to other authors, the origin of the name Mazatec comes from Nahuatl Mazatecatl or "people of the deer", a name given to them by the Nonoalcas because of the great respect they had for the deer.
The Mazatecs are located in the state of Oaxaca, in the regions of the Cañada and the Papaloapan-Tuxtepec valley. The Papaloapan basin has an extensive arterial system of rivers that flow down from the Sierra Madre Oriental and into the Alvarado lagoon in the Gulf of Mexico.
The main Mazatec towns are Teotitlán de Flores Magón, Santa Cruz Acatepec, Santa Ana Ateixtlahuaca, San Bartolomé Ayautla, San Juan Coatzaspam, Santa María Magdalena Chilchotla, San Lorenzo Cuahnecuiltitla, San Mateo Eloxochitlán de Flores Magónl, San Francisco Huehu San Pedro Ocopetatillo, San Jerónimo Tecoatl, San José Tenango, Santiago Texcaltzingo, San Lucas Zoquiapam, Huautla de Jiménez, San Pedro Ixcatlán, Jalapa de Díaz and San Miguel Soyaltepec. To the south-east, the Mazatec territory adjoins that of the Chinantecs.
The Mazatecs still use a wide variety of medicinal plants at the domestic level, although if the illness is serious they take the patient to the local healers or allopathic doctors. There are illnesses generated by envy, the evil eye and witchcraft, which can only be relieved by healers or shamans through the use of sacred mushrooms with virgin seeds. The prestige of some healers reaches the whole region.
In fact, in the 1960s, the curator and shaman Mazatec Maria Sabina popularised the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms that grew in the region, such as teonanácatl, for therapeutic purposes, until they became national and international fame.
Mazatecs begin their special healing journeys from their own homes to the homes of healers, nihe or shinahes, and then follow the altars of the chicones culminating in the Catholic temples. All of these spaces are part of the healing process that patients go through in Mazatec communities. In the decade of the 1960s, there was a great resurgence of the phenomenon of shamanism.
The Mazatec concept of the world is expressed in a syncretism in which the emergent part manifests the Judeo-Christian creation myth, as well as the duality of good and evil. Its cosmology is expressed in the healing rituals practiced in the mountains and in the Lower Mazateca. Similarly, the traditional relationship of the Mazatecs with their environment refers to the owners of the place, the chicones or chiconindú, the spirits that regulate their cultural world. These spirits are located in ravines, caves, springs and hills. It is a practice in which beliefs and habits regarding illness and healing are mixed and related to the ancestral spirits of these lands. The healing space is a sacred religious space.
In religious life, the myth is daily and is integrated with the experiences of the Catholic calendar in the agricultural cycles and in the festivities of the patron saints of the communities. In most towns there are no priests, as they only come during the festivities and for the celebration of baptisms or weddings. In parallel to this institutional religion, a "traditional" religious practice develops and takes on a broader character. The sacred world is expressed directly in its geographical environment. Being born, dying and being buried near the place of birth is part of the sacred circle that identifies the modern Mazatec with the traditions that are lost in the roots of his land. The earth is the space where the sacred passes through, where the beings of heaven and earth are united.
Mazatec celebrations revolve around the agricultural calendar, which varies between the Mazateca Baja and the Sierra. The Guelaguetza festival is celebrated in this region with the Flor de Piña dance.
In Mazateca Baja, on 1 January, the winchaa ceremony and the weather forecast for the coming year are held. On 2 March and 1 May, the xixhua ceremony is held in the cornfield. In Jalapa de Díaz, the feast of the Nativity is celebrated on 8 September and the xixhua ceremony is held for coffee. In the mountains, on 10 February, men and women harvest the seed of the Virgin. If it has not yet rained, a ceremony to ask for rain is held. On 10 June, the first sacred mushrooms are harvested. On 9 August, there is a "payment" ceremony so that Mother Earth can cut the first corn. On 17 November, the day of San Andrés is celebrated in Huautla, Chane and Tenango. Throughout the region, the dead and deceased saints are celebrated on 28 October and the birth of Jesus on 25 December.
Within this community, Jalapa de Diaz's colourful and beautiful embroidery stands out. The town of San Felipe Jalapa de Diaz is 60 km from the city of Tuxtepec in the Papaloapan basin region. A particularly important handicraft activity in San Felipe Jalapa de Díaz is the embroidery ofbatteriesThe embroidery of the "filling" blouses is done by the Jalapeño craftsmen. For the embroidery of the "filling" blouses, the Jalapeño craftsmen use a rayon fabric as a base, which is usually black. The iconography of the city is shown on the canvas, which consists of birds, flowers and large leaves in irregular proportions and repetitions. The birds merge with the leaves. These designs are entirely hand-embroidered with cotton thread and topstitching, their production requires up to one and a half months.
You can find these colourful and beautiful embroidered huipiles, filled with the Jalapa de Diaz tradition in our solidarity shop.