The Zapotecs call themselves: Binnizá (binni, people; zá, cloud: " The people who come from the clouds". For the Mexicans, the Zapotecs were "zapotecatl", people who came from the region of Teozapotlan, "place where the gods dwell". The Spaniards called them "Zapotecs".
The Isthmus of Tehuantepec is the narrowest part of the Mexican Republic. It is located in the southeast, in the state of Oaxaca. It is composed of the districts of Juchitán, Tehuantepec and Jouxte, to the north, the Isthmus of Veracruz to the south with the Pacific Ocean; to the west with the Sierra Juárez and Sierra Madre del Sur, and to the east with the state of Chiapas. The Zapotec population is concentrated in these areas.
The basis of organisation among the Zapotecs is the family. At work, there is a family division that is marked by age and gender. Generally, the man does not bring money home, unless he is a wage earner, or sells his oxen or a horse. If he is a hunter or fisherman, he only takes the product of his work and the woman is responsible for selling it. The woman is the one who sells the products from house to house, in the market or when travelling abroad. The Zapotec woman enjoys her independence in society, as well as being an important transmitter of her culture. Solidarity is an important element of Zapotec society.
The traditional garment of a Zapotec woman is the hupil. It is normally made of velvet and cotton, and is almost always decorated with images of flowers of different colours.
The main celebrations of the Zapotec community are
Day of the Dead
In each region of Mexico, communities celebrate this day, which is very important for the country, with different pre-Hispanic and community-specific rituals.
In the Zapotec community, this day is a mixture of pre-Hispanic and Spanish heritage.
Guelaguetza is a Zapotec word that means to offer or present. In the broadest sense, it is a generous act of giving, when the opportunity arises, which will always be reciprocated by the recipient. The men and women of the eight regions of the state make offerings to the people of Oaxaca City, who receive them with pleasure. From the Central Valleys, La Cañada, Papaloapan, La Mixteca, La Costa, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the Sierras Norte and the Sierra Sur, they come to offer the products of the earth to their hosts.
It is also said that these festivities originated in the colonial era and were linked to the "Festival Corpus Christi" of the Carmen Alto temple, which the Carmelites built on the slopes of a hill that the Zapotecs had called Bella Vista, and was celebrated on the Monday following 16 July.
Night of the candles
This is a nightly activity that takes place every year with a religious objective, where the Zapotecs venerate various patron saints of the districts, towns and cities of the region.
It is important to note that in In this type of celebration, the clothes are the most important thing and should not be considered as something trivial, as they go beyond the respect of the Zapotec saints.