Communauté Nahua – Sierra Nord du Puebla
The Nahuat community has a population that is divided into different geographical areas of Mexico. Each Nahua community has differences in social behavior, dress and traditions. That is why we will describe the communities that inhabit the Sierra Norte de Puebla, where the Mazatzin Textiles collective originated.
Community Nahua Sierra Norte de Puebla
For the Nahua community of the Sierra, the language, especially Nahuatl or Mexican, is one of the important elements linked to its identity. It remains the main mother tongue in this region. The identity of the local community is the first reference for distinguishing groups living in other communities. In this rural region, the oral tradition predominates and, through it, the memory of the population is preserved to support its identity.
The Nahua community lives in the north of the Sierra de Puebla in the following municipalities: Huauchinango, Xicotepec, Pahuatlán, Zacatlán, Chignahuapan, Tetela de Ocampo, Zacapoaxtla, Cuetzalan del Progreso, Teziutlán, Zaragoza, Zihuateutla and Tlatlauquec.
In addition to living with Métis groups residing in government centers, Indigenous peoples in their communities are struggling to maintain their traditions. They have to deal with teachers, priests, merchants, government officials, doctors, who arrive with the idea of showing indigenous peoples what “modernity” looks like. This inequality encourages indigenous peoples to form ethnic organizations in order to claim their IDENTITY, supported by the defense of their indigenous rights, and thus preserve their historical memory through the collection of myths and stories in the Nahuatl language.
The Cosmogony of the Nahuas of Cuetzalan: the world in which man’s existence develops, with all that surrounds him, is called cemanahuac, which literally means “that which is surrounded by the waters”, a term that is associated with two others: talticpac: “at the edge of the earth”, and talmanic: “on the flat earth that stretches out”. Therefore, the dominant idea among the Nahuas is that the cosmos is a flat, finite surface, above and below which lie the other two planes: the sky, ilhuicac, and the underworld, talocan.
This notion is also represented in the domestic space where the domestic stove: the comal is considered the surface of the earth, on which the sky is located. The fire that cooks the food, represents the underground world and refers metaphorically to the space where the night sun makes its daily journey. Thus, this “sun”, which processes food so that man can feed himself, has its equivalent the daytime sun, because thanks to its heat, generated by the sun’s rays, it promotes the growth and maturation of corn plants so that man can feed himself. For their part, the three stones that support the comal, called tenamaztle, represent the posts that support the world.
They consider their environment as a living space in which men, animals and plants live together, as well as a diversity of extrahuman entities (deities, but also supernatural beings).
Each community has a patron saint whom it celebrates. Therefore, the patron saint’s day expresses the uniqueness of the community culture, as it is structured on the basis of “custom” and local tradition. In the region, there is a system of feasts structured around the patron saint and the main celebrations of the Catholic liturgical calendar.
These feasts mark the different eras and the beginning of a new cycle, such as Easter. Because of their connection with agricultural cycles, the feasts overflow the Christian spaces, going beyond the liturgical seasons. Moreover, festivals represent an instrument of social cohesion, based on a common goal: the celebration of stewardship. Music and dance cannot be absent from these festivals: dance is a means of expression, as it expresses the dancers’ relationship with the environment. Dance is part of a ritual that involves other actions in addition to being charged with symbolic meaning.
The most important traditional dances of the region are: “los Santiagueros”, “Negritos”, “Toreadores”, “Acatlaxquis”, “Voladores”, “Segadores”, “Tejoneros” and “Cuezalime” or “Quetzales”.
Finally, an important tradition within the community, since it defines and perpetuates its identity, is the weaving of textiles. Clothing for indigenous groups is also a means of cultural expression. It is a means of emphasizing belonging to a group and, in some communities, it is distinctive of the rank and status of the wearer. The designs express a symbolism that refers to the vision of the world. Women’s clothing, which is the most widespread, is made up of colors that vary according to each community. This garment is made of wool and cotton. The belt is made on a loom whose design and colors identify each community. The embroidered blouse and quexquemitl / huipil, as it is called in the region of Cuetzalan, complete with the shawl the clothing traditionally worn by women.
The collective Mazatzin Textiles is from the town of Cuetzalan del Progreso in the state of Puebla, you will find their pieces in the solidarity store.