Communauté Zapotèque – Isthme de Tehuantepec

The Zapotecs call themselves: Binnizá (binni, people; zá, cloud: “People who come from the clouds”). For the Mexicans, the Zapotecs were “zapotecatl,” people who come from the region of Teozapotlan, “place where the gods live. It was the Spaniards who named 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 organization among the Zapotecs is the family. At work, there is a family division that is marked by age and gender. Generally, men do not bring money home unless they are salaried employees or sell their oxen or a horse. If he is a hunter or fisherman, he takes only the product of his work and the woman is in charge of selling it. The woman is the one who sells the products from house to house, in the market or while traveling abroad. The Zapotecan woman enjoys her independence in society and is an important transmitter of her culture. Solidarity is an important element of Zapotec society.


The traditional dress of a Zapotec woman is the hupil. It is usually made of velvet and cotton, and is almost always decorated with images of flowers in different colors.


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 rituals specific to each community.

In the Zapotec community, this day is a mixture of pre-Hispanic and Spanish heritage.

-La Guelaguetza

Guelaguetza is a Zapotec word that means to offer or present. In its broadest sense, it is a generous act of giving, when the opportunity presents itself, and which will always be reciprocated by the one who has received. Men and women from 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 guests.

It is also said that these festivities have their origin in the colonial era and would be linked to the “Festival Corpus Christi” of the Carmelite temple Carmen Alto, which the Carmelites built on the slopes of a hill that the Zapotecs had called Bella Vista, and was celebrated the following Monday, July 16.

– Night of Candles

It is a night activity that takes place every year with a religious objective, where the Zapotecs venerate various patron saints of the neighborhoods, towns and cities of the region.

It is important to clarify that in this type of fiesta, clothing is the most important thing and should not be considered trivial, because it goes beyond respect for the Zapotecan saints.