photo sharing and upload picture albums photo forums search pictures popular photos photography help login
Ann Murdy | profile | all galleries >> Carnaval in Santa Fe de Laguna and Patzcuaro 2017 tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Carnaval in Santa Fe de Laguna and Patzcuaro 2017

In February 2017 I returned to Michoacán to photograph a fiesta in a small Purépecha village north of Quiroga. Ever since I bought the Artes de Mexico coffee table book titled “Viaje por sendas Purépechas” (Travel along the path of the Purépechas) in 2010 I have wanted to document this event. The only problem was, no one knew where this village was located or when the event took place. In 2011, I went to the tourist office in Morelia to make an inquiry. The lady working there didn’t know even know where the village was located, so she called someone within the office for assistance. She told me how to get there, however she didn’t know anything about what type of indigenous events took place within the village.

I continued to ask around. I ask curators, people in both Morelia and Patzcuaro, local guides and individuals who did tours in Michoacán as well. No one knew anything about it. Finally in the spring of 2014 my friends who were doing research in Michoacán found an online document about the fiesta. I was relieved as a woman wrote it from the Coliego de Michoacán. It was a scholarly document with many footnotes attached to it. It stated the fiesta was the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Finally, I knew when it took place!

As I had already made plans to be in other places in Mexico in 2015 and 2016 during this time of year, I decided I would finally document it in 2017. I asked the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago to write me a letter of recommendation in Spanish requesting permission from the Mayordomo of the village to document the fiesta.

On the day before the fiesta, I hired a driver to take me to the village so I could speak to the Mayordomo and get his permission to take photos. Much to my disappointment he told me I could take the photos, but the fiesta just concluded two days earlier. He told me the fiesta was always the week before Ash Wednesday. I couldn’t believe I had arrived too late to document it. The article was incorrect in more ways than one.

When life gives you a lemon, you make lemonade. Fortunately, the next week was carnaval. I decided to return to Santa Fe de Laguna to photograph the fiesta there. I had photographed it two years ago.

Santa Fe de la Laguna is a pre-Hispanic, indigenous, Purépecha village on the north shores of Lake Patzcuaro in the state of Michoacán, Mexico. Five thousand people live in this charming village that is located in the municipality of Quiroga. The streets are cobblestone and all the buildings have red tile roofs. Don Vasco de Quiroga evangelized it in the 16th century along with establishing the first pueblo-hospital in Michoacán in 1533. He also trained these people to become potters and carpenters. The women in this village still dress in their indigenous traje and wear the traditional Purépecha, indigo blue striped rebozo. The village is known for their candlestick holders made from black pottery by Manuel Jerónimo, the pottery of Nicolás Fabián Fermin and his wife María del Rosario, along with other potters.

Carnaval is held in this village the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The activities took place inside the courtyard at the former hospital and inside the capilla. The original hospital was destroyed in 1896. The new building located behind the parish church of Saint Nicholas is the rebuilt hospital. Within the courtyard of the rebuilt hospital is the capilla. There were two hornos under a portal where women were preparing food for the carnaval.

There are eight barrios in this village. Each of the barrios takes their turn volunteering for their religious celebrations and fiestas in the village. It is a part of their “cargo” otherwise known as community service. This year the Barrio of San Pedro was responsible for sponsoring the carnaval. The women of this barrio organized the fiesta. Irma Ceja Luz was in charge of organizing the carnaval for her barrio. She is known as a “semanera”. She was the most important person of the carnaval. She is also the lead dancer or jefe (leader) of the women that dance with the torito. The second most important person was her co-dancer known as the “madrina” or the matron of honor.

The women who danced for the carnaval with the torito are called Las Nanas Vaqueras (the Cowgirl Mommies or Grannies). Their dance costume is a profusion of colors made up of multiple skirts, aprons, rebozos, puffy sleeved sequin blouses, long, ribboned braids and a cowboy hat. In total there must have been about fifty of these women who were a part of the carnaval celebration. When I arrived the padrinos from the barrio were inside the capilla. They were placing gifts of alcohol and cigarettes at the foot of the torito.

Lunch was served to members of the barrio and all the woman dancers once they arrived in the courtyard of the capilla. I was given a shot of tequila with a splash of Sprite once I arrived and started documenting the event. Tamales, posole and soup were being prepared for lunch. A five-piece group played music as members of the barrio danced before the meal.

Once lunch was concluded, a man took the torito out of the capilla and began to dance with it. The first two women to dance with the torito were Irma and her matron of honor. After that, the women joined up in pairs where each of them took turns dancing with the torito. Once this part of the dance concluded, the women and the torito went out into the streets where they danced to the plaza. Once on the plaza they danced in front of the tiled mural.

On Tuesday as I was headed to the ATM in Patzcuaro, I stumbled upon groups of children from different schools getting ready to process around the Plaza Grande. They were about five to six years old dressed up in folkloric clothing. It was a pleasant surprise to come across these adorable children. I loved how the little boys were carrying their toritos in the parade. It is believed the torito is used in the dance as he is a Catholic symbol of debauchery and idolatry. These are the last days these devices can be enjoyed before the start of Lent.

Next year I will return to document the fiesta in the small Purépecha village. It would be wonderful to finally document it after waiting for nearly eight years!
previous pagepages 1 2 3 4 5 6 ALL next page
Dancing in the streets
Dancing in the streets
Adding the hair ribbons
Adding the hair ribbons
Dancing inside the capilla
Dancing inside the capilla
The altar
The altar
Altar with Nana Kenukua
Altar with Nana Kenukua
Waiting
Waiting
Approaching the altar
Approaching the altar
Offerings of clothing
Offerings of clothing
Pouring shots of tequila
Pouring shots of tequila
Adjusting clothing
Adjusting clothing
Preparing the tamales
Preparing the tamales
Offerings of alcohol and cigarettes
Offerings of alcohol and cigarettes
previous pagepages 1 2 3 4 5 6 ALL next page