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Ann Murdy | profile | all galleries >> Carnaval en Santa Fe de la Laguna, Michoacán 2015 tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Carnaval en Santa Fe de la Laguna, Michoacán 2015

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 that are made from black pottery. The potter Nicolas Fabian Fermin and his wife María del Rosario, who are both potters, live in the village too.

Carnival 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 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 Juan was responsible for sponsoring the carnival. The women of this barrio ran this fiesta. María Adelaida was in charge of organizing the carnival for her barrio. She is known as a “semanera”. She was the most important person of the carnival. The second most important person was her co-dancer known as the “madrina” or the matron of honor. Both María Adelaida and her matron of honor were the only women allowed to be dressed inside the capilla. Both of them wore different trajes (indigenous clothing) both days of the carnival. María Adelaida’s clothing for each day cost around 15,000 pesos or a little over one thousand dollars. She told me her clothing was very expensive. The women in the village donated some of her clothing. She wore at least eight aprons around her waist. She told me the clothing was very heavy too. As she was being dressed shots of mezcal were served to only the women inside the capilla.

Gradually, more and more women from the village showed up. Their husbands accompanied them as they entered the courtyard of the hospital but after that, their husbands literally took a backseat. These women who danced for the carnival with the torito are called Las Nañas Vaqueras (the Cowgirl Mommies or Grannies). They were the best-dressed cowgirls that I had ever seen. In total there must have been about fifty of these women who were a part of the carnival celebration. Slowly the padrinos from their barrio entered the capilla and gifts of food were placed at the foot of the torito. After that confetti was placed on the top of their heads. After a short dance inside the capilla, posole was served to everyone who attended the festivities.

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 María Adelaida 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 most of the same activities took place again. I only saw María Adelaida getting dressed in the capilla on Tuesday. Posole was served again to everyone. After lunch the man carrying the torito began to dance with a man dressed up in vaquero clothing who was cracking a whip and a little boy carrying a torito joined him. One by one the pair of women danced again with the torito. Once each of them had their opportunity to dance with the torito they took off and began dancing in the streets. They danced to a house where tamales were going to be served. Once they reached this home, they all took turns dancing in pairs with the torito. After this dance was concluded tamales were served to everyone from inside and outside of the house.

It was a joy to witness. The women's traje was a total sparkle of color! I don't think I had ever seen indigenous clothing quite like this!
Viva Carnaval!
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Entry of Color
Entry of Color
Gathering on the Plaza
Gathering on the Plaza
María Adelaida getting dressed
María Adelaida getting dressed
María Adelaida and the Madrina
María Adelaida and the Madrina
Las Mujeres
Las Mujeres
María Adelaida having her hair French braided
María Adelaida having her hair French braided
Hanging out with the band
Hanging out with the band
Detail of María Adelaida's braids
Detail of María Adelaida's braids
Approaching the torito
Approaching the torito
Dancing in front of the tiled mural
Dancing in front of the tiled mural
Dancing with the torito
Dancing with the torito
Eatting posole
Eatting posole
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