photo sharing and upload picture albums photo forums search pictures popular photos photography help login
Ann Murdy | profile | all galleries >> 2014 Guelaguetza in Oaxaca, Mexico tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

2014 Guelaguetza in Oaxaca, Mexico

In July 2014 I returned to Oaxaca for my final time to document the Guelaguetza. I tell people if you really want to experience Oaxaca this is the time to visit this fabulous, colonial city. The two-week celebration showcases the gastronomy, folk art, traditional clothing, music and dance of the state. Dancers representing the eight regions of the state come into the city of Oaxaca to dance on the last two Mondays in July in the Guelaguetza auditorium. Throughout the month of July there are continuous events going on in the city of Oaxaca as well as the communities surrounding the city. There are all types of ferias (fairs) taking place. Many of them are in Oaxaca City. The mezcal and artesanias fair both take place in Llano Park, the tejate and tamal fair takes place on the Plaza de la Danza and the mole fair takes place in the botantical garden next to Santa Domingo. Other fairs outside of the city Oaxaca include the quesillo (cheese) fair in Reyes Etla, the mushroom fair in San Antonino Cuajimoloyas and the tapete (rug) fair in Teotitlán del Valle. One can also go to many of the surrounding villages to see local Guelaguetza performances for free. This year I went to Reyes Etla a village about thirty minutes north of Oaxaca to photograph their Guelaguetza which was a intimate experience compared to seeing the Guelaguetza in town in the auditorium which seats over 11,000 people.

The reason why I enjoy the Guelaguetza so much is because I adore ethnic dance and costume. To see all the various traje (traditional clothing) worn by the dancers is pure joy and a complete color explosion. I’m continuously swept away by the beauty of the embroidered huipils and faldas worn by the women from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the color combinations of the huipils worn by the Flor de Piña dancers and the serene beauty of the China Oaxqueñas as their satin skirts swirl around them while they dance gracefully with their floral canastas on their heads. Another plus about visiting Oaxaca during the Guelaguetza is that artisans from throughout the state participate in textile fairs. This year there was an artesanias fair on M. Alcala and in Llano Park. If you collect ethnic clothing this is a wonderful opportunity to find some real treasures as much of this clothing cannot be found during the rest of year unless you traveled directly to the villages. Another treat during the Guelaguetza is the annual exhibit of traje that is held at the Museo del Palacio on the zócalo: http://oaxaca.quadratin.com.mx/Xaba-Lulaa-trajes-de-Oaxaca-en-el-Museo-del-Palacio/. The Museo Textil also had a sale of clothing from four different regions of Oaxaca along with the exhibit in their museum and at the San Pablo Cultural center: called "Un Arbol que Florece" http://www.museotextildeoaxaca.org.mx

Another plus about the Guelaguetza is that you never know what you'll stumble upon next. One day I came across a calenda of muxes (men from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec who dress up as women). Another day I was fortunate enough to photograph a children's Guelaguetza performance. Oaxaca is full of surprises!

I thoroughly enjoyed photographing the tejate and tamal feria this year as well. Tejate is a refreshing; pre-hispanic drink made from maize flour, fermented cocoa beans, mamey seed and the rosita cacao flower. It is served in brightly painted red gourds. It doesn’t look very appealing on first glance with the foam floating on top of the liquid, but it is a delight to drink. I marveled at the old and young women mixing up the tejate with their powerful arms. I loved how once the tejate paste was mixed up they held a bowl of water above their huge ceramic bowls containing the mixture and let the water cascade gracefully into the bowl. It was performance art in action. There were also bowls of chilacayote being served as well. This drink is made from squash, water, brown sugar, cinnamon and cubes of pineapple. Also being served were tamales and empanadas. The event was packed when it opened on the first day.

The Guelaguetza is always celebrated the last two Mondays in July. In 2014 it was celebrated on July 21st and 28th. There are two performances each day in the Guelaguetza auditorium, one at 10AM and another at 5PM. The evening performances always conclude with a firework display over the auditorium. This celebration originated in colonial times. Tickets for the reserved seats directly around the stage cost $100. The celebration is related to the Corpus Christi celebrations at the Carmen Alto church in the city of Oaxaca. Carmen Alto church always plays a significant role in the festivities. Throughout the Guelaguetza celebration people came to the church to pay their respects to the Virgin of Carmen. Once the Spanish arrived in Mexico the indigenous people still continued to celebrate their customs dedicated to Centéotl, the corn goddess. In observance of this tradition, there is always a young girl who competes to be the corn goddess every year at the Guelaguetza. To see my photos of the contest for the Guelaguetza Corn Goddess go to the following link: http://www.pbase.com/annmurdy/diosa_centeotl_2014&page=all

The word “guelaguetza” means offering, gift or present. After each delegation is done dancing; they throw whatever comes from the respective village into the audience. For example, when the flor de piña dancers have completed their dance they throw the pineapples grown from the region of Tuxtepec into the audience. Other groups throw fruit, bread, etc. into the enthusiastic crowd.

For myself the Guelaguetza is a joyous, most colorful and lively event! I’m thankful for the opportunity to document it for the last three years! Viva Oaxaca otra vez!
previous pagepages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 ALL next page
Tehauana Float
Tehauana Float
China Oaxqueña with chiles
China Oaxqueña with chiles
Gathering of China Oaxqueñas
Gathering of China Oaxqueñas
Little Tehuana on back of float
Little Tehuana on back of float
Little Flor de Piña dancers
Little Flor de Piña dancers
Tehuana holding xicapextle
Tehuana holding xicapextle
Flor de Piña dancers
Flor de Piña dancers
3 Tehuanas from Juchitan
3 Tehuanas from Juchitan
Delegation from Miahuatlan de Porfiro Diaz
Delegation from Miahuatlan de Porfiro Diaz
China Oaxqueñas dancing away
China Oaxqueñas dancing away
Delegation from Santiago Jamiltepec
Delegation from Santiago Jamiltepec
Jacqueline, Diosa Centéotl 2014
Jacqueline, Diosa Centéotl 2014
previous pagepages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 ALL next page