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Ann Murdy | profile | all galleries >> Una Semana en Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Una Semana en Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca

In May 2013 I visited Teotitlán del Valle during the celebration of La Fiesta de la Santa Cruz. This celebration took place on May 2nd and 3rd. On May 3rd many people in the village make an hour and a half pilgrimage to the top of the town's sacred mountain called El Picacho. In town there were celebrations honoring the holy cross at the Casa del Cristo Grande, La Hermita and inside the Capilla in the panteón. In all three of these locations food was served, bands performed lively music, the rezadores sang and observances were made to the holy cross. Once again the entire community came out to pitch in to celebrate in all of these locations. During this time all the nichos in the streets that held crosses were decorated with fresh flowers and votive candles.

La Casa del Cristo Grande had non-stop activities throughout the two days. The women of the village were busy preparing food for this two day event. Tejate was served at the Casa del Cristo Grande. This refreshing, pre-hispanic drink is made from ground corn, cocoa, mamey seed and the rosita cacao flower. It is served in brightly painted red gourds. At one point there were three bands set up inside the house with each one taking a turn serenading the guests. Before each new group of entertainment began one man played a flute whereas the other man rolled out the annoucement on his drum. Throughout both days people came to La Casa del Cristo Grande to pay their respects by adding flowers and votive candles to the altar in front of the large nicho encasing the Cristo Grande. Donations of food such as a live turkey and alcohol were given for the meals served in the house. During one of the days of the fiesta a children's Danza de la Pluma group performed.

People went to the panteón to decorate the graves late in the afternoon. As evening approched the women from the village began setting up an outdoor kitchen to feed the local authorities in the capilla. Before the dinner a local band performed music inside the capilla. All the guests brought flowers to add to the vases of the altar inside the chapel along with gifts of beer and mezcal for the fiesta.

At La Hermita the people decorated their capilla that held the crucified Christ. He was adorned with leis of frangipani and bouquets of roses and lilies were placed in vases on the floor of the chapel along with votive candles. All the invited guests brought gifts of flowers and alcohol here as well for the dinner that was served.

Everyday I would walk over to the daily market and take in the sights and sounds of the women buying fresh produce, bread, flowers and herbs. Mangos were in season along with the fragant frangipani. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the abuelas greet one another as they walked to the market.

My last day in Teotitlán del Valle was spent in the home of Viviana Alavez Hipólito. Viviana is known for her beautiful beeswax candles that are unique to this village. She is featured in the Grandes Maestros de Oaxaca book. Her family has been making these candles for four generations. She along with her son and her two daughter in laws make these candles for the families of the brides, weddings, baptisms, births, communions, funerals, fiestas, the churches in area, the Christmas posadas and Day of the Dead. The day that I visited the casa the family was busy filling a huge order of six-foot candles to be given to the parents of a future bride.

In Teotitlán del Valle a bride is stolen by her husband. In reality, they elope. The groom takes his bride to his parent's house where he presents his future wife to his mother and father. The young couple live togher in the home of the groom's parents until they get married. The family of the groom gives the parents of the bride these beautiful, beeswax candles that are adorned with wax and paper flowers in addition to papel picados. These candles are given as a gift for the loss of their daughter. Sometimes up to eighty candles can be gifted to the parents of the bride. The candles that were being prepared the day that I visited were over six feet tall. In order for these huge candles to be made the wicks are strung from a large circular ring that hangs from the ceiling. Hot wax made from natural dyes such as indigo, cochineal and rock moss is poured from a gourd over the wick and little by little the diameter of the candle is increased in size.

The wax flowers for the candles are created from molds. The molds are dipped into the hot wax and then cooled in a pail of water. After cooling, these wax shapes are cut with scissors and formed into the petals of the various flowers. After the flowers are assembled a wire is inserted into the center of each flower. Once this step is completed the wax flowers are ready to adorn the candles. The first step is to wrap a mylar ribbon around the candle. From here the wire attachment on the wax flowers are heated over a flame and they are inserted into the candle. It was a wonderful experience to watch how these exquiste candles are created.

It is always a joy to witness life in this truly special Zapotec Village.
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La Igelesia
La Igelesia
Buenos Días en Teotitlán
Buenos Días en Teotitlán
Squash blossom flowers and limes
Squash blossom flowers and limes
La Corona
La Corona
Hens for sale
Hens for sale
The Mango Lady from Tehuantepec
The Mango Lady from Tehuantepec
Still Life with Tiles
Still Life with Tiles
Un Mango por la Mañana
Un Mango por la Mañana
Los Flores
Los Flores
Los Chiles y Elote
Los Chiles y Elote
Column of flowers
Column of flowers
Frangipani
Frangipani
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