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Posts Tagged ‘Carnaval’

After a visit to Centro Fotográfico Manuel Álvarez Bravo, I’m seeing the color of Oaxaca in black and white…

“To see in color is a delight for the eye but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul.” – Andri Cauldwell

 

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2 viejitos, nose to nose

Tête-à-tête between Viejitos (I know, I’m mixing languages), seen between the shoulders of two municipal leaders, on the Municipal Plaza in Teotitlán del Valle during this year’s previously mentioned Carnaval.

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True confession:  I’m not in Oaxaca!  I arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area a week ago for a 3-week visit.  While I love seeing family, friends, “my” mountain (Mt. Tamalpais), and the Pacific Ocean, it also means bone-chilling summer fog, driving instead of walking most everywhere, and the absence of my regular blog fodder — no calendas, ferias, festivals, saints days, bandas, and urban art.  (Though, I will probably head to San Francisco for the latter!)

However, this break-in-the-action gives me time to look back through thousands of photos and create posts that had been put on the back-burner when something bigger, better, or more timely cropped up.

3 viejitos

So, here we go, back to Friday, April 24, 2014 — the last of five days of Carnaval in Teotitlán del Valle.

Chihuahua

While there are masks, costumes, men dressed as women, and merriment, this is not your Christian pre-Lenten Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras Carnival.

Man wearing female mask, wig, and clothing

This is a pre-Hispanic celebration that happens the Monday through Friday after Easter, not before Lent.

Close-up of viejito

Via El Baile de Los Viejitos (the Dance of the Old Men), it brings the community and elected leadership together to remind each of their social contract — in an extremely humorous way.

Young viejito

A procession, gathering participants along the way, leads to the Municipal Plaza, where it seems as if the entire village assembles.

2 elderly women watching Dance of the Old Men

And, of course, the dance and ritual continue late into the night…

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Another day… another celebration… another adventure!  Yesterday was Día de Carnaval (aka, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Carnival), a day to let the good times roll before the sacrifices of the Lenten season.

As you have probably surmised, the Spanish brought the tradition to Mexico.  Like many other seasonal celebrations, it conveniently coincided with indigenous festivals celebrating the “lost days” of the Mesoamerican calendar, “when faces were covered to repel or confuse evil.”  Apparently, it caught on “because it was one time when normal rules could be broken especially with the use of masks to hide identities from the authorities.”

And so, off we went for Día de Carnaval in San Martín Tilcajete (28 km south of the city), a village known for its fancifully painted wood-carved alebrije and masks.  We are still doing May weather in March and, thus, it was hot and shade was in short supply.

In the morning, a bride and groom were chosen, villagers gathered for a boisterous and hilarious ceremony in the courtyard, they danced, and then all processed through the streets of San Martín Tilcajete to a designated location where the happy “couple” knelt before a jolly looking “priest.”  By the way, those beautiful “women” in gorgeous gowns aren’t what they seem!

Young and old, the “guests” were a colorful crowd.  Many of the diablos and diablillos covered their faces with colored pigments and their bodies with red or black oil — rumor has it, motor oil is sometimes used.  Yuck!

I’d been to San Martín Tilcajete many times — to go from one workshop to another in search of the perfect alebrije for a gift or to add to my collection — but never before for Carnaval.  It was great fun and the photo ops were endless.

As they say in New Orleans, “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

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Sometimes color seems like a distraction, so an experiment in de-saturation from the last day of Carnaval in Teotitlán del Valle.

For some outstanding up-close and full color photos, head over to Oaxaca-The Year After.

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Friday we returned for another extraordinary day — the last day of Carnival.

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Again, muchisimas gracias to the gracious and generous people of Teotitlán del Valle.

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I’m playing catch-up with blog posts.  After the Good Friday Procession of Silence, I thought life would slow down a little.  That’s what’s happened in years past — I caught up on the “to do” list on the home-front, leisurely plowed through the hundreds and hundreds of photos from Semana Santa, did a little research and a lot of thinking about what I’d just seen and experienced, and then crafted a few blog posts.

That was before we found out that Teotitlán del Valle celebrates 5-days of Carnival after Easter, not before Lent!  A little levity after the solemnity of Semana Santa and in one of our favorite places was not to be resisted.  And so, blogger buddy Chris and I set out on Monday afternoon in search of the house in Sección 1 (the village is divided into 5 geographic areas) that was hosting the daytime fiesta that precedes the evening festivities in the Municipal Plaza.

We returned yesterday for the Sección 5 fiesta, so more to come.  Now it’s off to Tlacolula for the Nieve, Mezcal y Gastronomia Festival.

FYI:  For a more detailed explanation of this Carnival celebration and photos from last year by a professional photographer, check out Ann Murdy’s website.

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