Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Muxes’

Día de Carnaval (aka, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Carnival), a day to let the good times roll before the sacrifices of the Lenten season, has come and gone.  And, again, blogger buddy Chris and I headed out to the surreal celebration in San Martín Tilcajete.  Driving into the village, one soon hears, rather than sees, that this isn’t a normal day in this wood carving village 17 miles south of the city — the streets are alive with the sound of cow bells.  Roaming the dirt back roads and paved main street, los encabezados (guys covered in motor oil or paint) come running past — with cow bells tied around their waist — making mischief and startling the unaware.

IMG_4902_landIMG_5042IMG_5031

IMG_4903

Masks, all the better to hide one’s identity when making fun of the powers that be, are an international carnaval tradition.  Thus, in this village, known for its fantastically painted wood carvings, wooden masks play a big role in the celebration — including several by our friend Jesus Sosa Calvo and his family at Matlacihua Arte.

IMG_4919

IMG_5058

IMG_4907

IMG_5055

IMG_4978

This is a town where creativity reigns supreme and the costumes seem to get more whimsical and weirder every year.

IMG_4960

IMG_5020

IMG_5052

Oh, and did I mention there is a wedding?  Well, actually a parody of a traditional village wedding.  There is much pomp and circumstance, hilarity, and music — not to mention, breakfast and lunch for wedding guests — as participants move from the house of the mayor, to the home of the bride, and to City Hall for the civil ceremony.  Dancing in the plaza follows and then, at some predetermined time, there is a procession through the streets before arriving at another house where the happy “couple” kneel before “priest” for the religious ceremony.

IMG_4994

IMG_4970

IMG_4981

IMG_5011

And, you might want to take a second look at those beautiful wedding guests with the smoldering eyes and modeling the gorgeous gowns.  They are not what they seem — and that includes the bride.

IMG_4972 (1)

IMG_4940

IMG_4946

IMG_4937

The Spanish brought the Carnaval tradition to Mexico because, 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.”  Evidently it caught on, “because it was one time when normal rules could be broken…”  And, San Martín Tilcajete certainly knows how!!!

By the way, many from the creative team of the movie Coco came to enjoy the festivities and renew acquaintances in this town that provided the inspiration for the alebrijes in the film.  “De Oaxaca tomamos los alebrijes, la celebración del Día de los Muertos, toda esa energía y colores están en los paisajes de la película. Quise ser lo más fiel en esta investi­gación y plasmarlo en la cin­ta…”  (“From Oaxaca we take the alebrijes, the celebration of the Day of the Dead, all the energy and colors are in the landscapes of the film…”) (NVI Noticias, 2/14/2018)

Read Full Post »

Orgullo is the Spanish word for pride and you hear it a lot in Oaxaca.  But, rather than just the personal, it encompasses the dignity, honor, and respect felt for one’s community’s history and cultural heritage.  Remember, there are 16 indigenous groups in the state of Oaxaca – each with its own language, dress, culinary traditions, music and dance, celebrations, and crafts.  While the modern Guelaguetza is an invention to attract tourism, it doesn’t detract from the pride expressed by its participants in their unique contributions to what makes Oaxaca.  Thus, a few scenes from Friday…

Fresh handmade tortillas accompanied the mole at the Festival de los Moles luncheon. Chefs from all over the state, presented their moles — I lost count at twenty different kinds — which were served by culinary students from the Universidad Tecnológica de los Valles Centrales de Oaxaca.

 

Diosa Centéotl (Corn Goddess) competition to reign over the Guelaguetza.  Young women representing the regions of Oaxaca showcased and explained the costumes and traditions of their communities, as well as, speak a few lines of their materna lengua (mother tongue).

 

Calenda (procession) on the Alcalá by people from the Gulf of Tehuantepec region.  They were heading toward Santo Domingo — and yes there were a few Muxes among the participants.

 

During Guelaguetza, orgullo wraps you in its presence.

Read Full Post »

Saturday night, a spur of the moment invite from my indomitable 86-year-old neighbor had us hailing a taxi at 10:30 PM, en route to attend the 13th Gran Vela and coronation of the queen of Vinnii Gaxhee (Zapotec for “different people” — gente diferente, en español).  Vinnii Gaxhee was born, according to their website, in “July 2000, when a group of people in Oaxaca, whose sexual preferences were different, met and created a group whose members were not afraid to stand up to society and publicly accept their sexual preference or orientation.”  (my loose translation)

The venue, in an area of the city neither of us was familiar with, proved to be unknown to the taxi driver, as well.  After a few blocks, with much conversation back and forth re the location, and a call to his dispatcher, he asked (hopefully) if we would like to find another driver.  Yes, we said and crawled out, hailed another taxi, and successfully headed out to Colonia Primavera Santa Lucía del Camino.

The “suggested” per person entry donation was the purchase of a case of beer.  A case of beer, we asked?  Even though they were small bottles, there was no way the two of us could drink a case, let alone two cases!  Well, the issue was settled when we schlepped our cases over to our assigned (not sure how or why) seating area, where we were relieved of our boxes and where they joined stacks of others.  However, chilled cervesas and food were offered without charge for the duration of the evening — and into the early morning!   Besides, the floor show was worth the price of admission; a banda playing traditional music of the Istmo and hot Latin rhythms had people up and dancing, a runway-style procession of contestants (at least I think that is who they were), a Rockettes-like production number, and the crowning of the queen.  What more could anyone want for about $15 (US)?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On a serious note…  A little background on the name of the organization, Vinnii Gaxhee.  Zapotec culture has historically acknowledged a “third” sex.  These are men who from childhood, “consider themselves women and live in a socially sanctioned netherworld between the two genders,” according to a 2008 New York Times article.  This has been traced back to pre-Columbian times, but was mostly wiped out by the Spanish colonists, except in the region around Juchitán de Zaragoza, on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca.

As Vinnii Gaxhee, explains on its website, “it is as a tribute to all those in the region of the Isthmus, who fought for a place in society, regardless of sexual preference, making this region a place where homosexuality worldwide is accepted without any remark, first by the family after by society.” (my loose translation)

(ps)  I still don’t understand how anyone can walk in those high, high heels!

Read Full Post »

I’m again in the San Francisco Bay Area, visiting family and friends and taking care of the odds and ends of still maintaining a presence here, while living in Oaxaca.  We’ve had clear blue skies and sun and, except for the high-speed pace and exorbitant price of food, it “almost” feels like home.  Hey, I even bought some resin chairs for my son’s backyard and ate some of the best Mexican food ever (in the USA) at Doña Tomás in Oakland.  (FYI:  The Callos con Sopa de Elote — puréed corn soup with seared day boat scallops and fingerling potatoes, roasted poblano chiles and cilantro, served with arroz achiote — was divine.)

To also keep from getting too homesick for Oaxaca, there are a currently a couple of exhibits in San Francisco I plan to see while here.  I found out about The Magic Surrealists of Oaxaca, Mexico from the Oaxacan surrealism hits the SF Mexican consulate article in the SFBG, which explains…

Aquatint etching

Francisco Toledo’s aquatint etching “Self Portrait”

The Zapotec identity … is one of the unifiers of the exhibit, which contains the works of not only [Rufino] Tamayo and [Francisco] Toledo but also artists who were inspired by their work like Justina Fuentes Zárate, she of the reclining mermaid and arresting red dress. Perhaps the works don’t look similar, but they represent the diversity and breadth of the work to come out of the surrealist Zapotec tradition in Oaxaca.

And, then I read the NPR story, In Mexico, Mixed Genders And ‘Muxes’, about a Galería de la Raza exhibit.

Parade of Muxes in traje of Juchitán

Photo from the exhibit

Searching for Queertopia revisits the experiences of Alexander Hernandez’s participation and Neil Rivas’ visual documentation of what is called, the Vela de ‘Las Intrépidas.’ This event, a 3-day celebration, is held annually in the town of Juchitán de Zaragoza, Oaxaca, México, in honor of its Muxe community.

Hmmm… maybe I’ll take the ferry over to “The City” tomorrow.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: