zapotec

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The Muxes of Juchitán 

Juchitán is a town in the southeast of the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The town which is largely inhabited by the Zapotec Indigenous people, has not only preserved it’s precolonial language and culture, but has also retained gender identities and roles that transcend the traditional western ones. Those which were subjected onto much of the rest of Mexican society by European colonizers. 

This contrasting expression of gender that survives among the Zapotec and Mestizo communities of southern Oaxaca, takes its form in the concept of the muxe. Muxe is a term used to refer to those assigned male at birth, but who identify either as women or as a distinct third-gender. They are an intrinsic part of Zapotec society, and highly respected for the roles they play in families, such as taking care of their elderly parents when their siblings have moved out of the household. Despite the acceptance of them in many rural areas, they face discrimination in more urban areas, mainly by non-Indigenous people who have inherited the Spanish cultural attitude of machismo. 

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The pre-Columbian archaeological site of Monte Albán, inhabited for over 1,500 years by the Olmecs, Zapotecs and Mixtecs. Oaxaca, Mexico.

Monte Albán, Zapotec capital set on a steep bluff in the middle of the Valley of Oaxaca which rose to prominence after about 400 BCE. Four main phases in the developement and occupation of the site have been recognized.

In period I (500-200 BCE) the slopes of the hill were leveled off to form over 2000 terraces. An acropolis protected by stone walls lay at the centre. Inside was a stone platform surrounded by 140 carved stone slabs depicting contorted human figures. These were executed in Olmec style.

In Period II (200 BCE-AD 300) the palaces were built, along with ball-courts, temples, and an arrow-shaped building in the main plaza. During this period there appears to have been extensive contact with Maya Lowland centres and the increasingly powerful Teotihuacán.

At its peak in Period III (AD 300-750), Monte Albán had an estimated population of 25-30,000. Public buildings, terraces, and residences covered over 40 square kilometres.

Period IV (AD 700-1000) was a time of decline as the main plaza was abandoned. Zapotec influence disappeared, although the site was partially reoccupied by the Mixtec.

-Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology, Timothy Darvill.

Photos courtesy & taken by Omar Bárcena.

Oaxacan Green Dent Corn from the Zapotecs, indigenous people of southern Mexico. Used for hominy and ground into masa for tamales and tortillas. Excited to grow a few hundred plants of these beautiful and delicious cobs this year! #oaxacangreendent #oaxacangreencorn #oaxacangreendentcorn #zeamays #heirloomcorn #zapotec #oaxaca #dentcorn #roughwoodseedcollection #seedkeeping #cornseeds

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The Third Gender of Zapotec Society

In the Mexican state of Oaxaca you will find the matriarchal Zapotec society of Juchitán. The families prefer girls to boys, and some assigned male at birth are therefore raised as girls. They become “muxe” (pronounced “mucha”).

Some marry women and have children while others choose men as sexual or romantic partners. According to the Wikipedia, muxe may do certain kinds of women’s work such as embroidery or decorating home altars, but others do the male work of making jewelry. In village communities muxe may be highly respected, while in larger, more Westernised towns they can face discrimination.

Click here to see the complete photo series of Shaul  Schwarz.

Thanks to Karen over at Crossdream Life.

Zapotec jade and shells mask, ca.200 BC–100 AD, Monte Albán, Mexico. Even though many scholars maintain that this is a bat mask, many of its features point towards its identification as a feline, possibly a jaguar. If so, it may be associated with power and royal lineages. Regardless of its identification, it is one of the most valuable treasures ever recovered from Monte Albán. Photo: © Jorge Pérez de Lara

Benito Juárez • March 21, 1806 – July 18, 1872

Benito Juárez was born on March  21, 1806, in the Zapotec village of San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca. As president of Mexico, Juárez led the country through one of its most difficult periods. He’s remembered as the “Hero of the Americas.”

Juárez’s legacy is that of a nationalist and progressive reformer who resisted French occupation, overthrew the Second Mexican Empire, expropriated church lands, and subordinated the army to civilian control. His birthday, March 21, is a national holiday in Mexico.

Famous quote: “Entre los individuos, como entre las naciones, el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz.” Meaning: “Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace.”

Urn of Cocijo, Zapotec, AD 200 to 800.

Although there is no question that the symbolism was fundamentally related to rain, it is evidently true that Cocijo was a god of the lightening that the Zapotecs saw as the operative force in splitting the clouds to release the needed rain. That concept of an operative force, with its clear implications of creative power, may explain the close relationship between Cocijo and the earthly rulers of the Zapotec people. The power of these rulers wielded was derived from the gods, and upon their death, they “became gods” through whose mediation mortal men could approach the essence of divinity.

Such a concept of rulership no doubt accounts for the great numbers of urns depicting human beings wearing headdresses displaying the mask of Cocijo, a way of displaying a mask in ritual regalia.

-P. Markman & R. Markman, Masks of the Spirit: Image and Metaphor in Mesoamerica, pg 33.

Courtesy & currently located at the The Field Museum, Chicago, USA. Photo taken by Travis.

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The Zapotec archaeological site of Yagul, located in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The name Yagul comes from the Zapotec language: ‘ya’ (tree) and 'gul’ (old), hence “old tree.”

Caves and shelters in nearby hills contain remains of human habitation dating back at least five thousand years. Caballito Blanco, a smaller outcrop about a kilometer from Yagul, has wall paintings and petroglyphs attributed to early hunter-gatherers who sheltered in the caves and overhangs. By 200 B.C., a structure similar to the building known as the “Observatory” at Monte Alban had been built on Caballito Blanco, but it appears that Yagul’s fortunes as a minor urban center waxed and waned until Monte Alban went into decline after A.D. 700. Then Yagul emerged as an autonomous city-state, and construction began on the structures that are the most distinctive elements of the site.

The fortress crowning the heights above the main platforms suggests that threats from other city-states or from invaders were a significant concern. Bernal and Gamio believe the last of the major ceremonial buildings was abandoned in the century before the Conquest, although the local population remained until they were concentrated in Tlacolul in the mid-sixteenth century.

-Archaeology of Ancient Mexico and Central America: An Encyclopedia.

Photos courtesy & taken by Fernando González.

“A lot of Spanish speaking indigenous people of Mexico always tend to say to me, "I see you writing & speaking Nahuatl. I wish I spoke, Nahuatl, too!”
But what they don’t know is that MOST of us, more so us that were raised in pueblos, ejidos, little villages, we already speak Nahuatl, at least a large list of words we use daily are actually Nahuatl words. 
What happened is that when the Spaniards forced our ancestors to speak Spanish (or Castellano/Castilian), and prohibited us from speaking Zapotec, Mixtli, Nahuatl, Maya, etc., our people had no choice, as captives, but to speak Spanish, but in secret they still spoke their indigenous tongue among each other.
Our ancestors believed that it was very important to speak our tongue (regardless what tongue it is, as long as it’s indigenous to you) and that is why they continued speaking it, even if with time it watered down some, the fact remains that our ancestors passed it on.
A lot of us that were born, and raised in, or by parents raised in villages, pueblitos, ejidos, we are speaking Nahuatl meanwhile we speak Spanish. 
Don’t believe me? I’m going to write down a few words for you in Nahuatl, and you’ll be shocked as to how you thought you were speaking Spanish, but in reality you were speaking Nahuatl:

Spanish/Nahuatl:
Aguacate - Ahuacatl
Camote - Camotli
Chayote - Chayotli
Chapopote - Chapopotli
Chipotli - Xipotli
Coyote - Coyotl
Atole - Atolli
Cacahuate - Tlacucahuatl 
Elote -Elotl
Huarache - Kwarachi
Jicama - Xicamatl
Mescal - Mexcalli
Guajolote - Wuehxolotl
Comal - Comalli
Chiquito - Tzitz Quit (pronounced Chiqui)
Mecate - Mecatl
Popote - Popotl
Pozole - Potzolli
Papalote - Papalotl
Mole - Molli
Milpa - Milpa
Mezquite - Mizquitl
Jitomate - Xictomatl
Chocolate - Xocolatl

These are just a few that we use on a daily basis, but most of what we say is really Nahuatl, at times Zapotec, Mixtli, and other Native tongues, and that’s why when you go to Spain, or even attend a school in Mexico, you might even fail a Spanish class because, We speak Nahuatl mixed with some Spanish, and we owe all thanks to our ancestors that were so dedicated in passing down our tongue. 
I hope that empowered you, and gave you pride as well!“ - credit to (Ricardo Ignacio) 

Benito Juárez • March 21, 1806 – July 18, 1872

Benito Juárez was born on March 21, 1806, in the Zapotec village of San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca. As president of Mexico, Juárez led the country through one of its most difficult periods. He’s remembered as the “Hero of the Americas.”

Juárez’s legacy is that of a nationalist and progressive reformer who resisted French occupation, overthrew the Second Mexican Empire, expropriated church lands, and subordinated the army to civilian control. His birthday, March 21, is a national holiday in Mexico.

Quote: “Entre los individuos, como entre las naciones, el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz,” meaning “Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace.”

Image: “Benito Juarez,” by Jorge Gonzalez Camarena, 1968

#benitojuarez #zapotec #oaxaca #21demarzo #mexico #benemeritodelasamericas #lareforma #mextagram #thinkmexican

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