Ancient Zapotec Religion is the first comprehensive study of Zapotec religion as it existed in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca on the eve of the Spanish Conquest. Author Michael Lind brings a new perspective, focusing not on underlying theological principles but on the material and spatial expressions of religious practice.
Using sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish colonial documents and archaeological findings related to the time period leading up to the Spanish Conquest, he presents new information on deities, ancestor worship and sacred bundles, the Zapotec cosmos, the priesthood, religious ceremonies and rituals, the nature of temples, the distinctive features of the sacred and solar calendars, and the religious significance of the murals of Mitla—the most sacred and holy center. He also shows how Zapotec religion served to integrate Zapotec city-state structure throughout the valley of Oaxaca, neighboring mountain regions, and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
Ancient Zapotec Religion is the first in-depth and interdisciplinary book on the Zapotecs and their religious practices and will be of great interest to archaeologists, epigraphers, historians, and specialists in Native American, Latin American, and religious studies.
The image of biologically male people dancing while dressed in the traditional, colorful attire of Zapotec, Juchiteca, females stands in sharp contrast to the prevailing view of Mexico as the land of charros, machismo, and unbridled ranchero masculinity. These indigenous people are called los muxes, and they are neither man nor woman, but rather a hybrid third gender.
After seeing a video of a muxe vela, or festival, sociologist Alfredo Mirandé was intrigued by the contradiction between Mexico’s patriarchal reputation and its warm acceptance of los muxes. Seeking to get past traditional Mexican masculinity, he presents us with Behind the Mask, which combines historical analysis, ethnographic field research, and interviews conducted with los muxes of Juchitán over a period of seven years. Mirandé observed community events, attended muxe velas, and interviewed both muxes and other Juchitán residents. Prefaced by an overview of the study methods and sample, the book challenges the ideology of a male-dominated Mexican society driven by the cult of machismo, featuring photos alongside four appendixes.
Delving into many aspects of their lives and culture, the author discusses how the muxes are perceived by others, how the muxes perceive themselves, and the acceptance of a third gender status among various North American indigenous groups. Mirandé compares traditional Mexicano/Latino conceptions of gender and sexuality to modern or Western object choice configurations. He concludes by proposing a new hybrid model for rethinking these seemingly contradictory and conflicting gender systems.
Monte Albán was the capital of the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico, ca. 500 BC–AD 600, but once its control began to wane, other sites filled the political vacuum. Archaeologists have long awaited a meticulous excavation of one of these sites—one that would help us better understand the process that transformed second-tier sites into a series of polities or señoríos that competed with each other for centuries.
This book reports in detail on Ronald Faulseit’s excavations at the site of Dainzú-Macuilxóchitl in the Valley of Oaxaca. His 2007–2010 mapping and excavation seasons focused on the Late Classic (AD 600–900) and Early Postclassic (AD 900–1300). The spatial distributions of surface artifacts—collected during the intensive mapping and systematic surface collecting—on residential terraces at Cerro Danush are analyzed to evaluate evidence for craft production, ritual, and abandonment at the community level. This community analysis is complemented by data from the comprehensive excavation of a residential terrace, which documents diachronic patterns of behavior at the household level. The results from Faulseit’s survey and excavations are evaluated within the theoretical frameworks of political cycling and resilience theory. Faulseit concludes that resilient social structures may have helped orchestrate reorganization in the dynamic political landscape of Oaxaca after the political collapse of Monte Albán.
Cueva Blanca lies in a volcanic tuff cliff some 4 km northwest of Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico. It is one of a series of Archaic sites excavated by Kent Flannery and Frank Hole as part of a project on the prehistory and human ecology of the Valley of Oaxaca. The oldest stratigraphic level in Cueva Blanca yielded Late Pleistocene fauna, including some species no longer present in southern Mexico. The second oldest level, Zone E, produced Early Archaic material with calibrated dates as old as 11,000–10,000 BC . Zones D and C provided a rich Late Archaic assemblage whose closest ties are with the Abejas phase of Puebla’s Tehuacán Valley (fourth millennium BC). Spatial analyses undertaken on the Archaic living floors include (1) the drawing of density contours for tools and animal bones; (2) a search for Archaic tool kits using rank-order and cluster analysis; and (3) an attempt to define Binfordian “drop zones” using an approach drawn from computer vision.
This book shows how Zapotec peasants migrating to Mexico City utilize paisanazgo--which prescribes solidarity among people from the same locale--as the basis for cooperation and mutual aid within a new environment. This study focuses on three groups of Mountain Zapotecs to explain why migrant associations were created and why they took different forms, citing regional variations in ethnicity, solidarity, occupational pursuits, and sociopolitical articulation to the nation in the three points of origin.
Since 1989 an indigenous political movement—the Coalition of Workers, Peasants, and Students of the Isthmus (COCEI)—has governed the southern Mexican city of Juchitán. In Decentering the Regime, Jeffrey W. Rubin examines this Zapotec Indian movement and shows how COCEI forged an unprecedented political and cultural path—overcoming oppression in the 1970s to achieve democracy in the 1990s. Rubin traces the history and rise to power of this grassroots movement, and describes a Juchitán that exists in substantial autonomy from the central Mexican government and Mexican nationalism—thereby debunking the notion that a state- and regime-centered approach to power can explain the politics of domination and resistance in Mexico. Employing an interdisciplinary approach, Rubin shows that the Juchitecos’ ability to organize and sustain a radical political movement grew out of a century-long history of negotiation of political rule. He argues that factors outside the realm of formal politics—such as ethnicity, language, gender, and religion—play an important part in the dynamics of regional political struggles and relationships of power. While offering a detailed view of the Zapotec community and its interactions, Rubin reconceptualizes democracy by considering the question of how meaningful autonomy, self-government, cultural expression, and material well-being can be forged out of violence and repression.
This volume, part of a series on the prehistory and human ecology of the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico, focuses on Cerro Tilcajete, a secondary administrative center below Monte Albán, the capital of the prehispanic Zapotec state.
In this volume, Elsa M. Redmond reconstructs the history of the Cuicatec region in Oaxaca, Mexico, from the Middle Formative period through the Lomas phase, when the Zapotec state based at Monte Albán took control, into the Trujano phase and the Spanish conquest. Redmond integrates archaeological data and sixteenth-century ethnohistoric records to inform her study of the political and social strategies of the Cuicatec region during these time periods. From 1977 to 1978, Redmond conducted an archaeological survey in this region, and she presents the results of that fieldwork here.
The Valley of Oaxaca was unified under the rule of Monte Albán until its collapse around AD 800. Using findings from John Paddock’s long-term excavations at Lambityeco from 1961 to 1976, Michael Lind and Javier Urcid examine the political and social organization of the ancient community during the Xoo Phase (Late Classic period).Focusing on change within this single archaeological period rather than between time periods, The Lords of Lambityeco traces the changing political relationships between Lambityeco and Monte Albán that led to the fall of the Zapotec state. Using detailed analysis of elite and common houses, tombs, and associated artifacts, the authors demonstrate increased political control by Monte Albán over Lambityeco prior to the abandonment of both settlements. Lambityeco is the most thoroughly researched Classic period site in the valley after Monte Albán, but only a small number of summary articles have been published about this important locale. This, in combination with Lambityeco’s status as a secondary center—one that allows for greater understanding of core and periphery dynamics in the Monte Albán state—makes The Lords of Lambityeco a welcome and significant contribution to the literature on ancient Mesoamerica.
Balkansky’s full-coverage survey of the Sola Valley, 65 km southwest of Oaxaca City, documents 120 sites. By combining his data with that of 13 other regions of Oaxaca, he produces a model for Zapotec state expansion that integrates colonization, diplomacy, and military conquest.
Of the four major hieroglyphic writing systems of ancient Mesoamerica, the Zapotec is widely considered one of the oldest and least studied. This volume assesses the origins and spread of Zapotec writing; the use and role of Zapotec writing in the politics of the region; and the decline of hieroglyphic writing in the Valley of Oaxaca. Lavishly illustrated with maps, photographs, and original artwork.
A Zapotec Natural History is an extraordinary book that describe the people of a small town in Mexico and their remarkable knowledge of the natural world in which they live.
San Juan Gbëë is a Zapotec Indian community located in the state of Oaxaca, a region of great biological diversity. Eugene S. Hunn is a well-known anthropologist and ethnobiologist who has spent many years working in San Juan Gbëë, studying its residents and their knowledge of the local environment. Here Hunn writes sensitively and respectfully about the rich understanding of local flora and fauna that village inhabitants have acquired and transmitted over many centuries. In this village everyone, young children included, can identify and name hundreds of local plants, animals, and fungi, together with the details of their life cycles, habitat preferences, and functions in the economic, aesthetic, and spiritual lives of the town.
Part 1 of this two-part work describes the community, the subsistence farming practices of its residents, the nomenclature and classification of the local biological taxonomy, the use of plants for treating illnesses, and the ritual and decorative roles of flowers. Part 2 is available online, and includes detailed inventories of all plant, animal, and fungal categories recognized by San Juan’s people; a series of indexes; a library of more than 1,200 images illustrating the town’s plants, people, landscapes, and daily activities; and sounds of village life.
Through interviews with three generations of Yalálag Zapotecs (“Yaláltecos”) in Los Angeles and Yalálag, Oaxaca, this book examines the impact of international migration on this community. It traces five decades of migration to Los Angeles in order to delineate migration patterns, community formation in Los Angeles, and the emergence of transnational identities of the first and second generations of Yalálag Zapotecs in the United States, exploring why these immigrants and their descendents now think of themselves as Mexican, Mexican Indian immigrants, Oaxaqueños, and Latinos—identities they did not claim in Mexico.
Based on multi-site fieldwork conducted over a five-year period, Adriana Cruz-Manjarrez analyzes how and why Yalálag Zapotec identity and culture have been reconfigured in the United States, using such cultural practices as music, dance, and religious rituals as a lens to bring this dynamic process into focus. By illustrating the sociocultural, economic, and political practices that link immigrants in Los Angeles to those left behind, the book documents how transnational migration has reflected, shaped, and transformed these practices in both their place of origin and immigration.