1-(above left) Typical landscape of the Meseta Tarasca or Purepecha Highland region.
The Paricutin is the volcano that can be seen in this photograph. It destroyed
two villages, San Juan Parangaricutiro and Paricuti.
This volcano was born in 1943 and formed and erupted from a Purepecha man's corn field.
2-(above right) The Purepecha region includes, tierra caliente, a vast thorn brush forest that goes down
to the coastal regions of Michoacan, where the Nahual speaking people live. It is home to many species of
exotic plants and animals including the almost extinct jaguar.
3-This indigenous pumpkin or squash is called the chilacayote and is
cooked and eaten in a variety of ways in local Purepecha cuisine. It is distinct for its black seeds that
are included in chilacayote turnovers, a delicious dessert bread.
4-This orchid, an epiphytic species that grows on oak trees in Michoacan's
Purepecha region, is one of many orchids destined to disappear from the earth's list of endangered plant species.
5-(above left) This Purepecha woman shows her distinctly proto-Mongolian features.
She has epicathic folds and high cheek bones.
6-(above right) The Purepecha vary in their facial characteristics. This
man has the heavy face, thick lips and round features that are very typical.
7-This Purepecha weaver is using an old weighing device probably
introduced by the conquering Spaniards. This scale is used for weighing fibers that will be warped for the
weaving looms used in Angahuan, Michoacan.
8-This primitive spinning wheel was very common in the decade of the
70's when I did my study of the Purepecha weaving traditions.
This woman was one of Angahuan's most knowledgeable and gifted weavers.
9-(above left) The lino weaving technique employed in Aranza, Michoacan is rare in the region.
I never found another village in Michoacan's Highlands or Lake regions that used this technique.
It is most beautiful in that it is a kind of lace that is produced on this loom.
The women of this village no longer wore traditional dress when I arrived in the decade of the seventies.
They made rebozos or shawls and blouses for tourists.
10-(above right) At one time silk tassels were attached to the macrame
finished fringes of traditional shawls or rebozos. These are a reminder of the Purepecha's lost
art of feather weaving. At one time these textiles would have been adorned
with the bright colored feathers of exotic birds. The feathers were replaced by introduced silk and then due to the
cost of real silk it was replaced. Today, weavers use artificial silk.
The Purepechas were considered master feather weavers and the kings and royalty of Michoacan
wore exquisite examples of this craft. Trading between Purepecha and Aztec
peoples included the trading of feather adorned shields etc. In the 1970's, Ahuiran was the only
city that had preserved this tradition. It was so rare to even see this art.
It was always on the traditional striped blue and white rebozo or shawl of the region.
11-The traditional rebozo of the Purepecha women of Michoacan often included
unique variations such as this one that demonstrates the addition of small white tassels
at the end of the warp and included in the fringes.
12-This Purepecha elder wears the traditional clothing introduced by Spain to the region.
The Purepecha men were almost totally naked and although they wore beautiful textiles, these were more
associated with rank, military and social status or religious positions in the tribe.
This man is wearing the traditional gaban or blanket of the region woven on a treadle loom and in dark natural colored-hand
spun wool. He is also wearing a calzon or white pair of pants that is held up by a faja or sash.
13-Purepecha women were master embroiderers. They used various techniques of sewing,
including cross-stitching which is show here in this example of petti-coat embroidery. Long petticoats
many meters long were worn under a wool dress or rollo, a type of tube skirt. The beautiful embroidery on the under
garments would only show by accident or be revealed as its wearer moved quickly about.
14-This embroidery design, like all designs employed by the
Purepechas was very important. It represented a regional flower. It was called, tzitziki or simply flower.
15-This blouse is very unique in Mexican textiles traditions and employs the use of many
types of sewing techniques, cross-stitch and needle weaving etc. It is adorned using embroidery guide
sources and I would venture to say that traditional pre-Hispanic designs rarely find their way into these blouses. They are worn
as part of the traditional dress of two towns in Michoacan, Tarecuato and La Cantera,
two villages only a short distance apart. Both villages employ identical garments.
16-(above left) Ihuatizio, Michoacan, the pre-Hispanic city of the priest class of the
Purepecha peoples of Michoacan, Mexico. Using stone foundations and no mortar, the Purepechas built
large wooden structures upon these yacatas. They overlooked Lake Patzcuaro's beautiful waters.
17-(above right) Without the use of metal tools, the pre-Hispanic
peoples of the Purepecha Empire cut stone blocks to build their pyramids and temples.
18-This is a typical Purepecha village and demonstrates the pre-Hispanic past of Michoacan.
Four water roofs are used on these structures which are used as granaries and not for sleeping. It is also the place
where the home altar is kept. They were called trojes, by the Purepechas
19-There are several villages that produce unique styles of pottery in the Purepecha region of Michoacan.
20-This pot was made in the city of Tzintzuntzan, Michoacan and is decorated
with lead glazes depicting the fisherman catching fish in nets. This village is located on the edge of Lake Patzcuaro.
21-Sant Fe de La Laguna is the name of a village in the Purepecha region that creates these
charming tiny pots with faces. These are often the faces of Purepecha women, but in this case not. They are painted with
enamel paints after being fired in traditional kilns.
22-During the ritual dances of the Purepecha region, masks are worn by the men.
Women are not allowed to participate in many of these dances. This mask represents the Sun God or Tata Keri
or Large Father. The Dance of the Curpites is a dance where two individuals lead a procession
of men through the village streets dancing. One is the Tata Keri.
23-Represented in a ceramic toy, the Tata Keri, is shown once again.
24-The Purepechas discovered the technique of smelting copper and employed copper
in the production of needles and beads. These were traded with the Aztec peoples of the Valley of Mexico
and have been found far away from the Purepecha region of Michoacan. During, the 1970's,
when I studied the Purepecha culture, the Purepechas made many kind of items, including items that were
clearly made to imitate pre-Hispanic ceramic pieces
25-This quarry stone piece was carved for religious purposes. It shows a saint
on a donkey,probably Jesus of Nazareth. Quarry stone carving was a living art when I lived there in 1972.
26-The Kanakuas or weddings in the Purepecha culture are complex and unique affairs.
In this photograph the women relatives of the bride are walking to the bride's house with brightly colored ribbons to decorate her hair.
27 Day of the Dead in Michoacan is very important and is second only to Oaxaca,
Mexico in importance. Elaborate decorations and objects are made as part of the installation for a single family altar.
This often includes sugar skulls, angels made of sugar, special bread for Day of the Dead.
The marigold is the sacred flower of the dead. Cosmos and amaranth flowers are traditional
used to adorn the grave plots in the Purepecha region. On the days of the Dead,
a great feast is set upon the grave sites to welcome the returning dead.
28-On the day of Christ the King, a Roman Catholic celebration, the Purepechas decorate
many long streets in the city of Patamban, Michoacan. This celebration happens every year. Dyed sawdust is used to
decorate and adorn the streets. Complex designs are used to create these long elaborate
carpets that lead the people through the village for an important ritual. It is entirely ephemeral because it isdestroyed by the
procession of people walking behind the priest who carries the Holy Eucharist through the village.
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