November 9, 2009
As a final project for my photography course I decided to choose the Matachines theme. The Matachines Catholic tradition is held mainly in Northern Mexico and starts on October 12th, lasting exactly 2 months. Churches and communities act as pilgrims and a group of dancers –matachines– walk from the church to the Basilica de Guadalupe in form of penitence. Matachines’ costumes varies from group to group, some dressed more indian-like and others with charro or spanish costumes.
According to Wikipedia the characters of this ritual are the following:
Dressed in fantastic Indian costumes, the chief characters are El Monarca the monarch (Montezuma), the captains (usually consist of 2-4 and are Montezuma’s main generals), La Malinche, or Malintzin, the Indian mistress of Hernán Cortés; El Toro, the bull, the malevolent comic man of the play (also symbolizes Satan), dressed in buffalo skin with the animal’s horns on his head; Abuelo, the grandfather, and Abuela, grandmother.
My main puropuse is not to portrait this ritual on a religious view, but more as a social and economic insight. The Basilica resides on the Barrio de la Independencia, which is a complicated neighborhood in matters of violence and crimes, but events like this gather neightbors together to witness the wandering of the pilgrims; young kids play around the Matachines and economy gets a little boost. For example, in this part of the year, houses around the Basilica become small restaurants, snacks and souvenir stores, cotton candies and caramel apples enligthen sidewalks and cab drivers group in corners like bees in a hive to wait for the tired pilgrims that can walk no more.