Coahuitlan, Veracruz, Mexico The traditional dress is a white cotton skirt, apron which is machine embroidered, blouse with lace, the wide Totonaca belt and a second sash on store bought material, a embroidered quechquemitl.Robert Freund11/12/2007


Above Coyutla Veracruz, in the Sierra de Papantla, there are three Totonaca municipalities Mecatlan, Filomeno Mata, and Coahuitlan. Given my restricted time frame and sparse info about these municipalities I decided to let the fates decide for me which villages to visit. There is a cross roads at the top of the mountain, I waited. Soon a butterfly flew off to the right followed by a breeze carrying dust in the same direction. The wind can carry many messages that was enough to let me decide off to Coahuitlan. The road was ok, a bit rocky in places. I arrive and began to look for the village leader, all told me he was at the church. The church was at the bottom of the hill. I parked and went to look for him, it is important in these isolated villages that a person present themselves, so there is not confusion about purpose.

When I entered the church it was obvious that something was about to happen, there were many men seated on the benches along the wall. In the center of the floor close to the alter was the town “Santo Christo” a few women were kneeling around it praying. Some of the men ask me how I had gotten there and if I had come for the ceremony. I have a standard explanation of my purpose , I show a book of photos, my card and explain that it is a independent project to document indigenous textiles. All well and good, soon a man of some authority can up to me , he explained that I had arrive just at the moment that the ceremony was about to begin and did I have a video camera… WELL I just so happened to have my trust Canon SR70 with me. He invited me to video tape the event.

He explained that for the last 12 days different groups of women had been praying to the Santo Christo. They don’t pray for better cars or love, they pray that nothing happens to them. Materialism has not reached into these remote villages and the importance of tradition is very strong. It all sounded very interesting but I could never have been prepared for what followed.

Little by ,little more and more women began to arrive in there colorful costume. Different groups of women began to take turns praying around the coffin of Christ. In a traditional manner all the women began to pray, not in unison but each with there own prayer. The din of the sound of prayer the fragrance of burning copal and candle light was overpowering.

There was a mass and a blessing , a table was set up where people began to put there contribution. Seeing that, I went out to my car and brought in a bag of mole, sodas, some cans of fruit and a few bananas that I had.

The entire group gathered around the coffin of Christ and 8 pole bearers piced up the sacred Christa , with some effort, and accompanied by music walked around the church once carrying the coffin.