The Portada de Semillas of Tepoztlán in 1999
""Place where they revere copper"
Tepoztlán is the head town of a municipality of the same name in the State of Morelos and is composed of eight barrios and various recently formed colonies as well as seven towns located on its outskirts.
The shield which represents it is formed by a copper ax with its handle cleaving a mountain. The name, Tepoztlán, comes from the Nahuatl "Tepuz-tlan" which means place where there is much copper or "where they revere copper."
Large image (165k.)@ 150 dpi for printing
The most relevant historic facts about our pueblo are:
-It was evangelized by the Dominican order headed by Fr. Domingo de la Anunciacion in 1530.
-On the 8th of September, 1538, el Tepoztecatl, the prehispanic god, was baptized and actually continues to be of great importance in the pueblo. This same day is the fiesta of the virgin Santa María of the Nativity, patroness and benefactor of the Tepoztecan people.
-During the revolution, the people fought alongside Zapata.
-In recent decades, it has had to fight against the imposition of various megaprojects, such as a teleferic train to the Tepozteco's pyramid and a tourist railroad on its borders.
-And finally from 1994 to 1996 against a megaproject: the "El Tepozteco" golf club which was to be composed of a golf course, five star luxury hotel, superluxurious residences, swimming pools, etc. using communal lands and land from the ecological reserve. Tepoztlan is in a zone with water problems, and the golf club would have used more than the entire pueblo in addition to risking the loss of its own local identity.
Tepoztlan is not against sport. What is important is that Tepoztlan does not need projects of the few. Tepoztlan is a sacred valley, for meditation and rest, and for all its visitors to enjoy, whether by climbing to the pyramid of El Tepozteco, visiting the ex-convent, the museum, its handcraft stands, etc.
We continue with a description of the portada which is to be found in the entry to the parish of "Nuestra Señora Santa María de la Natividad"which is a work accomplished for the seventh time by the merchants, and volunteers in Tepoztlan for the fiesta of the Virgin the the Nativity and for the baptism of El Tepuztecatl each 8th of September and which is financed by the local unions of merchants and artisans.
It is an arch which is approximately 20 feet high and 32 feet wide,, totally decorated with seeds which form drawings in the style of a codex, which relate legends and speak of events, past and present, and stand for a year to then be replaced by one that is new and different.
The colors are selected principally for their symbolic and their aesthetic value as taken from the Mexican codices.
In this portada for 1999 we refer to the importance of "organization" in the new millennium. We reflect that if we organize ourselves and prepare ourselves better as a society, we can aspire to marvelous things as, for example in our case, in this Allegory. This work reflects the people's sentiment, their traditions, customs, beliefs, and - why not? - their very life.
For this occasion we refer to how the people of Tepoztlan organize for the fiesta of the 8th of September, and the theme is an allegory about this fiesta.
The portada can be interpreted from below to above and from left to right.
The scene which unfolds on the lower left side represents people of the town who are coming from their houses and walking to the town hall for the meetings convoked by the authorities. The meeting is shown in the scene at the lower right where there are three people (symbolizing the people of the town) and another who symbolizes the authority who meets them at the town hall. All of this is with the object of organizing themselves to prepare El"Reto al Tepozteco", a pageant which is performed at 6:00 PM on September 8th in the municipal plaza. They have come to make agreements about the costumes, expenses, rehearsals, etc.
Once the activities are planned and everyone has something to do, they get to work. First they begin rehearsals of the dialogues in Nahuatl of the main actors (Tepoztecatl, Kings of Cuernavaca, of Yautepec, of Oaxtepec and of Tlayacapan). Other people are added who take the roles of the vassals and warriors of each king and also of the Tepuztecatl's maidens. These rehearsals continue until the day of the performance. In the portada they are at center left with their improvised weapons. It is worth mentioning that the young Tepoztecans meet to prepare their own choreography and their prehispanic costumes with decorations of flowers and natural feathers.
In the same part, further up, we have a Amantecatl and a painter. The first represents the people who prepare the costumes, shields (chimalli), headdresses, etc. The second represents the people who build the scenery which consists of the construction of a pyramid which over the years has been varied in its decoration but which since 1996 has been standardized by Arturo Demesa Ortiz, the designer of this portada, who has returned to the architectural elements of the pyramid on El Tepozteco's mountain and has made a half sized replica.
We pass on the the right side where we explain how the merchants in the market stalls organize for the creation of "La Portada de Semillas". (Click here for a little of the history of this) Continuing with the explanation, we note at the lower right side some Pochtecas (merchants) who are paying attention to their director who begins by inviting them to make their contributions and to cooperate in the creation of the Portada now that the fiesta is near and they need to start their work. On one side is a meeting of the directors of the market - who are the representatives of the five market areas - discussing and planning how to begin the work and the role that each will play in the execution of the Portada. Afterwards, they contract with the designer to create the project. He is in the center of the side which we are analyzing in the number five which signifies his five years of doing this task; after that we go to the part above him where we see all the merchants working at gluing on the seeds, supervised by our compañero Rafael Carillo who is in charge of deciding what kind of seed will be used in each space and how they will be placed.
Finishing with the lower parts, we add that these scenes are framed by the mountains of Tepoztlan, those on the north including the mounts of El Tepozrteco, of the Air (Ehecatltépetl), of the Light (Tlahuiltépetl) and of the Springs (Malinaltépetl); and on the right by the mountains of Treasure (CDhalchiltépetl), of One Hand (Cematzin) and of the Night Guard (Yohualtépetl). Above the mountain ranges extends the image of El Tepozteco who incites and moves the hearts of the residents to attend and play their part in his fiesta and that of his Mother, the Virgin of the Nativity.
In the upper part we have made a representation of the "Reto al Tepozteco" in which we find the legendary Tepozteco defending the Christian faith from those who continue believing in pagan religions, represented by the neighboring Lords (of Cuernavaca, Yautepec, Oaxtepec and Tlayacapan) who interrupt the Lord of Tepoztlan, angry because they feel betrayed by El
Tepuztécatl - who embraced the Christian religion - and want to eliminate him, but this never happens because the Virgin Mary protects him and gives him strength to convince his aggressors of the error that they are coming; with a humble gesture El Tepozteco calms them and invites the kings to adopt the Catholic religion. They are converted and a new belief begins to be born in the pueblos of Morelos through this act. They begin the fiesta in El Tepozteco's place, the musicians make their teponaztles and shell rattles resound, pulque is served to those present, and at the end of this event we continue celebrating this tradition with great enthusiasm, every 8th of September.
Finally, we avail ourselves of this space to thank all the persons who with their gifts, volunteer work, atole, coffee, etc., made this Portada possible since it is impossible to name every one of them, given their great quantity.
We make a recognition to Sra. Ma. de Loordes Quiroz Bello and her daughter Dulce María Robles Quiroz for their voulnteer work in gluing the seeds
And we make a very special recognition to all of the children of 7 to 15 years old who also worked very hard.
Designer of the Portada de Semillas
Arturo Demesa Oriz
Otilio y Fermín Conde Ragil
Preparation of the work area and
reconditioning of the base of the Portada
Gilberto Ortiz Trejo
Marino Medina Lezo
Mario Flores Oropeza
Coordination of the selection and
gluing of the seeds
Rafael Carillo Campos
Coordinators of the materials
Profa. Bertha Quiroz González
María Flores García
Financing and gluing of the seeds
Comerciantes de área de la explanada municipal
Comericantes de mercado
Comerciantes artesanos del lado norte
Comericantes de la Unión "Tianquizli"
Comerciantes de Av. Revolución