The Indian history and world-view in the Vice royal catholic worship (a case study from the architecture in the Valley of Toluca)

Two are the objectives of these pages. The first one is to show that in some vice royal Christian temples of the Indians is possible to carry out a reading of the history and the world-view of the places where they are located. This without damaging the complement of any another architectural analysis or of iconography that could be carried out on them. It is a question then of an ethno- and micro-historically approach in that villages are a part of a major structure of which they form an active and functional part; in this case, it characterized the Spanish viceroyalties of America. To achieve this first intention we initiate the work with a small reflection on the local history that is felt in the temple and later the relation it develops between the Indians and their geographical environment. In order to understand from there the religious cycles that carry out in the temple of San Antonio la Isla – example the latter in which we are going to develop our postulates. Even if we centre our attention in the eighteenth century, the time when the building was remodeled, we compare other contributions by other authors on the same topic in the pre-Hispanic period and in the contemporary period. This way we try to offer to the reader an idea of the changes and continuities that happened in the center of these two temporary ends, that is to say, in the eighteenth century. To achieve this we resort to written sources found in the local files, in order to explain then some decorative elements and inscriptions that appear in the principal front of the temple, especially the mermaids. Next, as the second target, we try to enrich the proposal done by other authors, in the sense of suggesting that the catholic temples of the peoples of Indians were, in certain sense, a replacement of the altépetl (water hill). Not only for their constructive structure, but also taking in consideration the widest concept of the term, especially in the part regarding the religious and profane activities that were carried out in this type of churches.

San Antonio la Isla, whose more ancient names were Otompan (place of otomíes) and Techialoyan1 (place where it is expected), is located in the southwestern end of the river Lerma in the Valley of Toluca. Where they conclude the last undulations of the snow-covered volcano of Toluca (Nevado de Toluca or Xinantécatl, and before the drying of the river, part of its territory was adjacent to the lagoon of Lerma or Chignahuapan.

During the Viceroyalty, specifically in the year 1560, San Antonio was joined or congregated to the “Republic of Indians” of Calimaya and Tepemaxalco. Nevertheless, from this moment, it refused to receive the category of “fastened people”; that is to say, to depend politicaly, territorially and tributary. The conductive thread of its internal history was then the secessionist struggle, or the search of its political – territorial autonomy.2 Between the most outstanding acts of this separatist process that lasted until the nineteenth century, when it achieved the category of autonomous municipality, the custom was, to the margin of the Spanish law, to name their own Indian governor, when for the same effect elections were summoned in the head of “republic” of Calimaya and Tepemaxalco.

Of this segregation story, there are documentary proofs in many documents3, but two of them are perhaps, the most interesting examples. One corresponds to the inscription that was put in the front of the temple when it was remodeled; the other one is the famous codex Techialoyan, and we say famous because this was the one that gave name to the whole series of similar documents that have been in Mexico, because Techialoyan was San Antonio Isla.

According to Nadine Béligand,4 the codex was prepared at the beginning of the eighteenth century by the same “tlacuilos” that worked the inscriptions in the temple, where names of two personages stand out, to whom a governor’s5 category is granted. In this sense, the inscriptions can be interpreted as an act of resistance to the congregation of the sixteenth century. On the other hand, these personages also appear in the plates of the codex as “guards of the grounds” and say to be descendants of Axayácatl, the mexica tlatoani that conquered the Valley of Toluca and delimited its territory. This way, both facts send us to the origin of San Antonio and it is related to the existence of a leading lineage during the pre-Hispanic times and territoriality.

The temple and the codex become determinant remains of the local process of development; the architecture allows putting out, in addition to its stylistic and aesthetic qualities, the fact of being a historical document. The reading can be from two instances, the one that prints the catholic worship and the hegemonic speech of western court, and the one that allows putting out the point of view of the dominated culture, which from the Spanish conquest was known as that of the Indians.

With an excellent knowledge in the field of the architecture and the history of the art, Marie Thérèse Réau6, describes the temple in study as follows:

In San Antonio la Isla, one is in the presence of the most beautiful popular work and that depends to a great extent on the only model of decoration, does not prevent from underlining its originality. Its structure is simpler and more archaic … its ornamental repertoire is less extensive and the technique just more rudimentary; nevertheless, the use of the sculptural decoration is expressive; establishes a relation between the diverse ornaments spirals of the columns, foliages, spirals, sheets flowers, volutes, mermaids, large masks since everything is a change of the fascinating topic of the spiral: geometric forms spirals, vegetable spirals and human spirals.

To find another way of analysis, that is to say, the one that the Indian of the beginning of the eighteenth century printed on the temple of San Antonio la Isla, demands to penetrate into the geographical environment, into the worldview, the custom and the internal development process of people.

The geographical environment and the religious cycles

From very remote times of the pre-Hispanic period, the towns as San Antonio la Isla — located in bordering sceneries to volcanoes, mountains, lakes and rivers — had a very special ritual. This ritual was related to the worship to deities or nature forces, which were considered to be residing there, and to which they requested rains and good storms that would help them in their agricultural activities and of collection of lake products.

In this context, the mountain was seen as a big temple that was covering and providing water. The high tops, like the Xinantécatl or Snow-capped mountain of Toluca or other volcanoes and hills of importance, were seen as water tanks and when they had springs flowing of their caves, it was thought that they were arms of sea which function was the irrigation of the agricultural fields. Therefore, lakes and rivers were venerated equally. They were an important part of the aquatic worship, which marked in a hegemonic and generalized way the pre-Hispanic peoples of Mesoamerica.

The organization of sacred places and temples for the worship was corresponding in this environment with the fact that the mountains also were working as markers of calendar events; from what the solstices, equinoxes and zenithal passages had an essential role in the organization of the sacred cycle. The relation between man and mountain was extremely complex, even the same geographical accident could represent different interests in each of the peoples.

At the arrival of the Spanish the common worship to the mountains and to the water, related to agriculture and lake forms of life, was concealed and mixed with elements of the Christian worship. Regarding the Valley of Toluca — and with the support of sciences as archaeology, the ethno history and anthropology—, researchers as Arturo Montero, Maria Elena Maruri and Beatriz Albores, among others7, in recent dates have showed the origin and the continuity up to the present of the forms of worship to water or Tláloc. For example, Montero has prepared an archaeological record of the Mexican high mountain ritual in which Jsurprisingly the quantity of places corresponding to the Snow-capped mountain of Toluca: of 55, 15 are in this volcano, this number overcomes even the ones found on the Iztaccíhuatl, the Popocatépetl and the Peak of Orizaba, whose quantity also is important.8

María Elena Maruri considers that in the pre-Hispanic period the worship to water and to the mountain, was affiliated to the otomi pame family that existed between the majority of indigenous groups that inhabited the Valley Matlatzinca or of Toluca before the Mexica conquest, recognizing the cultural influences that started than to be noticed in the region.

Supported by the studies realized by Pedro Carrasco on the otomíes9, Maruri notes down that the most important deities that existed between them were the Old Father and the Old Mother, divine couple living in the caves and caverns, as well Muy’e, lord of the waters. These characters have standardized to the Nahuas deities of fire, Huehuetéotl, of the ground and of the moon, Ilamacíhuatl, and of the water, Tláloc.10

Between the otomíes of the pre-Hispanic period, religion was concerning the adoration of deities that were symbolizing a trade or a natural force; every people had their main god that was identified with an ancestor and that possibly was the traditional god of the trade of the people.

The moon was the main deity, since it created everything what exists; the lunar phases were determining the alternations with the seasons and were governing the fertile cycles of the ground. Therefore, the worship to the water and to the mountain was essential in the region. Maruri describes it as follows: “The worship was realized in the mountains and lagoons … When there was a spell of bad weather all the otomíes, raised to the top of the hills, there they offered the gods copal and paper figures, placed crosses in the top of the hills…”11

The lagoons were also important places of worship among them, obviously, were the ones of Snow-capped mountain of Toluca. They Acpaxapo lived in them and took care of them, goddess whose figure was a big snake with woman’s face, kind of a mermaid. Other important deities for the ends that occupy us were Yoccipa, which might be identify with the idea of the change of leather of the ground. It’s beginning was marked by the entry of the spring equinox and which collaborates with Xipe Tótec between the nahuas. Bimazopho was the god “of the sowings” and Mû dû, “lord of the deceased”, of the ancestor; of course, to distribute the waters it was indispensable to produce worship to Edâhi, god of the wind, comparable to Ehécatl-Quetzalcóatl between the nahuas.

Two fundamental places in the náhuatl world view, that we cannot leave of side to understand the worship to the water and to the mountain, are Tamoanchan and Tlalocan.12 The first one might be defined as the cover of the sacred mountain, the axis of the cosmos and the place of four cosmic trees that were in the top to support the universe. It is the place where the gods lived and were exiled, where in union with the cold and warm things, sex, war and game originated. With all this, another space other beings and another time were created: the world of the human being. It is said that the calendar was born there, strategic point where it was possible to design and plan the life of the man.

Tlalocan, on the other hand, was a place of origin and destination ruled by Tláloc; it had several meanings, between them “long cave” and “road under the ground”. The lord of the thinders and the beams (Tlaloc) lived there, along with his allies or servants, the tlaloques, who moved with the clouds and took care of distributing the waters and the rains. To the above-mentioned place went those who died by the touch of a thunder or those who had suffered some illness of cold nature as the rheumatism, the pneumonia or the dropsy. These persons were turned into tlaloques, since they had been requested by the master of the waters to go to his domains inside the ground and to serve in his cosmic work of water distribution. Tlalocan was also a hollow mountain full of fruits, since there was in it an eternal productive season; on the other hand, it was also representing the low part of the cosmic Mesoamerican axis.

Between his multiple interpretations, the Nahua word altépetl (water hill) perhaps might synthesize simultaneously the union between Tamoanchan and Tlalocan, since his glyph was the representation of a rounded mountain which base was twisting inwards. In many occasions it was represented by a horizontal bar in the base to which the glyph of the water was sticking or simply a stripe that was serving as stylized representation of the element atl (water), or perhaps the teeth of Tláloc, god of the rain.13

As for the continuity of the ritual of mountain tied to the worship to the water up to the present, Beatriz Albores says the following:

The Chiucnauhtecatl (Xinantécatl or Snow-capped mountain of Toluca) and the small volcanoes of Xalatlaco and Tilapa are the mountainous southern props of the valley of Toluca that delimit to the mountain side of the volcanic cones, of which emerges the Olotepec, with which they integrate three lights of a kind of sacred wall. These religious regional centers are visited from immemorial times, during the ceremonies of request and gratitude, by neighbors of several localities headed by different groups of graniceros (workpeople of the time), between whom we find the “saudinos” in Teotenango, the “ahuizotes” of Xalatlaco and the “quicazcles” of Texcalyácac.14

The “graniceros” or workpeople of the time, which name changes from one community to the other, since it is appreciated in the previous appointment, they are called this way by the faculties that they have to request the rains, the good storms and to keep off the hail. They are also “chamanes” or healers and they usually treat the illnesses of the body and the spirit of the members of the communities. They, in addition to acquire this knowledge by tradition, is said that are called by sacred forces when they survive the fall of a beam; the knowledge and predictions they are marked by half of dreams or by the intake of sacred plants. Historical records15 show their existence from pre-Hispanic times up to the present. Their activity in the mountains of the region of Toluca, as in other parts, is done every year and the ceremonies are related to the cycles of the rain that affect in the regional agricultural and lacustrine activities. In addition to this ritual in the mountains, in which Christian priests do not take part, in every village there follows a similar ritual that is concealed in the Christian calendars and in the saints who acquire a symbolism bind together to nature forces. The neighbors of the peoples organize these festivities, accompanying them with masses and other ecclesiastic services which costs are paid by the community organizations.

The worship to the water and to the mountain of the pre-Viceroyal period was handled from the instances of the hegemonic power, while from the Spanish conquest, the Christianity supplanted this leading worship and the mentioned rituals stayed in charge of the rural towns. Perhaps the substitutes most attached to the work of the ancient priests were the “graniceros” or workpeople of the time, which after the Spanish imposition worked in secrecy and ritualized, as they do it today, mostly in the caves of the mountains. In the Indian towns, there was more devotion to the Christian worship, although this one was clearly related to the declarations of nature, especially taking care of the corn cycle, and the control of the water during the year. All mentioned above, in spite of the immense persecution that the Spanish religious exercised on those practices.

Both types of celebrations (those of the mounts and those of the peoples) re-dress hybrid forms between the pre-Hispanic calendar and the related one to the catholic worship. Both types of celebrations (those of the mountains and those of the peoples) covered with hybrid forms between the pre-Hispanic calendar and the one related to the catholic worship. The most important are the following ones: February 2, Candlemas day, which after the Gregorian Calendar reform of 1582 would correspond on February 12 in the beginning of the Mexica calendar; day of the Holy Cross (May 3), which celebration often begins from April 25, — day of Saint Mark— or on May 15 — day of Saint Isidore the Labourer or Farmer—in case of several peoples of the valley of Toluca, as San Antonio la Isla, and finally the holiday of August 15, day of the assumption of the Virgin. The last two festivities link in Mesoamerican terms with the dates of April 30 and August 13, which mark the zenithal passages in the latitude 14th 57 ‘N. Finally, the cycle closes between October 30 and November 2, when the day of All Saints and the day of Dead are celebrated. The autumn month — date of death — is related in the Mexica calendar to the Tepehuitl, the month dedicated to worship the mountains. This time coincides with the activity to gather the fruits of the harvest and later the ground rests, stays as dead or asleep.

In her studies on the Valley of Toluca, Beatriz Albores has showed that in several towns of the region the holidays that at present are done the “graniceros” or workpeople of the time are carried out following the Christian Calendar rhythms and the pre-Hispanic in eight holidays split into two groups. Four follow a Cross of Malt pattern and other four do it in a Saint Andrew cross; in them the solstices and the equinoxes demarcate a reference time of great importance. In the holidays of the peoples, the temporary rhythms are more or less similar. Although they change in a few days in accordance with the Christian calendar of saints days, which also can be related to certain variables in the dates in which the cycle of farming begins between March and April, but can join in the frame of the above-mentioned scheme.16

The scheme of Albores does allusion fundamentally to the cycle of worship of the “graniceros” in Texcalyácac, although she quotes the festivities of other places of the Valley of Toluca. It is not strange, than, that the rituals that exist in San Antonio la Isla continue in very close dates. Inclusive everything seems to indicate that this rhythm of the agricultural cycle initiates already mixed with the Christian worship from the vice royal period and that covers many other peoples of the area. For example in the Parish of Calimaya and the Twelve visited villages in the eighteenth century, the dates seem to vary by a few days, according to the Christian Saints Days Calendar of each one of the villages. So as the “Graniceros” work in the caves of the mountains, in various community churches a parallel celebration is made in the same day or in very close dates. The most important activities that take to effect in the towns take place in the temple, but the processions and celebrations delimit the territorial ambience of every people: the milpas, the cemeteries and certainly the family altars. As if it was a matter of a big quantity of circles that continue temporariness nearby and include from the high tops of the hills up to the rural hearths. It is obvious that the celebrations have cultural tones, but they all follow the rhythm of the water and, therefore, of the sowing season of the corn.

On having observed the current calendar of religious holidays that Maruri17 records for San Antonio la Isla and having compared it with the one registered in the “Directory of the parish of the convent of San Pedro and San Pablo, 1750” of Calimaya18, we could state that this ritual cycle of pre-Hispanic roots, already mixed with the Christian saints days, survives practically equally from the vice-royal times.

Although Maruri points out that, properly speaking, in our days there are not “graniceros” in San Antonio, during the viceroyalty time they were in the head of “Republic of Indians” and in the parish, meaning in Calimaya. In fact, for the chroniclers of the period we know that, considering the closeness with the volcano Xinantécatl, this was one of the most important ritual points in the high mountain.19

It is possible that because of the importance of the head town of Calimaya the tradition had been getting lost more easily than in other places of the region. Another reason can be the interest the counts of Santiago Calimaya had on it and because in the eighteenth century, after the Bourbon Reforms, the town suffered a high migration of Creole and Spanish merchants.20 Nevertheless, there is those who remember that the practice existed in the XXth century, and even, like in other places of the valley of Toluca, is said that when the rains skimp, there is the one who rises to the volcano in order to bring an offering and takes with him some Christian Saints.21

In the small towns environment can still observe continuity in the celebrations as for dates: the calendar repeats itself from the records of the “Directory of the parish” of the eighteenth century up to the recent information that contributes the work of Maria Elena Maruri for the people of San Antonio, and these coincide with the scheme of Albores. Both in the villages of our study and of her study -Texcalyácac-, the calendar start on February 2, day of Virgin of the Candelmas. This is the date when they bless the Holy Baby, together with the candles that will light the hearths during the year and the seeds that will be sowed between March and April. This date is located in the end of the arm aligned between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It corresponds to the beginning of the agricultural pre-Columbian calendar, and for the eighteenth century the papers of the parish of Calimaya describe it this way: “This day they ask for a sung mass in the altar of Our Lady of the Candlemas. It is at nine o’clock, the seeds are blessed in the main entrance and the seeds… the procession takes place… they ask for a sung mass in San Lucas for earth and in San Antonio Cantada for blessing…22

The celebrations of the Holly Cross of May 3 and of the Assumption of the Virgin are located in the arm that falls between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. At present, during these days the graniceros of Xalatlaco, Texcalyácac and Tenango rise to the caves of the hills to dress to the crosses and to do the offerings requesting of good weather. In the seventeenth century, Jacinto de la Serna commented on this matter the following:

Aquellos pueblos de San Mateo, Xalatlaco, Tenango y sus sujetos…se averiguó: las supersticiones y hechicerías, que tenían en ahuyentar los nublados, de quienes temían daño de granizo á las mieses, para que con sus conjuros estorbasen los daños de los temporales, y tempestades…Otro conjuraba con una culebra viva rebuelta en un palo y esgrimía con ella hacia la parte de los nublados y tempestades con soplos y acciones de cabeza y de palabra que nunca se podían entender.23

Meanwhile this happens — and it happened — in the mountains, in towns as San Antonio on May 2 an evening celebration takes place and the next day all the fixed crosses on the streets and on the familiar altars are decorated, also there is a mass, offering and food share-out. In the eighteenth century, a mass was celebrated in the temple of the town to complement the celebrations and the help of religious Christians. In the parochial papers of Calimaya are indications that on this day there was a mass, a procession and meals in all the villages, including the head town and all “subjects”. A proper characteristic of San Antonio la Isla is that in addition to dressing the fixed crosses in the principal points of the villages, it was used to accompany the processions with what there have been called “the walk of the chalupitas”, that is to say, the crafts that were riding along the lagoon of Lerma. Therefore, in addition to the ritual of the Santa Cruz requesting rains, they also worshiped the waters of the lagoon, since for being in the riverside the economy of the people depended so much on the product of the cornfields as on the lacustrine resources.

In major or minor measure, the ceremonies of request of the waters cover every May with the offering of flowers to the virgin; on the 17th in San Antonio the Christ of the Ascension was celebrated, popularly known as the “lord of the waters”, of who is said to be very ancient and miraculous. The “Directory of the parish” already places the importance of this celebration in the religious calendar, noting down that this day in San Antonio la Isla was requested a sung mass and a procession.

As for August, in San Antonio a novena dedicated to San Salvador takes place and initiates exactly nine days before the 15th, that is to say, the 6th. As Maruri has investigated, the organization of this act is recent — about 30 years — and it is in charge of the Núñez family. Nevertheless, the rituals corresponding to August in the locality of San Antonio are celebrated from the viceroyalty period. In accordance with our eighteenth century source, the festivities were done then on the 15th and mass and procession was requested. They offered meal to the whole town; to the priests who were coming to support the celebrations they were giving one dozen and a half of hens and another of chickens, in addition to covering in money the religious services. These expenses were supporting the brotherhoods, institutions that succumbed in the nineteenth century from the Laws of Reform. Then it continued the viceroyalty custom of spending the expenses to a family that could lodge the saints in the altars of their houses. From the sixteenth century, in these places was easier to do the offerings to the ancestors, and there were shared the first fruits of the crop that exactly was gathered in these times. To share with the dead persons was a way of being grateful and of returning to the origin, that is why in other places of the region the celebrations of August transcends even the ambience of the cemeteries.

From the pre-viceroyalty period up to the present, when the agricultural cycle closes and the harvest ends by the end of October, the most important celebration of the agrarian zones of the Valley of Toluca and of all the villages and towns of Mexico takes place: on November 2, day of the Dead or All Souls Day. In the most of the places, the holidays start from October 30 with the celebrations before the day of All Saints, on November 1. Then the sharing with the ancestors is shown in altars and offerings placed in all the houses. In the context of the villages also there is a series of rituals and, of course, mass; they come to the pantheons to adorn the graves, in which frequently there are shared the fruits received from the ground by means of an offering of food and flowers.

Clearly, which it is possible to observe in the Viceroyalty sources as part of the celebrations of these days is only what corresponds to the catholic worship with which the activities of this day complement each other; in this sense, the “Directory of the parish” registers:

1. Day of all Saints they pay sung Masses in all the towns of the Help of Parish. This day they ask for sung Masses in the towns of San Antonio and Santiago …
2. All Souls Day… These eve celebrations with layer that the priest makes, weekly and sung mass, another day with prayer for the dead for the cemetery: in batches. The main prayers for the dead that are few are paid in 4 reales and belong to the Convent. The prayers for the dead of the villages belong to those who do them. … At the same day, they have sung Masses in San Antonio and San Lucas …

Other historical sources tell us about the importance that the ancestors and their step to the “other world” had for the towns of the area of study. For example, in the books of office and data of the guilds of Indians that had in the parishes of Calimaya and Tepemaxalco. And in some of the “attached villages or visits” (as San Antonio), we find that in the expenditure heading, from the tremendous amount of activities that this institutions perform, the one that supported more the family economy was that of covering the expenses of the “Christian” funeral; and the payment of masses and prayers for the dead for the deceased both in his anniversary and in the day of All Souls. The price included the San Francisco monastic habit, between other things, in which was common to bury the dead persons. This situation does not surprise, since the parish was in charge of the Franciscans up to much advanced the eighteenth century. However, the step towards “another life” after the death had a strong pre-Hispanic heredity, and the care of the ancestors was a part of this respect for the origin of the group or the community, we know it for other sources:

En todo tienen estos miserables indios mil tropezaderos, así con los vivos como con los muertos, y con esto son muy graves, porque tienen muchas supersticiones, y en esta complicidad, se averiguó aver amortajado a algunos con ropa nueva, ponerles mortaja, y debajo de los brazos comida de tortillas, y jarros de agua, y los instrumentos de trabajar; a las mujeres los de texer, a los hombres achas, coas, ó, otras cosas conforme al ejercicio que tuvieron y de esto hay el día de hoy mucho daño… y después acá muy poco à, acostumbran en muriendo el enfermo… junto al fogón (cerca de los altares familiares) que de ordinario mueren ellos allí, u lo tienen mientras se dispone la comida, y la bebida, que también ponen allí, y ofrecen al fuego, y después la ofrecen al difunto, y lo ponen, donde a de estar para sacarlo a enterrar, y los cantores se comen la ofrenda, y se la beben y dicen que es como si el difunto se la comiese y la bebiese; y al octavo día ponen otra comida en la parte y lugar donde estuvo el muerto.24

The ceremony for the funeral described for the seventeenth century has some similarities to what happens today. On the other hand, with complete certainty from the Virceroyalty it was accustoming to celebrate the day of Dead or of All Souls. The burial was meaning the preparation of the dead to divide towards the “other life”; the day of All Souls, on the other hand, was an invitation so that the deceased return to share with their families the crop obtained from the earth that from “the origins” belonged to the community as a gift of the gods. With the ceremonies of November 2 concluded the ritual calendar of 260 days that was following the cycle of the corn and it proves according to the scheme of Beatriz Albores, where the principal celebrations happened in February, May, August and beginning of November. In the “Directory of the parish”, yet, we find additional information on the celebrations that in certain way come to reinforce the dissertation of the same authoress as for the importance of the solstices, the equinoxes and the zenithal passages in this temporary space. This calendar of holidays in the town of San Antonio La Isla was complemented by other celebrations of importance in this calendar context. For example, the ritual activity that continues after February 2, which beginning generally coincides with the carnival and with the Christian Lent — from Ash Wednesday up to the Easter, with special emphasis on the Holy Week—, marks a reference towards the spring equinox; in some nearby villages, also attached to the parish of Calimaya, is the worship to Xipe Tótec, the leather change of the ground that initiates or is prepared from this time up to the raining station, exactly when the sowing takes place. One of the customs of these days is that of hanging breads and oranges on the central arch of the catholic temple, and after the ceremonies of the Holy Week finish the oranges are peeled and the rinds are buried in the cornfield as a symbolic act.

The local patron saint day of San Antonio, just as that of the parish, happens in dates near to the summer solstice. That of the first town is the 13th, when San Antonio is celebrated; the second one is on the 29th, day of San Pedro and San Pablo. The first saint corresponds to Calimaya and the second one to Tepemaxalco. San Pedro is a holy angler and owns the keys that open the doors of the paradise. Let’s remember that Calimaya is located in the skirts of the volcano: is it perhaps the strategic point of entry towards the sacred mountain? Can we think that somehow it is the door towards Tamoanchan and Tlalocan, towards the paradise? And on the other hand: the location did influence its place in its role of governing people (in political and religious terms) of the towns and villages located in the low parts of the valley of Toluca, which in addition to farmers were fishermen?

June is characterized by intense rains and on the 21st is the summer solstice. This way the big ritual activity is explained to achieve that the natural phenomena were favoring the human being by avoiding bad storms:

In June or from May… water tails form. They are clouds elongated and coiled in the end; they bring hail or great rain and do extended damage. The water tails or clouds with hurricane-force winds must get up and come undone. This way the “graniceros” lead to taking a short cut, that is to say, to removing or stopping the bad storm…
From June 25 — on the following day of the holiday of Saint John—, until July 23 … there is located the stage of major incidence of meteorological phenomena that represent damage or danger for the cornfields.25

During the eighteenth century all, the towns of the parish of Calimaya were benefiting with the religious celebrations. In addition to the titular holidays of Saint Anthony, and Saint Peter and Saint Paul, the day of Saint John there were masses, celebrations and processions in several villages: in the chapel of the saint in Tepemaxalco, in Mexicalzingo, Chapultepec, Nativitas, San Andrés and San Lucas. In the “Directory of the Parish” is said that in San Antonio la Isla there was an altar in the temple devoted to the above mentioned saint and that it had grounds for this celebration, and that in general “this was a happy day”. During the month thirteen masses took place in the parish and the costs of them were relapsing into the two towns which their Patron Saints had titular holiday during this month: San Antonio la Isla and Calimaya. The same document is wide in describing the celebrations of June: it alludes to the titular holiday of San Anthony, which was beginning with a novena and the costs were running in charge of fellowship devoted to the saint. In the holidays, a procession took place departing from the cemetery (again the inclusion of the ancestors, the recognition to the origin and the duality life / death); the inhabitants of Calimaya and Tepemaxalco and their fellowships assumed the expenses generated this day. And also by the neighbor towns or villages “subjects or visitors”, who in general were coming to the convent with goods in species, particularly tablecloths, napkins, eggs, chickens, hens, bread, oranges and other fruits.

After November 2 the cycle of 260 days, or the cycle of the corn, was remaining closed; the ground was staying as sleep the rest of the calendar cycle of 365 days until February 2 of the following year, when a new cycle was initiating. The information that the already mentioned “Directory of parish” offers to reconstruct the calendar of religious activities in the villages of study turns out to be interesting, especially as for the period corresponding to the closing of the cycle and the preparation of the new one in February. In first term, the parson who wrote this does allusion to the fact that in the villages the people requested masses to pray for the souls of their deaths as from December; then there was celebrated the Virgin of the Conception — perhaps the young Mother (Xochiquétzal)—, which has a close relation to the Virgin of the Candlemas (February 2). Perhaps in these activities there was gratitude and request for the future cycle. Four days later, on December 12 the Virgin of Guadalupe, Tonantzin, the Earth our mother was celebrated. On the 24th the baby Jesus (or “Niño Dios”) is put in the Nativity, which later were placed in the altars and the sponsors or godparents were designated (January 6). Everything seems to indicate that in this time, the festivities are exclusively of Christian stock, and nevertheless they turn out to be a perfect complement inside the calendar of 365 days to initiate the cycle of 260, from which so much we have spoken.

The first question that arises after all this ritual inventory and celebrations is: Along the history, does the Indian memory realize the relation that the pre-Hispanic and Christian calendars keep with the symbolism of the worship that is realized in their towns? We believe that in a widespread form the response is negative; it is difficult that it exists, especially in the common one of the inhabitants, a precise and deep knowledge on the ideological and symbolic content that nourishes the ideology that exists behind these two religious calendars. Rather we think that it is the force of the habits who governs the forms of sacred relation between the human being and the nature, and that there is a close relation between the rural economic and social needs — present from before the Hispanic conquest up to the date — and the conditions of the natural space. In any case, it shapes aspects of a culture that sprouts in a spontaneous way in the daily life and is inherited from generation to generation, while the operation capacity in the context of the social relations of each time of history find validity. In this stage, the memory of the origin of the ancestors, who received the ground from the sacred instance and of some events that are indispensable for the survival of the community, they do emerge in a cyclical form to answer to the changing demands that, in general, come from the external world to which the community is related in a symbiotic and asymmetric form. They are in the silent subconscious of the collective memory, give body to the worldview and usually take shape of fixed places, as for example of the Techialoyan Codex or of the walls of the church so that there is always memory of them. They are not yet long speeches perpetuated in temporary linear precise spaces.

Recapturing all the aspects recorded so far concerning the memory, the custom and the worldview, and far from surprising us, calls us to the reflection of the reading of the words on the temple of San Antonio Isla pronounced from the ethnographic point of view of Maruri26:

At present, the parish of San Antonio de Padua, located in the center of town has in his baroque frontage, friezes of spirals, scallops, shells, scaled sirens, the pigeon of the holy spirit and aquatic flowers. All these elements are symbols linked with the aquatic worship.
The spirals denote the lunar time as soon as the cycle of the life and regeneration, due to their shapes they allude to the lunar phases that rule the rhythmic change of fertility; from what the symbolism links with the death and the funeral rituals (Eliade: 155). The lunar time recounts a Bio Cosmic vision, the rain or the tides, the sowing and the menstrual cycle. The lunar rhythm coordinates the diverse planes of the fecundity of the women, those of the animals, the vegetation, and the destination of the men after the death and the ceremonies of initiation. It is as well as the snail, the woman, the water, the fish, they belong to the same symbolism of fertility (Eliade, 1992:150-151).
… the sirens, which appear in the frontage of the church of San Antonio, are representations of the goddess Acpaxapo, otomí deity venerated by the xaltocameca, which were predicting the future of the people. They were represented in the shape of snake, with face and hair of a woman.
From this aquatic worldview, I can interpret that in the parish there are symbols related to death and life. On having crossed the door, which separates the profane of the sacred, one enters a sacred space; symbolically one enters the Tlalocan. The entry in the shape of semicircular arch represents the cave.

We are interested on highlighting two points of this quotation. One is the presence of the siren in the main façade of the temple of San Antonio la Isla. In addition, the other is the reference that on having entered the church, symbolically one has entered in the Tlalocan, since with it the authoress identifies the construction with an altépetl, that is to say, with a water hill in the pre-Hispanic thought.

The sirens in the main façade of the Temple of San Antonio la Isla

As the name indicates, in some moment of the history San Antonio la Isla was precisely an island, and although the inhabitants were devoting themselves to the agriculture, a fundamental part of their existence was deriving from the lacustrine exploitation. The first ethnic settlement was otomí, whose members later coexisted in the same space with matlatzincas and mexicas. At the arrival of the Spanish, the old tradition of Acpaxapo – represented as a snake with face and hair of a woman that was taking care of the lagoon of the Lerma or Chignahuapan — continued with some variants.

Surely the current memories of the people of the lacustrine zone have virreinal heredity and they are hybrid as for his symbolic interpretation. One speaks about the mermaid and the merman (the Clanchana and the Clanchano) that were living in the caves, but in contrast to the otomi tradition, had tail of fish and not of snake. Nevertheless, it might be interpreted as the Old Mother and the Old Father of this tradition, although later the merman died in the context of an affectionate tradition. In addition, they might be identified with the tlatoque of the náhuatl thought, while they were taking care of the waters and were providing the food; finally, the legend of the siren is mixed with the tradition of “la Llorona”. Let’s see some memories:

In the natural pool that is for Atenco and in other, for San Nicolás of Peralta, so-called Agua Blanca (where San Antonio la Isla is), they say that the Clanchana and the Clanchano lived there. They were the mother and the father of the water, because they were feeding, they were giving abundance … they were a husband and wife, they were half-human and half fish…27
…I saw the mermaid … there in the lagoon, where the pit was, it was coming out … between the “solares” … was rising there above as a haze, one could only see the bundle … and later the shriek of the Llorona could be hear, who was going out shouting in the streets.28

In fact the word “clanchane” means inhabitants of border of water, and for the Viceroyalty the figure of siren shows a change in the replacement of the tail of pre-Hispanic snake for that of fish. In the otomí tradition Acpaxapo is clearly a snake, but in the náhuatl version Chicomecóatl is represented by a scaled snake and turns out to be a feminine version of Quetzalcóatl, from what it symbolizes the goddess of the corncob.29

If we observe the mermaids of the front of the church of San Antonio, which are located in the top part, they approach the first tradition because the tail is of a snake. On the other hand, those of the half part seem to have more relation with the representation of the second one, so although the tail is of a snake, it is scaled. It is known the fact that in all the aquatic cultures of Europe, Africa and Mesoamerica exists the figure of the siren, which use was common in the decoration of the viceroyalty churches as part of the Christian bestiary and of the European decorative repertoire. Consequently, it does not turn out to be completely believable — especially if there is not known the worldview and the pre-Hispanic local history — to think that its inclusion in the temple should have more Indian ancestry than Spaniard.

In this sense, some authors, with full knowledge of the legend later to the Hispanic conquest of the mermen of the Chignahuapan or Lerma, have doubt about the Indian elements of the sirens.

For example, Marie Thérèse Réau grants a special attention to the peculiarities of the temple of San Antonio, and points out that its singularity is important because it is not a question of a parish but of a town of visit, although she does not know the history of the congregation – segregation of Calimaya, Tepemaxalco and their “attached towns”.

On writing on the temple of San Antonio, she says that the skilled workmen of this rural work were based for its remodeling realized at the beginning of the eighteenth century, in the temple of San Juan de los Hermanos Hospitalarios de Toluca. The hospital was founded in 1695 thanks to the support of a descendant of the agent of Zinacantepec, the graduate don Antonio Sámano y Ledesma; father Sebastián Gonzalez continued the works and they were still in process in about 1706, that is to say, in the years near to the works of the temple of San Antonio. Finally, regarding the sirens of the main façade Réau adds:

For example, compare the “sirens” in both sides, magnificent illustration of the process continued by the rural sculptors to adapt the ornaments of the educated architecture. But before it is necessary to clarify that with frequency the siren was represented in the colonial Mexican architecture, since it was forming a part of the Christian bestiary and of the decorative European digest, and their presence in San Antonio does not constitute an exceptional fact. It would be interesting to know if the intention was really to represent a few sirens and especially if it is about the little merman and the little mermaid of the sad history of a local legend. The truth, it would be a slightly usual topic to be represented in a religious building, but the similar case of Arequipa’s churches, to the shores of the Lake Titicaca, makes us think about this possibility.30

Later on, speaking about the sirens of the top part of the temple, calls her attention the size of the above-mentioned ornamental feature:

On the other hand, ichnographically the use of these motives (the sirens) is much bolder in San Antonio, first of all because their size exceeds that of the (absent) statue of San Antonio de Padua, and then stylistically for awarding the main role to a simple adornment, comparably to that of the pilasters that fit the windows of San Juan.31

For Réau, the strange thing that can turn out to be the case of the sirens of the temple of San Antonio probably is related to her knowledge of the local history, at least the relation to the “legend of the little mermen” of the Lerma or Chignahuapan. Otherwise, it would be difficult for her to think about an influence of the Indian worldview regarding the presence of these decorative elements and her inclination would be to look at them inside the parameters of a Christian influence. This by virtue of which, since we have said, little has been studied about the intention of the Indian of leaving witness of their memories and worldview in the walls of their temples after the conquest.

We think that this one is not the only case where the Indian expresses by means of the viceroyalty architecture. It is important to stress that these evidences are hybrid, they have strong mixture of the symbolism of the western art, and the difficulty to catch them comes from the sixteenth century, when the conquered groups produced them. Therefore, they do not correspond to a hegemonic but secondary order, and the knowledge of the local histories of the villages where the churches are found in general is non-existent. However, let us return to the temple of San Antonio.

The main façade consists of two bodies and an ornamental top richly adorned. In some elements, we can clearly see messages of the Indian that lived in San Antonio la Isla in the 18th century, when the temple was remodeled. In the ornamental top, the central element is the niche where the figure of San Antonio de Padua used to be; to the sides are two sirens, whose form evokes the otomí snake with woman’s face. As Réau well states, the size and the relevancy of its presence in the temple surprises. Did Indian artisans want to show with this fact that the main figure in the temple (or teocalli, house of God) was Acpaxapo, the otomí mermaid, or a dedication that was living in the caves as well, maybe the Old Mother and guardian of the waters?

The figure of San Antonio, on the other hand, might reflect excellent aspects in the context of the Indian worldview of the eighteenth century; perhaps it is a question of the search of water regulation in order to achieve fertility and life. This Christian saint, in addition to being tied to the worship of the water because he is considered the preacher of “the fish”— the baptized Christians-, he is simultaneously the saint of love and, therefore, of fertility and life reproduction.

Let us formulate now another question: does the arrangement of the ornaments in the temple refer to the ethnic origin of the town? Let us remember that the first establishment was otomí, the name was Otompan and the principal deities were the Old Mother and the Old Father. From them it derived the legend of the mermaid and merman: that is why they present otomí forms, while they have tail of snake. Then we can think that during the remodeling of the temple there was the intention of capturing the origin and name of the otomí population, without forgetting to add that the following dedication was to San Antonio (located in the center of the temple).

The mermaids correspond to the otomí origin and the Saint, to the viceroyalty period when the settlers of this group were coexisting with a higher hierarchy, the matlatzincas and the Mexicans. This way, the history of the territory and the right to the recognition of a lineage remained perpetuated in the temple in the third or last part of the main façade.

Regarding the second part of the facade, that of the center, the representation of the mermaids or sirens show also the tail of snake, but in this case, they are scaled. Might it be perhaps Chicomecóatl, goddess of the cob or of the corn in the náhuatl tradition?

In synthesis, we can say that the history and the local worldview are captured in the Christian and pre-Hispanic symbols of the building of the temple of San Antonio Isla, and in the activities that take place in it.

From the altépetl to the Christian Temple

If we compare the information of the historical sources of the eighteenth century with the current ones presented by Maria Elena Maruri, it is possible to suggest that the temple of San Antonio la Isla has some resemblance with the pre-Hispanic altépetl (water hill). First, for the ceremonies related to the agricultural cycle that took place and they keep on doing in the church. The ancient deities at present are the catholic saints; the door of entry to the temple is like a cave similar to the paradise of Tlaloc, where he and the tlaloques (in this case the saints) control the waters so that there is plenty as well as the reproduction of human life.

The church can be seen as a hill; the interior as a sacred space where the divine forces concentrate and there are carried out practices that legitimize the local credence. On having entered the temple — the “internal world”—, we observe an identification with the worship to the dead persons that have already returned to the bosom of the ground, they are the ancestors, the precursors of the people and roots of their memory.

The altépetl has a meaning much wider than the literal translation to Spanish (water hill). Its glyph is a hill springing up waters down of its interior. Its concept represents a pyramidal structure of power, a stately hierarchy headed by a tlatoani (the chief of the Viceroyalty period) who directed a group assigned to a territory. The altepetl had its temple, the teocalli (god’s house), site of Ritual and image of the world view; therefore, it represents a sacred and profane space where it was synthesized “the social movement” of the group that constituted it.

James Lockhart, one of the experts who better have research this type of population units, has demonstrated its survival during the Viceroyalty, and defines the altepetl as an ethnic state, a sovereign or potentially sovereign entity to which the Spanish called village.32

We think that the catholic temple of San Antonio la Isla, from the eighteenth century up to the present, shows certain similarity with an altépetl. Since from the physical point of view it is like a hill located in the center of the village; in its interior, with help of the annual ritual, it is generated and there is regulated the water that will favor the human life. It is also the place where the origin distinguishes itself, protects the memory of the lineage and the territoriality, and the place where the profane and sacred life is organized. In addition to Lockhart, Johanna Broda33, Enrique Florescano, Ethelia Ruiz and Eleanore Wake have proposed that the pre-Hispanic temples and some of the Catholics, of the Indian Towns might be the representation of the sacred mountain, of the altépetl. Wake says:

The system header – subject, shaped by the Spanish on the ancient hierarchic structure, contributed undoubtedly that the concept altépetl was persisting in the mind of the natives.
I will proof that the Christian Church, successor of the architectural mountain of water, was also seen as an artificial mountain that was keeping in its interior the sacred forces that were generating and sustaining men’s life.34

In the previous period of viceroyalty, the pyramids were not but the emulation in visual and conceptual terms of the mountain. An example of it is the sanctuary of Tláloc, located nearby north of the double platform of the Main Temple of Tenochtitlan. It is about a cosmic mountain of sustenance, fertility and agricultural prosperity.

Considering the conceptual affiliations between the mountain and the pyramid, it seems clear that the altépetl as a determinant political territory symbolized in the pyramid temple of every town and city, took its origin in a remote past when the first permanent nucleus was established. Every community of primitive farmers would have directed its attention to one or more mountains of its locality where the accumulated thunderclouds, the underground springs, and the lakes were recognized as essential source of water for the above-mentioned community, and therefore, its reason of being. The sacred mountain of water with its revitalizing core re-took place in the teocalli as the central religious focus of the villages that in an increasing way were depending on the agricultural labor to sustain the sedentary life…
When a teocalli was mentioned, it was not alluding to its architectural form but to the god or supernatural entity that was inhabiting it.35

There exist several examples of viceroyal maps where the image of the church is followed by the word teopan or teocalli (god’s place or house). Nevertheless, not many sources exist to be able to study the terminology or identification of teocalli with pre-Hispanic temple and Christian temple of the village of Indians. There must be bare in mind that the sources that speak about the Christian temples were written by Spanish, who supposed that the Indians were sharing with them the concept “church”. It is necessary to verify the maps done by the Indians and to analyze the original decoration of the temples, as well as the texts of the poems and songs.

Serge Gruzinsky comments that in the map of Almolonca’s, in Veracruz, calls his attention the “degradation” that suffered the indigenous art during the sixteenth century. He finds great similarity between the representations of the church and the mountain36, or indicates that the colorations frequently used in the Indian maps are the roan and turquoise blue, which symbolize the mountain and the water, since it is the case of the Techialoyan codex of San Antonio la Isla. Another interesting aspect of many churches of Indian settlements is that in them some representation of the altépetl is present, since is the case of the side front of the church of San Antonio.

The first person that suggested that some catholic temples of the viceroyalty period could have certain similarities with the sacred mountain was the historian of the art Francisco de la Maza. When in the middle of the twentieth century he interpreted the interior decoration of the temple of Santa Maria Tonanzintla, located near the volcanoes Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl, in the state of Puebla, he called it “Christian Tlalocan”:

Tonantzintla – mother of gods – called in Christian Santa María … is the Tlalocan of the eighteenth century. It is the Tlalocan with catholic vestments. It is, again, the Garden of Eden of flowers and fruits. It is the plastic recreation of nature and the eternal delights.
Throughout there appear the xochime (flowers) between them appear the piltontli (child) and the ixtli (faces) of caryatids and dolls, opening enormous eyes before the amazement of being a part of paradise. But the xayacatl (masks), covered of ihuitl (feathers) are the ones that make us speechless when they devour or vomit, satiated, the xochicualli (eatable flowers or fruits) and surround themselves with an octli (wine) that there remind the grapes that show themselves everywhere. Everything is color. Everything is flowers of big petals and open fruits. Is not this the live achievement of the pieces of Sahagún and Torquemada applied by Alfonso Caso to the Tlalocan of Teotihuacan? In the eighteenth century, the nahoas of Puebla could reconstruct this paradise as a “transfer of the nature” according to phrase of an old chronicler. True that there is no water but: is it supposed by the radiant flowering of the elements of the ground? True that is not Tláloc and the Tlaloques the invoked ones anymore; now they are Santa Maria and the saints, but that in the bottom are not but a disguise, the nahual, of the old pre-Hispanic divinities, did not die completely in the melancholy Indian of the valleys of Mexico who, when they could recreated this paradise.37


Albores Zárate, Beatriz, Tules y sirenas. El impacto ecológico y cultural de la industrialización en el alto Lerma, Toluca, El Colegio Mexiquense, A. C./ Gobierno del Estado de México/Secretaría de Ecología, 1995.

Albores Zárate, Beatriz y Johanna Broda (coords.), Los graniceros, cosmovisión y meteorología indígena de Mesoamérica, México, El Colegio Mexiquense, A. C./Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1997.

Béligand, Nadine, Códice de San Antonio Techialoyan. Manuscrito pictográfico de San Antonio la Isla, Toluca, Instituto Mexiquense de Cultura, 1993.

____________, “Des terres en question: Le cas de San Antonio Te chia loyan au XVIIe et début XVIIIe siècles”, en Trace. Travaux et recherches dans les Amériques du Centre, México, Centre d’Etudes Mexicaines et Cetramericaines, núm. 10, 1986

Broda, Johanna, “Las fiestas de los dioses de la lluvia”, en Revista Española de Antropología Americana, núm. 6, 1971.

Broda, Johanna, Stanislaw Iwaniszewski y Arturo Montero (coords.), La montaña en el paisaje ritual, México, UNAM/Universidad de Puebla/ INAH, 2001.

Carrasco, Pedro, Los otomíes. Cultura e historia prehispánica de los pueblos de habla otomiana, México, UNAM/INAH, 1962.

Colección de documentos para la historia de México, Joaquín García Icazbalceta (ed.), México, Porrúa, 1971.

Eliade, Mircea, Imágenes y símbolos, Madrid, Taurus, 1992.

Florescano, Enrique, Historia de las historias de la nación mexicana, México, Taurus, 2002.

____________, Tratado de historia de las religiones, México, Era, 1992.

García Castro, René, Indios, territorio y poder en la provincia matlatzinca. La negociación del espacio político de los pueblos otomianos, siglos XV, XVI, Toluca, El Colegio Mexiquense/INAH/CIESAS, 1999.

Gerhard, Peter, “Las congregaciones de indios en la Nueva España antes de 1570”, en Historia Mexicana, vol. XXVI, núm. 3, México, El Colegio de México, 1977.

Jarquín, María Teresa, Formación y desarrollo de un pueblo novohispano: Metepec en el Valle de Toluca, Toluca, El Colegio Mexiquense/H. Ayuntamiento de Metepec, 1990.

Lebrón y Cuervo, Joseph, Apología Jurídica de los Derechos que Tiene el Señor Conde de Santiago del Pueblo de Calimaya….Para Recibir Tributos del Mismo Pueblo y sus Anexos, Contra la Parte del Real Fisco y la del Señor Duque de Terranova, México, Imprenta Madrileña, 1779.

Libro de las tasaciones de los pueblos de la Nueva España, Francisco González de Cossío (pról.), México, AGN, 1952.

Loera Chávez y Peniche, Margarita, Calimaya y Tepemaxalco. Tenencia y transmisión hereditaria de la tierra en dos comunidades indígenas. Época colonial, México, INAH, 1977.

____________, “El monumento arquitectónico como testimonio histórico”, tesis de doctorado en Historia, México, Universidad Iberoamericana, 1992.

____________, “Cambios y continuidades a lo largo de una historia pueblerina”, en Convergencia. Revista de Ciencias Sociales, año 1, núm. 4, octubre de 1993.

Lockhart, James, The Nahuas aflter the conquest. A social and cultural history of the indians of Central Mexico sixteenth throught eighteenth centuries, Stanford, Stanford Univesity Press, 1992.

López-Austin, Alfredo, Tamoanchan y Tlalocan, México, FCE, 1994.

Maruri, María Elena, “Toponimia Techialoyan. Un intento de reconstrucción histórico geográfica de San Martín Ocoyoacac, San Antonio Techialoyan y San Pedro Totolpepec en la región oriental del valle de Toluca (siglos XVI-XVII)”, tesis de Etnohistoria, México, ENAH, 1997.

____________, “Simbolismo acuático y cosmovisión en las prácticas religiosas. Una interpretación del modo de vida lacustre como supervivencia cultural en San Antonio la Isla, Estado de México”, tesis de Maestría en Antropología Social, México, CIESAS, 2001.

Maza, Francisco de la, “El tlalocan pagano de Teotihuacan y el tlalocan cristiano de Tonantzintla”, en Anales de Antropología, México, 1951.

Menegus Bornemann, Margarita, Del señorío indígena a la República de Indios. El caso de Toluca, 1500-1600, México, Conaculta, 1994.

Mendieta, Jerónimo de, Historia eclesiástica indiana, México, Chávez Hayhoe, 1945.

Réau, Marie Thérèse, Portadas franciscanas. La decoración exterior de las iglesias de México en el siglo XVIII: Regiones de Texcoco, Toluca, Tepalcingo y Sierra Gorda, Toluca, Gobierno del Estado de México/El Colegio Mexiquense/ Centro de Estudios Mexicanos y Centroamericanos, 1991.

Ruiz, Medrano, Ethelia, “El cerro y la iglesia: la figura cosmológica del altépetloztotl”, en Relaciones. Estudios de Historia y Sociedad, núm. 86, vol. 22, México, El Colegio de Michoacán, 2001.

Sahagún, Bernardino fray, Historia general de las cosas de la Nueva España, México, Porrúa, 1951.

Serna, Jacinto de la, Idolatrías, supersticiones, dioses, ritos, hechicerías y otras costumbres gentílicas de las razas aborígenes, México, Imprenta del Museo Nacional, 1892.

Wake, Eleanor, “El altépetl cristiano: percepción indígena de las iglesias en México, siglo XVI”, en Vega Sosa, Constanza (coord.), Códices y documentos sobre México, México, INAH, 2000.

Author: Margarita Loera Chávez, Dirección de Estudios Históricos, INAH. Translation by Carmen Martí Cotarelo.

  1. Actually the original name of the settlement was Tlachialoyan (place where it is observed) and it coincides with the geographical local features, since from there there was vigilant the traffic of the trade of the Lerma. Nevertheless, in this case, since in that of Calimaya (Calimayan), we mention the names as the villages are recognized from the 16th century. []
  2. Margarita Loera, “Cambios y continuidades a lo largo de una historia pueblerina”, in Convergencia, nbr. 4, 1993. []
  3. Idem. []
  4. Nadine Béligand, Códice de San Antonio Techialoyan. Manuscrito pictográfico de San Antonio la Isla, 1993. []
  5. A common problem of the viceroyalty after the formation of the republics of Indians integrated by heads and territorial integrated villages was the constant search of separation of many territorial integrated villages to be able to obtain their own chapter and, therefore, governor. We think that in case of San Antonio the separation was not granted by the fact that all the peoples dependent on the republic of Calimaya and Tepemaxalco were tributary to the perpetual package of the county of Santiago Calimaya. In the documents that mention the separatist struggle of several of the territorially integrated peoples of this case, the appointment of the governor was considered an act of rebellion. []
  6. Marie Thérése Réau, Portadas franciscanas. La decoración exterior de las iglesias de México en el siglo XVIII: regiones de Texcoco, Toluca, Tepalcingo y Sierra Gorda, 1991, 285. []
  7. Beatriz Albores y Johanna Broda (coords.), Los graniceros. Cosmovisión y meteorología indígena de Mesoamérica, 1997. []
  8. Johanna Broda, Stanislaw Iwaniszewski y Arturo Montero (coords.), La montaña en el paisaje ritual, 2001, 41-42. []
  9. Pedro Carrasco, Los otomíes. Cultura e historia prehispánica de los pueblos de habla otomiana 1962, 133-141. []
  10. María Elena Maruri, “Simbolismo acuático y cosmovisión en las prácticas religiosas. Una interpretación del modo de vida lacustre como supervivencia cultural en San Antonio la Isla, Estado de México”, master degrre thesis, 2001, 97. []
  11. Idem. []
  12. Alfredo López Austin, Tamoanchan y Tlalocan, 1999. []
  13. Eleanor Wake, “El altepetl cristiano: percepción indígena de las iglesias en México, siglo XVI”, in Constanza Vega (coord.), Códices y documentos sobre México, 2000, 467. []
  14. Beatriz Albores y Johanna Broda (coords.), op. cit, 383-385. []
  15. Jacinto de la Serna, Idolatrías, supersticiones, dioses, ritos, hechicerías y otras costumbres gentílicas de las razas aborígenes, 1892. []
  16. Beatriz Albores y Johanna Broda, op. cit., 383-385. []
  17. María Elena Maruri, op. cit. []
  18. Parish Archives of Calimaya (from now on APC), “Directorio de la Parroquia del convento de San Pedro y San Pablo”, 1750. []
  19. Jacinto de la Serna, op. cit., 77-78. []
  20. Margarita Loera, “Calimaya y Tepemaxalco. Tenencia y trasmisión hereditaria de la tierra en dos comunidades indígenas. Época colonial”, 1977. []
  21. Information given in Calimaya by don Ricardo Hernández and the “mayordomos” of Santa María Nativitas, 2001. []
  22. APC, “Directorio de parroquia”. []
  23. Jacinto de la Serna, op. cit., 77-78. []
  24. Ibidem, pp. 87-88. This paragraph was left in the original lenguaje in order not to change the meaning. []
  25. Beatriz Albores and Johanna Broda, op. cit., 419. []
  26. María Elena Maruri, op. cit., 199-201. []
  27. Beatriz Albores, Tules y sirenas. El impacto ecológico y cultural de la industrialización en el alto Lerma, 1995, 307. []
  28. María Elena Maruri, op. cit., 181. []
  29. In the náhuatl thought there exists also the goddess Cihuacóatl (woman snake), but we identify the mermaids of the top part of the temple with Acpaxapo. Since the origin of the people was otomí, it seems to be more tied to the legend of the Clanchana; the sirens of the central part represent Chicomecóatl because it is a scaled snake. []
  30. Marie Théresé Réau, op. cit. 1991, 213. []
  31. Ibidem, 214. []
  32. James Lockhart, The nahuas after the conquest. A social and cultural history of the indians of Central Mexico sixteenth throught eighteenth centuries, 1992, 206. []
  33. Johanna Broda, “Las fiestas de los dioses de la lluvia”, in Revista Española de Antropología Americana, núm. 6, 1971. []
  34. Eleanor Wake, op. cit., 468-469. []
  35. Ibidem, 469. []
  36. ibidem, 479. []
  37. Francisco de la Maza, “El Tlalocan pagano de Teotihuacán y el Tlalocan cristiano de Tonantzintla”, in Anales de Antropología, 1951. []

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