Images of the Conquest in Tlacoachistlahuaca, Guerrero

Images of the Dance of the Conquest of Mexico in Tlacoachistlahuaca, Guerrrero, which is performed on December 7 and 8, the eve and feast day of the Immaculate Conception, the patron saint of the town.

Carlo Bonfiglioli

Carlo Bonfiglioli He completed his undergraduate studies at the National School of Anthropology and History (1993) and his master's degree (1995) and doctorate at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (1998). He is the author of two individual books -Pharisees and Matachines in Sierra Tarahumara, 1995 y Cuauhtémoc's epic in Tlacoachistlahuaca2004-, coordinator of six collective books -Conquest dances in contemporary Mexico (1996); The Northwest routesvol. 1 (2008), vol. 2 (2008), vol. 3 (2011); Reflexivity and otherness. Case studies in Mexico and Brazil1 (2019) and vol. 2 (in process) - and author of more than 50 scientific articles. He has taught several courses and directed theses at the Graduate School of Anthropology and Mesoamerican Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. unam. He has coordinated two interinstitutional and interdisciplinary projects: the first on a systemic perspective of Northwest Mexico and the second on American indigenous ontologies. His current field of research points to a "Rarámuri theory of shamanism". He has twice received the Bernardino Sahagún Award (1994 and 1999).

orcid: 0000-0001-7797-6181

photo 1

Bob SchalkwijkTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 1994.

The author of this essay with don Pedro Ignacio Feliciano (†), a rocket maker, principal ("tatamandón"), "man of taste" and a great connoisseur of local indigenous customs. Throughout the 5 years that the research lasted, he was one of the main interlocutors and transmitters of knowledge about the dance that is the subject of this essay.


photo 2

Carlo BonfiglioliAcatepec, Gro. November 1995.

Don Pedro Ignacio Feliciano and Don Bartolo recalling and reconstructing the spread of the Danza de la Conquista from the plains to the mountains.


photo 3

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. November 1994.

Don Gildardo (Lalo) Díaz, bricklayer, musician, dancer and first dance teacher in Tlacoachistlahuaca. For three decades, Don Lalo was one of the main protagonists in the diffusion of the Danza de la Conquista in the Montaña region.


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Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

The Dance of the Conquest of Mexico is performed on December 7 and 8, the eve and feast day of the Immaculate Conception, the patron saint of the town. With the participation of the dancers, the statuette of the Virgin is offered flowers, prayed to and watched over until dawn. In the photo, a prayer dancer and two companions.


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Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

At the beginning of the night, a small group of people, accompanied by a couple of musicians and a cantor who intones some sacred songs, goes to the church to request the delivery of the crown and the statuette of the Virgin; eas the family of the butler. In the photo, Zenaida de Grandeño, steward of the Octave, carries the image of the Immaculate Conception on the Vigil day of her feast.


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Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 6, 1994.

In the days prior to the feast, the dancers visit and dance in the patios of the homes of the faithful where the vigil will be held for the statuette, the crown of the Virgin or those who will offer flowers and candles for her feast.


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Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 6, 1994.

A moment of fellowship in one of the houses where candlelight vigils are held.


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Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 1994.

On the Saturdays prior to the party, in addition to rehearsing the dance, it is also necessary to prepare the locus choristicusThese tasks are basically coordinated by the principals, who have to find people to do them. These tasks are basically coordinated by the principals, who have to look for people to do them.


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Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 1994.

Preparation of church decorations.


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Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 1994.

Preparation of church decorations.


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Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. November 1994.

In addition to the Danza de la Conquista, the Danza de las Malinches is also danced in the patronal feast, whose choreographic development deals with the cult professed to the Virgin by the "bando de los Mexicanos", that bando that in the pro-Hispanic variants of the Danza de la Conquista is presented as the people converted to the Catholic religion. From an analytical point of view, this dance can be considered as a dance fugue of colonial origin of the genre of the Conquest of Mexico. In the photo, a rehearsal of the Danza de las Malinches, at the side of the town's church.


photo 12

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaNovember 1994.

Rehearsal of the Dance of the Conquest. The "corpse" of the emperor Moctezuma is loaded on a petate and carried, at a funeral march pace, to the place of his burial.


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Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

Parallel to the Dance of the Conquest of Mexico, another dance related to this dance genre is performed: the Dance of the Malinches. In the photo, female members of the latter in the dance performed in the house of the mayordomo on the day before.


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Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

Monarco (Dance of the Malinches) in the dance of the eve.


photo 15

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

Detail of the paraphernalia (bells hung on a leather patch) of the Dance of the Malinches.


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Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

Dance of the Malinches: detail of the paraphernalia (bells hanging from a leather patch).


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Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

Monarcos, Negritos and two other members of the Danza de las Malinches.


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Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

Musicians of the Danza de las Malinches playing at the eve dance.


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Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

Musician of the Danza de las Malinches playing at the eve dance.


photo 20

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

Musicians of the Danza de la Conquista de México playing during a rehearsal in an enramada.


photo 21

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

Rest and meal for the musicians on the occasion of a wreath-collecting dance in front of the house of the family in charge of watching over the wreath.


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Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

Musicians from Huehuetónoc, a town that is part of the municipality of Tlacoachistlahuaca, come down to the municipal capital on the day of the festival to offer their music to the patron saint of the town.


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Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

Musicians from Huehuetónoc, a town that is part of the municipality of Tlacoachistlahuaca, come down to the municipal capital on the day of the festival to offer their music to the patron saint of the town.


photo 24

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

Musicians from Huehuetónoc, a town that is part of the municipality of Tlacoachistlahuaca, come down to the municipal capital on the day of the festival to offer their music to the patron saint of the town.


photo 25

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

Along with Moctezuma and Cortés, Cuauhtémoc is one of the main male protagonists of the dance. With respect to his plume, it is said that "deserves rooster feather". to symbolize that Cuauhtémoc is as brave as a fighting rooster, in a region where cockfighting is very common. However, some dancers prefer to put ostrich feathers to emphasize prestige and nobility.


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Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

In 1995 the dancer who played Moctezuma wore a plume of rooster feathers despite the fact that the characteristics of this character are treachery and cowardice.


photo 27

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

The dancer played by Captain Cortés, in 1994. While the chromatic variety -which coincides so much with the tastes of the place (reflected, for example, in the traditional clothing of the Amuzgo women)- is a prerogative of the Mexican side's clothing, that of the Spaniards is characterized by being uniform and tends to be dark.


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Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

Captain Grijalva.


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Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

Spanish soldier.


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Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

Spanish soldiers.


photo 31

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

La Malinche with the two Negritos.


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Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

Mexican women: the Malinche and King Xochitl.


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Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

The long and repeated phase of combats and battles within the dance speaks to us, in particular, of the physical and moral qualities of Mexicans: bravery, stoicism, patriotism, that is, the legacy that the ancient Mexicans have left to the Mexicans of today. In photo, scenes of an individual combat.


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Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

Scenes of individual combat.


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Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1995.

The capture of Moctezuma by Captain Alvarado who, upon apprehending him, declares the following: "We have already defeated the Monarch, that Mexican king today I will make him prisoner until the Cortez empire". In addition to surrendering, Monarca also loses his dignity: "[...] O Castilian emperor, now I will be your vassal, I will give you my region and throne and all that you ask of me: a quantity of gold and my many fine houses, if you leave me free to govern my city, I will be constant in serving you and I will gladly obey you. I promise you, generous one, that I will comply with whatever you command, I promise you, great lord, on my word of honor".


photo 36

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1995.

On the "Iztapalapa bridge" Moctezuma bids farewell to Cuauhtémoc: "O valiant Cuahutémoc, example of great courage, they are already taking me prisoner because of a betrayal. Malinche betrayed me, that accursed woman, for her sake I am being taken away never to return".


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Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1995.

Moctezuma is taken to jail. Descending from the Iztapalapa bridge, Alvarado leads Monarca across the bridge; the Mexicans remain lined up on one side of the bridge. There, Marina says goodbye to Moctezuma: "O husband of my life, you are already being taken prisoner, [...] great sadness is in my soul, goodbye dear husband ".


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Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1995.

Moctezuma is taken to jail: a hiding place made of sticks and palm leaves.


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Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 8, 1994.

Upon surprising Moctezuma by handing over the palace to Cortés, Cuauhtémoc decides to kill his emperor uncle with a stone: "Ha! King Moctezuma that happens with what I see, I confuse you and I do not believe it to see you in the power of the Spaniards, when you have always been astonishment of the opponents.". Before his death, Moctezuma praises Cuauhtémoc and accepts, "admired"their luck.


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Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 8, 1994.

The death of Moctezuma by the hand of Cuauhtémoc.


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Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 8, 1995.

After being captured and tortured by the Spaniards, Cuauhtémoc decides to sacrifice his life to hide the treasure of the Mexicans from Cortés: "[...]. I have done what I could in defense of my honor, I did not want to sell my town like Moctezuma, the traitor, did"..


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Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 8, 1995.

Death of the king of Tacuba, Mandil.


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Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 8, 1995.

The Queen begs Cortés to let her take care of her husband's corpse; Cortés denies her permission. The Queen is furious, offends Cortés, threatens him and declares war; she wants him dead: "[...]". I warn you: I will never be satisfied until I see you shattered into so many huge pieces. My flaming heart burns only with fury. [...] today I will tear out your heart with my sword and spear of honor, which is poisoned by fury, that to avenge the treason the Queen asks the Queen to fight with you, and by the strength of my courage, you will remain dead, Spaniard.". Cortés replies: "Better escape I'll get for not fighting with women.".

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