San Juan Huetziatl: a photographic approach to popular religiosity in a stewardship of San Miguel Canoa, Puebla

The villagers have a very strong bond with the saints and an obligation to venerate them. Upon reaching the Huetziatl spot, they approach the altar, where they cross themselves before the image to thank it for having allowed them to arrive safely. Upon their departure, they do so again to request their protection on the way back to town.

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa She has a degree in social anthropology from the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla; He is currently pursuing a master's degree at the same institution, where he is conducting research on the devotion of the saints and the cult of blessed souls in San Miguel Canoa, Puebla. His lines of research are the anthropology of religion, funeral rituals and indigenous worldviews. He has collaborated in the projects “San Miguel Canoa: urban town. Sociocultural diagnosis ”(cas-buap) and “M68: citizenships on the move” (unam / ccu-Tlatelolco).

orcid: 0000-0002-2260-5209


image 1

Children Image Loaders

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, San Miguel Canoa, Puebla. January 31, 2020.

The image of the saint is moved to the church of Canoa in a procession accompanied by band music and rocket detonations.


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Procession around the church

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, San Miguel Canoa, Puebla. January 31, 2020.

At the end of the mass there is a procession that surrounds the parish in the opposite direction of the clock, where members of the stewardship, the prosecutors and semaneros, the priest and those attending the Eucharistic celebration participate.


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The prosecutor guides the procession in Canoa

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, San Miguel Canoa, Puebla. January 31, 2020.

The second prosecutor guides the procession around the parish and stops the vehicular traffic for the participants to pass.


Picture 4

Meeting with Saint John Bosco

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, San Miguel Canoa, Puebla. January 31, 2020.

On their way back to the butler's house, some neighbors come to kiss the image, smoke it, and cross themselves before it.


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The procession arriving at the house of the butlers

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, San Miguel Canoa, Puebla. January 31, 2020.

Female attendance is the majority; The men usually go to the stewardship parties at night, after their work days in the city of Puebla.


Picture 6

The threshold of the party

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, San Miguel Canoa, Puebla. January 31, 2020.

The butler's house is decorated with plastic ornaments and natural elements in yellow and white, as they are the colors that identify the saint. In Canoa, each religious image has specific colors, for example red and green correspond to Saint Michael the Archangel, orange to the Blessed Souls, while the Virgin of Guadalupe is identified with green, white and red.


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Reception of Saint John Bosco

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, San Miguel Canoa, Puebla. January 31, 2020.

The members of the family who remain in the house of the butler arranging the last details of the party go out to greet the saint upon his arrival.


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The Arrival of Aspiring Stewards

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, San Miguel Canoa, Puebla. January 31, 2020.

The mayordomos receive the applicants for the office.


Picture 9

The saint's request

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, San Miguel Canoa, Puebla. January 31, 2020.

The placement and lighting of the wax mark the formal request for the office of mayordomo before the saint.


Picture 10

Presentation of the chiquihuites

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, San Miguel Canoa, Puebla. January 31, 2020.

The presentation of the chiquihuites before the saint gives sacredness to the relationship that will be established with the transfer of the stewardship, since from that moment the incoming and outgoing mayordomos will call each other compadres.


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The blessing of the chiquihuites

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, San Miguel Canoa, Puebla. Jan 31, 2020.

The blessing of the chiquihuites endorses the female leadership in the canoe families, headed by the grandmother or the mother, who occupies a central position in the ritual. Women have a relevant position in the social structure of the community, since they preside over most of the sacred actions and social events. In addition, their purchasing power generated from their incorporation to city jobs has allowed them to access the ownership of some mayordomías (despite being widows or single), although they are always accompanied by a male relative.


Picture 12

The toast

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, San Miguel Canoa, Puebla. January 31, 2020.

The circulation of drinks at the end of the delivery of the chiquihuites seals the new bond established between the two families and highlights the acceptance of the applicants who from that moment become the incoming butlers, while the people who held the position that year pass to be the outgoing stewards.


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The dance after the petition

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, San Miguel Canoa, Puebla. January 31, 2020.

The chiquihuite dance is a ritual expression of the new bonds established from the stewardship, as it is done in full view of all attendees and only involves the families of the incoming and outgoing butlers.


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Arrival at Huetziatl

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, Huetziatl Place, Tlaxcala. February 3, 2020.

The villagers have a very strong bond with the saints and an obligation to venerate them. Upon reaching the Huetziatl spot, they approach the altar, where they cross themselves before the image to thank it for having allowed them to arrive safely. Upon their departure, they do so again to request their protection on the way back to town.


Picture 15

Heating up the food

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, Paraje Huetziatl, Tlaxcala .. February 3, 2020

The mayordomia de San Juan Huetziatl prepares the food that will be offered to the party-goers.


Picture 16

Waiting for mass to begin

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, Huetziatl Place, Tlaxcala. February 3, 2020.

It is intended to carry out the holiday on the holiday corresponding to the commemoration of the promulgation of the Mexican Constitution, so that the inhabitants can attend the coexistence as a family.


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The beginning of the mass

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, Paraje Huetziatl, Tlaxcala. February 7, 2017.

During the homily it is expressed that the intention of the Mass is to thank God for the water that supplies the people, the natural resources that the mountain provides and the sustenance that the land provides. In addition, it is requested that the rain be favorable for the crops. The mentions of Saint John Bosco by the priest are specifically related to his role as patron of the youth.


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Procession in Huetziatl

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, Huetziatl Place, Tlaxcala. February 3, 2020.

All those attending the festival participate in the procession that runs through the area. On this occasion, the tour is guided by the third prosecutor, who leads the formation, while the first prosecutor remains next to the image of the saint guarding it.


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The butlers in the Huetziatl place

Photograph of Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, Paraje Huetziatl, Tlaxcala. February 3, 2020.

The procession is the last participation of the outgoing mayordomos as holders of the position. In this act they are accompanied by their closest relatives, who shake and spread petals during the journey.


Picture 20

The priest during the procession of San Juan Huetziatl

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, Huetziatl Place, Tlaxcala. February 3, 2020.

The priest's participation in the ritual is essential. In the event that the parish priest or vicar of Canoa cannot attend, the priests of San Aparicio or San Pablo del Monte are called upon to come to the place to officiate mass. This accounts for the nature of the celebration and the role of the Church as an institution in indigenous communities.


Picture 21

The prosecutor guides the procession in the place

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, Huetziatl Place, Tlaxcala. February 3, 2020.

The women members of the butler who are about to hold the position participate in the procession carrying the flower arrangements. This reproduces the internal logic of the organization and expresses the hierarchy of each of the participants.


Picture 22

The change of stewardships

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, Huetziatl Place, Tlaxcala. February 3, 2020.

The delivery of the images of Saint John Bosco legitimizes the ownership of the position and highlights the role of the saint as an objectifier of the social roles within the organization and the symbolic role attributed to the saints within the collective.


Picture 23

Family eating after mass

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, Huetziatl Place, Tlaxcala. February 5, 2016.

The families move to Huetziatl to take advantage of the holiday, which contributes to reinforcing blood ties within domestic groups, as well as the continuity and reproduction of the ritual in the area.


Picture 24

Delivery of the flower

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, Huetziatl Place, Tlaxcala. February 5, 2016.

The flower (generally white gladiolas) becomes a symbolic object that formalizes a commitment to the deity, since once accepted the subject assumes the responsibility of cooperating for the party of the following year. In addition, it is an element of social distinction, since it is not given to all attendees; It is granted based on a previous evaluation of the subjects based on their constant attendance and references of social behavior in the community.


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New members of the stewardship

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, Huetziatl Place, Tlaxcala. February 7, 2017.

Among the settlers, the flowers given as a symbol of integration are considered blessed and are usually placed on their family altars when they arrive at their homes. Although they also function as a financing instrument because with their delivery, the incoming butlers ensure economic cooperation to fulfill their commitment the following year.


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The dance of the stewardship of San Juan Huetziatl

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, San Miguel Canoa, Puebla. January 31, 2020.

The established ritual protocol ends with a dance that strengthens the group cohesion of the organization, since only those involved in the celebration of the party participate, in gratitude for the support provided.


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The incoming and outgoing butlers dancing with their families

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, Huetziatl Place, Tlaxcala. February 3, 2020.

The dance represents a gratitude for the support received, since the dishes that were used in the food of the party are danced. Thus, the symbolic construct of the celebration of Huetziatl integrates the notions of propitiating and thanking, which is represented with the mass and the dance respectively.


Picture 28

The Canoa music band

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, Huetziatl Place, Tlaxcala. February 7, 2017.

The music band is an important reference in canoeing ritual, as it accompanies all processions of religious images. In addition to this, on the feast of San Juan Huetziatl he interprets sacred music during mass and the joyful rhythms that will generate the festive atmosphere in the place.


Picture 29

Inhabitants of Canoa returning from the Huetziatl place at the end of the festival

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, San Miguel Canoa, Puebla. February 3, 2020.

Some attendees take advantage of this outing to collect stones in the ravine, which will be used for the temazcal bath, or to carry a branch that could serve as a fork to hang clothes in the sun.


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Huetziatl: falling water

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, Huetziatl Place, Tlaxcala. February 3, 2020.

One of the three waterfalls that supply the communities of San Isidro Buensuceso and Canoa.


image 31

Cave of the Malintzin

Ana Isabel Castillo Espinosa, Huetziatl Place, Tlaxcala. February 5, 2016.

Interior of the Malintzin cave, where offerings are still placed for the deity related to rain and water.

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