The Mazatec Huehuentones

October 1, 2019

 

Antique traditions still alive today in Mexico's remote mountains under the care of the Mazatec Nation. 

During the Days of The Dead ritual ceremony,  this unique the worldabstract, surreal and beautiful celebration is happening, an experience you will never forget. You can join us and participate in our next visit.

The Days of The Dead in the Mazatec Sierra
As you might know the days of the dead is one of the important dates for Mexicans, this is celebrated every year in the entire country, more less in the same fashion, yet in the Mazatec nation this celebration happens in a completely different context.


For the Mazatecs these are the most important dates of the year. It is a profound and unique ritual ceremony where the entire Sierra is involved. The graveyards are fully dressed with offerings, color, flowers, incense, candles, food, music, traditional clothing, songs and prayers.

 

Who or what are the Huehuentones?
The most fascinating part of this celebration, is a special group of people that carry a huge responsibility rooted in their uses, customs and beliefs, called "Huehuentones" who have to go through many years of special training to be able to do this unique work for their people. This group of meticulously selected people are carefully prepared for many years before being allowed to carry such responsibility, they are musicians, dancers, healers and much more.

Their work consists in going to the graveyard with family members to invite the souls of the deceased ones to come in life through them, as if they would offer their body for the deceased to briefly come back to the world to visit their family and home, to see and dance with their loved ones and friends, to taste their favorite foods and drinks, and walk around their beloved town, visit their friends homes, and favorite places, and after a few days finally be taken back to their graves to rest until next year.

 

 

Huehuentones
HISTORY

Can you lend me your deceased soul to dance among the living?​

It is noon on October 28, in the Sierra Mazateca of Oaxaca, little by little the flower offerings begin to arrive at the graveyards, and those who died are commemorated. The holy fields of the Mazatec Sierra are dressed in the dream world of the dead that opens its doors to the deceased during the faithful holidays who each year leave their abode to reunite with their families. "Huehue" is Nahual origin word that means "old" or "elder", and is linked to the ancestral fire god "Huehueteotl", in turn this old god is associated with the Sun.

 

A Huehuenton "Chaj tó xo'ó" in the Mazatec language is an old soul that clings to the sun to dance among the living. Men, women and children arrive at the graveyard as every year, the premise is to leave the soul and invite and keep in the body the soul of a deceased, no matter the name of the one who has died, nor the name of the huehuenton who will be the lent house for the soul of the deceased: the important thing is to commune among equals, open the portal of time and transform the life-death dimension into a single space.

 

Once the soul of the deceased incarnates in a huehuenton, he annuls his self, he loses his identity as an individual person to become a collective subject that will dance during the holly days in front of the offerings for the holly deceased, he will receive as symbolic payment bread, fruit, coffee and cane brandy. The ritual music that accompanies the Huehuentones is composed of a large number of sounds, whose repetitive melody by guitars and violins creates an ideal atmosphere; No one who hears a Huehuenton melody can be emotionally untouched, even if the Mazatec language is unknown, which is the language in which these repertoires are sung.

The Huehuenton must retain its anonymity, any indication that can betray the identity must be annulled: women dress as men, men as women, they cover their faces with the traditiona