Tepetzintla and its neighboring village of San Simon Chicometepec are about 95 miles (153 Km) northeast of Mexico City in the rugged Sierra Norte de Puebla at an elevation of about 5,500 feet (1700 meters). In 1972, it took more than eight hours to hike from the city of Zacatlán to the village on what was called the Aztec Trail. Local people told us it had been built during Aztec times (15th century), and sections were still paved with stones. I was a graduate student in anthropology at the University of the Americas in Cholula, Mexico, and students from the university had been invited by the Catholic priest who ministered to the Zacatlán-Tepetzintla area to spend a few days during Easter Week (Semana Santa) at Tepetzintla to see the dances and processions. There were two dances: The Moros y Cristianos dance introduced by the Spanish in the 16th century, and the Quetzal dance that dates to long before the arrival of the Spanish. The photos in this book of the Moros dancers show their dark masks and colorful headdresses, and the uniformed Cristianos were led by “horse riding” Saint James with his sword. The Quetzal dancers wore spectacular pinwheel like headdresses at least five feet (1.5 meters) in diameter that emulated the iridescent feathers of the sacred and endangered Quetzal bird that is found in the cloud forests of Mexico. The photos were taken using 35mm Kodachrome 64 color transparency film, and black-and-white Kodak Tri-X film with a Leicaflex SL camera and 35mm, 50mm, and 90mm lenses.
Lawrence G. Desmond received his PhD in anthropology and archaeology from the University of Colorado, Boulder; his MA in anthropology from the Universidad de las Americas in Cholula, Mexico, and carried-out archaeological research in Mexico and Guatemala for more than 40 years. He taught at the University of Minnesota and San Francisco State University. His books, "A Dream of Maya" and "Yucatán through her eyes," are about the photography and studies of the ancient Maya by Alice and Augustus Le Plongeon who worked in Yucatán in the 1870s. His photographs of the people, architecture, and landscape of Mexico and Guatemala are archived at Harvard University's Peabody Museum, and photographs of the Moses Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project (MMARP) are at the Getty Research Institute. Desmond is a senior research fellow in archaeology with the MMARP at Harvard University, and a research associate with the Department of Anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences.
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