Monday, July 09, 2007

Mexico City III

The last days have been full ones, and have included my first opportunity to get to the archives. This picture, though, was not taken at the archives, but instead in front of the National Anthropology Museum, a massive (and massively nationalistic) collection of pots and life-size dioramas. This pole, about six stories tall, is quite near to the museum, and as we were leaving we saw a group of Totonacs preparing to perform their famous ritual, the danza de los voladores. The men climb up, tie themselves in, wrap their ropes around the center, and then spin down to the bottom, while one of them plays a flute and drum. What was once religious ritual (and may still be somewhere) is now plied for the coins of tourists. It's something of a scholarly joke that no one can say anything about the Totonacs without talking about this very distinctive custom--a failing that I'm afraid I haven't overcome.

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