THIS IS A STORY OF WHEN I WAS A GIRL I like to remember this time because, even though we were poor, I was very happy. I had an aunt named Sara, who was a very hardworking widow, and she liked keeping animals: pigs, chickens, etc. She used to have a cherry tree orchard. She was very good with us; she always let us climb the trees so we could eat cherries. It was Gabriel, my sister María Luisa, my brother Carlos, José Luis and me. My sister, María Luisa, would pick them and put them in a bag; my brother, Carlos, would scare away the pigs so they wouldn't eat them; my brother, Gabriel, would make sure Aunt Sara wouldn't catch us making mischief. My brother, José Luis, who was the youngest, didn't know what we were doing. So, he always wanted to play and shout, which is why my brother, Gabriel would stop him, so he wouldn't tell on us to Aunt Sara. She would wait for the chickens to eat all the corn in the pan. Aunt Sara's house was made of wood.
A STORY OF MY CHILDHOOD Since my dad was, and is, a very humble man, he never had the opportunity to know any life other than the life on a ranch. I used to like to go with him and with one of my other brothers, older than me, to the hill where there were pine trees, oak trees and wildflowers. In those times, they would buy natural things for certain jobs, and on those occasions, my dad cut oak bark that he would later take to the village to sell. This was used to tan animal hides, in order to make shoes, and this was how he would make a little bit of money for us. But, no one buys these things now due to so many advances; they use other chemicals. My dad would cut bark with his ax, and since there was a lot of bark on the ground, my brother and I would gather it into a couple of sacks so that the horse could carry what we collected. The steed had the letter â€œA,â€? which was the sign that one could use to identify it, if it were necessary. I liked going with my dad because I had a lot of fun in the countryside. I would watch the colorful birds that we had in those times. Now, you can hardly find them anymore. I don't know why. I also really liked to eat in the countryside. We would always bring a bag of bean tacos with us and hang it with my shawl in the pine tree. And, that is what it was like during this time of my life.
A STORY OF MY CHILDHOOD When I was a little girl, there weren't as many advancements as there are now. Things were more natural. Even though we were a very humble family, I was very happy, perhaps for lack of knowing any other type of life. On my ranch no one had any profession. We were all country folk, and I liked the country life very much. I would go with my brother to look after three cows, which were all that we had. We watched them so they wouldn't eat the crop. There was a cherry tree there that had a lot of wild cherries. I would climb the tree to pick them, while my brother used a long stick to scare the cows away from eating the crops in the fields. One of my sisters would bring us a small basket of tortillas and a pot of beans for lunch. The house where we lived was completely wooden. The dwelling and the kitchen stood on rocks to preserve the house for longer. As long as it did not touch the ground, it would not rot. Also, the kitchen was very large, as big as the part where we slept, because we were a big family. The kitchen had a hole in the front for the smoke. We also had a beautiful cat that we called Foxy. The cows also had names: the one that was orange was named accordingly, the blue one, Sedar, we called the one that is behind the cherry tree, Chapaneca. They also had the letter â€œA,â€? which is the sign in case they got lost. However, this hasn't changed, because it's something that's been around for a while. Perhaps it might change.
THIS IS A STORY ABOUT MY LIFE One day, when I was a young girl, my father went out to scrape pine trees. I liked to help him with his work. So, that day I wanted to go with him, but he told me, “I can't take you with me this time because you can't help me with the work I'm going to do.” I told him that I wanted to learn how to scrape pine trees so that one day I could help him. So, the two of us went out together. A dog named Chango came with us and I became so happy watching my dad would take off a bit of pine bark with a special ax with a long handle. He did this so that the sap would drip into a bucket. After I found out how my father's work went, I started to look at the pretty wildflowers. That's when I found a little mouse and I started to play with Chaparro and the mouse, while my father finished scraping the pine trees so we could go home. This is how a girl from a ranch in Michoacán lives.
A STORY OF WHEN I WAS A GIRL. THE FIG TREE There was a fig tree at my house. A fig tree has very long branches and I really liked this. Since practically no trucks came to the ranch, we never had the opportunity to see them. So, I pretended that the fig tree was a truck, which is why we would climb it with other kids and sway in the branches. We also didn't know what apples were like because we hardly ever went where there were any. So, we would say that the fruit from the fig tree was apples. We loved playing like this. One time, my sister fell out of the fig tree. She is the one that is wrapped in a shawl. She's sad because her head hurts. The other boy was my brother, Gabriel. The girl with the blue ribbon is me, and the other girl is a friend named Ofelia. The chickens are shading themselves well from the sun beneath the fig tree.
A STORY OF A GIRL This is a very hardworking girl who helps her mom a lot. She has more siblings, but she is the oldest of the family, which is why she is the one who works with her mom the most. Even though it might be a man's job, other people know how to do it very well. Unfortunately, this little girl's father likes to drink a lot of liquor; he's almost always drunk. Many people are fond of this girl and her mother for being so brave and for resolving problems in their modest home. However, they look down on her father for being so irresponsible with his family. They are digging around the cornstalks. The mother's name is Carmen and she is the one with the plow in her hand. The girl is Gabriela and she helps to straighten the ones that lean. Both have water in a gourd that they hang from a pine tree. The girl wants to get a drink now. The mule has the letter â€œAâ€? because the owner's name is Alvaro, as in Carmen's spouse. All animals have that mark, so that in case they get lost, they can be found again. They wear muzzles over their mouths so they don't eat the crops. This is how children in Mexico live and help their fathers by working from a young age, so that later they can do it themselves. Only in more populated areas do children not work in the fields because they go to school to have the chance to learn other things.
A STORY OF A VILLAGE This is a Purepecha custom; these people are getting ready to go to Mass. The man who is calling for the Mass is the sacristan, in other words, the one in charge of the preparations for the church. He announces the first Mass by ringing the bell with a rope. A girl that lives very far away from the church left her house so as to arrive early. She has a very pretty dwelling of solid wood. Even though it is old, it is still the same and is very lovely. On it is the date when it was made: January 5th, 1845. The door has a padlock for the security of its owner. On top of the dwelling is an owl, which makes many people in the village afraid, because they are still very superstitious and believe in witchcraft. They say that when an owl sits on top of a house, someone who lives there is going to die. The woman only left to pick flowers. She lives closer to the church and that is why she is not too worried about leaving so soon. She also has a wooden kitchen. The church has many pretty images. The tree is an orange tree. A swallow wants to land on one of the church's towers. This village is close to some beautiful Michoacรกn hills. The sun is just starting to rise.
A STORY OF A LITTLE VILLAGE One day, I went to a little village close to Uruapan. What I saw was etched in my memory because I really liked the simplicity of the house where a happy family lived, and where it was located was very lovely. It was up high and surrounded by blooming orange trees that were about to start producing fruit. There was a beautiful spring of blue water close to it that ran and formed a pretty river where ducks swam happily. There were also puppies, plus two roosters tied in the shade of the orange trees where the children would feed them. There was a girl with a little basket of oranges walking along the path and a puppy that followed her. There were flowerpots that looked very pretty on top of stones and a girl swinging on a rope. While her father cut oranges, the girl was so happy she didn't want to get off the swing. Every now and then an orange would fall into the river. This is one of my experiences or memories that I lived when I was a girl and how I see it now. I remember that place was full of flowers, and where the spring was, was very beautiful, because the water was born out of a couple of rocks covered with green grass. Little birds flew happily with that freedom you find, above all, where there is a lot of peace.
A STORY OF LIFE ON A RANCH Life is very simple on a ranch. Everyone lives it by doing what they have to do, like the people pictured here. They have a very large kitchen where one person lives with their child. They also have a corral to fence in their cows. One girl goes down the road to get aguamiel, which is produced by a plant called maguey (these are embroidered in green). Two of them have an area from which the aguamiel is extracted. The boy that walks behind is the woman's son, the owner of the cows, and she is watering the flowers. He is going to look for the calves to milk the cows and, at the same time, wants to catch up to the girl so he can give her a flower. He does this to be able to talk to her, to ask her if she wants to be his girlfriend. These are the habits of a rancher, as there aren't many places where young people can speak of love. That is why, like this couple, they almost always do it when they work. The cows have the letter “A” that identifies them so they don't get lost. The letter is always the first initial of the name of the owner of the cows. There is a rabbit around the area of the magueys. The green colored trees are the pines that adorn the beautiful countryside of Michoacán.
THE SCHOOL ON THE RANCH This is a story of when I was a twelve-year-old girl and when I went to school, where I learned to read and write a little. Aside from being so poor, I was very happy. I had a lot of friends, both boys and girls. The girl that was picking flowers was called Bertha and we loved each other very much. She was not as poor as I was, because her father had land and cattle. That is why she always wore shoes. She picked flowers to give to the teacher so that she would put them on the table that served as her desk inside the school. The teacher's name was Olivia. The boy, who dropped the ball in the flowers, was a brother of mine named Gabriel. The girl going down the stairs was named Ofelia. This girl was also poor, but also very happy. The boy standing in the doorway was called Ramiro. This boy was always dirty, which is why the teacher wouldn't let him go down and play. I used to love to sweep the yard and the patio of my school, so they were always clean. On Mondays, we would always wear our uniforms, which is why we are all wearing white. Also, there was a cherry tree to the side of the school, but the teacher would not let us pick the cherries until they had ripened.
A STORY OF A MARRIAGE, OR RATHER, A WEDDING This is the wedding of a boy from my ranch, who was named Luis. The girl is Elisa. He is very poor, without either a mother or a father. He worked for a long time before marrying so he could buy his wife a wedding gown. For a long time, it has been a custom for brides to have white dresses. However, the girl has to be a virgin to wear it, which is why they gave her a pretty white dress. She has a bouquet of flowers, and the groom has a shirt that he bought in a village named Charapan. It is also customary to make an arbor from ash trees and to decorate it with colored paper. I was very happy at this time because my dad had bought me my first shoes. I loved looking at the bride and groom, that is to say, the newlyweds. Luis has a very spoiled dog, which is also at the party.
THE AGUILAR-MARTINEZ FAMILY This is my family, I mean, all of us: my siblings and parents when we were at home. In those times, it seemed beautiful to me. We were always together. We had crops close to the house, which we liked to go and see. We also liked to go see the countryside full of poppy flowers that grew in November. We liked to pick corn for dinner that night. My dad and mom were always very happy and would talk about their plans for one thing or another. My siblings, Pancho and Alicia, who were the oldest, picked corn, while the rest of us would play or look at flowers. I remember that my sister, Concha, was a very white, very fat girl with blonde hair. My brother, David, was also very fat and followed my mom the most. My sister, Alicia, is also going to pick corn. My sister, Concha, is the one sitting beside the dwelling and I am with my little sister Vicky. My brother, Gabriel, is the one standing in the middle of the two cornstalks. My sister, MarĂa Luisa, is the one who wants to hold my dad's hand. Carlos is the one wearing an orange shirt. JosĂŠ Luis is the one wearing a purple hat, and Alfonso is wearing crimson pants with a yellow shirt. Marisela is the one walking along the path. She is barely a year old. As we are seen here in the embroidery, some of us used to have a different color skin. However, we are no longer the same skin-tone because time changes everything. My brother, Francisco, is the one taking clothes from my mother.
A STORY OF A FAMILY ON A RANCH This is a man with his wife and one of his children. The man is seated on a wooden stool, milking his cow, and between his legs is a bucket to catch the milk. His wife is coming down the path so that when he finishes milking, she can take the milk back up to the kitchen. The calf is tied to the horns of the cow so he doesn't bother them while she is milked. The boy is feeding the chicks. Because they are poor, the family has only one kitchen, which also serves as their sleeping quarters. It was just built, which is why it has a cross on top. This is customary. A couple of flies want to land on the cow because they smell the milk. A couple of mice want to go into the kitchen to look for something to eat. There are many wildflowers all along the pathway and also a beautiful pine tree.
A STORY OF A FAMILY ON A RANCH This is a story of how a family lives here in Michoacรกn. This woman is a widow. In other words, she doesn't have a spouse because he died. This also shows us how children from here in Michoacรกn, do what their parents do, because from a very young age they are taught how to do the household chores, just as this woman and her daughter are sweeping because a lot of trash falls from the tree and lands on the patio. This tree is a tejocote tree and its fruit can be eaten. The boy is going to the hill to cut firewood, and is carrying a rope and an ax; he is very good at what he does. The trees on the hill are pine trees. This woman is very poor. She doesn't have hardly anything on which to live, but they do live. They have a sow and her little ones. Their little house is a wooden dwelling with its little kitchen. There are rocks under it so it doesn't get wet when it rains. On the hillside a bird called a roadrunner is walking. This woman's name is Paulina, her son is Cosme and her daughter is Marina. They are from a ranch called Cherato, close to Tzicuicho.
A STORY OF A VERY HUMBLE FAMILY This is a woman named Guadalupe. She has ten children. This woman is 51 years old. This family is so poor they don't even have a donkey to carry the sap, which is why, her son, Augustín, helps her carry a bucket full of sap. Between the two of them, it isn't as heavy. They are taking it to a village named Zacán to sell it and buy some essentials for her children. Augustín is the fourth child of the family; the rest are younger. This woman's husband cannot help her because he is sick. This is the way of life for most of the families in Michoacán. The tree from which they drained the sap is a pine and in it is a squirrel and a bird called a macaw. Augustín has his name on his hat, which is customary for many boys on a ranch. Ramona wears a hat.
A STORY OF A HUMBLE FAMILY This is a very young marriage of only eight years. They own a wooden kitchen that was built not too long ago, which is why it has a cross. This has been a custom for several years; when they finish a house, they put a cross on it. The kitchen is used as the sleeping quarters. The boy is a child of this marriage. Both the man and the boy are named Antonio, and the woman is Teresa. They are getting ready to milk their cows, which is all that they have. The man pulls the cow with a rope so the calf will want to drink milk. His wife carries a rope to him to tie up the calf and so they can milk. She pulls up a bucket for the milk to go in, and that is all they need to be able to milk. The boy likes to watch his father work. He is giving a wrap to his mother to use as cover because it is already starting to rain. His father is wearing a nice overcoat of pure wool to protect him from the water and the cold. Flies are trying to land on the cow. The boy has pants mended with different colored fabric because he is very mischievous and rips them when he plays. Since there is no one in the kitchen, some rats are trying to get in to eat something.
A STORY OF A HUMBLE FAMILY This is when I was a girl. I have many brothers and sisters, twelve of us in all, six women and six men. My father's name is Adรกn. He didn't have steady work, so in order to support us; he would do odd jobs here and there to buy the essentials. I used to help my dad, especially if it meant going into the countryside. Out there, there are a lot of trees that produce a fruit called tejocote. I would go with my father and my brother to pick tejocotes, and then we would sell them. My dad would pick them off with a very long stick and when there were several on the ground, we would collect them, my brother with his bucket and I with my basket. I didn't like gathering the tejocotes when my dad was hitting the tree because they would fall on my head and it hurt me, which is why I would always move away. My brother used to tell me that it didn't hurt him because he wore a hat. This is what we would do to sell them. Back 20 years, they would pay us 15 cents for a kilo of tejocotes, but now they pay 50 cents a kilo. Not many people do this now because, in this day and age, there are other jobs that pay more. The small tree is a tejocote barely in bloom.
THIS IS A STORY OF A HOW A HUMBLE FAMILY LIVES This is a woman named Guadalupe, who has three daughters; the one that is walking with her is the oldest of the family, named Mercedes. The woman doesn't have a husband anymore since he died and left her with her very young daughters. This girl has never worn shoes because her mother can't buy them for her, due to being so poor. They only own a lot for planting corn. This helps them eat throughout the year. The youngest is the one that helps their mom out the most with all the farm work. Many children in Mexico work with their parents on the farm, primarily where there are not a lot of people. Children don't have the opportunity to learn other things, like in this family. The girl picks the corncobs to make a meal. In the crops a dog is shading himself under a pine tree. There is also a bird that is very destructive because he eats many corncobs.
A STORY OF A VERY POOR MAN This is a parcel, or rather, a plot of land where wheat has been planted. There are also two men. The one wearing shoes is the owner of the land, and the other is the one that works it. This man does not even have a tiny bit of land because he is very poor. He is making sure that this piece of land is fenced well so animals cannot get in and eat the wheat. The property owner's name is Santiago and the other man is Jesús. A plant called pigweed grows in and among the wheat, and since it is used for food, a girl is gathering it. She has some in her hand. This girl is the daughter of Jesús and is named Martha. They are a very humble family, and sometimes do not have anything more to eat than just pigweed. However, they are happy because they like the country more than anything else. Martha likes it more than her other younger siblings. Don Santiago is not as poor because he has a lot of land and occupies himself going from one parcel to another making sure they are planted. At the time of the harvest, the wheat is divided in half; this is called “sharecropping.” This is especially common on the Tarascan plateau in Michoacán. Don Santiago is giving them a dog to watch the wheat. The trees are pines.
THE SWINGS ON MY RANCH These girls are swinging on a rope swing and have never seen other swings made of iron or other materials. They are from a small farm. The oldest, Ofelia, pushes the smallest girl named Herminia. They have a cherry tree and a nopalera cactus, which are the things that produce the most fruit on the farm. They ate several cherries first and then hung the swing so they could play. The swing is made with a rope and is there for the children to have fun. When they no longer want to swing, they pick cherries and prickly pears. The prickly pear is the fruit that the nopalera produces, and is a very tasty, fat, teak-like fruit, yellow in color. The pulp is very sweet and it has hard seeds with prickles on the outside. The girls pick cherries and prickly pears to sell and make a little bit of money that they give to their mother so she can buy a couple of other things. These girls are happy, especially when it is the fruit season. In the orchard of their farm, there are also fig trees, peach trees and plum trees because their father likes to plant fruit trees. The pig belongs to them and eats the cherries that fall when the girls swing. The little birds like to eat the riper ones. There is also a very mischievous little mouse. This is how the children's swings are here, in Michoacรกn, very simple, but meant to be fun. This swing can be taken off easily, which is why, when they no longer want to swing, they take of the rope and carry it to their house to use for other things, since it is their father's. It is also used to tie the animals, bring in firewood and milk the cows.
A STORY ON LIFE IN A SMALL VILLAGE IN MICHOACĂ N This is part of a street in a Purepecha village. The name of the street is there on the building made of wood. There is also a brick store where a girl is standing in the doorway. All of these streets have their name, only some of them are more popular and more people walk along them. The people that want to sell something do it there seated, such as these people. One of them is selling milk; she has it in a pot, and in her hand, a liter to measure it. One young woman has already bought some. Another woman, carrying her child on her back, is going to buy things. The flies fly around the milk. Another woman, seated on a mat, is selling plants and flowers. A boy is making his top spin, which is what all children do in these beautiful months of October and November. The green plants, which are on the store, are called little chayotes. They do not produce fruit and grow like vines. The tree that is behind the building is a nopal, and the birds are sparrows.
MILKING This is a family, preparing to milk their cow. They are poor, but the work that they have to do is done with pleasure, and the whole family participates. They tie the calf to the horns of the cow, as is seen in the embroidery, and the cow has its legs tied, which is what the man is doing, so it doesn't move and can be milked. The girl is next to the pot where they put the milk. This is a farm family, who is accustomed to milking only in the morning because people cannot purchase another type of pasture for their cows, and the cows only eat what they can find in the countryside. The boy wants to play with his dog, alone. Their house is a wooden kitchen, where they also sleep. Over by the house, there is a very pretty pine tree and another tree where there is a flock, or group, of swallows.
PREPARING CRACKLINGS: A STORY ABOUT ONE OF THE MICHOACรN CUSTOMS This man is from a village called Zacรกn. He is a butcher, or matador, which is what people call those who kill animals to sell their meat. He is making cracklings. These are made from the hide of a pig, or rather, the fattiest part, and then the pieces are fried. They are ready to come out of the fat when they turn very golden. They are very tasty, and when they are eaten, they break apart very easily. They are made in a special pot called a cazo, where it is put in three parts, and a fire is lit under it with firewood. This is always done outside of a house or in the square, depending on where the butcher lives, and this way, people are more likely to want to buy cracklings. The boy is this man's son. The little boy is helping in every way possible because he also wants to be a butcher when he grows up. The woman in the pretty dress is going to purchase cracklings, which is why she is carrying a plate in her hand. However, the cracklings aren't done quite yet. When they are about ready to take out of the fire, they will be put on a tray on the table and will be sold there. There is a towel and a little bit of salt on the table. There are also flies that go wherever they want. They smell the cracklings, even though they can't get too close because they are still too hot. So, they wait until they are put on the tray to 'make their mischief.' There are also two ants; one of them is fleeing the heat of the fire. The woman's house and her kitchen are made purely of wood. The tree is an ash like those that adorn the Michoacรกn village squares, and in this one, there are a couple of birds called swallows. There is a stray dog waiting for the cracklings to be ready, so he can see if they will give him a taste.
HARVEST TRADITIONS Women carrying food during the corn harvest. One is carrying a pot of churipo smaller than the pot in which she cooked it because it is the easier to carry. She put her rolled-up shawl on her head to transport it. The other woman is carrying a rice soup, and to make it easier, she put it on a wooden tray, after which she covered it with an embroidered napkin, since this is a nice occasion for showing off their embroidery so other women can see them. The woman that is carrying the taxcal has it covered with a very pretty napkin. Covering tortillas and soup with embroidered napkins like this is a tradition, especially for the corn harvest. The other girl who is going to serve the food is carrying plates, spoons, salt and several other things. The road is very beautiful, with several pines and flowers, which is why the women are very happy, above all because they are going to look at the fruit of their labor that lasted almost a year, producing the only sustenance for the next year. The harvests are in the month of December and are only done once a year.
A STORY OF THE CORN HARVEST When they still haven't finished eating, the women continue with their work, which consists of choosing the corn and paying the men who do the harvesting. They pay with corn because the majority of the country folk are very poor. This is why the women pick the corncobs that should be special, not rotten, but with a lot of kernels, because if they don't, they won't have anything to plant for the next year. About ten years ago they would pay 45 pairs, in other words ninety corncobs, for working from nine in the morning until five in the evening. This way, some women pick the corn, others put it in a couple of chiquihuite baskets, and they throw it on the ground in the grass. Then, every man picks what he wants; the women are paid in the same way.
HARVEST TRADITIONS In this embroidery, a couple of men are seen picking corn. They are indigenous people from a village in Michoacรกn. It is always a tradition to make a pile of corn in the shade of a pine tree. A strong man is selected to carry the corn on a horse from where the other men are harvesting it to where the pile of corn is. This consists of removing and emptying the bags full of already harvested corn to the pile to dump them out. For this reason, a strong, young man is always picked, since the bags are very heavy. They also bring a jug of water and a small pot so that, if they are thirsty, they may drink. In the embroidery there is a man who wants to pour himself some water.
A STORY OF THE CORN HARVEST These men are the ones who harvested the corn. They are now unloading it. They just arrived from the field, where the corn was harvested. The house seen here is called a troje, and it is new, which is why there is a cross on top. This is a very old custom, mostly with the indigenous people, and it is said that it makes the house last longer. The trojes have a place in the upper part called a loft and it is like another floor. This is where they store the corn during the year. One man has already climbed the stairs. The other man owns the house and is carrying a bag to put it in the loft. The other man is hardly even going to carry it. The woman is the lady of the house. She is holding a lighted ocote in her hand to “irradiate them”1 because they almost always arrive at night. The ocote is a piece of pinewood that has a lot of sap, which is why it burns very well and is used to illuminate. Ocote is also brought up to the loft to “irradiate”. The pig that is in that area awoke when he heard that they had arrived with the corn, and as always when they are putting the corn up, some fall to the ground, making it a good opportunity for the pigs to eat it. The puppy awoke. The troje is made entirely of wood. The door is opened a little and has designs on it that were made with a chisel and other tools used by carpenters. On the bottom part of the troje, called the dais and is the same as the floor, the nicest floorboards are selected. Several years ago they used to make the wood strictly by ax, but now there are sawmills that saw them. The cherry color in the embroidery is for the stones that are put under the trojes to keep them off the ground. This way they do not stick to the earth and do not rot. Corn is preserved very well in the trojes.
1 Illuminate them
THE TRADITIONS OF THE HARVEST They have just finished harvesting the crops here. Notice here how the corn is gone. The woman who brought the tortillas is walking over there. She is walking, picking them up (the word ‘picking up’ means the same as ‘lifting’). She is carrying corncobs in her apron. When the harvest has already ended, the pasture is left open for all the animals, no matter who they belong to, which is why there are two cows seen here looking for corncobs and anything else that could be used to graze. It is also very clear that the woman is picking a corncob that was not harvested because some man left it behind. The cow wants to eat it.
CUTTING QUIOTE These boys are cutting quiote. Quiote is found in the maguey, in other words, it is one of the many things that maguey produces. The quiote is cut a little bit with a knife that is lashed to a long stick. Then, they tie it up with a rope and pull it with enough force to cut it up. They do it this way because it is really the only way to do it, owing that maguey has so many prickles on it. Once cut, it is divided into pieces and cooked. This is done in the countryside. Sometimes a rabbit is seen and killed, like what the boy, who is gathering firewood to cook the quiote, is doing here. They always light it under a pine tree to protect them from the cold. They cut firewood, light the fire and start to cook the pieces of quiote. When they are well cooked, they are pulled out and this is how they pass the evening. There is also a young boy there who is very cold. After they have already cooked the quiote, they divide it into equal parts for the three boys, which they take home and eat with their family. Some men do this to sell it and therefore make money to care for their family.
THE WOMAN GOING TO GET AGUAMIEL This is a story of how a family lives in Mexico, above all a humble family. This woman is very poor, but aside from her poverty, she lives a very happy life. She has a wooden kitchen that also serves as sleeping quarters. She has a rooster, a chicken and their chicks. She goes into the countryside where there are a couple of magueys, very valuable plants for mankind because from it many things can be made. That woman is going to get aguamiel. Aguamiel is a liquid that is extracted from the maguey. To do this, one needs to make a hole in the bottom. The woman is carrying a jug and the girl has a bucket and a small pot to remove the aguamiel. This girl is the oldest daughter of the woman, who is carrying her son on her back with a shawl. This is why children like this are used to this type of life, as they see everything that their parents do. Thus, this woman is getting something that will help her make atole from aguamiel. This atole is made with aguamiel and is thickened with ground corn, preferably blue corn.
COUNTRYFOLK DRAINING RESIN What I embroidered here is not a story it is a reality. Here, in Michoacán, it is a way of life for a humble family. The trees seen here are called pines and produce a thick liquid called resin. This product is used to make many things, but as you can see, these are things that other people make, people who have a lot of money, but no heart. Families in the country carry out the bulk of the work with their strong arms working in the sun and the rain. They make the liquid run out of the pines by cutting part of their trunk and putting a pot called a cacharro in it. Over almost two weeks the resin is collected and, as is seen in the embroidery, this man and his son put it in a jar, for which they receive a little money. Women also participate in the work, as is seen in the embroidery. She is carrying a basket of food to her husband and son. As you can see, they are very poor, but they live happily because they don’t know any way of life other than that of the country. You can see beautiful flowers and listen to the birds sing. So, this is the life of many Michoacán families. They live in a small wooden house.
A STORY OF A PRODUCT PRODUCED FROM PINES This man is getting resin and turpentine. He is very poor and doesnâ€™t have another job because he didnâ€™t have an opportunity to study anything else. He extracts the turpentine with a special spoon and later puts it in a jar. When it is already full, he empties it into a couple of plated barrels, especially for turpentine. When he has filled the two barrels, he carries them to the closest village to sell them and be able to buy some food for his family. The boy that is walking with him is his son; he takes him with him to be able to help load the turpentine. Despite being very small, he learns how to do what his father does, so that when he grows up, he can do the same. What is seen in the pine trees are pinecones that grow when it starts to mature.
A STORY OF THE MAGUEYS This is a woman who is selling aguamiel tamales. It is a ranch; almost all of the houses have magueys, but some more than others. This woman has more, which is why she makes tamales. She makes atole with corn mash and instead of adding water to it, she adds aguamiel and it turns out delicious because aguamiel is very sweet and doesn’t need any sugar to be added. Afterward, she puts it in corn husks, ties it and it stays in a gelatin-like form. This is what they call aguamiel tamales. Almost every child likes tamales. The woman clutching the apron is the mother of the boy. She is bringing corn because she doesn’t have money to buy them. So, she pays for the tamales with corn. The mother doesn’t make tamales because she only has two magueys. Magueys have a hole from which comes the aguamiel.
SAN JUAN NUEVO, MICHOACĂ N My ranch is located on a pretty hillside where there are lovely hills covered with wonderful, green pine trees and stunning magueys. There was a spring coming from one of these rises where, a couple of years ago, water ran into wooden channels that were held up by poles called posts. Then, it ran into canoes made from trunks of pine trees; they always the biggest and fattest with the purpose of holding the water. On my ranch there were no streets, only paths, to go from one house to another. I remember my father had a very big, mean bull that he always had tied so he wouldnâ€™t kick any child. I liked to go and bring water and watch the sun set behind the green pine trees. A couple of days ago, I went to my little ranch and I began to think about how it had changed. There are brick houses with electricity and openings for cars, but there arenâ€™t as many corn crops as before, only avocado orchards.
SAN JUAN NUEVO, MICHOACÁN This is a wedding in which an old tradition that takes place here in San Juan Nuevo is seen. One day, I asked one of the little old ladies for how long these traditions have been carried out, and she told me that when she was a girl they were already in effect and are still practiced the same way. In San Juan there are still houses entirely made of wood, like this pretty dwelling, with the kitchen belonging to the parents of the groom. It is here that the whole family is getting together to celebrate this party. The sisters of the groom’s father are carrying their gifts of chiquihuite baskets full of fruit, bread and chickens. They are doing this to music and are dancing all the way to the groom’s house, after which they continue with the family member for almost the whole rest of the day. The father is watering the ground a little so there isn’t as much dust. The mother is in the doorway of the kitchen awaiting the bride, groom and guests. Also, there are curious children there who want to see the bride and groom. The women also wear their nicest traditional clothes that they make themselves; they wear beautiful blouses and aprons. Some of them, mostly the younger women, don’t want to wear these clothes that, in my opinion, are very lovely. These are what the weddings are like here in San Juan.
SAN JUAN NUEVO, MICHOACÁN This is the crazy month of February, when the children also go crazy from delight, because every year during this month, they all get together and head out to the edge of the village to fly their kites. They make their kites with different colored tissue paper with different shapes. To make them, one needs straw that is cut out in the country and as much string as desired. Some of the little ones know how to fly their kite very prettily, such as this one, and others don’t. Here we see a boy whose kite got stuck in a pine tree. Some fly their kites from the patio at their house, such as this little boy who is flying his pretty, colorful kite. For some reason, other children don’t make kites, but still climb the top of a hill at the edge of the village to watch the little ones fly theirs.
SAN JUAN NUEVO, MICHOACĂ N I had an aunt who was my grandfatherâ€™s sister. Her name was Sara and she had two cows, a bull and a donkey. My aunt, even though she had children, was always alone because they would go out and work. When there was some work to be done, two of my younger siblings and I would help her. One time she sent us out to watch the cattle. One of my brothers liked nothing better than to ride around on the donkey and we liked him to leave my youngest brother and me alone. I remember one time we were told that there was going to be an eclipse, that the sun could fall down on us, and that it was very dangerous when such a thing like this happened. We were very scared, to the point that we saw the sun bigger than it was, looking as though it really would fall down on top of us. We got under a huge pine tree that was close by. We were also scared of the bull, so my brother and I would always carry a stick in hand. My aunt usually walked with a very mean dog and she would tie him to a post. She also had a pretty cherry tree full of wild cherries.
SAN JUAN NUEVO, MICHOACÁN: LOOKING FOR ROOM IN THE INN St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary had a very humble marriage. When their child was about to be born, they knew that he would be the Redeemer of the world and would be in danger because King Herod did not want another monarch that wasn’t him. This is why they fled their village and why their child was born in a safe place. They went looking for a room in a village called Bethlehem, but there was not one kind-hearted person to be found that would offer them a place to stay and they were forced to leave. The time of Jesus’ birth was approaching and St. Joseph was very worried, but in that moment they saw in the distance shepherds warming themselves under a small covered area, for it was very cold. They were caring for their animals: some cows, sheep, a rooster and a puppy. They had the two cows tied because they liked to walk around at night and would wander to someplace else. These humble pilgrims, who had nothing more than a female donkey and sack with their few belongings, headed to this place. Since he was such a good husband, he did not want his wife to be bothered about anything. This is why he led the donkey along the road and carried the sack. On the way there were many trees, sweet little birds and flowers, even though let’s assume there was nothing, on account of it being wintertime.
SAN JUAN NUEVO, MICHOACĂ N This is something very lovely that I still remember. It was a pilgrimage that people did with great devotion. They would go from one village to another on foot to visit some miraculous saint. They would get together and walk as a group through the countryside among the pretty, green pine trees and on paths full of wildflowers that some people would pick to carry to their devoted saint to pay them for a favor or a miracle they received. They would march, pray and sing with great faith during the entire walk. The person who had organized the pilgrimage would carry a banner, symbolizing their conviction. Nowadays there are still many demonstrations, but they are very different. There is not as much devotion, but it is done, rather, to pass the time and have fun. Very few people do it in faith.
SAN JUAN NUEVO, MICHOACÁN This story is well known as one of the traditions that is found here in San Juan. It is seen on the feast of Corpus Christi. People prepare what they will be doing one day in advance. It is customary for young people to go to the village square with honeycombs from the pine trees, along with all other kinds of tradesmen who work there. That is why these boys and girls are seen here, happily cutting honeycombs. These are common in pine trees and it is said that it is hard work finding them, as there are not many anymore. They say that some of the kids are scared to climb the trees and cut them because the wasps’ stings hurt a lot. However, that hasn’t stopped them year after year because it is a tradition from their ancestors.
SAN JUAN NUEVO, MICHOACÁN Once, when I was twelve years old, I heard someone say that the Virgin Mary had appeared in a village close by called San Felipe de los Herreros, which was in the middle of nowhere. No one knew what it was called, but many people went there to see her. I remember that two of my brothers and sisters went to see her and said that there had been a lot of people with children. My brother commented that they hadn’t seen anything and one of my sisters assured us that she saw a blurry figure between the rocks. Later many said that only good people saw her and bad people didn’t. Others only went out of curiosity, to see who were good and bad. The good people came back with pretty bouquets and prayed. It was said that there were people who saw her as beautiful, full of great stars and with spots of color so big that some were frightened that they would fall on top of them. There were also little birds because it was such a beautiful place. After a time had passed there was no more talk of the Marian apparition.
SAN JUAN NUEVO, MICHOACĂ N This is a posada. We all know about posadas, and as the lovely month of December approaches we get excited. The children are the most excited. Here in San Juan Nuevo very lovely posadas are celebrated because the whole village organizes itself to give the children their Christmas box at church, in the town hall or on their neighborhood streets from the 16th until the 25th of December. We see a girl here that is passing out the Christmas boxes to the children. It contains a small bag of candy or a piece of cane. Also, some children are bringing little fireworks to light while they get ready to break the piĂąatas, which are cute shapes made from colored paper that hang on a rope from the ash trees here in San Juan. This is how the posadas are celebrated.
SAN JUAN NUEVO, MICHOACÁN: A STORY OF A TREE Once upon a time, there was a very sad tree. People would pass by it and say, “That tree, so big and leafy, has no purpose. It never has any flowers or fruit.” When the poor tree heard this, it felt very unhappy. But, one day a beautiful butterfly came, accompanied by her daughter, another butterfly, and in that very moment beautiful flowers appeared. Upon seeing the tree so lovely, many animals settled in it: a penguin, a mouse, a baby bear and a beetle. A bird also made its nest and its babies grew up there. Upon also seeing the beautiful tree, a boy climbed it carefully so as not to disturb the little animals, and was there for several hours. Later, a cow was passing by and was surprised to see the tree that had once been sad before, now the loveliest tree. She wanted to climb it, but it was impossible. So, she was resigned to just look at it. The same thing happened to a chicken. As much as she tried to fly up into the tree, she could not, being as fat and big as she was. And, so ends the story of the sad tree.
THE BIRTH OF PARICUTIN VOLCANO This is a small part of the story about the eruption of Paricutin Volcano. It happened on the 23rd of February in 1943 and was frightening, mostly for the villages that were close by. Only Tarascan people lived in these villages. These people are from a village called San Juan de las Colchas or San Juan Nuevo Parangaricutiro; the village that was buried by the volcano has two names. There were hardly any brick houses or houses made of any other material in that village. They were entirely wooden so they were easy to move. Here in the embroidery, there is just one house and it belongs to this couple. They had just finished it, which is why they put a cross on the outside. They were very happy with their new house and their cow. But, a few days after they had finished it, it happened that a volcano was born, and while they didnâ€™t know what it was, they thought that this gigantic fire would soon go out. However, they were very afraid. But, they also had a lot of faith in God and they prayed. Other people went into the church with candles lit, like what this girl with her little brother holding her hand is doing. The man is also praying. This is only one family. This village was completely destroyed by the volcano. Only a few parts of the church survived, such as this tower and part of the other. So, they are witnesses to a sad tragedy. The trees are pines; a little rabbit is walking around under the tree; and the bird that is in the tower is a sparrow.
THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE This is a small part of a party here in San Juan Nuevo Parangaricutiro. This is one of the many rides that are brought in from other places days before the party. In this village there are several celebrations, but there is one that is the biggest and is celebrated on the 14th of September. This device is called the wheel of fortune. It is a great, big circle. It works on electricity; it has motor and a lever. The man sitting there is the one in charge of spinning the wheel. Many people like to climb up in it and have a good time, especially the children. There is another man that takes the money that people pay in order to get in it. The bottom part is made entirely of pine planks. The wheel is very pretty; it has colored lights and at night it is very lovely. There is also a flag there because it is almost Independence Day. Everyone hangs flags wherever they want. Almost all of the rides work at night, especially when the moon is beautiful, surrounded by stars. The woman who is climbing in owns the dog. The tree is an ash like those that adorn almost all of the village squares in Michoacรกn.
DAY OF THE DEAD In this embroidery there is only a part of the San Juan Nuevo cemetery when they commemorate the Day of the Dead, which is November 2. Out of all of the celebrations that take place here, this is the one that I like the most and not only here, but I believe all over the world. In my opinion, this is wonderful because it is the only day when the cemetery is full of people; the tombs of their loved ones are decorated with artificial paper flowers and some people bring candles and lamps. Some of the children pick flowers from the cemetery area and put them on an abandoned tomb. This makes it very nice. Sad, because one remembers those that they loved very much and are now lifeless, and thinks of the day that we will have to be there ourselves. A mass is also celebrated and a crucifix is placed on the highest part of the cemetery. A table is also set up where the necessary things are placed for the priest to celebrate mass. While the priest prays some prayers over several tombs, one child prepares the things, such as a couple of cups and some wine. Some of the sepulchers are prettier than others; they are entirely made of stone. This is how the feast of the Day of the Dead is celebrated.
THE CÚRPITES This church is very big and very pretty. There is also one of the grottos for the Virgin of Guadalupe and the Indian, Juan Diego. In this village several festivals are celebrated, almost all of them of religious origin. Truthfully, this is a village that is never sad. Here we see some figures from one of the loveliest dances: the dance of the cúrpites. This is a small example of how they dress because it would be difficult to explain the attire completely that is used in this dance, which is truly so pretty and is celebrated January 7th, 8th and 9th. It starts on the 7th and they begin by going to the church, for this is an age old tradition. This dance is composed of two groups called squads. Each one has their leading man, called Tata Keri, and the leading lady, called Maringuía, which means Mary and Joseph. Each squad has their music and with it they walk through the whole village, carrying candy to their girlfriends. They arrive dancing to pretty coastal music and they throw candy. The Tata Keri has a wand with a little bell that he uses to call his cúrpites, or group. This dance is very upbeat, but it seems to me that it isn’t performed now with as much devotion as before, because the youth today are very restless.
SPRING PARADE In this embroidery there is a spring parade. This is celebrated on March 21st, the anniversary of the birth of Don Benito Juárez and also the arrival of the beautiful spring that covers the trees with new leaves and the roads with lots of pretty flowers. The festival is also commemorated in different schools. The children from here in San Juan head out and parade through the streets. In this spring that just passed, the little girls from kindergarten went out dressed as flowers and the boys as bunny rabbits. The one I liked the most was a little boy that wore a mouse costume and rode on one of the horses that pull the wagons; another boy, with an outfit that resembled a little monkey, rode atop another horse. The rest of the children were very happy with their new clothes and carried bouquets of flowers for later, for when they arrived at the square full of lovely ash trees. The man and woman that are walking behind each wagon watch the little ones so that they don’t fall. The owners of the carriages go around slowly so the children can ride comfortably. This seems to be to be something very sweet that the teachers do, but some of the parents of the families don’t agree because it uses a lot of money and they think that it’s an absolute waste. The horses and carriages are decorated with boughs of pine and ash trees and paper. So, this is the spring parade.
THE STORY OF CAIN AND ABEL When God threw Adam and his wife, Eve, out of paradise they had their first child, whom they named Abel. Later they had Cain. The first son liked raising animals and the second cultivating the earth and planting vegetables. Both brothers offered sacrifices to God, but He always looked pleasingly upon Abelâ€™s offering because he was very good and continually offered one of his finest animals. The fruit that Cain offered was rotten. He also had a wicked heart and was jealous of his brother Abel because he had more wealth. This is why the embroidery shows God illuminating Abel more.
THE RAIN Noah finished the ark, the deluge began and every living thing on earth perished. Noah, with his wife, son and daughter-in-law were very happy. And, so were the animals. Noah’s wife was very clever; she took precautions with the food. There were a couple of little mice that were not invited and no one knew how they got in or where they brought their food. Noah, his wife, son and daughter-in-law traveled on, never suspecting that they were carrying three other mice. Outside the ark two men had tried to save themselves by hanging on, but it was all in vain. Because the rain fell so hard, they fell into the water. These men were very rich, but had very wicked hearts. Seagulls also died from fatigue… maybe the fish didn’t.
THE RAINBOW After having rained for forty days and nights, Noah finally realized that it had stopped raining and, as a miracle from God, the ark stopped. Then, Noah released one of the doves, since it is the noblest of animals, so it could bring back a sign from the earth. It found a tree, an olive tree, and it picked a branch to take back to Noah. Even though the water wasn’t evaporated yet, the skeletons of the men that fell from the ark were already beginning to show. A very tall mountain also appeared in sight. Then, Noah looked outside and was pleased to discover a beautiful rainbow and beautiful clouds, from which he deduced that it wouldn’t rain any more. This is why, whenever a rainbow appears everyone is pleased, because it’s a sign that it’s not going to rain anymore. Some of Noah’s clothes were worn out from so much work. One of the mice that traveled with the food fell into a pitcher of water from its mischievous pranks. Therefore, Noah obeyed God and waited for the earth to dry in order to disembark and start to life again. And since he was a good man, he lived for many more years.
THE BIRTH OF JESUS When Jesus was born, it was a happy time, even though this rejoicing was in a humble manger in Bethlehem. Because Jesusâ€™ parents, Joseph and the Virgin Mary, were a humble couple, and maybe since they were so good, they were chosen to be the parents of Jesus. They didnâ€™t even have a home where their son could be born and since no one wanted to give them a place to stay, he was born in a stable. But, Jesus wanted to be born poor in order to give us an example of humility. And when he was born, in that moment, a beautiful star shone that the world still knows as the Star of the East. In the majority of the homes in the world, and especially for us Catholics, we always remember that very unforgettable date.
THE WISE MEN VISIT When some wise men realized that the one who would truly be the King of the whole universe had been born, they agreed to pay him homage, bringing him various gifts. These kings were from the east and couldn’t find Mary and Joseph’s house until they saw a beautiful star that guided them. Thus they arrived at the humble home. Mary was a very industrious woman; she always had her small house clean, even though she didn’t have many things, only a small table upon which they put the food. This table was made by Joseph because he was a carpenter. Furthermore, they also had a kitten that they gave to Jesus. Their clothing was so old, it had almost worn out, but Mary went to great pains fixing it with fabric of other colors.
A STORY OF THE APPARITION OF THE VIRGIN MARY Here in San Juan Nuevo, there is a virgin and it is said that she appeared many, many years ago on a hill called Pantzingo. Her name is the Immaculate Conception and her feast days are celebrated the Thursday of Corpus Christi, in the month of June, August 15th and December 8th. According to what people say, it all happened like so: a man went into the countryside to look for his animals. This man was a Tarascan (as is shown by his pretty clothes with a white poncho and his coat slung over his shoulder). He was walking happily along when he started to see a glow coming from a leafy oak tree. In the middle of the trunk was a woman dressed in very lovely clothes. She seemed to be a queen and she said to him, “I am the Immaculate Conception,” and the man, being so surprised, didn’t know what to say. In that moment, white doves appeared and landed in the oak, which was also full of orchids. Even the butterflies flew around, hidden by the rays of light. Since that time, this virgin is venerated with special devotion.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I thank God for having enlightened me and given me the gift of embroidering, and my parents for giving me their incredible love, affection and good example in order to be able to have these lovely memories. To my friends Mr. and Mrs. Richard and Margaret Barthelemy, may they rest in peace; to Mrs. Carolina Escudero, Mújica’s widow; to my dear friend Dr. Joyce M. Bishop for having motivated me and given part of her time to promote and help my work to be recognized, not only in this country, but outside of it as well. To the engineer, Jorge Solórzano, who was director of the Casa de las Artesanías; to Mr. Arturo Olivares, may he rest in peace, and to all the personnel who collaborated with him at that time; to the engineer Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas who was governor of Michoacán State at the time my embroideries were on exhibition at the Casa de las Artesanías. To INI, to Ms. Andrea Huerta, Assistant Director of Cultural Promotion and to all the personnel that made it possible for my work to be recognized; to Mrs. Cristina Pacheco for having given me the opportunity to be in her program; to all of my friends, who have given me their support in some way.