Blood, Sweat and Jaguars

Karla Gachet & Ivan Kashinsky

In the mountains of Guerrero state in southern Mexico, Catholic Holy Week and the beginning of the spring planting season is celebrated with offerings of flowers to the water god and free-form fighting in jaguar masks.~~Every May, the small mountain communities of Acatlan and Zitlala in the Mexican state of Guerrero erupt in raucous celebrations during the Catholic Holy week which coincides with the beginning of the spring planting season. The annual celebrations contain elements of Catholicism and pre-colonial traditions which, as in many parts of Latin America, blend together neatly in unique and colourful rituals. In these communities, ritualised fights amongst the men and boys, dressed in colourful costumes and wearing jaguar masks, erupt sporadically during the Christian Santa Cruz celebrations and double up as offerings to pre-Christian gods in the hope of plentiful rains and an abundant harvest. The jaguar is thought to be integral to ancient rituals surrounding rain and sacrifice.

In Acatlan, boys and men will square up in the middle of cheering crowds, boxing with few obvious rules, until one of the two combatants bows out. In Zitlala, another tradition has evolved where men fashion three foot long clubs called 'cuartas' out of half-inch diameter ropes which is then used as an offensive weapon. In the past, a metal object would be embedded into the rope, thus causing much greater pain and injury. Though these are not used anymore, injuries do occur frequently and it is believed that the sweat and blood dripping off the men onto the ground serve as a sacrifice to the rain god Tlaloc (also known as Chaak and Cociyo). Another part of the spring rituals are visits to local wells where, according to archaeologists, children used to be sacrificed to the gods. Nowadays people just leave flowers, asking the gods to release their tears onto the fields. The children come along for festive picnics.

 

Display

Karla-Gachet--Ivan-Kashinsky

Select a subject

  • Group 2 (0)
    • Stories (674)

      Mexico

      The Maromeros (acrobats) dance through an open field...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00173867

      Ecuador

      Nicolas Masaquiza dressed as the 'Caporal' (the man...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175094

      Ecuador

      Young men dressed as 'Blancos' (representing the...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175095

      Ecuador

      Boys and girls dressed as 'Donas' crowd around a...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175096

      Ecuador

      (Left to right) Samay Jerez (14) and Juan Luis Toinga...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175097

      Ecuador

      People celebrate the fiesta of Caporales at the house...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175098

      Ecuador

      A woman dances with a 'Blanco' (representing the...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175099

      Ecuador

      Spectators watch as "Blancos' (representing the...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175100

      Ecuador

      A 'Blanco' (representing the conquering Spanish) runs...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175101

      Ecuador

      A drunk 'Blanco' (representing the conquering...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175102

      Ecuador

      'Blancos' (representing the conquering Spanish) dance...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175103

      Ecuador

      Anibal Jerez, 'blacked-up' as a 'Negro' (representing...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175104

      Ecuador

      Jenny Maribel Jimenez Jerez, dressed as a 'Dona',...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175105

      Ecuador

      Jenny Maribel Jimenez Jerez (13), dressed as a...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175106

      Ecuador

      Andres Masaquiza, the Caporal (the man who represents...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175107

      Ecuador

      Men 'blacked-up' as 'Negros' (representing slaves)...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175108

      Ecuador

      Men 'blacked-up' as 'Negros' (representing slaves)...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175109

      Ecuador

      Men 'blacked-up' as 'Negros' (representing slaves)...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175110

      Ecuador

      David Masaquiza rubs soot on his face while...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175111

      Ecuador

      Women, 'Donas' and men on horseback circle Cruz...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175112

      Ecuador

      'Blancos' circle Cruz Pamba, a sacred place, during...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175113

      Ecuador

      'Blancos' (representing the conquering Spanish) dance...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175114

      Ecuador

      A man 'blacked-up' as a 'Negro' (representing a...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175115

      Ecuador

      A man 'blacked-up' as a 'Negro' (representing a...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175116

      Ecuador

      A man and a boy 'blacked-up' as 'Negros'...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175117

      Ecuador

      Men 'black-up' as 'Negros' (representing slaves)...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175118

      Ecuador

      Men 'blacked-up' as 'Negros' (representing slaves)...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175119

      Ecuador

      Men, 'blacked-up' as a 'Negros' (representing...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175120

      Ecuador

      Oscar Pilla leaps in the air as 'Negros' (men...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175121

      Ecuador

      Manuel Masaquiza plays the violin as a group of...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175122

      Ecuador

      'Negros' (men 'blacked-up representing slaves) circle...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175123

      Ecuador

      Horses circle Cruz Pamba, a sacred place, during the...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175124

      Ecuador

      Horses circle Cruz Pamba, a sacred place, during the...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175125

      Ecuador

      A man puts on a fake penis and prepares to 'black-up'...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175126

      Ecuador

      A 'Negros' (a man blacked-up representing slaves)...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175127

      Ecuador

      A young man dresses up as a woman during the fiesta...

      © Ivan Kashinsky

      00175128

      of
      Panos Pictures  1 Honduras Street  London  EC1Y 0TH  UK |  telephone: +44 20 7253 1424 |  email: info@panos.co.uk     
      POWERED BY INFRADOX