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Fiesta of Precious Blood of Christ
Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca

Oct. 30, 2022

by Joseph Sorrentino, photos and text

Teotitlán del Valle is a small pueblo about 40 minutes from the city of Oaxaca. In early July, they celebrate the fiesta of the Precious Blood of Christ. Sixteen young men and two young girls make what's called una promesa, a promise that lasts three years. During that time, they commit to spending a significant amount of time serving the Catholic Church. For the fiesta, they dance for up to eight hours a day, dances that take eight to twelve months to learn.

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Preparing the Meal

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Making Chocolate
Chocolate was treasured in preHispanic cultures and still is today. These woman are making traditional chocolate drink.

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Grinding Cacao
These women are grinding cacao on metates.

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Dressing
The young men wear traditional Zapotecan clothing and a different one each day.

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La Malinche
Two young girls, both portraying La Malinche, the young indigenous woman who helped Cortéz, dance with the young men.

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Penachos
The young men wear penachos, headdresses made from feathers.

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A Blessing
A mother gives a blessing to her son before the recorrido.

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The Recorrido
A recorrido is a walk through a pueblo. This one took about two hours to complete.

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Woman With Canasta
This young woman also made a promesa. She walked at the head of the procession.


Entering the Church
Although the fiesta has many indigenous elements to it, it's a Catholic ceremony. Here, the young men are entering the church to pray.

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Young Girl

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Young Girl 2

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The Procession Leaving the Church
A few hundred young women gathered in the atrium to join the recorrido.

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Moctezuma and Las Malinches
The young man is portraying Moctezuma. The girl on his right is depicting La Malinche prior to the arrival of the Spanish, so she's in indigenous dress. The girl to his left is La Malinche after the Conquest and she's actually called Doña Marina.

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Dancers
The dancing takes place in the atrium of the Iglesia Preciosa Sangre de Cristo.

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Three Dancers

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La Malinche Dancing

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Dancing

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Moctezuma

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The Pain

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Joseph Sorrentino is a photographer, journalist and playwright. His photographs and articles have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines in the US and Mexico, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, Mexico News Daily, In These Times, Commonweal Magazine, and La Jornada del Campo. His plays have been produced in theaters across the US and in several European countries. He currently lives in Chipilo in the State of Puebla, Mexico.

www.sorrentinophotography.com

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