Triqui - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. In the indigenous belief system there are nine major gods: seven good and two evil. There is another god whom everyone venerates, but who does not belong to the aforementioned Triqui pantheon, the God of Lightning, who resembles the classic Feathered Serpent. In addition to the major gods, there are minor divinities, like the naguals (individual totems).

Each person receives a nagual shortly after birth. Lineage chiefs have two different naguals (e.g., the eagle and the jaguar). There is a cult to the dead, which emphasizes important lineage ancestors. Religious activities are carried out on two levels: those of the Catholic church and belief system and those related to the traditional belief system.

Religious Practitioners. Principales are men who have occupied various cargos within the religious cargo system. One of the principales, a man of advanced age and wisdom, gives a traditional invocation when the authorities representing the modern governmental apparatus are sworn in. He describes how the universe was created, relates Triqui theogony, and tells how the organization of the "chiefs who take care of the land," that is to say, the organization of lineage heads, took place. This orator knows and conducts all the community rituals.

Ceremonies. The main Triqui ceremony is the festival for the God of Lightning on 25 April. It is held within caves called the House of Lightning. It joins many symbols around the figure of the Feathered Serpent, that is to say Quezalcoatl, who introduced the cultivation of maize. A live goat is brought into the cave by one of the principales. Uttering prayers in Mixtec, he offers the goat to the God of Lightening at the same time that he makes a deep cut in the animal's neck, from which a stream of blood gushes out, bathing the place in blood. They say that "blood is a petition for water," alluding to the rains they are asking for. Later the goat's meat is distributed among the participants, observing a hierarchical order: first, to the principales and authorities, and afterward to the public participants, all eating together.

Arts. The most important handicraft is the manufacture of women's dresses (huipiles). A huípil is made of a wide, long piece of cloth, with horizontal borders, woven by the women from varicolored cotton thread. The huípil is adorned with two wide vertical borders, with zigzag designs in yellow and purple thread.

Death and Afterlife. After being washed, a corpse is wrapped in a blanket. If it is a man, next to him are placed his wife's wedding gift, the clothing he wore when he died, a mat, a belt, sandals, and a woven bag. Some money is placed on one side of the body, intended for "traveling expenses" and fourteen beans, with which cattle will be fed during the deceased's last voyage. The seven pairs of beans are repayment for the eyes of animals he killed while he lived, and which they demand in the course of his trip.

Prayers asking for a better afterlife for the dead in the underworld are said on nine days after a person dies. These days are distributed as follows: eight consecutive days of prayer, after which twenty days (the sacred Precolumbian month) for receiving visitors who live far away are intercalated. On the twenty-ninth day, the last prayer is said.

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