The Passion According to the Wooden Drum: the Christian Appropriation of a Zapotec Ritual Genre in New Spain*

Abstract

Sometime after the summer of 1703, a strange traveler journeyed to several Zapotec-speaking communities nestled in the rugged geography of Villa Alta—an alcaldía mayor northeast of Oaxaca City in New Spain. He wore a pectoral ornament around his neck—a gift from the Benedictine friar Ángel Maldonado, a newly appointed bishop who had arrived in Oaxaca in July 1702—and was received throughout Villa Alta with “great noise and expressions of joy.”1 Upon his arrival in each locality, he would gather the townspeople and proclaim an offer of amnesty from the bishop: in exchange for registering a collective confession about traditional ritual practices at the administrative seat of San Ildefonso, and turning in their ritual implements—such as alphabetic ritual texts and wooden cylindrical drums—each Zapotec community would receive a general amnesty from ecclesiastical prosecution for idolatry. The identity of Maldonado’s messenger added a note of urgency to these proclamations—after all, he was one of 32 defendants convicted of insubordination, murder, and idolatry after a 1700 riot in San Francisco Cajonos that resulted in the execution of two informants who had denounced an unorthodox celebration to the resident Dominicans. In January 1702, 15 of these rebels had been hanged and quarThe Americas 62:3 January 2006, 413-444 Copyright by the Academy of American Franciscan History

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Tavarez2006ThePA, title={The Passion According to the Wooden Drum: the Christian Appropriation of a Zapotec Ritual Genre in New Spain*}, author={David Tavarez}, year={2006} }