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Moctezuma's Daughter: The Role of La Malinche in Mesoamerican Dance Author(s): Max Harris Source: The Journal of American Folklore,

Vol. 109, No. 432 (Spring, 1996), pp. 149-177 Published by: American Folklore Society Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/541833 Accessed: 08/06/2010 07:21
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Moctezuma's Daughter

The Role of La Malinche Mesoamerican in Dance

The characterof La Malinche in traditional Mesoamericandances does not too as and represent, scholars readilyassume,Cortes'sindigenousmistress translator thesamename. She is, instead,thewifeordaughter semidivineand messianic of ofa figure named, like the Aztec ruleragainstwhom Cortes fought, Moctezuma. This articlecorrectly identifiesthe Malinche of indigenousMesoamerican folklore and fresh readingsof the dancesin whichshe appears. offers


in intriguingand widespreadcharacters traditionalMexican

in She appears dancesas diverseand diffuseas Oaxaca'sdanzadelapluma(Cohen in de dance(Christensen1937) 1993; Harris, press),the Sierra Puebla'sacatlaxqui and danza de los negritos (Ichon 1969:357-364), Jalisco's danza de la conquista or (Diaz Roig 1983:189-191), and Michoacin's turiacha "blackman"dances in the Sierrade Puebla,she is addedto the danzade (Esser1988). Occasionally, los santiagos (Ichon 1969:341-353) and the danzade los voladores (Larsen1937). Further afield, to give just two examples, she figures prominently in New Mexico's danzade losmatachines (Champe1983; Harris,in press)and in the baile de los huaxtecos from Guatemala's Chiquimulaprovince (Pinto 1983:76-85). In some places, the dancein which she appears simplynamedfor her: the danza is de la malinche (Rosoff and Cadaval 1992:37-40; Toor 1947:358). A female character,La Malincheis often representedby a male dancer. Puzzled by the many manifestations La Malinche, Helga Larsenremarked, of "Almost all Mexican Indian dances have a Malinche, or Man-Woman, but nobody seems to be able to explain the exact role played by this figure" (1937:392). Enrique Llano and Marcel de Clerck called her "a mysterious individual"(1939:86), and Barbara Bode resortedto generalities:"Malinche," she wrote, "hascome to mean any woman in a dance" (1961:234). This essay offers,for the firsttime, a cogent, if not yet a complete, explanationof the role of La Malinche in the danzasof Mexico, New Mexico, and Guatemala.
Max Harrisis Executive Director the Wisconsin Humanities Councilat the University Wisconsin-Madison of of Folklore 109(432):149-177. Copyright ? 1996, American Folklore Society. JournalofAmerican

danzas is that of La Malinche or, as she is sometimes known, La Maringuilla.


109 (1996) Folklore Journal American of

Historically, Malinche or Malintzin was the Indian name given to Cortes's indigenous translator and mistress. The Spaniards christened her Dofia Marina. This Malinche has become a central figure in the Mexican national consciousness. Octavio Paz described her, in The Labyrinthof Solitude, as the paradigm of a figure representing the Indian women who were "the violated Mother, seduced by the Spaniards," and hence as a symbol of violated or .... fascinated, Mexico itself, insofar as it was conquered by the Spaniardsand now permits itself to be "corrupted by foreign influences" (1961:85-86). Paz's view, according to Sandra Messinger Cypess, became "the definitive view of La Malinche for the mid-twentieth century" (1991:94). Recently, however, feminists, Cypess among them, have reconstructed the historical Malinche, praising her as an "independent, active translator, who searched for the right words to bridge the gap between two cultures," and as "a remarkable woman with personal strength of character, intelligence, and beauty" (Cypess 1991:151). Folklorists and other students of the Mexican danzas ordinarily assume that the Malinche of the dance refers to the Malinche of history and often read both in the light of Paz's negative construction. Ted Leyenaar, for example, writes:
Among the negritos,as well as in other dances, the Malinchefigure, usually called Maringuilla,fills an important role. The Malinche is a complex figure based on the Indian mistress of Hernain for Cortes, conqueror of Mexico. The Spaniards called her Doila Marina, but the Indian name form of which is Malinche. Although sometimes regarded as her was Malintzin, the hispanicized a traitor to her people, she was the mother of the first mestizo, Don Martin, the son she bore to Cortes. The Malinchecharacter that participates most frequently in the dances, for example those performed by the acatlaxqui(reed throwers), is usually portrayed either by teenager or adult males dressed in women's clothing. This disguise is meant to symbolize the treacherous, dark side of human nature. [Leyenaar 1988:2031

Donald Cordry, a collector of Mexican masks, takes a similar approach. "The Malinche mask," he observes, "is used throughout Mexico in the numerous variations of the Conquest Dance. Malinche is also found in a number of other dances such as the Dance of the Negritos, where she represents the 'wanton woman,' the destroyer." Cordry assumes the standard historical referent: "Malinche was the Indian woman who served as Cortes's interpreter and who became his mistress. She is viewed as the betrayer of her country and as a woman whose uncontrollable sexual passion destroyed the Indian nations." Aware, however, that this report is somewhat at odds with the general indigenous perception of La Malinche, Cordry adds, "When all is said and done, the Indians of Mexico have a certain amount of respect and admiration for Malinche because of the power she had with the Spaniards" (1980:34). Cordry is right about the indigenous respect for Malinche's "power." Very few scholars, however, have recognized that this indigenous respect for La Malinche may be felt not for Cortis's mistress but for an entirely different figure represented by the Malinche of the dances. Alain Ichon at least suggests such a possibility. Describing the danza de los santiaguerosamong the Totonacs of the Sierra de Puebla, Ichon remarksconventionally that the boy who plays the "son"

Moctezuma's Harris, Daughter


of Santiago,namedGallinche,"represents Malinche,Cortes'scompanionand La translator" (1969:347). A few pageslater,however, he admitsthat the Malinche of the dance, unlike the "treacherous" Dofia Marina,is always "benevolent" and suggeststhat she may denote the Aztec "goddessof water." "The character of La Malinche,"he adds,"wouldbe worthy of an extended study"(1969:351). AdrianTrevifio and Barbara Gilles have gone further.In a recent articleon the history of the danza de los matachines, they state categorically that Malinche's role in the "matachinesdances of northern New Mexico ... is inconsistentwith the scholarlyconsensusthat she representsCortez'sMexican Indian ally and translator" ask whether she might not represent"a superand a syncretizedform of the Virgin Maryand one naturalbeing of some sort, .... or more of the female divinities of the Nahuatl people, such as Tonantzin" (1994:121-122). In an earlier essay, Trevinio and Gilles were more specific. Malinche, they wrote,
a originallyrepresented goddessof waterand of the abundanceof the earth. She was regarded some as queen of the spiritrealm.In this role, and as the elementalcomplementto an Aztec by sun god, Huitzilopochtli,who was also the god of war, she was the guardianof the spiritsof warriorswho had died in battle. In legend, she has frequentlybeen personifiedas an Aztec or Pueblo Indianprincessor queen. [Trevifioand Gilles 1991:4]

We shall returnlater to the detailsof both Ichon's and Treviiio and Gilles's suggestions.For the time being, it is worth noting how easilyscholarshave been misledby the namesharedby the Malincheof conquesthistoryandthe Malinche of the dance, despite evidence that should have given them pause. Malinche's in appearance dancessuch as la conquista,la pluma,los matachines,and tenochtli 1980:220-221, 226-228), which represent in varying measure the (Cordry encounterbetween conquistadors indigenouspeoples, no doubt contributes and to the confusion, for Cortes, too, figuresin many of these dances.But Malinche alsoappears dances-such asMexico'snegritosandacatlaxqui in dancesor native New Mexico's buffalo dance (Lange1959:325-328, cf. 274-277, 301-304)that make no overt reference to Cortes or to the events of the conquest. Moreover, I know of no instancein which her role in the conquest dancesis, in fact, that of Cortes's mistressand translator. Rather, she is linked to Moctezuma. FrancesToor, for example,noted that, in Oaxaca'sdanzade la pluma, "Malinche... does a solo dancewith Moctezumaand seems to be his companion ratherthan Corts' " (1947:347). In a text of la conquista de MIxico from
Cuilapin (Oaxaca), Frances Gillmor found, to her surprise, that "Malinche is the name given to Moctesuma's wife" (1943:18). And in New Mexico's danza de los matachines, Malinche "is often said to be Montezuma's daughter" (Harris 1994b:158). Treviiio and Gilles add that, "in the matachines dances of northern New Mexico, La Malinche brings Montezuma back to life... [and] joins in the battle against European dominance" (1994:121). The link between Moctezuma and Malinche in folk performances in the Americas is a longstanding one. Domingo Juarros mentions several danzas and


109 (1996) Folklore Journalof American

that enlivened the festivities surrounding encamisadas (nighttime masquerades) in the dedicationof the cathedral Guatemala City in 1608. One seriesof dances, and and talame" said to be "in the style identified as "the tocotin, chichimequillo of the Mexican chiefs,"was performedby a groupof eleven boys of noble birth. They were divided into two teamsof four, each with its own captain,and were the togetherled by a dancerwho "represented EmperorMoctezuma."Although the account makes no mention of Malinchein this instance, it does so on the flowed throughthe streets finalnight of the festivities,when a grandencamisada and into the main square.The paradewas led by "a great number of Indians" in their richest dance costumes and regalia, playing "drums, kettle-drums, trumpets,marimbas,"and other instruments.They were followed by several dignitaries,a triumphalfloat, and, at the heart of the masquerade,some 30 clergy, divided into four "nations"dressedas "Indians,Turks, Spaniards,and Moors."The accountsingles out, for the richnessof their costumes,"thosewho representedthe Grand Turk and the Sultana,Moctezuma and La Malinche" 1981:398-400). Not only does thisindicatean earlydatefor the popular (Juarros connection between Moctezumaand Malinche,but it implies that the relationship between them, like that between the GrandTurk and the Sultana, was understoodto be that of husbandand wife or fatherand daughter. Moctezumaand Malinche It is Malinche's link to Moctezuma, and specifically her identification as Moctezuma'swife or daughter,that allows us to follow Trevifio and Gilles's lead in seeing that the Malinche of the dance has more to do with indigenous mythology than she does with the narrativeof the conquest. The two, as we shall see, are not mutually exclusive, but Malinche'srole is certainlyfar more complex than students of the dance have generallyimagined. To pursue this lead, however, we need first to understandthe role of Moctezuma and his in "wives" and "daughters" the constructionof Aztec or Mexica history and prophecy. Just as the Malinche of the dance is not the Malinche who traveled with Cortes, so the Moctezuma of the dance is not (or not only) the Moctezuma whom Cortes fought. SusanGillespie,in her book TheAztecKings,has shown that the Moctezuma of the conquest narrativeis one of severalMexica rulers who sharewhat she calls a "structural equivalence"(1989:60). In the dynasty
that is said to have governed Tenochtitlan from its foundation in the 14th century until the arrival of the Spanish in 1519, Gillespie identifies three such kings. Known as Acamapichtli, Moctezuma the Elder, and Moctezuma the Younger, they were the first, fifth, and ninth kings respectively of the Tenochtitlan dynasty. Moctezuma the Younger was on the throne when Cortes landed (Gillespie 1989:7-8). "The royal dynasty of Tenochtitlan," Gillespie reminds us, was, like so many aspects of Mexica history, "conceived as a repeating cycle" (1989:123). Within this cyclical design, Acamapichtli and the

Harris,Moctezuma's Daughter


two Moctezumas were "boundaryfigures" (1989:164), marking a transition between one cycle and another. from one another in The three "boundaryfigures"are uniformly separated the dynasticnarrative groupsof three kingsandsharethe distinctionof being, by each in his turn,the sole representative his generation.The interveningkings, of are said to be brothersor, less commonly, uncles and nephews, all by contrast, relatives,accordingto Mexica concepts of kinship,of the samegeneration.Only the first,fifth, and ninth kings are said to be either the son of the previous ruler or the fatherof the next. Moctezumathe Elder,as the link between the firstand second cycles, is understoodto be both. The Tenochtitlandynastythus unfolds in a patternof 1-3-1-3-1, with Acamapichtliand the two Moctezumasbeing, each in his turn, the sole surviving bearer of the dynastic seed (Gillespie 1989:13-16). Other narrativedetails link these three kings to one another and, further, connect the dynastythat they dominate to previous dynastiesand to the gods of the Aztec pantheon.Not all of these detailsare essentialto an understanding of the role of La Malinche in the danzas.Three points, however, do warrant close attention. First,accordingto Gillespie(1989:200-210), this intricately patterned,cyclical reconstructionof Mexica history was, like the prophecies that foretold the European arrival (Todorov 1984:74-75, 85-86), wrought retrospectivelyin order to enable its authorsto cope with what Nathan Wachtel has aptly called "the trauma of the conquest" (1977:33). For the conquest could then be explainedas partof an orderlyseries of cycles, each of which ends in defeatand announcesa new beginning, and the conqueredrace could be consoled by the belief that future cycles promised, yet again, a resurgenceof Mexica power. More specifically,the detailsof the cyclical narrative mandatedthe returnof "a namedMotecuhzoma,"or, at least, of his structural king perhaps equivalent,as a "messiahlike figure"who would "defeatthe Spanishand initiatea new Indian hegemony" (Gillespie 1989:166, 201). It is often this Moctezuma who is in featured the danzas.In 1835, for example,IgnacioZufiigaexplicitlyidentified a dance in Sonora as a dramatizationof "the passageof the Aztecs, and the coming of Moctezuma, whom they await as the Jews await the Messiah" in (1835:7;translated Johnson 1971:182). each of these boundaryfiguresderivetheir "power,"as Gillespieputs Second, it, "in the sense of legitimacy of rule," from a female relative, "even though
only males appear in the pictorial king lists" (1989:20). These women therefore play a crucial role in the renewal of the cycle, the perpetuation of the dynasty, and the Mexica vision of the future. The Malinche of the danzas recalls one (or all) of these women. Third, the ruler of Tenochtitlan was not only "a descendant of dynastic founders who had divine qualities," and "the steward of an ethnic historical tradition that was in fact a recapitulation of the cosmogony," but, more specifically, "a mortal representative of Huitzilopochtli" (Gillespie 1989:215). This means that the essential female relatives of the royal "boundary figures" in


109 (1996) Folklore Journalof American

the Tenochtitlan dynasty correspond,in the narrativeof the gods, to one or more of the goddess companions of Huitzilopochtli. Trevifio and Gilles are therefore correct when they suggest that the Malinche who is the wife or daughterof Moctezumamay also be "the elemental complement to an Aztec sun god, Huitzilopochtli"(1991:4). We will pursue the role of "these key women" (Gillespie 1989:xl) shortly. First,however, it is worth exploring a little furtherthe indigenousbelief in the returnof Moctezuma.Such an expectation can be amplydocumented.Victoria Brickerwrites of an armedrebellionin highlandChiapasin 1712, in which the that summonsto resistthe colonial regime included the assurance "the Emperor Montezuma was being resuscitatedand would help the Indians defeat the (1981:60). She notes, too, that, in 1761, the leaderof an indigenous Spaniards" rebellion in Yucatan,Jacinto Uc, added to his own name those of Moctezuma and of Canek, the lastMayaking. The official reportof the rebellionstatesthat he was crowned "Re Jacinto Uk Canek, Chichin Motezuma,which in translation meansKing Jacinto Uc Canek, Little Montezuma"(Bricker1981:73). In Starrcame acrossOtomis in the Sierrade Pueblawho "believe 1900, Frederick that Montezumais to come again.Meantime,fromhim come health, crops, and all good things."Eachyear, a feastis "given in his honor, of which he is believed to partake"(Starr1908:250). In such instances, Moctezumatakes on some of of the attributes what Gillespiecallshis "structural equivalents" among the gods (1989:166).Alain Ichon notes that, among the Totonacsof the Sierrade Puebla, the earth god is called "Montizon, a deformationof the name of the Aztec EmperorMoctezuma"(1969:128). Similarlegendsaboundamongthe Pueblo Indiansof New Mexico, who share the Aztecs' cyclical view of history and often identify Moctezuma with the Pueblo hero Poseyemu (Parmentier1979). Severalwritershave recorded the conviction of the natives of Pecos and Jemez Pueblos that Moctezuma will "returnto deliverhis people from the yoke of the Spaniards" (Gregg1954:188189; see also Weigle and White 1988:70-73; Parmentier1979:619). According to Nod1Dumarest,the people of Cochiti Pueblo, too, believe that Moctezuma hasa "divinemission"of "workingmiracles"andthat"one dayhe is to reappear in the world and to deliver his people from the yoke of their conquerors." Dumarest also notes that Moctezuma has a consort: "Malinche, the wife of Montezuma,had the samepower of working miracles"(1919:229-230; see also Benedict 1931:191-192). In a similarvein, Teresa VanEttenhas recorded the
story, which she first heard in San Juan Pueblo, ofMoctezuma asking the people to dance los matachines in his memory. "His people," she was told, "still look to the east when they dance. They hold their hands up, looking to the east, and wait for Montezuma's return." In this version, too, Moctezuma has a beautiful wife, Malinche, and together they rule "the Indian people" (1985:53-60). Finally, Frank Applegate retells the story of how, when "Pose Ueve" became the cacique of Pecos Pueblo, he "assumed the name of Montezuma." Shortly afterward, "the Great Spirit revealed to [Montezuma] that he should marry the youngest daughter of the cacique of the pueblo of Zufii, ... whose name was

Moctezuma's Harris, Daughter


Malinche."Moctezumaand Malinche ruled their people wisely and eventually traveledsouthward,founding a new capital"where Mexico City now stands" and ruling together over "the great country of the Aztecs." Moctezuma and Malinche, Applegateadds, are "the hero and the heroine" of the danzade los matachines in the Native American pueblos of New Mexico (Applegate 1929:171-176). For a cacique's daughter to link one dynasty to another by marriageand thereby legitimate her husband'srule is, as we have alreadyhinted, a central motif in Aztec mythology. We return, therefore, to the female relatives of Gillespie's"boundary figures"in the Tenochtitlandynasty.Legitimatetransition from one cycle to the next, as the dynasty began and as it was periodically renewed, came, Gillespie writes, through "a woman, a queen, who held the right to endow rulership"(1989:17-18). The link between the dynasties of Tenochtitlan and Culhuacan, through whom the Aztec rulers claimed their inheritancefrom the Toltecs, "wasembodied by a woman, a Culhuaprincess," who is usuallyportrayedas "either the mother or the wife of the first king, Acamapichtli"(Gillespie 1989:21). Likewise, according to the postconquest narrative,the son of Moctezuma the Elder did not inherit the throne but was passedover in favor of Moctezuma'sdaughter.The cyclical patterndemanded that the dynastybe regeneratedafterthe death of the boundaryfigure and that the principalagent of regenerationat this criticaljuncture should be a woman (1989:17-18). Had it not been for the Spanishconquest,the sameevent would have occurredfollowing the death of Moctezuma the Younger. The daughter of Moctezuma,therefore,accordingto this cyclical account of Aztec history,is "the finalhope for the resurgenceof indigenous culturein the face of inevitable destruction"(1989:22). As the daughterof one ruleror Moctezuma,she is also, of course, the wife of the next. It is this role that is ordinarilyplayed by La Malinche in the danzasthat portraythe conquest and its aftermath. Like Moctezuma, this figure, too, has "structuralequivalents"among the queens of previous dynastiesand among the goddesses of Aztec mythology, tracingher roots ultimatelyto the mother-earthdeity who appearsunder such names as Toci, Tonantzin, Xochiquetzal, and Coatlicue and who is identified in the codices as "our beginning" and "our end" (Gillespie 1989:60-62, 93). Moreover, the relationshipof Acamapichtlito the Culhuaprincesswho legitimated his rule of Tenochtitlanis "reproduced the marriage Tenochtitlan's in of tutelarydeity, Huitzilopochtli,to the mother-earthgoddess,Toci, tutelarydeity of Culhuacan"(1989:55). Althoughwe do not need to tracethe detailsof these
links, it is tempting to note in passing that "sexual ambiguity (male inside, female outside) ... is an important aspect of the Aztec mother-earth deity" (Gillespie 1989:61), and to wonder if this partially explains the tendency to have a male dancer in female clothes represent Malinche. During the Aztec feast known as Ochpaniztli, according to Sahaguin'sinformants, a man put on the flayed skin of a sacrificed woman, and others would then "beautify" his face with cosmetics and dress him in a woman's blouse and petticoats. Thus adorned, he represented, like the victim whose skin he wore, the "mother of the goddesses" (Sahaguin


109 (1996) Folklore Journalof American

1992:131-136 [lib. 2, cap. xxx]). It is, of course, common practice in ritual folk dances elsewhere to have males dance female parts (Louis 1963:250, 344) or to wear costumes that recall feminine dress (Amades 1951:34), but in Mexico the practice of casting a male dancer in the role of Malinche may have more to do with the fact that she connotes, at least in part, an earth deity of ambiguous gender, in whose honor ritual cross-dressing was customary. One more point needs to be made, at this stage, about the link between Moctezuma and Malinche. This concerns the place of Cortes in the cyclical narrative of Mexica history. The historical Malinche, or Dofia Marina, was by no means Cortes's only indigenous mistress. Among his other conquests was Tecuichpo, the daughter of Moctezuma the Younger. More commonly known by her baptismal name Isabel, she bore Cortes a daughter, Leonor Cortes Moctezuma, also known as Marina (Gillespie 1989:106-109). This coincidental link, through Cortes, between Isabel and Malinche may have implications for our study of La Malinche's role in the danzas. For the time being, however, we need only recall that Moctezuma's daughter "was the ultimate manifestation of [the] crucial female who functioned to continue the cycles of time and space by linking their male elements" (Gillespie 1989:115), and note that her union with Cortes may well have suggested (or been intended by the Spaniards to suggest) to the Aztecs that Cortes was the boundary figure who marked the beginning of a new cycle and who was, therefore, the legitimate ruler (Gillespie 1989:227). The indigenous faith in Moctezuma's return belies Cortes's claims and casts him instead as a usurper.

La Danza de la Pluma
We can now focus our attention on two of the dances in which both Moctezuma and Malinche appear, the danza de la pluma and the danza de los matachines, pausing first only to acknowledge an interpretive lens through which I have found it helpful to view such folk dramatizations of conquest and conversion (Harris 1992, 1994a, in press). In his book Domination and the Arts of Resistance,James Scott draws a distinction between "public" and "hidden transcripts" in unbalanced power relationships. While the public transcript, according to Scott, records what may be said openly by the powerful and the subordinate alike, the hidden transcripts of the two groups generally contain what each may say only in the absence of the other. Thus, the hidden transcript of the subordinate group "represents a critique of power spoken behind the back of the dominant," and that of the powerful represents "the practices and claims of their rule that cannot be openly avowed" (Scott 1990:xii). But Scott also recognizes the "tremendous desire and will" (1990:164) of subordinate groups to express publicly the message of the hidden transcript and therefore describes, too, "the manifold strategies by which subordinate groups manage to insinuate their resistance, in disguised forms, into the public transcript" (1990:136). The condition of the hidden transcript's public expression, he adds, "is that it be sufficiently indirect and garbled that it is capable of two readings, one of which

Moctezuma's Harris, Daughter


is innocuous" (Scott 1990:157). While no single interpretivelens is sufficient to understandthe complexities of even a single folk performance,Scott's argumentat least alertsus to the possibilitythat the conquest dancesin which MoctezumaandMalincheappearmay insinuatea hidden transcript resistance of into an "innocuous"public transcriptof conquest and subordination.I have argued elsewhere, at greaterlength, that this is the case with the danzade la pluma and the danza de los matachines(Harris,in press). What follows is a abbreviated accountof these two dances,focusingparticularly the on necessarily roles of Moctezumaand Malinche. The danza de la pluma is performed in several villages in Oaxaca. Some observers(e.g., ArroyoandMartinez1970) believe thatit originatedin the 16th centuryin Cuilapin, where it is stillperformedeachyearfor thefiestadelsantiago on July 25 (Sleight1988:126-131). But the most impressiveversionof the dance in recent years has been that of the village of Teotitlin del Valle, where it is performedfor at least three fiestasa year, including lafiesta de la preciosa sangre during the week of the firstWednesdayin July. It was at this fiesta that I saw the dancein 1994 (see Figure1). The public transcript Teotitlhn'seight-hour of the epic danzade la pluma represents conquest of Moctezumaand his soldiers reversesthe outcome. by the armyof Cortes. The hidden transcript Earlier accountsof the dancehadprepared for some elementsof the hidden me When FrederickStarrsaw the dance atJuquila, he remarked the on transcript. differencebetween the fine costumes of the Indiansand the plain ones of the he Spaniards."In dressand armament," wrote, "the white men ... present a ridiculousappearance" truly (Starr1896:167). FrancesToor, who saw the danza la plumaat Zaachila,was surethat this contrastwas intended to disparage de the Spaniards."Moctezumaand his captains,"she observed, "looked and danced like gods," but Cortes "was accompaniedby a lot of small boys, stiffly dressed in blue uniforms."Although "Cortesand Christianityconquered,"Toor concluded, "the Conquest was a lie." Aesthetic victory clearly belonged to the Indians(Toor 1926:5-6). When I saw the dancein Teotitlin, the conquistadors wore black military uniforms, trimmed with gold braid. Moctezuma and his soldiers,by contrast,wore brightlycolored, indigenous costumestopped by an about three feet in radius,made of thousandsof enormous, circularheaddress, soft downy feathersin radiating,colored tiers. Not only did the Indianshave the better costumes;they also had the better dance steps. While Moctezumaand his courtiersengaged in elaboratewhirling dances,leapinghigh in the air, kneeling, and circling, Cort s and the Spaniards
never broke into anything more complicated than a march. The Aztecs, too, held the playing area for a greater proportion of the time, while the Spaniards spent much of the dance seated quietly on a wooden bench near the church door. The disparity of ages was also significant. Cortes was represented by a middle-aged man and his second-in-command (Pedro de Alvarado) by a boy of about 13 years of age, but the rest of the Spanish soldadoswere played by small boys. While Moctezuma, too, was played by a middle-aged man, his soldiers were represented by young men in their late teens or 20s. With their elaborate


Folklore 109 (1996) Journalof American







1. de del 1994: to Malinche, Figure Thedanza lapluma, Oaxaca,July (left right) Teotitlin Valle, and Marina. Moctezuma, Dofia headdresses further extending their height, the adult Indian warriorsdwarfed their tiny Spanish enemies. The 16th-century Spanishjustification for the conquestof the New World depended,in part,on the notion thatthe indigenous inhabitantsof the Americaswere like children and needed the civilizing governmentof matureEuropeans.For the Indianperformers assignall the Spanish to rolesbut thatof Corteshimself to childrenwas quietly to reversethis argument. The appearance both La Malinche and Dofia Marinaas distinct characters of in the drama also signaledsomething other thana conventionalSpanishreading

Moctezuma's Harris, Daughter


of the conquest.JeffreyCohen, who saw the danzade la plumain Teotitlin in 1986, merged the two in his account of the dance, describing"two young girls dressedasMalinche"who "guide"Cortes and act as his "consortand translator" made the samemistake90 (1993:150-151; personalcomm., 27 July 1994). Starr in yearsearlier(1896:166).In fact, the two girlsare distinguishable dress,name, and role. One wears a stylized indigenous costume and is called La Malinche. She represents Moctezuma'swife and remainsloyal to Moctezumathroughout. The other wears a Spanishcostume and is called Dofia Marina.It is she who transfers allegianceto Cortes.An earlierwitnessto the Teotitlin her temporarily danza de la pluma speaks clearly of "two little girls" playing separateparts: "Sehuapila(fromthe Nahuatl cihua,'woman', andpilli, 'noble') and Malinche. In this playit is Sehuapila who goes over to the [Spanish] andis then called side Marina.Malinchestayswith Moteczumaas his wife" (Gillmor1983:104). In the text, too, of the Cuilapin danzade la plumapublishedby Arroyoand Martinez, the parts of "Malinche, the wife of Moctezuma," and "Dofia Marina [or "Socapile"],the guide and translatorfor Hernin Cortes," are clearly distinguished (1970:9). So they were when I saw the dance. Cohen, while noticing that "the two Malinches"were dressed differently (1993:152), missed their distinctreferents.In the danzade la pluma,then, postconquestindigenousmyth reckonswith the Spanishnarrative the conquestby insistingthatthe Malinche of who is the wife of Moctezuma resembles, but is not identical to, the Dofia Marinawho is the mistressof Cortes. Even the latter,as we shallsee, begins and ends the dance by the Aztec ruler'sside, united temporarily with the Spanish claimantto the throne but eventually(andproperly)with the rightfulheir, the messianicMoctezuma. But the most strikingevidence of the dance's hidden transcript, I saw it, as lay in its conclusion. Some observers had suggested that Moctezuma might occasionallygainthe militaryvictory. Gillmorcites a text fromCuilapain (Loubat but 1900) which "endswith the defeat of the Spaniards," she then reasonsthat the text "musthavebeen missingthe lastpage or two" (Gillmor1983:104-105). Parsonsreportsthat, in the danzade la pluma she saw at SantaAna del Valle, "the usualorder"of victory was reversed. "HavingMontezumaget the better of Cortes was an innovation of a nationalistic'revolutionary'character,"she explains (Parsons1936:256). And Cohen statesthat "Cortez'striumphis short lived. In the lastact of the danceMoctezumais resurrected. Dancinga final time the Spaniardsand the Aztecs battle again. In the end it is Cortez who- is vanquished. [Dofia Marina]rejoins Moctezuma and the danzantesdance as a
group in the open plaza. With pre-contact order restored the dance comes to an end" (Cohen 1993:150). I saw neither resurrection nor overt indigenous victory, although both were implied. The last episode noted on the orchestra's official "list of dances [bailes]" was a "funeral march" for the defeated Moctezuma, but, as this concluded, I was advised not to leave, for there would be two more bailes. Moctezuma and his soldiers replaced their headdresses. Moctezuma returned to his throne, and Malinche sat beside him. Spanish soldiers and indigenous warriors together


Folklore (1996) 109 of Journal American

formed two parallellines stretching away from Moctezuma across the dance floor. The firstof the unofficialbaileswas an exuberantsequenceperformedby Malinche and Marina,at the end of which Marinareturnedto Moctezumaand sat beside the restoredAztec monarch. She had returnedfrom Cortes to her indigenousorigins.The baileitselfwas explainedto me variouslyasrepresenting "reconciliation"or "joy." The finaland thematically conclusivebailewas a danzade los negritos.Parsons had mentioned such a closing dance in SantaAna del Valle but had assignedit no meaning (1936:256).What I saw was quite clear.The two negritos, named so because of their black wooden masks, had been the "sacredclowns" of the wore red, yellow, and black. The performance.One, linked to the Spaniards, other, linked to the Indians,wore red, yellow, andgreen. When the Indianshad defeatedthe Spaniards triste,the Indiannegrito during the episode of the noche had capturedand displayedthe defeatedSpanishnegrito. When the conquistathe dorsfinallyconqueredTenochtitlan,the Spanishnegrito hadparaded Indian the in defeat.Now, between the parallellines of Indiansand Spaniards, negrito two negritos engagedin a brief mime involving chairsand bandanas.It ended with the Indiannegritosuffocatinghis Spanishcounterpart pressinghim hard by againstthe groundwith a chair. The Spanishnegrito imitateddeath throes and lay still. The final image of the entire eight-hour danzade la pluma, therefore, was one of Spanishdefeat.We were meant to infer, from the mimetic action of the negritos alone, a third confrontation between Cortes and Moctezuma, ending in the latter'svictory. The public transcriptcould not toleratesuch an embeddedin the danzade los negritoscould outcome, but the hiddentranscript allude to its absence. While the performers,then, did not directly enact the resurrectionof Moctezuma, as they had when Cohen saw the dance, they no less clearlysignaled, in the two unlisted bailes, the Aztec king's restorationto his throne, his two female companionsat his side, and his ensuing triumph over invading forces. This was not a rewritingof 16th-centuryhistory, for the Zapotecsof Teotitlin do not believe that Moctezuma the Younger rose from the dead and defeated the historicalCortes.Rather,the Moctezuma,Malinche,andCortesof the finale in are the structural equivalentsof their namesakes the earlierpartof the dance. the Moctezumarepresents messianicking who, as Gillespieputs it, will "defeat the Spanishand initiatea new Indianhegemony" (1989:201).Malinchesignifies the necessary queen, embodiment of the mother-earth goddess, who will provideMoctezumawith his legitimacy.And Cort's connotes whateverforeign
power the future Moctezuma will defeat. Cohen, however, accords Moctezuma's resurrection a more immediate application, understanding it to speak to the tension between the nation-state of Mexico, "symbolized by Cortez and his men," and the local Zapotec community, represented by the Aztecs:
of The finaleof the danceandthe banishment Cortez are a metaphorthroughwhich the people
of Teotitlin del Valle construct an alternative world. This is not a world where the Indian is

Harris, Moctezuma's Daughter


subordinate Mestizo, is it a place to nor whereIndians thought asrelics anindigenous, are of of ancientpast.Generated fromthe success the danzantes, new worldis Zapotec, of this with The state and TeotitlindelValleasitscenter. Mexican (signified Cortez hismen)is-at least by for a moment-banished. worldis purified returned its indigenous The and to glory.[Cohen 1993:150] This may well be the case. Folk theatre is remarkably flexible in its ability to sustain multiple historical (and prophetic) referents in a single action. But if Cohen is right, then the Zapotec vision of"an alternative world" draws heavily on older, native expectations that Moctezuma will return to initiate a new cycle of indigenous rule. That such a faith should be enacted in bailes pointedly omitted from the official list of dances is, of course, entirely consistent with Scott's understanding of the relationship between public and hidden transcripts.

La Danza de losMatachines
The danza de los matachines tells a similar story, albeit in an abbreviated form. It generally lasts less than an hour and may be danced several times in a single day. It is, moreover, the only ritual dance performed in both Hispanic and Native American communities in New Mexico. In the Hispanic communities, such as Alcalde (Parsons 1929:218-219), Arroyo Seco (Rodriguez 1994), and Bernalillo (Sinclair 1980:62-66), the dance is understood in terms of its public transcript, according to which it dramatizes in general "the triumph of good over evil, Christianity over paganism" (Kloeppel 1968:7), and in particular the conversion of Moctezuma (Champe 1983:84). In the Native American pueblos, although the public transcript officially remains intact and the performance of the dance is embedded in the liturgical calendar of the Church and its accompanying ritual, a hidden transcript of indigenous resistance emerges. For there the dance may also be read as a dramatized victory of indigenous "ghost warriors," led by the messianic Moctezuma, over intrusive "foreign cultures" (Treviflo and Gilles 1991:15). In both cases, as Sylvia Rodriguez has shown in the case of the Taos and Arroyo Seco matachines, particular performances also make reference to local politics and ethnic relationships (Rodriguez 1991, 1994). Common to all versions is a cast of characters consisting of the monarca, who is said to represent Moctezuma; 10 to 14 danzantes, who represent his "soldiers"; Malinche; one or more abuelos or abuelas (grandparents or ancestors), whose function is similar to that of the negritos in the danza de la pluma; and a toro (bull), who is the enemy of Moctezuma and Malinche and is variously designated in the public transcript as "evil," "paganism," or "the Moors" (Sinclair 1980:65) and in the hidden transcript as Cort6s (Morrison 1992:23) or "oppressive ... foreign cultures" (Treviiio and Gilles 1991:15). Despite the habitual assertion of scholars that here, too, "Malinche . . . represents Dofia Marina, Hernan Cort&s'smistress" (Gutibrrez 1993:58; see also Champe 1983:12), Malinche is uniformly described by the performers, even in the Hispanic communities, as the wife, daughter, or even sister (Parsons 1929:219) of Moctezuma. Rodriguez


Folklore 109 (1996) Journalof American

astutely observes that "the upper Rio Grande Malinche resembles Cortez's famousIndianmistress,the mythic traitorandmotherofmestizos, in name only" adds,"Malinche... is no traitor (Rodriguez 1991:247), and EnriqueLaMadrid here" (1995:5). Although formerly played by a boy (Kurath 1949:91-93), dressedin a white, first-comMalincheis now playedby a young girl, ordinarily munion dress;in SantaClaraPueblo, where the danceis accompaniedby native drumsratherthanthe more common Hispanicguitarandfiddle, she wearsnative dress(see Figure2).


I?~ tI i

d i II ~-C ~~p^

de Santa Pueblo.New Mexico,December1994:In 2. Clara Figure The danza los matachines, Malinche wearsindigenous Santa dress. Clara,

Harris, Moctezuma's Daughter


I saw the danza de los matachinesin Bernalillo in August 1993 and in the Native Americanpueblos of Picuris, SanJuan, and SantaClaraover Christmas 1994. In Bernalillo, the dance is given a Catholic interpretation.According to Richard Kloeppel, a formerleaderof the Bernalillomatachines,the dance tells the story of the conversionof Moctezumato Christianity,throughthe agency of his daughterMalinche, and the incorporationof the Aztec people into the Catholic Church (Kloeppel 1968). After Moctezuma leads his "soldiers"in a joyful opening dance,he sits on a chairto one side. Ledby the abuelo,Malinche him. The conversionof Moctezumabeginswhen Malinchefacesthe approaches Aztec king and each circles his or her extended right hand in alternating directions over and under the other's hand. There follows what Champe calls "the pantomimeof the struggleforward,"duringwhich the monarca,now risen from his chair,moves slowly from one end of the line of danzantes the other, to forwardwith one foot anddragging other to join it, while the abuelo the lunging massageshis knees (see Figure 3). Champe speculatesthat this is intended "to symbolize Montezuma'sstruggle to accept Christianity"(1983:84). The bull, dressed in the demonic colors of red and black, is enraged and attacks the converts until he is shot and killed by the abuelo. Following the dance, a processionwendsits way to the parishchurch,where the "converted" triumphal matachinestake an honored part in the fiesta Mass. But even the Bernalillo dancersare not entirelysatisfiedwith this reading.One of the men playingthe partof Moctezumaconfessedto me that the meaning of the dancewas difficult to ascertainand that "we need to do more research." Two scholarswho have conducted extensive researchinto the history and Gilles. meaning of the danzade los matachinesare AdrianTrevifio and Barbara the prevailingnotion that the dance was introducedto the Americas Resisting by the Spanish (Champe 1983:1-6; Kurath 1949; Robb 1961), Treviiio and Gilles instead trace the history of the danza de los matachinesto prehispanic dances in which the Aztecs celebrated military victories over rival tribes they refer to whatJohn Bierhorsthas (Trevifio and Gilles 1994). In particular, called "the Aztec ghost-song ritual":
The Aztec ghost-song may be describedas a musical performancein which warrior-singers summon the ghostsof ancestorsin orderto swell their ranksand overwhelmtheir enemies. In the more elaborateexamplesthe full ritualseems to have assumedthe proportionsof a mock battle, where singing, dancing,and drummingwere equatedwith martial deeds. In responseto the music, ghost warriors from paradise,led by ancestorkings, supposedlycame "scattering,"
"raining," "flying," or "whirling" to earth. [Bierhorst 1985:3-4]

Consistent with this tradition, Trevifiio and Gilles read the danza de los matachines as a dramatized victory of indigenous ghost warriors, led by Moctezuma and Malinche (see Figure 4), over outside invaders. Whatever may be the historical roots of the dance, such a reading of its present form better accounts for the matachines' continued popularity among the Pueblo Indians, who can no more be expected to "celebrate the conquest"


Folklore 109 (1996) Journalof American


New Mexico, August1993: The abuelo Bernalillo, Figure3. The danzade los matachines, "conversion." Moctezuma's afterthe latter's legs massages (Kloeppel 1968:8) than can the Zapotec feather dancers of Teotitlain del Valle. Richard Trexler's influential but misleading insistence that all folk dramatizations of the conquest in colonial Mexico and its territorial heirs constitute a "military theatre of humiliation" in which the indigenous performers "exhibit their [own] defeat" attends only to the public transcript of such performances (Trexler 1984:197, 207). The presence of a hidden transcript in native versions of the danza de los matachines is suggested not only by the pairing of Moctezuma and Malinche, in keeping with indigenous legend, but also by the "Indian

Harris, Moctezuma's Daughter


I? '0:";;;W"'



PicurisPueblo, New Mexico, December 1994: Figure4. The danzade los matachines, and Moctezuma Malinche(frontcenter)leadthe danzantes. tradition" reported by Dumarest and others that "this dance was instituted by Montezuma that the descendants of his race might have the pleasure of mocking their conquerors" (Dumarest 1919:86; see also Jaramillo 1941:50; VanEtten 1985:57). A dance whose public transcript appeals to the Catholic faith of the conquistadors' descendants while simultaneously enacting a hidden transcript in which Moctezuma rises from the dead to lead indigenous ghost warriors to victory over those descendants is a splendid vehicle for discreet mockery of the Indians' conquerors. A brief reading of the San Juan Pueblo danza de los matachines, which I saw on the day after Christmas, 1994, will illustrate my point. After several minutes of dancing, Moctezuma (the monanka)moved backward between the two rows of danzantes and each pair of dancers knelt as he passed. While the dancers remained in a kneeling position, an abuelo escorted Moctezuma to a chair at the far end of the rows. The king was dead. When the time comes for Moctezuma to leave the physical world, Trevifio and Gilles write, he is led "out of the dance area and to a place of honor in the spirit realm" by the abuelo, who represents not, as the word is usually translated, "a grandfather" but "a guardian ancestor spirit" (1991:11). The chair denoted Moctezuma's place of honor, and the kneeling position of the danzantes appeared to signal the death of his warriors. I took this opening phase of the dance to represent, in a highly compressed form, the entire period covered by the public transcript of the danza de la pluma: the life of the Indians before the arrival of the Europeans and the subsequent death in battle of Moctezuma and his soldiers. What followed concerned his resurrection.


Folklore 109 (1996) Journalof American

Malinche then wove her way through one line of danzantesafter the other. "As the queen of the spirit realm,"accordingto Treviiio and Gilles (1991:12), Malinche was thus purifying and uniting the warrior spirits who had died honorablyin battle. When she approachedthe seated Moctezuma, the entire dramafocused briefly on the small space around the monanka'schair, where "the circlingmotion of LaMalinche'sextendedarm[brought]Moctezumaback to life" (Treviiio and Gilles 1991:13). Rising from his chair,Moctezumamoved with difficulty between the rows of kneeling warriors.One of the abuelos his massaged legs. Avoiding any referenceto religiousconversion, Treviiio and Gilles offer what is to my mind a much more persuasiveexplanationof this episode: "Montezuma arises and begins the journey back to the world of substance.He slowly stretcheshis legs andmakescautioussteps,tryingto regain control of his physicalself. He has been in the spirit realm for a long time. El abuelo rubs Montezuma's legs to reduce the stiffness."Finally, the revived Moctezumacalled on the ghost warriorsto join him in battle. Two by two, the danzantesrose from their kneeling position to perform"the whirling motion that indicates travel between the spirit world and the world of substance" (Trevifioand Gilles 1991:14). After two more sequences, in which Moctezuma led his revived warriorsin intricateandjoyful dance patterns,there followed the confrontationwith the to bull. The toro, who until now had only occasionallyskirmished one side with the abuelos, was led into the playing areaitself. As well as his bull's head and hide, the toro wore a sweatshirtwith the word SAINTS emblazonedacrossthe front. I suspect the choice was not accidental. In Jemez Pueblo, in 1993, I observedDallas Cowboys T-shirts worn in performanceto connote American military aggression (Harris 1994b:156), and I suspect that the New Orleans Saintssweatshirtwas chosen, in this instance,to link the toro with the religious The and pretensionsof the conquistadors theirdescendants. bull now confronted in a seriesof brief,stylized Moctezuma,Malinche,and each of the ghost warriors battles. When the last dancer had fought the bull, the abuelos gave chase. Capturingthe bull, they laid him on his back and covered him, from his neck to his knees, with a sheet. One of the abuelos produced a plastic laser beam, which emitted electronic beeps. While the other abuelo lifted the bull's legs, the one armedwith the toy lasercrawledheadfirstbetween the bull'slegs under the sheet. There the abuelopretendedto performsurgery,fromwhich he finally to emergedwith two largenuts that he displayedtriumphantly the crowd. The It bull hadbeen castrated. was a humorous,but nonethelessverypowerful,image
of the defeat of the intrusive invader. The final episode was a joyous dance in which Moctezuma, Malinche, and the warriors celebrated their victory. Although the fiesta had begun the night before with vespers in the Catholic church, the dance itself had offered no hint of indigenous conversion to Christianity. Rather, the defining moment of the dance had been the castration of the small boy, dressed as a bull, who represented the conquering "saints" of Spanish and Anglo cultures. It was thus an apt prelude to the performance, the next day, of the pueblo's "most important public ritual,"

Harris,Moctezuma's Daughter


the Turtle Dance (Sweet 1985:42; see also Parsons 1929:179-185). The matachines dance in San Juan may well be read, therefore, not as a celebration of conversion to Christianity but as a cleansing of the pueblo, through the intervention of Malinche and the consequent victory of Moctezuma and his ghost warriors,for the subsequent unimpeded performance of pre-Christian ritual.

La Danza de los Santiagueros La Danza de los Negritos and

Although of interest in themselves, these readings of particular conquest dances are ancillary to my main purpose in this article, which is, it will be remembered, to explain the role of La Malinche in Mesoamerican danzas. I have argued, in this respect, that La Malinche does not represent, as is so often assumed, the mistress of Cort&s,but the wife or daughter of a past, present, and future king, usually named Moctezuma, and therefore, too, the goddess or "queen of the spirit world," commonly known in prehispanic Mexico as Toci or Tonantzin, who accompanies the deity whom Moctezuma himself represents, most often named Huitzilopochtli. With regard to this argument, two questions remain. First, what is Malinche's role, in dances such as the danza de los santiagos or the danza de los negritos from the Sierra de Puebla, where she appearswithout Moctezuma? And, second, why does the Malinche of the dances share her name with the historical Malinche who was Cort&s'stranslator and mistress? We may begin to answer the first question by looking at Ichon's account of the danza de los santiagueros in the Totonac community of Pantepec, in the northern Sierra de Puebla. The dance, as Ichon describes it, dramatizes the victory of"St. James [Santiago], mounted on his little white horse and assisted by his son Gallinche (La Malinche),"over "the Roman soldiers and their captains under the command of [Pontius] Pilate" (1969:341). The confusion of historical and mythological referents implies, according to Ichon, a variety of Christian victories: Spaniards, fighting under the banner of Santiago, over Moors; the resurrected Christ over Romans (and Jews) governed by Pilate; and, since Pilate wears an elaborate devil's mask, the victory of Christ over the devil. Moreover, he writes, the victory of Cort&sover Moctezuma is also "discreetly indicated by the presence of Gallinche, who personifies La Malinche, Cortes's companion and translator" (1969:347). Christian victory may well be the public transcript of the dance, sanctioning its performance on the feast day of Pantepec's patron saint, John the Baptist (June 24). But as we have seen, folk theatre rarely accords unequivocal victory to the dominant culture, and the danza de los santiagos is no exception. In Cuetzalan, for example, on the western slopes of the Sierra de Puebla, the victorious santiagoswear red masks decorated with golden disks and the defeated pilatos wear pink or white masks with rosy cheeks and black beards. Although the names proclaim a Christian victory, the masks reveal a hidden transcript that speaks instead of the triumph of the Sun and his warriors over pale-faced Spanish conquistadors (Harris 1993:99-107). If, as Ichon suspects, the presence of La Malinche in the Pantepec danza de los santiagueros signals a reference to the


Folklore 109 (1996) Journal American of

Spanishconquest, it is farmore likely to signify a reversalof that conquest than it is the historicalvictory of Cortesover Moctezuma. Ichon has been misled,in this respect, by his conventional identification of Malinche with Cortes's For "companionand translator." if, as I have argued,the Malincheof the dance then the Santiagoof the is the companion of Moctezumaratherthan Cort&s, as the fatherof Gallinche,also represents,in any referenceto Pantepec dance, the events of the conquest, Moctezumaratherthan Cort6s.Cortes,if he appears at all, is represented by Pilate, who wears the mask of a devil. And the conquistadorsare suggested,as is so often the case in Mexican folk theatre,by their "structural equivalents,"the Roman soldiersof occupation. Reference to the Spanishconquest, therefore,is not to the historicalvictory of Cortes over Moctezuma,but, as with the danzade la plumaandthe danzade los matachines, to a resurgenceof the vanquished. of sort.Reminding Ichon does,however,teaseout a hiddentranscript a different "Sons andJohn were surnamed us that in the New Testamentthe apostles James of he notes that, among the inhabitants the Sierrade of Thunder"(Mark3:17), Puebla, Santiago "is considered as one of the principal gods of Thunder" he (1969:350).In the danzade los santiagueros, suggests,Santiago"embodies... the god of the stormandof the rain,thatis to sayTlalochimself."The presenceat his side of LaMalincheis explained the fact thatshe is sometimesidentified,in by of fashion,with "thegoddess Waterandthe companionof Tlaloc."Ichon syncretic referon severaloccasionsto of observes,moreover,thatthe "recitatifs" the drama the Aztec god of war and of the sun, and mayintend, when they Huitzilopochtli, do so, to designateSantiago.He concludes, therefore, that the danza de los "Thecombatandthe victoryof Santiago ritual: is, santiagueros in essence,a seasonal over Pilatesymbolizes... the victoriousstruggleof the god of the stormand of Sun-over the subterranean the rain-or of the fecundating gods of Death and Fire" (Ichon 1969:351). Ichon may well be correctin his conclusion that the bearstracesof an originalfertilityrite. Pinto Pantepecdanzade los santiagueros in bailede los huaxtecos, which La drawsa similarconclusionabout Guatemala's of an unnamedking andengagesin "light-hearted as Malinciaappears the daughter we sexualplay"with the malecharacters (1983:79-80).Once again,therefore, have is found signsthatthe Malincheof the danzas the companionboth of Moctezuma in his struggleagainstforeigndominationand, as the goddessof waterand of the of abundance the earth,of his structural equivalentamong the gods, in this case Tlaloc or Huitzilopochtli. Tracesof an originalfertilityrite have alsobeen found in the Sierrade Puebla's
danza de los negritos, a dance unrelated except in name to the concluding baile of Oaxaca's danza de la pluma. Cordry, for example, calls Puebla's danza de los negritos "a crop-fertility dance" (1980:250), and Ichon is certain that it is "a fertility rite symbolizing the arrival of the rains, and the death and resurrection of the corn" (1969:363). The dancers wear black velvet trousers and jackets, richly embroidered, and wide-brimmed hats, adorned with mirrors and strings of colored beads. With the exception of two clowns, they are generally unmasked (Leyenaar 1988:195; but cf. Danza 1952:27-29; Rosoff and Cadaval

Moctezuma's Harris, Daughter


1992:40). La Maringuilla,played by a man in a woman's dress, is a central characterin los negritos,and, as in the baile de los huaxtecos,engagesin sexual mimicry with the male characters.In both the danza de los negritos and the related acatlaxqui dance, she carries a snake. This may be wooden (Ichon 1969:358; Danza 1952:24-27) or, on occasion, it may be live (Toor 1947:534). The dance often ends, after the snake has been "killed,"with the winding of colored ribbonsarounda centralpole (see Figure5), in the mannerof the English maypole dances.



::i::: :?~:

de Puebla.October1988:Malinche, Cuetzalan, Figure5. The danza los negritos, played a by stands the foot of the pole. at boy in a dress,


109 (1996) Folklore of Journal American

The reputationof the historicalMalinche, the repeatedsexualinnuendo, and the significance of the snake in both Christianand Freudiannarrativehave to promptedseveralscholars misreadthe danceasan attemptto "kill'evil' sexual instincts in women" (Cordry 1980:197; Toor 1947:534). But as Ichon points out, snakedancesare traditional among many Native Americanpeoples and are linked to the invocation of rain and the growth of corn. For the generally Totonac negritos,he reports,the snake"represents lightning,rain,andcorn" ... (1969:362). In this scheme of things, Malinche is "the mother of the serpent" and, once again, the goddessof water and fertility, responsiblefor sendingrain and nurturingcorn. She is also, as we have now come to expect, the wife of the with whom she rules or leading male dancer (Tata Mariano or el caporal), the negritos. In the Sierra de Puebla, this pre-Christianrite has "parents" on of disguiseditself, for performance a Catholicfeast day, as the dramatization of a snake-bittenAfrican slave brought back to life by the a popular legend compassionof his mother, Maringuilla,and the dancing of his peers (Santiago of... folk underwhich the bearers 1988:19-20). "Giventhe politicalhandicaps culture habituallyoperate," as Scott astutely observes, "the condition of its public expressionis that it be sufficientlyindirect and garbledthat it is capable of two readings,one of which is innocuous" (1990:157). These brief readingsof the danza de los santiaguerosand the danza de los negritos explain Malinche'srole in those dancesin which no overt referenceis made to her traditionalpartnerMoctezuma. If Moctezuma is included among the several referentsdesignatedby Santiago,Tata Mariano,or whatever other name is given to the dance's"hero,"then Malincheretainsher role as the Aztec ruler'sessentialfemale relativeand as his partnerin the struggleagainstforeign domination.But even if this is the case, her primaryrole in these dancesseems to be that of the goddess of water and fertility, the female counterpartto Moctezuma'sstructural equivalentin the Aztec pantheon, the god of life-giving sun or rain. Her two roles are, as we have seen, complementary.In the various her danzasde la conquista, role as Moctezuma'swife or daughtercomes to the fore. In those dancesthat bearthe clearesttracesof pre-Christianfertilityrites, her role as goddessof wateris more prominent.In neither case, however, is she of the mistressand translator Cortes. The Name of Malinche shareher namewith the historical Why, then, does the Malincheof the danzas
figure who was Corths's translator and mistress? We have already hinted at one possible reason. In the cyclical narrative of the Aztec royal lineage, legitimacy was passed from the last king in one cycle to the first in the next through a linking female. Cortts's claim to authority over the Aztec empire was vested, according to this scheme of things, in his liaison with Moctezuma's daughter, Isabel. But Isabel was overshadowed in the popular mind by Cortes's other indigenous mistress, Marina/Malinche. Structurally equivalent, in the sense that both were linked to a real or aspiring "boundary figure" (one as Moctezuma's

Harris,Moctezuma's Daughter


daughter,and both as Cortes'smistressand the mother of a potentialheir), they may have been merged into a single figure in the folk mythology of Aztec kingshipthatfound expressionin the danzas.The name of one becamethe name of both, such that the daughterof Moctezumaand the "wife" of his successor (be he the usurperCortes or the messianicMoctezuma)all came to be known as Malinche. Just as the name of Moctezuma the Younger was given, in the postconquestreconstructionof Aztec history, to his structural equivalentin the previous cycle (Gillespie 1989:167-170), to the founder of the Aztec empire (Applegate1929:175), and to the messianicking yet to come, so the name of the falseMoctezuma'smistress given to her structural was equivalents,the wives or daughtersof each of the legitimate "Moctezumas." One practicaladvantage of this maneuver,of course, was that it offered an acceptablepublic transcript for the dancesof the conquest. Many a folklorist,as we have seen, has misread the presence of Malinche on the winning side to mean that a dance was dramatizingthe victory of Cortes. No doubt other officialsand outsidershave been induced to make the same mistake. Another factor may be that the reputation of the historical Malinche for into treacheryand sexual promiscuityprovided a convenient public transcript which to insinuate the hidden transcriptof a pre-Christianfertility rite. The kind of sexualmimicryrequiredof a dancerrepresenting goddessof fertility the could then be explainedas a disparaging referenceto the "sin"of Malinche,and the dance characterizednot as sympathetic magic designed to induce crop fertilitybut asan attemptto exorcisethe evil sexualinstinctsof women in general and of La Malinche in particular. the goddess'sstructuralequivalentamong If the Aztec royaltywas alreadybeing referredto as Malinche, in her capacityas wife or daughterof Moctezuma,then so much the better. There is also the matterof the similarityof the historicalMalinche'sname to that of "the principaldeity the Spaniards brought to New Spain" (Gillespie the Virgin Mary, for both Mariaand Marinabecome Malinche as 1989:116), into a hispanicizedform of Nahuatl. There is some question they are translated as to whetherCortes'smistress translator originallynamedMalinal,after and was the day in the Aztec calendaron which she may have been born, and then renamed Marinaat her Christianbaptism, or whether, having been baptized Marina,her Christiannamewas then renderedin Nahuatlas Malintzin.Frances Karttunenthinks the lattermore likely (1994:6). In either case, Marinawould be pronounced Malintzin in Nahuatl, "tzin being a Nahuatl suffix showing respect and the r of the Spanish,not presentin Nahuatl, being converted to 1;
Malinche would hence be the Spanish corruption of Malintzin" (Cypess 1991:33). The baptismal name Marina, in other words, whether or not it corresponded to an original indigenous name, became Malintzin in Nahuatl and Malinche in hispanicized Nahuatl. Maria becomes Malinche by the same process: r becomes 1, the glottal stop between i and a becomes n, and tzin (hispanicized as che) is added as a mark of respect (Carochi 1983:9). Since Maria was the name of the woman most closely associated with the Christian man-god Jesus and was often accorded far more devotion than he in Spanish Catholic


109 (1996) Folklore of Journal American

ritual, it is not surprisingthatJesus and Mary were seen by the Indiansas the Christianstructural equivalentsof the Aztec god-king Moctezuma/Huitzilopochtli and his female complement(Gillespie1989:116-120). The nameMalinche may, therefore, have been given to Moctezuma'swife or daughterand to her structuralequivalent among the gods because that was the form in which the was name of her Christiancounterpart renderedin hispanicizedNahuatl. If this of names between Cortes's mistress and the is the case, the initial sharing in semidivineAztec princesswho appears the dancesmay have been coincidenderived independentlyfrom the similarbut distinct Spanishnames tal, being Mariaand Marina. It is possible, of course, that the name of Moctezuma's companion in the danzasmay be derived, not from the Christianmother-figureMaria,but from an indigenous Mexican goddess. Motolinia reports that the Indiansof central Mexico worshippeda "goddessof water," Matlalcuey,alongside the male god of water, Tlaloc (Motolinia 1990:185 [trat.3, cap. 16]). Moreover, as Brundage the notes, the "majesticand isolatedmountain"straddling present-dayborders of Puebla and Tlaxcala,which was originally named after Matlalcuey,is now namedLaMalinche(Brundage1979:157;see also Trevinioand Gilles 1994:122). The mountain, therefore,offersan illuminatingparallelto the Malinche of the dances. Demonstrably linked to a preconquest goddess rather than to the companion of Cortes, it nonethelessnow sharesits name with the latter. Finally, there is the extraordinarycoincidence of names between Marina/Malinche and the man-woman figure in the English Morris dances, May games, and mummers plays (Harris 1994c). Although the English character sometimes appearsunder other names, such as Bessy or the Dame, her most frequentdesignationis Marianor Molly. In both May gamesand Morrisdances of the Elizabethanperiod, for example, while the "king" or leader of the company was called Robin Hood, the sole female characterwas called Maid Marian(Wiles 1981). Robin Hood seems to have been the name assignedto the of May king or summerlord of an old "king-game,"while the character Maid Marianwas "famedas a dancer"before she became part of the Robin Hood legend (Wiles 1981:5). They seem to have met first in the Morris dance. Sometimes Marianbecame the more informalMolly, such that in EastAnglia, for example, the dancers were known simply as the Molly dancers (Helm 1981:52). When she straysinto the sword dances or mummersplays, she is commonly known as Molly or Sweet Moll (Helm 1981:34-36). Other elements
of the English folk-dance tradition, such as the maypole, the fool, and the hobbyhorse also appear in the Mexican danzas. The relationship between the English and the Spanish American dances and, in particular, between the Marina/Malinche of Mexico and the Marian/Molly of England deserves a more extended study. All we can say here is that there is at least a possibility that Marina/Malinche and Marian/Molly share common roots in a continental European male-female dance character whose name, as it traveled to England, became Marian/Molly and, as it traveled to Mexico, became Marina/Malinche. The English Morris dances and Spanish American

Moctezuma's Harris, Daughter


danzassuch as the danza de los matachinesare remarkably similarin structure have some of their roots in Spain. Although and both arguably (Forrest1984), the relative proportions of Spanishand indigenous influence in the Mexican danzascan be argued,the presenceof some Spanishelementsis certain.And the Morrisdancesare, at leastin name, moriscos (Moorishdances),not becausethey are Moorish in origin, "a theory which ignores the fact that nothing like the English dance has ever been found amongst the Moors" (Helm 1981:50), but because the Spanishversion often featuresMoors in conflict with Christians. One link between Malinche and Marianmay be the Marion of the French pastourelles, especiallyif, as Jones (1931) has argued, the pastourelleshad their origins in the ancient May games of central France. Marion may well have traveled to Englandin the May games themselves (Chambers1903:175-176), for it is in just this context thatwe find her dancingin Elizabethan times. Indeed the very name Maid Marion,being a corruptionof May Marion, lends support to this seasonallink. In 1582, the PuritanChristopherFeatherstoncomplained of "men in woman's apparell,whom you do most commonly call maymarions" (Hutton 1994:131). If Marionalso traveledthrough Spainand to the Americas in this fashion, it would go a long way to explain the interweavingof ribbons arounda pole, afterthe mannerof the Europeanmaypoledance, in so many of the Mesoamerican dances in which La Malinche appears(Champe 1983:52ff.; Leyenaar1988:195-206; Rosoff andCadaval1992:40;Rodriguez 1991:240). In of Spain, men "who in dancingimitatethe appearance women and, contraryto nature,representMay queens and demons [qui in saltationefemineumhabitum gestiunt et monstruosese fingunt et majaset orcum]"were known as early as the eighth century (Zink 1972:93).Although nowadaysthe "purified"Spanish May games are dedicatedto the Virgin Mary and the woman played by a man in Spanishfolk dance is most often called by the generic title la dama,there is at least one instancewhere such a character still called Maria.In the Catalan is del mascarada velli la vella,when the old woman (la vella)is given a propername, it is, accordingto Joan Amades,"Maria,that is to say, mother [mare]," "she for seems to embody the sense of the earthmother" (1951:33, see also 82-83). Furtherwork must be done, but the popularityof Marian/Mollyin England, the common link of the French Marion, the English Maymarion, and the Mesoamerican Malinche to maypoledances,and the existence of a Spanishfolk dance "earthmother" of ambiguousgender named Mariaor mareprovides at least indirectevidence that the name of the "female"character the European in dancesthat reachedMexico may have resembledthe Spanishname (Marina)of
Cort&s'smistress. If this were the case, then the character in the danzas would be known as Malinche, not by way of reference to Dofia Marina, but as the hispanicized Nahuatl form of the name of the man-woman in the imported dances. There are, therefore, a number of possible reasons why the Malinche of the danzas should share her name with the historical Malinche of the Spanish conquest. Their effect is cumulative rather than mutually exclusive. While we may never know the precise origin of Malinche's name in the dance, we are at


109 Folklore (1996) of Journal American

least freed from the pressureto equateher, becauseof a common name, with a to reference. historicalcharacter whom she makesonly incidentalanddistracting When the Malinche of the conquestnarrativeis representedin the dancesshe is given her Spanishname of Dofia Marina.When the name Malinche is used, the dancerrepresentsthe wife or daughterof a past, present, and future king, usuallynamedMoctezuma. Malincheand Moctezuma, in turn, representcompanion indigenous divinities or rulersof the spiritworld. The Malinche of the dancesemphaticallydoes not representCortes'smistressand translator.

I havespelledMoctezumaandCortesthusexceptwhen quotingauthorswho have chosenvariant from Spanish,French,Latin,and Catalanare my own unless formsof the two names.Translations otherwise stated. I am deeply indebted to AdrianTrevifio and BarbaraGilles for their help in between Moctezumaand La Malinchein the danzade the enablingme to understand relationship los matachines and, by extension, in the Mexicandanzasin general. I am also gratefulto Edward Abse,Jeff Cohen, AnnabellaGonzalez,Mike Kloeppel,MarthaLiebert,PhilippePerez, BarrySell, and EleanorFriendSleight for their help in providinginformationor insightalong the way. Any errorsthatremainin my understanding of course,mine andnot theirs.Finally,I am profoundly are, thankful,both for their art and, in many cases,for their friendship,to those whom I have seen dance the danzade los santiagosand the danzade los negritosin Cuetzalin, Puebla,the danzade in la plumain Teotitlin del Valle, Oaxaca,andthe danzade los matachines Bernalillo,Picuris,San Juan,and SantaClara,New Mexico.

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