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FIU - ANTH 3241 - Class Notes - Week 6

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FIU - ANTH 3241 - Class Notes - Week 6

School: Florida International University
Department: Evolutionary Anthropology
Course: Anthropology, Myth, Ritual and Mysticism
Professor: Jean Rahier
Term: Fall 2016
Tags:
Name: Virgin of Guadalupe - Reading
Description: These notes highlight the important aspects of Module 3 reading along with side notes. This reading will be on the Quiz
Uploaded: 09/19/2016
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School: Florida International University
Department: Evolutionary Anthropology
Course: Anthropology, Myth, Ritual and Mysticism
Professor: Jean Rahier
Term: Fall 2016
Tags:
Name: Virgin of Guadalupe - Reading
Description: These notes highlight the important aspects of Module 3 reading along with side notes. This reading will be on the Quiz
Uploaded: 09/19/2016
5 Pages 9 Views 7 Unlocks
  • Better Grades Guarantee
  • 24/7 Homework help
  • Notes, Study Guides, Flashcards + More!

Unformatted text preview: 9 The Virgin of Guadalupe: A Mexican National Symbol Eric R. Wolf While anthropologists have long recognized the symbolic nature of culture, the following classic article identi?es a single "master symbol ” that sums up the central focus and worldview of a par- a ticular people. Eric Wolf traces the Virgin of Guadalupe to her origins in 16th—century legend and Aztec goddess worship and examines how the symbol expresses the major social relationships in Mexican society. As a mother ?gurew Wolfconcludes the WW- bol . . . . . . Eric Wolf (1923-99) conducted ?eldwork with agrarian peoples in Latin America and Europe and was keenly interested in the nature of power and the effects of European expansion. His in?uential book Europe and the People Without History (University of California Press, 1982) argues that the peoples colonized by Europeans were not isolated and unchanging but had long been signi?cant parts of global economic processes. mm mm on 'th m no no (that. helium Jamm- Occasionally, we encounter a symbol which seems to enshrine the major h0pes and aspirations of an entire society.1 Such a master symbol is represented by the . During the Mexican War of Independence against Spain, her celebrated in popular song and verse. Her shrine at Tepeyac, immediately north of Mexico City, is visited each year by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, ranging from the inhabitants of far—off Indian vil- lages to the members of socialist trade union locals. to be seen in Canada or Europe," says ‘ F. s. c. Northrop. '” image preceded the insurgents into battle.2 Emiliano Zapata and his agrarian rebels fought under her em- blem in the Great Revolution of 1910.3 Today, - In this paper, I should like to discuss this Mexican . She is and the ideology which surrounds it. / In making use of the term "master symbol," 1 do- u-Mm' i wish to imply that M’— a’: 0N“ F‘ We are not dealing here with an ele- Iouma‘ OfAme'ic‘m Fomore' VOL 71’ Na 279 (195% ment of a putative national character, de?ned as a pp. 34—39. Used by permission of the American Folklore Socwty common denominator of a“ Mexican nationals. It is (more new ) . . ,, was fffhisrrirer were presented to the Symon on “° 1°“gi‘ lime 331353313133 33333;: Ethnic and National Ideologies, Annual Spring Meeting of the luau?“ ] 31.9“? e 1 cer. hi d the American Ethnologzbal Society in conjunction with the of behavmr whlch are common Ir} esree ’ among the other members of the socxety. Nations. Philadelphia Anthropological Society, on 12 May 1956. not a (mom smud— not 0l\ Hum WWW 67 n‘q M‘1H,Symon]15M,.\Nl>'l‘AoO0 like other complex societies, must, however, “pos— sess cultural forms or mechanisms which groups in— volved in the same over-all web of relationships can use in their formal and informal dealings with each other."6 Such forms develop historically, hand in hand with other processes which lead to the forma— tion of nations, and social groups which are caught up in these processes must become "acculturated" to their usage.7 Only where such forms exist can com- munication and coordinated behavior be established among the constituent groups of such a society. They provide the cultural idiom of behavior and ideal representations through which different groups of the same society can pursue and manipulate their different fates within a coordinated framework. This paper, then, deals with one such cultural form, oper- ating on the symbolic level. The study of this symbol seems particularly rewarding, since it is not re- stricted to one set of social ties, but refers to a very wide range of social relationships. » L. r'ngm 9m The image of the Guadalupe and her shrine at Tepeyac are surrounded by an origin myth.“?h¢0rda ing to this myth, the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego, a Christianized Indian of commoner status, and adde him in Nahuatl; The encounter took place on the Hill of Tepeyac in the year 1531, ten years after the Spanish Conquest of Tenochtitlan. The Virgin commanded Juan Diego to seek out the archbishop of Mexico and to inform him of her de- sire to see a church built in her honor on Tepeyac Hill. After Juan Diego was twice unsnccessful in his efforts to carry out her order, the Virgin wrought a miracle. She bade Juan Diego pick roses in a sterile spot where normally only desert plants could grow, gathered the roses into the lndian’s cloak, and told him to present cloak and roses to the incredulous archbishop. When Juan Diego unfolded his cloak be- fore the bishop, the image of the Virgin was miracu- lously stamped upon it. The bishop acknowledged the miracle, and ordered a shrine built where Mary had appeared to her humble servant. The shrine, rebuilt several times in centuries to follow”, is today a basilica, the third highest kind of church in Western Christendom. Above the central altar hangs Juan Diego’s cloak with the miraculous It shows a young woman without child, her head lowered demurer in her shawl. She wears an . wwarld?owinggowmandstandsupona ‘0°\ (Kiel The shrine of Guadalupe was, however, not the first religious structure built on Tepeyac; nor was Guadalupe the first MEL} associated with the hill. In pre—HiSpanic times, Tepeyac had housed a temple to the earth and fertility goddess Tonantzin, Our Lady Mother, who—like the Guadalupe—WWQQ Temple, like basilica, was the center of large scale pilgrim- ages. That the veneration accorded the Guadalupe drew inspiration from the earlier worship of To- nantzin is attested by several Spanish friars. F. Bemardino de Sahagun, writing ?fty years after the Conquest, says: "Now that the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe has been built there, they call her Tonantzin too. . . . The term refers . . . to that ancient Tonantzin and this state of affairs should be reme- died, because the proper name of the Mother of God is not Tonantzin, but Bias and Nantzin. It seems to be a satanic device to mask idolatry . . . and they come from far away to visit that Tonantzin, as much as before; a devotion which is also suspect because there are many churches of Our Lady everywhere and they do not go to them; and they come from far- away lands to this Tonantzin as of old.”9 F. Martin de Leon wrote in a similar vein: "On the hill where Our Lady of Guadalupe is they adored the idol of a goddess they called Tonantzin, which means Our Mother, and this is also the name they give Our Lady and they always say they are going to Tonantzin or they are celebrating Tonantzin and many of them un. derstand this in the old way and not in the modem way. . . ."10 The syncretism was still alive in the sev- enteenth century. F. Jacinto de la Sema, in discussing the pilgrimages to the Guadalupe at Tepeyac, noted: . . it is the purpose of the wicked to [worship] the goddess and not the Most Holy Virgin, or both together."“ th®¢¢m Increasingly popular during apart from I e miracu ous original; I e tpoemsarewritteninherhonor;and tl'IE?rstser- 1u‘r?ons armounce the transcendental implications of r supernatural appearance in Mezdco and amen. g Madam“ M ' Yet "this qinet time Was of , utmost importance in the development of Man 'FFUCN ' 6h ,QS.WD~MS 0F WW? Vlth W /? at“ ohm folmv Society.”13 During this century, the institution of the hacienda comes to dominate Mexican life.” During this century, also, "New Spain is ceasing to be ’new’ and to be tspain?'” new experiences requires, new cultural idiom, and in the Guadalupe cult, the: component segments of Mexican colonial society encountered cultural forms in which they could’ expng their parallel interests and longings, « “The primary purpose of this paper is not, how- ever, to trace the history of the Guadalupe symboL It is concerned rather with its func ional aspects, its roots and reference to the NJ ‘ “‘9Elf??t“: of Mexican society. ,_ The first set of‘relationships which I would like to single out for cohsl?éfa?on are the ties of kinship, and the emotions generated in the play of m . j -r ' i. 2- ' Iwant to suggest that some of the meanings of the Virgin symbol in general, and of the Guadalupe symbol in particular, derive from 37, these emotions. I say "some meanings” and I use the ' term "derive" rather than "originate," because the g form and function of the family in any given society K 'JL L511. ‘1 A 1,3, are themselves determined by other social factors: .The family is but one relay in the circuit within which symbols are generated in complex societies. Also, I used the plural "families" rather than "family," be- cause there are demonstrably more than one kind of family in Mexico.“5 I shall simplify the available in- formation on Mexican family life, and discuss the material in terms of two major types of families.'7 The ?rst kind of family is congruent with the closed and static life of the Indian village. It may be called “this kind «family,— tation 0 one sex e at er is atypical; sexual feats do not add to a person's status in. the eyes of others. Physical punishment and authoritar- iantreatnmttofchildrenarerare. The “3f fan?ly is congruent with the -- ' A sigma Here, the is: a 3 mm for ‘ mend mount/oar Children are ruled with a heavy hand; physical pun— ishment is frequent. pliéyi:j?,i“l’ig_‘{,j }, It:.,‘§tgf pvt: g John Bushnell in the Matlazinca-speaking community of San Juan Atzingo in the Valley of Toluca.“3 There, the image t e _s addressed in passionate terms as a b . ' Bushnell postulates that here theCz‘uadalupe is identi?ed with the mother as Wm?sfac?ons, never again experi- Wm the mother and m- ggice into social adulthoodjks such, the Guadalupe embodies a longing to return to the pristine state in which hunger and unsatisfactory social relations are . ' pattern is also consis- th a symbolic identification of Virgin and moth 1', yet this time within a context of adult male ' ance and sexual assertion, discharged against submis e females and children. In this second con— text: W struggle Lag; to 3 Either extension of theg. symbolism. Successful rebellion against power fig-“n the promise of death. As John A. Mackay has sug- gested, there thus takes place a further symbolic identi?cation of the Virgin with life; of defeat and death with the crucified Christ. In Mexican artis ' tradition, as in Hispanic artistic tradition in gen-, ’ eral,” Christ is never depicted as an adult man, but always either as a helpless child, or more often as a ?gure beaten, tortured, defeated and killed. In this symbolic equation we are touching upon some of the roots both of the passionate af?rmation of faith in the Virgin, and of the fascination with death which char- acterizes Baroque Christianity in general, and Mexi- can Catholicism in particular. ures is equated with the promise of life; defeat with? 5 i worldly hopes and desires. These carrier on the provision of food and emotional ?mtaseinthesuccess?dwaglngofthe?em. strugglein the other. ’t Motown) WWW WOLF o THE VIRGIN OF GUADALUPE: A MEXICAN NATIONAL SYMBOL I 69 7 ebonOmFCm 1m (panama (mt to WW 5W0” ’— g. m SOWWIS‘YIHDT“ (761mm UN to warm 70 l MYTH, SYMBOLISM, AND TABOO Family relations are, however, only one element in the formation of the Guadalupe symbol. Their analysis does little to explain the Guadalupe as such. They merely illuminate the female and maternal at- tributes of the more widespread Virgin symbol. The Guadalupe is important to Mexicans not only be- cause she is a supernatural mother, but also because she embodies their major political and religious aspirations. To the Indian groups, the symbol is more than an embodiment of life and hope; e must not forget that the Span- ish Conquest signified not only military defeat, but the defeat also of the old gods and the decline of the old ritual. The apparition of the Guadalupe to an In- dian commoner thus 5 Tannenbaum has well said, "The Church . . . gave the Indian an opportunity not merely to save his life, but also to save his faith in his own gods."20 On another level, the myth of the ap— parition served as a _e W m ' d those who held that the Indian was human, capable of conversion and that this exploita- tion had to be tempered by the demands of the Catholic faith and of orderly civil processes of gov- ennment21 I?” But if the Guadalupe guaranta a nEtful place to the Indians in the new social system of New Spain, the myth also held appeal to the ~— ? lagers ang?gian mothers, or ugh impoverishment, acculturation or loss of status within the Indian or Spanish group.22 For such people, Their very right to exist was ques- tioned in their inability to command the full rights of citizenship and legal protection. Where Spaniard and Indian stood squarely within the law, they inhabited the interstices and margins of constitutletzg society. These groups acquired in?uence and wee;3 t in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, u were yet barred from social. recognition and girl-N: by the prevailing economic, soc1al and po 1 c order.23 ’ e sent not merely the guarantee of their assure p ac 1 4 In the writings of seventeenth century ecclesias- tics, the Guadalupe becomes the harbinger of this new order. In the book by Miguel Sénchez, pub- lished in 1648, the Spanish Conquest of New Spain is v justified solely on the grounds that it allowed the Virgin to become manifest in her chosen country, and to found in Mexico a new paradise. Just as Israel had been chosen to produce Christ, so Mexico had been chosen to produce Guadalupe. Sénchez equates her with the apocalyptic woman of the Revelation of John (12: 1), "arrayed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” who is to realize the prophecy of Deuteron- omy 8: 7-10 and lead the Mexicans into the Promised Land. Colonial Mexico thus becomes the desert of Sinai; Independent Mexico the land of milk and honey. F. Francisco de Florencia, writing in 1688, coined the slogan which made Mexico not merely another chosen nation, but the Chosen Nation: non fecit taliter omni nationi,“ words which still adorn the portals of the basilica, and shine forth in electric light bulbs at night. And on the eve of Mexican indepen- dence, Servando Teresa de Mier elaborates still fur- ther the Guadalupan myth by claiming that Mexico had been converted to Christianity long before the Spanish Conquest. The apostle Saint Thomas had brought the irnage of Guadalupe-Tonantzin to the New World as a symbol of his mission, just as Saint James had converted Spain with the image of the Virgin of the Pillar. The Spanish Conquest was there- fore historically unnecessary, and should be erased from the annals of history.25 In this perspective, the Mexican War of Independence marks the ?nal WOLF - THE VIRGIN or GUADALUPE: A MEXICAN Nmomr. Symon. ' 71 realization of the apocalyptic promise. The banner of the Guadalupe leads the insurgents; and their cause People and national independence—- is referred to as "her law."26 In this ultimate exten- . sion of the symbol, the promise of life held out by the e ua upe symbol thus : supernatural mother has become the promise of an ‘ independent Mexico, liberated from the irrational authority of the Spanish father-oppressors and re- stored to the Chosen Nation whose election had been manifest in the apparition of the Virgin on Tepeyac. The land of the supernatural mother is ?nally pos- Sessed by her rightful heirs. The symbolic circuit is closed. a??? p n

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