MIXTEC CULTURE Cultural Heritage of a great people.

MIXTEC CULTURE Cultural Heritage of a great people.

MIXTEC CULTURE. In Addition to its outstanding artisanal manifestation, the Mixtec culture stands out as the largest source of codices in Mesoamerica.

The Mixteca region was characterized by Its high mountain ranges that surrounded narrow valleys, forming three zones:

The Mixteca Baja.

An arid plain located to the northeast and southwest of the states Oaxaca and Puebla, respectively.

Mixteca Alta.

Formed by a mountainous extension located in the west of Oaxaca, being the area that inhabited for longer.

And Mixteca de la Costa.

It corresponded to a small beach plain located between the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero.
Due to the rugged topography, the Mixtecs were organized in independent city-states along 40,000 square kilometres.

History of the Mixtec culture.

Due to the extensive chronology of the Mixtec culture, its history is divided into three periods.

Preclassic Period (1500 BC – 200 A.D.).

The first urban nuclei of the Mixtec culture appeared around the 15TH century B.C., in an incipient way.

In the middle of this period is that in Mixteca Alta originate important towns such as Monte Negro and Huamelulpan.

Later in the 5Th century BC, other basic architectural complexes emerged as;
Yucuita, Etlatongo and Tayata in Mixteca Alta, and Huajuapan in Mixteca Baja.

Classical Period (200 – 900 A.D.).

It Began a process of substitution of the centers of power, it is thus that Yucuñudahui supplanted Yucuita like Principal city.

Likewise, in Mixteca Baja flourished a village with authentic features called Cerro de las Minas, near the Mixtec River.

When the city of Monte Alban was uninhabited by the Zapotecs, the Mixtecs seized it, using the existing graves to make offerings.

Postclassic Period (900 – 1550 A.D.).

Tututepec on the coast and Tilantongo in the upper part, they became the influential kingdoms of the Mixtec culture.

Around the 11TH century, Cacique Eight Venado managed to unify the Mixtecos in one kingdom, being Achiutla as the main religious center.

Following this, the Mixtecos took the Valley of Oaxaca, including the territories of their neighbors Zapotecas as the city of Mitla.

The Mixtec culture came to form a kingdom composed of approximately 100 cities throughout the Valley of Oaxaca.

Ending the period, the Mixtec region disintegrated by the death of Eight Deer;
It was taken by the Aztec Empire, and later during the conquest, they surrendered to the Spaniards.

Being the hope of breaking the Aztec yoke, the reason that prompted the Mixtecos to surrender to the conquistadors.

Socio-political Organization of the Mixtec culture.

It Is estimated that the Mixtec culture reached the million inhabitants just at the time of colonization.

For a long time the political structure of the Mixtecs, was fractionated in several cities-states that dominated small Territories

This situation changed with the unification imposed by the Chieftain Eight Deer, but which later returned to its initial state.

In this sense, the importance of each community was manifested by the number of constructions that each possessed.

Thus, the power of each city-state was not permanent, which aroused frequent clashes between them.

Social stratification marked by the political sphere was reduced to the following groups.


It was the accreditation received by the governor of each Mixtec city-state.
Within This class were the Dzayya Yya or nobility who were in charge of administrative matters.

Tay Ñuu.

Free people, as they depended on themselves for the product their work on Earth.

Tay Situndayu.

A class made up of people who had lost their independence over their work, as they were obliged to pay tribute to the nobility with it.


They possessed fewer rights than the rest because of their status as servants and slaves.
The Elite classes of states used to establish marriage alliances between them.

This practice was intended to maintain power, a matter that often led to the creation of incestuous relations.

Therefore, these customs prevented the rest of the population from ascending the category in the Mixtec Culture society.

Economy of the Mixtec culture.

Despite the vast territory, the adverse topographical conditions determined the development of the Mixtec culture to certain crops.

For this reason, they implemented the use of terraces on the mountain slopes called Coo Yuu, which they carried out in masonry.

They Also used the logging and burning of land for subsequent cultivation, which generated great erosion in the area.

In this way, in the places where the climate allowed it, they promoted the cultivation of corn, beans, cotton and cocoa.

They Domesticated a small group of animals such as Turkey and a kind of dog called xoloitzcuintle;
EU together with hunting and fishing, they constituted a source of protein.

The inhabitants of the Mixtec culture joined the Mesoamerican Commercial Exchange network with their agricultural products, textiles and precious metals.

Religion of the Mixtec culture.

The religious aspect of the Mixtec culture is defined as a polytheistic and animistic character;
Because of the belief in several gods and the natural forces each one represented.

Thus, they produced images associated with wars, sun, fertility, rain, wind, among others.

The main deity for the mixtecs was Dzahui or god of rain or heavenly water.

Therefore the native Mixtec name, which qualifies them as the people of the rain, chosen by Dzahui.

Other gods were.
Cohuy that was related to corn.
Huehuetéotl with the fire.
Yozotoyua Protector of the merchants.
Nitoayuta deity of the generation.
Tonatiuh of the Sun.
Mictlantecuhtli of death.
Qhuav of the Hunters.



Among the Mixtecos existed the conviction of life after death and therefore honored their ancestors.

In the rituals of human sacrifice included the extraction of the heart;
Blood of the ear or tongue was often offered, which was generally related to the god of the lineage or the fertility Xipe Tótec.

The Shamans called Yaha Yahui, were highly respected and included within the nobility for their supernatural powers.

The codices of the Mixtec culture.

One of the most important aspects of the Mixtec culture is a group of documents where it is narrated by writing pictographic the history and customs of this civilization.

The Mixtec codices are characterized by some similar traits.

They Were painted on deer skin, in the form of long strips up to 14 meters and 40 centimeters wide.
And They Present a white coating on which different scenes were drawn, pointing to the continuity of the reading.
The documents are folded as a screen.

These writings that survived the Spanish conquest are the following.

One of them, is the Columbian-Becker Codex, which despite conformabar a single document, was divided into two.

Becker I.

It is currently located in the Weltmuseum in Vienna, and the Columbian is preserved in the National Library of Anthropology and History of Mexico.

They detail the history of marriage alliances and the biography of the epic Cacique Eight Deer.

There is Also the Codex Bodley.

One of the most important manuscripts, and is at Oxford University in the UK.

In its 40 pages it recounts the historical moments of the town and its struggles between cities-states until they lost their independence.

Codex Selsen I.

In the same way located at the University of Oxford, it addresses the history of the dynasty of the main centers of power of Mixteca Alta.

Codex Nutall-Zouche.

It consists of two sides:MIXTEC CULTURE
One describing the conquests of Eight Deer

The other exposes the history of Tilantongo, it is in the British Museum of England since the year 1917.

Codex Vindobonensis.

Under the shelter of the National Library of Vienna, it details the history of the seigniories of Mixteca Alta.
It Contains a obverse where the myths of the creation and origin of the Mixtec culture were captured.

Artistic Manifestations of the Mixtec culture.

Although Large Mixtec architectural works have not been found, if they came to inhabit cities built like Mitla and Monte Alban.

Rather This civilization was emphasized in the minor arts like goldsmithery and ceramics.

They Developed the ability to carve pieces in gold, bone and glass, in a variety of jewelry such as necklaces, rings, bracelets.

They Also worked silver and copper with gold alloys, and the use of hammering techniques on metals.

As for the ceramics, it highlighted the polychromy, with the use of colors like red, orange, black and white.

With a Zapotec and Teotihuacan inspiration, they made glasses, lids, jugs, plates, vases with zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures.


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