Chamula Dolls

The series “chamula dolls” operates as an open interrogation of Spanish colonial history using the objet trouvé as graphic commentary of the spheres of power and race in the history of Mexico. The sculptural compositions can be viewed just for their aesthetic value or analyzed from their origin within their historical, symbolic and anthropological significance.

These Mexican dolls come from the indigenous community of San Juan Chamula, in the state of Chiapas. The crafting of these dolls and their church, one of the best examples of prehispanic and colonial syncretism, has made the community a tourist attraction. To enter the church you have to pay a entrance fee, inside figures of saints are dressed in the traditional chamula costumes which are extremely radical for Catholicism, with mirrors in their chests to reflect any curses thrown at them. Their altar is made of random offerings wrapped up with Christmas lights into a giant hanging ball, and Coke is considered sacred since burping is viewed as a cleanse that expels the evil spirits from the body. The rituals performed inside are a collage of catholic, prehispanic, and shamanic traditions, (photographing them is strictly forbidden). These might seem like a short story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but far from magical realism, this community stands as an exception to the norm that they can only achieve because they are practically autonomous. The community is known for its insurgence, hermetic local rule, and their aggressiveness (not even the police dares to enter their township)

Ironically enough their frightful reputation and craftsmanship has attracted the tourism that sustains the economy of the town. In a way this community has been able to achieve the respect and independence that has reverted the oppression imposed on indigenous peoples for centuries. The series attempts to illustrate in a symbolical manner how hierarchies established in colonial times through race and class are still prevalent in modern Mexico.



La colonia



San Juan Chamula