Psalms, Stories and Music

SR 017CD SR 017CD

2008 reissue of these field recordings made by Thierry Zéno in the Tzotzile community in Chiapas, Mexico, originally released by Sub Rosa in 1999. This is a unique document that includes rare ritual music, psalms, dialogue and stories of revolt from the last descendents of the Mayan culture. For the past 20 years, Belgian author and filmmaker Thierry Zéno has regularly visited the Tzotzile community that can be heard on this record, archiving and filming. Because he is accepted as "the man who makes pictures," and has made a point of showing the preceding year's film on each of his visits, he has compiled a survey of prime importance. A few of the most important rituals in the life of this community are offered here -- including the music for the Day of the Dead, the music heralding All Saints' Day, The Transfer of Power (chant of authority changing hands), sanctifying rituals, some dialogue in the language of the Maya, field recordings of Christmas night and Carnival and a fragment of speech of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. Who are the Tzotziles? Some 150,000 Tzotziles live in the high plateaus in the state of Chiapas. They form, with the Tzeltales, a closely-related tribe, one of the most prominent Indian communities in Mexico. Of Mayan extraction, they retain a traditional life comparatively devoid of Hispanic influence. The Tzotzile religion is a syncretic fusion of Christianity that was imposed on them and their surviving ancestral beliefs. They venerate not only heaven and earth, but also the statues of the saints that are believed to be more than idols with non-Indian faces. They dress them up in clothes and jewels, wreathe them in flowers, burn incense to them, cover them in oil and make offerings of alcohol, and, more recently, of Coca-Cola and Pepsi -- the most expensive of drinks. The traditional Tzotzile orchestra is made up of instruments of their own fabrication -- harps, guitars, drums, little fiddles, and water pipes that mimic bird song. An incredibly important and poignant release, documenting the patchwork remnants of a completely unique culture that still exists beyond time and recollection.