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New Outdoor Photo Exhibit to Honor San Miguel’s Guardians of Culture

Humildad Damián making Ceremonial tortillas

Chuchín Morales devotee of the Lord of Conquest

Marker of the stars for the Alborada

Mónico Ramírez Preserver the tradition or organizing the recreation of the Fiesta of St. Michael the Archangel

By Jesús Aguado

Pueblo de los Indios de las Chichimecas—most likely the original settlement of San Miguel de Allende—was established by the Catholic friar Juan de San Miguel 475 years ago among Chichimeca tribe members. The descendants of those original inhabitants, as well as the descendants of the colonial Spaniards who founded the later site of San Miguel de Allende (known then as San Miguel el Grande), gave us the traditions and culture that permeate the San Miguel we have today.

A new exhibit opening on January 22 in the Plaza Cívica and on calles Juárez and San Francisco will display several photos in large-print format on cubic structures, documenting and honoring these guardians of San Miguel’s culture, who preserve its traditions in Sanmiguelenses’ collective memory.

In a real sense, these traditions—and the descendants who preserved, and in some cases, recovered them—are greatly responsible for San Miguel de Allende’s significance to tourism, to México, and to world history. San Miguel’s guardians of culture and tradition led the way to convincing the United Nations to declare the city a World Heritage Site and for luring the thousands of visitors and new residents who flock here every year to soak in the flavor of an older México and expect to see those traditions enacted annually.

These culture guardians still remember how to make the old-fashioned ceremonial tortillas by hand—bearing a stamped saint; they also remember how to make an offering to the four winds; they remember and preserve knowledge of indigenous gods and goddesses, of the spiritual meaning to their ancestors of dance and nature. This exhibit, put on by the city, celebrates them all.


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