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Tamaletom flyers

In this ritual brave “men – bird” descend from a trunk of 25m!

It is a ceremony that, for years, has been performed in the community of Tamaletom, municipality of Tancanhuitz. Formerly it was celebrated on March 21st, with the beginning of the astronomical year, but nowadays it is carried out throughout the year as part of the actions to promote ethnotourism in the region and preserve the customs and traditions of the Huasteca Potosina. It is also known as the “Dance of the eagle or the hawk”.

This ritual starts from the moment when a group of men go into the jungle to look for the tree known as “volantín”, which must be very tall (around 25 m) and as straight as possible. When it has been found,  men dance and ask for permission from the spirit of the tree to be cut, bless him and remove the branches. Then they drag the trunk to the place where the dance will be. While it is buried, prayers are made and a tamale called “bolim” or a chicken is placed at its base, “to bless the place and attract the attention of the gods.”

Once installed, five men (covered themselves with feathers, simulating a bird), tangle a rope to their body, while the end is tied at the tip of the trunk. At the rhythm of a drum and a reed flute, the caporal begins to dance on top (in the direction of the four cardinal points), while the other participants throw themselves upside down to undertake the fantastic flight. During the journey, the sound of the flute symbolizes the song of the birds, while the drum, the voice of the Gods. Gradually, the laps become wider giving the bird-men the opportunity to extend their arms and ask the gods for rain and their crops. When touching the ground, the four flying of Tamaletom have taken 13 laps – corresponding to the number of months of the indigenous calendar -, which adds up to 52 laps in total, the final number of weeks of our calendar!

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