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Sections of Amatenango del Valle

Amatenango del Valle, called in the Tzo'ontajal language "The town of women clay workers," is located on a small mound dominating a fertile valley covered with corn crops 37 Km (23 miles) from San Cristobal de Las Casas along the federal road 190 to Comitan.

It is a beautiful Tzeltal town located over an elevation with a fertile valley covered with crops, where the use of pre-Hispanic pottery techniques prevails. The town has a population of about 6600 people and it is located 1810 meters above sea level. The name of Amatenango del Valle means in Nahuatl “fortified place of fig trees,” due to the numerous wars, the towns used to be fortified. As a consequence of this, the word Tenango, meaning wall place, changed its meaning to town or place. The Tzeltales group established in the town during the pre-Columbine times and in 1486 it was invaded by Aztec troops. After the conquest of Chiapas in 1528 it was supposed to be part of Teopisca but at the end of the XVI Century it was named as we know it now.

The colonial church dominates the traditional village and orchards of this indigenous Tzetzal community, renowned for the clay pieces, which they model by hand, and fire with wood in an open pit. This shows a strongly influence of pre-Hispanic techniques.

NOTE: Due to the customs and traditions of the place it is not possible to take photographs in the church or of the saints when processions take place and if photographs of the women craft workers want to be taken, permission is required.

The Temple of San Francisco: Its origins dates back to the XVII Century, its front structure outshines many others facades in Chiapas because of its high and elegant stature. The temple has one nave and a roof with two waters.

The use of pre-Hispanic methods in the manufacture of pottery is the most important thing in Amatenango del Valle. The clay pieces are modeled by hand, and fired over wood in an open pit. This shows a strongly influence of pre-Hispanic techniques. Pots, jars, planters and zoomorphic figures are the main products of this ancient tradition, utilizing the art of mixing water and clay, shaping, drying and firing and in the primordial act of creation in Mayan cosmological vision. Also, the manufacturing of the traditional white dress called huipil with red and yellow embroidery. During a visit to Amatenango del Valle one has the opportunity to see the native women using their huipil.

Chiapas is tradition, folklore, dance and marimba music in its innumerable fairs and parties that are celebrated trough out the year in different cities in honor of their Saint.

  • January 1, New Year's Festivities, celebration of Masses, parades and fireworks.

  •  Holy Week (March or April), processions, celebration of masses throughout the state. In some towns, the burning of Judas ritual takes place - represented by paper-maché figures and cartoons of historical or contemporary personalities.

  • September 16 is National Independence Day, celebrated with the Mayor presiding over the traditional ceremony of "El Grito" (the Shout for Independence).

  • The San Francisco Religious Festivity is celebrated on October 4, in which masses are given in honor to the patron saint of this town.

  • November 1 and 2 are All Saints Day and Day of the Dead. Offerings are placed at the graves of the deceased to welcome and summon their souls, which are believed to return during these days. The offerings include traditional meals placed on altars inside the houses along with candles and flowers, or at the graves where families spend the day praying.

  • December 12 is the festival of the Patron Saint of all Mexico, the Virgin of Guadalupe celebrated with masses, serenades and pilgrimages.

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Amatenango del Valle Chiapa de Corzo
Comitan de Dominguez Palenque
San Cristobal de las Casas San Juan Chamula
Selva Lacandona Tapachula
Tenejapa Tonala
Tuxtla Gutierrez Zinacantan

Chiapas, Amatenango del Valle, Alfarera - Photo by Secretaria de Turismo de Chiapas


Amatenango del Valle, Alfarera, Craftswoman

Ç Chiapas, Amatenango del Valle, Main Plaza - Photo by Secretaria de Turismo de Chiapas
  Amatenango del Valle, Main Plaza
Ç Chiapas, Amatenango del Valle, Alfarera, Craftwoman - Photo by Secretaria de Turismo de Chiapas
  Amatenango del Valle, Alfarera, Craftswoman
Ç Chiapas, Amatenango del Valle, Ceramics - Photo by EMD Ignacio Guevara
  Chiapas, Amatenango del Valle, Ceramics

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