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Sections of Tenejapa

Tenejapa, an indigenous village, is located 28 km (17.5 miles) from San Cristobal de las Casas. Only a few hundred of the total of approximately 15,000 Tzeltal-speaking natives living in the surrounding area actually inhabits the village. The tight valley where this Tzeltal community is based is marked by a limestone wall.

The village sits in a picturesque mountain valley about an hour northeast of San Cristobal de las Casas. Most residents of the community live in small hamlets ("parajes") scattered throughout the surrounding mountains and make their living by subsistence farming. There is another administrative center in Yochib, which is on the border with neighboring Cancuc. The climate is semi-tropical around Yochib, and Tenejapan farmers grow bananas, coffee, and tropical fruits in this area.

Before the arrival of the Spaniards, a group of Tzeltales settled in the present territory of the municipality. Later, the Aztecs exerted their influence in the region. The name of Tenejapa means, in náhuatl, "limestone river". From the second half of the XVI century, the settled down Dominican friars in the region made an effort to implant in Tenejapa the bases of the colonial order. In 1712, the inhabitants of the municipality participated actively in the revolt of the Tzeltales communities of the Altos. In the Census of Population taken on October 28, 1900, the town of Tenejapa is recorded with a population of 5, 842 inhabitants.

The church of San Ildelfonso, the gracious 19th century fountain in the plaza, and the ruins of the San Sebastian Church are part of the town’s cultural heritage.

In Tenejapa a humid temperate climate prevails with abundant rains in summer and cold weather in winter. There is an abundance of woolen garments woven on the back-strap loom. Tenejapa women are peerless weavers and their huipils (traditional dresses) authentic art pieces, whose motifs date back to Pre-Hispanic symbolism.

Both men and women wear traditional dress in Tenejapa. On a daily basis, women and girls do not wear their striking red and white huipils. Instead, they wear sweaters - often turtlenecks - with their indigo wrap skirts and overlapping belts. The designs on the huipils are either embroidered or woven. However, the woven huipils are much more expensive, possibly because the white cotton fabric must also be hand-woven. The embroidered huipils are crafted from commercial, counted cross-stitch material. There is a small workshop in town that produces the fabric for the skirts. A hand-woven purple and black belt holds up the skirt. Over this, women wear a wool belt that is white with thin horizontal black stripes. The men's costume comprises a black woolen tunic worn over short white trousers embroidered on the legs, and a straw hat.

The patron saint San Alonso or Ildelfonso is celebrated during the month of January and their most beautiful garments are ceremonial clothes for this celebration. The women's huipil is richly made up of white cotton cloth and decorated with woolen brocades of ocher, red and yellow tones, the threads tinted with natural dyes. The predominant shape is rhombic, symbolizing the universe. The women of Chenalhó taught the women of Tenejapa how to weave the brocaded huipil, only to be surpassed with the introduction of new designs that continue to be used.

The men's suit is composed of several garments including short cotton pants hemmed with prominent a brocaded strip with large designs and images using diamond shapes in red tones and black lines. The hat is very colorful, hand-dyed, woven and sewn with a round top and a flat, wide brim, from which fringes of colorful ribbon hang - green, orange, blue, pink, purple and red. The hat is held fastened under the jaw with a woven woolen strip from which hang beautiful tassels of the same colors. This outfit is complemented with a rosary used as a necklace, crystal beads adorned with medals and a metal cross at the center. It is a symbol of power and prestige among the religious authorities.

The population of Tenejapa has very deep rooted traditions and its Sunday market is one of the more colorful in the region. The most important celebrations are: San Ildelfonso (celebrated in January), Jesus de los Desagravios (compensation), San Santiago, Maria Magdalena, Colochín and Christmas, as well as the carnival.

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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
Ç Chiapas, Tenejapa, Indigenas - Photo by Sectur
  Chiapas, Tenejapa, Indigenes
Ç Chiapas, Tenejapa, Church of San Ildefonso - Photo by Sectur
  Chiapas, Tenejapa, Church of San Ildelfonso
Ç Chiapas, Tenejapa, Textiles - Photo by Sectur.jpg
  Chiapas, Tenejapa, Textiles
Ç Chiapas, Tenejapa, Main Plaza - Photo by Sectur
  Chiapas, Tenejapa, Main Plaza