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Democracy

Tehuantepec’s (or more accurately Juchitán's) Liberal and democratic traditions made this isthmian cultural archetype appear even more desirable and viable in post-revolutionary Mexico. Miguel Covarrubias’s Mexico South, written during the 2nd world war, contains frequent references to these democratic traditions.

How, then, was Tehuantepec “consumed” in post-revolutionary Mexico ?

José Vasconcelos

Although interested in the mythic possibilities of the Isthmus, José Vasconcelos was even more intrigued by the example Tehuantepec offered of the civilised Indian-Mestizo.  Tehuantepec appealed to Vasconcelos precisely because it was not too Indian, yet Indian enough to invigorate the largely Hispano-mestiza “national” raza.  In the libidinous Isthmus of Tehuantepec -  “ (where)….no yearning of the flesh went unsatisfied…Tehuantepec’s mestizos…are the most sculpturally handsome and sensual of America” - Vasconcelos’s “raza cósmica”,  a hybrid master race, could be already found in a mature state of development:

The Tehuanas, Vasconcelos wrote in his autobiography, possess

“….an exotic appeal unequalled anywhere in the world….Dressed in red and yellow, with white head-dresses, slim shoulders and waists, wide hips, firm breasts and black eyes, those women possess something of sensual India, but without the religiousness.”

Painters

In “The creation of a Symbol” Aida Sierra confirms that it was José Vasconcelos who convinced Robert Montenegro and Diego Rivera to travel to Tehuantepec to be able to enhance the “national” content of their mural paintings.  Apart from following their employer’s view of the national, Montenegro and Rivera could also find in Tehuantepec the primitive that Gauguin found in the South Seas.

Roberto Montenegro, Portrait of Rosa Rolando 1926

Roberto Montenegro, Maya Women 1926

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