Psalms, stories and music

Recorded by Thierry Zeno



SR17 - CD

Recorded in San Pedro Chenalho, Mexico,
between 1975-92 & 1995-96.

When the sun is out, our ancestors played the drums and the bugle. They asked Jesus to let them live. Our fathers and mothers said a bird would come and put us to death. If the sun went out, our chickens and turkeys would eat us...

Some 150.000 Tzotziles live in the high plateaus in the state of Chiapas. They form, with the Tzeltales, a closely related tribe, one of the most prominent Indian communities in Mexico. Of Mayan extraction, they retain a traditional life comparatively devoid of hispanic influence. The Chenalho community is made up of 18.000 Tzotziles and 2.000 Ladinos (hispanisized half breeds).

The Tzotzile religion is a syncretic fusion of Christianity which was imposed on them and their surviving ancestral beliefs. They venerate not only heaven and earth, but also the statues of the saints which are believed to be more than idols with non-Indian faces. They dress them up in their cloths and jewels, wreath them in flowers, burn incense to them, cover them in oil and make offerings of alcohol, and, more recently, of Coca-cola and Pepsi... which are in fact the most expensive of drinks.

The traditional Tzotzile orchestra is made up of instruments of their own fabrication -harps, guitars, drums, little fiddles, and water pipes that mimic bird song.


01 Traditional Feast Day Music [Part One] 2:25

All Saints' Day

02 The Old Sexton's Story 2:40
03 Music Heralding All Saints' Day 2:45
04 Fire Works, Bells, Voices And Drums 1:05
05 Bells On The Night Of October 2:05
The Transfer Of Power
06 Rapid Chant Of Authority Changing Hands 4:25
07 Slow Chant Of Authority Changing Hands 2:30
08 The Elder's Chant 1:40

Christmas Night

09 The Arrival Of Totziles 2:45
10 Music In Celebration Of The Christmas Holiday 1:55
11 The Sexton's Dance 1:10
12 Long Litany Inhaled And Exhaled During An Ordinary Service 2:30

Sanctifying Rituals
13 The Sanctification Of A Church 3:25
14 The Sanctification Of A House 2:10
15 Margarita And Antonio 1:40
16 Ilol - The Shaman 2:10

Carnival Music
17 Music Of The Carnival - Fanfare 1:30
18 Trumpet, Flute And Little Drum 1:40
19 Voices And Music At Night 2:30
20 The Chant Of The Blacks 0:40

21 Speech Of July 27, 1996 By Major Anna-Maria 2:20
22 An Interview With Commandant David 2:30
23 Traditional Feast Day Music [Part Two] 2:50