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The Mayos in Sonora
 Page updated on 03.10.2015
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The Mayos
butterfly cocoons tied together to accentuate the music while tied to the legs
The Yoremes are the descendants of the ancient populations of the Huatabampo culture. They carry the cultural traditions of Sonora.
It is the most important ethnic group in the state. The population is estimated to 75,000 inhabitants. They still speak their dialect. So they differ from the other Indigenous communities that tend to speak Spanish.

They call themselves « Yoreme » or « The one who respects the tradition » in opposition to the « Yori » - «the one who doesn’t respect the tradition ».

Left picture : butterfly cocoons tied together to accentuate the music while tied to the legs

According to the legend, the word Mayo means « the people of the River ».

The Mayo region is located in the south part of Sonora. The communities live in the municipalities of Alamos, Quiriego, Navojoa, Etchojoa and Huatabampo.
It is said that the Mayos are part of the Yaquis communities because of their language with roots from the Yaqui and Guarijio dialect.
They have docilely listened to the Spanish evangelic teachers and they learned, at the same time, how to farm and breed domestic animals.
They now built houses in « adobe » (big clay and straw bricks) or ladrillos (red bricks). The ceilings are made of carrizo (bamboo branches) covered with clay and straw glue together.

Mayos crossesYou can often see their houses adorned with a cross made of palofierro (iron tree) in order to protect them from evil.
Craft is not a fundamental activity in the Mayo economy. They make objects for domestic usage.
They make blankets, weaved wool rugs, water clay pitchers, wicker baskets with different forms and music instruments such as harp and violin.

   Right picture : Mayos crosses

Nature remains their guide and it shows in their rituals, songs and dances, especially in the dance of the « venado » (deer) and the « pascola ». They keep wearing traditional clothes during the rituals and celebrations. These traditional clothes preserve this special relationship with the world of supernatural and magic.

   Below picture : costume of Mayo dances

costume of Mayo dances
Diverse masks with horsehair, the belt of « cascabel » (rattle snake) in metal and ankle braces made of butterfly cocoons filled with pebbles (tenaboim) to imitate the noise of the cascabel complete their clothes.

Mayo dance costumeRight picture : Mayo dance costume

One of their saying is « God created gold for the Yoris and the tools for the Yoremes ». The nature remains their mentor.
They have a very rich culture of traditional medicine practiced by the curanderos or curanderas in every community. They use plants but also amulets. Their cures are a mix of faith and magic.
In order to protect these traditions, the Sonora authorities of popular culture organizes meetings of traditional medicines. Exclusive helps have been put in place by botanic gardens to help preserving the endangered medicinal plants. They also have herbalist stores where you can buy medicinal plants.

The ceremonies of the Yoremes are very important. Almost every celebration is linked to the Catholic Church and the liturgical calendars.
The most important celebrations are the Semana Santa, Santísima Trinidad, San José, San Ignacio de Loyola, la Santa Cruz, Virgen de Guadalupe, Día de Muertos and Lent.

flag of the Mayo celebrations

Left picture : flag of the Mayo celebrations








Mayo headgears



   Right picture : Mayo headgears






sierra de Sonora

Left picture : Sierra de Sonora








village of Arizpe in Sonora


    Right picture : village of Arizpe in Sonora









Text prepared by Marie Resplandy, founder and manager of the French-Mexican Association AFG AC, official correspondent in Sonora for France Expatriate and consular delegate for the General Consulate France in Mexico, living always in the state of Sonora since more than 10 years.
Link Asociacion French-Mexican AFG AC   : www.lsiaug.net/afg/                                  
French General Consulate in Mexico   : www.consulfrance-mexico.org/

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