Oaxaca's Tourist Guide
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(Click to enlarge)
Black&White photos courtesy of Vittorio D'Onofri

Zoque girl
Hiding place
Zoque children


Historical Background
The Zoque family or tribe, also called Aiyuuk, is closely related to the great Mayan-Chique family. Its main nucleus is in the State of Chiapas and Southern Tabasco. It is clear that the current nucleus residing in the Eastern Juchitan district -- from Niltepec and Tapanatepec to Chimalapa-- is a splintered group from that of Chiapas, which seems to originate in Central America. It is possible that Zoques and Mixes migrated together and separated upon arrival to Oaxacan territory.

They lived rudimentarily. Their customs, social organisation, religion beliefs, and way of life were identical to those of the Mixe community. It is believed that their social organisation was tribal in character. It is unknown if they were organised militarily, or if they engaged in war actions with their neighbours. It is understood, however, that they established various community centres, and had abundant life sustaining resources, such as fluvial systems originating from the Northern Sierra Atravezada. Sierra Atravezada is the source of a series of waterways that form the great Coatzacoalcos River, which merges with the Upper and Lower lagoons. These bodies of water are rich in fish and fowl, as well as flora, prodigious in these latitudes, and impenetrable as the fabulous African jungles. The flora is sanctuary for rich and diverse hunting game. In addition, we must mention, along with the almost endless resources, the agricultural activities that, given the type and topography of the land, must have been bountiful. It is almost a certainty that Zoque territory was the provider of basic foods (corn, beans, hot peppers, and cotton) for the Mixe, Huaves, and Zapotec communities.

Location and Environment
Zoques, a group of Mayan origin, inhabitants of the humid region of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec -- from the Western Chiapas altiplano and the northern slopes of the Chiapas Sierra -- had a more extensive distribution during Pre-Hispanic times. They even occupied the southernmost area of Sierra Atravezada, which can be observed in archaeological finds. At present, their numbers have diminished and became adepts of our consumers society. They present characteristics similar to the Isthmus Zapotecs, who submitted to Western values many centuries ago.