Sunday, February 14, 2010

Maguey and Los Otomies

I'm reading a report from the Washington State University Laboratory of Anthropology written in 1969. The title is: Los Otomies : papers from the Ixmiquilpan Field School / edited by H. Russell Bernard. It is the Laboratory's Report of Investigations ; no. 46. I upgraded the cataloging of this report while working as a Washington State Library cataloger so I knew of its existence and knew that I would find it interesting to read. The report contains papers by anthropology students who attended the WSU Field School in Ethnology and Linguistics where they studied the culture of the Otomi people, an indigenous group who live in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico. I was interested because of the descriptions of agriculture as well as the descriptions of the diet of this group.

One of the papers entitled San Andres : land, produce, and power in an Otomi village / by Daniel Early is especially informative with illustrations of farm equipment, plates which further illustrate techniques and demonstrations of tools developed for various agricultural and harvest needs. There is also a good description on how Maguey (agave) is grown, the use of the leaves for fiber, how agua miel is harvested and how pulque is made from agua miel. I found the paper fascinating and thought of other books that I have in my own library that provide more information on Maguey. Now I am looking at a map of Mexico and comparing it to the areas of Mexico written about in the series Cocina indigena y popular (series published by Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes). If I do not have the book from that series about that area I will try to find one that covers the land closest to or including the Otomies' land. I also have Tequila : a natural and cultural history / by Ana Guadalupe Valenzuela-Zapata and Gary Paul Nabhan. I will be re-reading sections looking for more information on the agriculture of Maguey and of this area.

Sounds like a good project to start on, researching traditional agriculture and uses of Maguey. I will report back when I have more information.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Kate,

    In my search from English resources of the Otomi culture, I got to find your post and I must thank you because now I am downloading the laboratory reports, which i am looking forward to read.

    I also would like to make a brief comment, my grand father (otomi) masters the treatment of Maguey and therefore extraction of aguamiel and elaboration of pulque. the Maguey is rather different from the Agave which tequila is extracted from. Both look pretty similar, only that their color is slightly different, the agave is kind of blue.
    I am delighted to find people interested in Mexican culture across the net.

    Best wishes,