Portrait Photography Workshop: Maundy Thursday in Oaxaca

Semana Santa, the Easter season in Oaxaca, is magical and mystical.  It is especially so in Teotitlan del Valle where traditional Zapotec practices blended with Catholic ritual offer photographers an exceptional workshop experience.  On the evening of Maundy Thursday, almost the entire village arrived for the five o’clock mass at the church with the overflow spilling out into the church courtyard.  Our small group came to participate and experience the ritual.

Women covered their heads with traditional fringed shawls.  Men approached the sanctuary in reverence with their heads uncovered.

Children played tag around the church courtyard tended by a mother, an aunt or an older sister.


The bejeweled horse decked out in sparkling mirrored plumage was fed fresh sweet cornstalks by mesmerized little boys.  The seasoned veterans sat on the garden wall or under the ancient tree on a comfortable bench.


After the hour-long service, after everyone stood together in reverent prayer,  the priest and church committee of volunteers led a procession around the plaza to the clanging of wood beaters on top of the church, the blast of trumpets and the rhythmic clap of drum beats.

This would go on all night at regular intervals as is this village’s custom.  On Good Friday, another procession will begin at ten o’clock in the morning with figures of Jesus and the Virgin of Soledad circling the village each in a different direction and then reuniting at the church for another mass.


Our next photography workshop is set for summer 2012: Market Towns and Artisan Villages.

3 responses to “Portrait Photography Workshop: Maundy Thursday in Oaxaca

  1. Pingback: Art of the Rebozo: Painting on Silk Oaxaca Style with Costume Designer Hilary Simon | Oaxaca Cultural Navigator : Norma Hawthorne