Readings (due October 2)


To comment on the following readings, please first indicate your name, e-mail address, and the date of your post. Then, add your comments.


Example: [E. Kintz,, 8/25]















Sandstrom, Traditional Paper Making and Paper Cult Figures of Mexico (at reserve desk)



Type your comments here . . .




[Dave Roberts,, 10-2]


1.) It is interesting that Sanstrom did not use the real names of the Nahua he studied so as to protect them from the dangers of the outside world.When did he study these people? Do these dangers still exist today? Or have these people already been modernized, industrialized, and Westernized?


2.) Be it Europe, Asia, neolithic South America, or present day United States, it seems that the peasant-elite hierarchy has maintained the same basic relationship, with peasants laboring while the elite control them by buying their resources and cheap labor.


3.) I would like to look more into the conflict between the Tlakacans and the Aztec. Why didn't the Aztec share their cotton resources? Was hording the cotton worth a blood feud? Were Tlaxacans unable to harvest cotton within their region? I would like to feel maquay sometime... I'm sure it can't be too comfortable.





[Adam Saunders,, 10-9]


1) The idea of the spirit weighs heavily in their ideology. Spirits during such events as the Nahua-Otomi Crop Fertility Ritual are represented by paper cut outs which directed by the Otomi master are cut out for each of the spirits that will be represented. Spirits represented are cut out in both female and male forms on a variety of different papers.


2) Cleanliness is also a highly depicted process of the ritual. The cleansing of various adornments especially alters is believed to be washing away any harmful spirits that may be present is necessary for harmful spirits will be attracted to the festivities due to the music and offerings that are present.


3) Harmful spirits come in many varieties one being the ejecatl. On the Nahua pantheon the ejecatl are responsible for disease, misfortune, drought, barrenness and death. These harmful form of spirit lurk about in anyplace that people my frequently visit. The ejecatl tend to prey on the weak, children, the aged or anyone else that is weakened is attacked most often.






[Steph Aquilina,, 10/9]


Alan R. Sandstrom & Pamela Effrein Sandstrom – __Traditional Papermaking and Paper Cult Figures of Mexico__


1. IDEOLOGY/SYMBOLISM: Paper figures are used to portray spirits during rituals; the power they gain is why during the ceremonies, only shamans can handle them. Altars are constructed to appeal to the spirits and contain several offerings such as food or the blood of sacrificed animals that are “fed” to the spirits by pouring them onto the paper figures or putting them into the figures’ mouths. Chants are addressed to the paper figures as the medium of communication with the selected spirits.

2. IDEOLOGY/SYMBOLISM: Paper was closely tied with the religious system, allowing for the printing of ritual instructions and theology, adorning statues and priests dressed as gods, being burned as a sacrifice and used in medical practices to fight disease and protect travelers.

3. SOCIAL CHANGE: When Cortes and his soldiers battled the Mexicans, the conquerors connected paper with other aspects of the native religion, believing it (along with temples, statues, altars and priests) must be destroyed. They felt that these sacred books were linked with the devil and must be eliminated; consequently, papers for sacrifice or adornment purposes no longer exist, and very few sheets (comparatively) have survived. -END-



(Cameron Mack,, 10/10)


Sandstrom and Sandstrom - Traditional Papermaking and Paper Cult Figures of Mexico


1. Politics: The same general principal holds true all around the world, and that is the peasant-hierarchy relationship. Whether it be Europe, Africa, or the United States, the relationship remains the same generally. The elite rulers, very similar to the ones described by Socrates, control the laboring class by purchasing their products and supplying them with minimal or average compensation. The case remains the same for a countries such as China as well.

2.Ideology: The papers are used in rituals as representations of spirits. During these rituals the altars are constructed to appeal to the spirits by offering food, blood, animals etc. in hopes of appeasing them. The figures gain power throughout the ceremony, which is the reason they can only be handled by shamans. The figures are chanted at during the ceremony and a form of communication occurs.

3. Environment: Mesoamericans proved their dominance and superiority with their use of the glyphs and papers (as John said below). I thought it was a really good point and really emphasized their progression as somewhat sophisticated societies.



[Jonathon Baker,, 10/10]

Sandstrom and Sandstrom—Traditional Papermaking and Paper Cult Figures of Mexico


1- Social Change- How neat that the paper figures are still used in rituals throughout parts of Mexico. It reminds me of when I have visited the Big Island of Hawaii and seen people leaving offerings of food and other items next to calderas and thermal vents to appease Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess.


2- Ideology- The papers are destroyed in rituals, but they are obviously cheap. This to me is interesting because in many other ancient cultures, even others in Latin America, it is very valuble things that are destroyed in the rituals. Why arent the gods gold statues being melted rather than thin paper figurines.


3- Environment- The use of paper, for figurines, as well as for codeces full of ornate glyphs, is to me truly a sign that the ancient Mesoamericans were clearly advanced. I wonder how the Spanish could be so prejudiced that they felt the need to just destroy the cultures rather then learn and make an attempt to understand them.




{Isobel Connors,, 10/10}


Sandstrom, Traditional Papermaking and Paper Cult Figures in Mexico


1. SOCIAL CHANGE: Most papermaking did not survive the Spanish conquests of Cortes because the goal of these European invaders was to destroy traditional Indian culture.


2. IDEOLOGY/SYMBOLISM: Nahua shamans often portray the ejecame--spirits associated with sickness and misfortune—because they are omnipresent spirits that need to be acknowledged.


3. IDEOLOGY/SYMBOLISM: Mictlan Tropa Ejecatl is a spirit that “rides the wind making people sick” (89) that is made from red paper, because it originated from the sun; however, the spirit now resides in the underworld.





[Elen De Oliveira,, 10/11


Sandstrom, Traditional Papermaking and Paper Cult Figures in Mexico


1. Ideology/symbolism- The paper figures give insight into the religious beliefs and traditions of the Mexican people. As Sanstrom states, knowing what the figures mean gives insight into what the rituals they are used for are all about. Also stated, these figures increase knowledge of the whole religious complex. Paper played a major role in all religious endeavors such as offerings and medical practices.


2. economics- paper is fundamental to both our society as well as that if Mexico's people. Although cheap in our culture and usually taken for granted, it is a big part of our economy, for we use some form of paper in all aspects of our daily life. The indians of middle america recognize papers importance and do not take it for granted.


3. social change- Very little of the paper has survived over time due to the invasion of the spanish conquistadors who believed that the indians had fallen into league with the devil. For this reason they destroyed all aspects of their traditional culture, much of which included paper. All sacred books were burned which provided a great loss for the community. Fortunately there are areas that continue the old rituals of paper making to this day and therefore anthropologists were able to witnessit.





Charlie Genao


1.Ideal Symbol: The paper lets you know on how religion plays an important role in the lives of Mexicans indigienous people because of the figures. change: When the Spanish arrived they destroyed most of the sacred books so the culture is lost aleast the traditional but there are a couple of people still practicing paper making which gives anthropologists something to work with.


3. I am amazed on the fact that no matter what happens to a group of people the culture never dies and the politics of the people represents a lower class and upper class hierchery.




[Lanh Nguyen,, 10/13]

Traditional Paper Making…
1.       Economics: Their economies are based on horticultural production. In all three groups the most important rituals serve to ensure crop fertility (pp. 63)
2.       Social organization: “Gods mapped out the social order according to the division of labor in the society.” Each professional group had a tutelary deity i.e. Tonantsi is the master of the seeds  (pp. 296-297)
3.       Myths/Rituals: Certain diseases were associated with specific spirits-death by certain diseases can determine the fate of the “soul” rituals were used to help cure diseases.


[Dilek Canakci,, 10/14]



Sandstrom and Sandstrom - Traditional Papermaking and Paper Cult Figures of Mexico


Politics: Through cross cultural comparison, we can see how the elite rule over the working class and never pay attention to their needs or concerns. We can relate this to America, how the president rules over the people but also never cares for the concerns of the people.


Ideology: Paper was a big part of their religious practices and moved them forward by ritualizing and looking ahead to see how burning paper may help their lives. The fear of their lives being destroyed or just further their sufferings were always there.


Ideology: The paper also symbolized the devil when the sacred books were discovered and burned which also connected to their religious rituals. Paper was something that was used in sacrificial and medical practices but it was also perceived as something evil and dangerous.



[Larkin Kimmerer,, 10-16]

Sandstrom-Traditional Papermaking and Paper Cult Figures of Mexico

1. Ideology/Religion: Shamans in Nahua culture are both regarded and feared; the same word is used for shaman and for sorcerer: a person bent on evil and a legitimate ritual specialist are the same thing.

2. Change: After the Spanish conquest, the population was reduced by 90%, and in reconstructing their own cultures, each group borrowed from the others.

3. Economics: Haciendas hired Indians to work wage labor and cattle raising on private farms, until they treated them so badly that the practice was stopped.





[Anne Kim,, 10/16]


Sandstrom, Traditional Paper Making and Paper Cult Figures of Mexico

1. I thought it was very interesting that Starr had to search far and wide to encounter papermaking. In addiiton, I thought it was interesting to discover that Starr was the first outsider to witness and describe the technique since the sixteenth century. This means that outsiders are not exposed to this particular culture of papermaking. It makes me wonder if it is supposed to be hidden.

2. When I discovered what the paper figures were used for, I thought that it was interesting because it is so different from our culture. The villages used the small statuettes in order to venerate them during elaborate rites and used them in the rituals. In our culture, that would seem odd because we are used to venerating huge golden statues or something of grandier instead of paper cut outs.

3. It was interesting to know that even if they had much information and Indian cultures was beginning to flourish, they still did not know enough and their research was not complete. This is why they went from village to village researching what each meaning of the paper cutouts were.





[Heather Warren,, 10/19]


Sandstrom, Traditional Paper Making and Paper Cult Figures of Mexico


  1. Symbolism: I thought it was definitely awesome how wide the variety of spirits that were represented. Each variation of each spirit seemed to show individualistic style.
  2. Symbolism: I also was amazed how intricate some of the paper figures were compared to others. Some looked really difficult while others were simplistic.
  3. Social Change: I was pretty impressed with how the people of the Otomi Village people were able to preserve papermaking, even when the Spanish had tried to crush all cultural practices. The method that they use to make the paper is pretty interesting too.




[Jennifer Ritzenthaler,, 10/20/07]


Traditional Papermaking


1.Ritual-It is interesting that something like paper depicting sprits is thought to be able to summon actual spirits by shamans to benefit or harm the community. Is harm only called upon by shamans to hurt those in other villages or used against certain members of the same village?

2.Economy-Some paper images are on sale in tourist markets in Mexico. Do the Mexicans mind selling an important part of their Mexican Indian religion that might be exploited or not properly respected by outsiders?

http://3.Ritual/Ideology-It" _fcksavedurl=">http://3.Ritual/Ideology-It" _fcksavedurl=">http://3.Ritual/Ideology-It" href="http://3.Ritual/Ideology-It" class="linkification-ext">3.Ritual/Ideology-It is interesting to see how the Sandstroms found out differences in Nahua, Otomi, and Tepechua Indian religion by taking a close look at the variances among the paper images that each cut.



[Shamiran Warda, 10/21]

Sandstrom, Traditional Paper Making and Paper Cult Figures of Mexico


Social Change: When the Spaniards arrived to the new world, war was often waged especially by Cortes and his soldiers. These European invaders wanted to wipe out the Indians religion and rather convert them to Christianity, thus they smashed the statues, destroyed the altars and even killed the priests. This also resulted in the destruction of paper because paper was connected to the Indians religion. In all, the Spaniards tried to wipe out the Indians’ traditional ways, thus destroying their native image and creating a new image much like their own.


Ideology/Symbolism: The Indians of Middle America have long valued paper as an important commodity. To these people, paper was offered to deities to avoid bad luck. It was part of rituals, where it was used to warn off disease. And when paper was burned it became a direct offering to the gods. In all, paper acted like a messenger or go-between, providing a medium communication between the people of this world and the spirit worlds.


Ideology/Symbolism: The whole idea about wind and Ejecatl which means “gust of wind” is another example of ideology and symbolism. The people of the Indians believe that the wind or malos aires (bad airs) causes disease, along with misfortune, drought, barrenness and death. What I found very fascinating is how the majority of Middle Eastern believe in the same thing when it comes to the wind, especially our culture group, the Assyrians. I remember when my youngest sister once got ill and how my mother would be telling my aunt that it was the wind, that the wind had got in her as if the wind was some evil spirit- odd but at the same time fascinating that different areas of the world are still somehow connected with some similar cultural beliefs. It just shows that we are not as different as we think we all are. Furthermore, the walking stick that the Indians shamans uses is another example of ideology and symbolism and when reading this section about it I noticed that this too was similar to the African culture, because they too used the walking stick as means of communicating to the spirits and so on and forth. Overall, great read and loved the pictures. -END-


[Lok Yung Yam,, 10/22]


Sandstrom, Traditional Paper Making and Paper Cult Figures of Mexico


1. Economic: I felt sorry for the Tlakacans for having to resort to wearing maquay. I think the Aztecs were jerks for allowing their differences to cause so much discomfort to the Tlakacans.


2. Economic: The economic situation reminded me of sweatshops, where a large majority of poor make a small minority very rich, and the only way this can continue is to keep the workers poor.


3. Ideology: I think the use of paper as a sacred medium was very interesting, but only because I had never heard of something like that before. I wonder why something so fragile would be considered to be spiritual.




[Kaitlyn Northrop,, ]
1.) I was intrigued that Sanstrom used made-up names for the people he studied. If he felt they were in danger at the time, wouldn’t it come out that they were who they really were?
2.) I thought it was interesting that the paper figures are still used ritually in some parts of Mexico.
3.) It was really sad to me that the papermaking did not survive long because it was the goal of the Europeans to destroy all of Indian tradition and culture.
[Nicole Rothman,, 10/22]
1. Religion paper figures show religious beliefs and traditions, by knowing the names of the figures and what they were used for we have more insight into the culture.

2. Economics- paper is a big part of our economy; we use it all the time and often take it for granted. It is more precious in the Mexican culture.

3. Social Change- it’s interesting that this tradition was preserved even when the Spanish had tried to crush a lot of the culture. This shows how important it is to the people.



[Dan Lilly,, 10/22]

Papermaking and Paper Cult Figures


RELIGION: I thought it was very strange that the Nahua recruited an Otomi shaman for one of their most lavish spiritual rituals. Foreigners usually don't have a place in rituals because they don't usually share the same beliefs, but, as Sandstrom and Sandstrom say, this must be evidence of very close intertribal relations in the are.

ECONOMICS: It just strikes me as being incredibly lucky that such ingenous people were around the natural resources required to make paper. It lasted so long as the medium of information, and we're only just now finding something more efficient in digitalization.

RELIGION: I always think tribal reasoning for bad things are more interesting than for good things. Often people throughout the world focus on a benevolent god or spirit and give thanks for good things and then simply ponder why bad things still happen. I think its interesting to believe that there actually are bad spirits riding around on the wind causing harm.




[Dan McConvey,, 10/23]

Papermaking and Paper Cult Figures




ECONOMIC ORGANIZATION : In some villages grow coffee to the exclusion of other crops. This surplus is used to obtain objects that are now valued and desired, such as steel machetes and flashlights. These western objects show the relations that are occurring between these cultures and how these native villages transformed their entire crops as to acquire some of these coveted items.



RELIGION: During the cleansing ceremonies such as the cleansing of political authorities, the paper images were eventually destroyed. It is interesting how sacred some paper was to these people and the significance of its destruction. It is interesting to compare this value on paper to Arabic culture where it can be offensive to destroy papers containing Arabic script, because it is seen as the sacred script of Allah.



SOCIAL CHANGE Paper was such a major part of the Aztec and Maya religious practices that the European invaders aimed to destroy all of it. The sacred texts were all destroyed because they carried “falsehoods of the devil”. It is interesting how the written word carries such significance in religion and that the destruction of these books means that they will never know the true extent of their loss. The culture and religion has undoubtedly undergone a significant change due to the loss of these records. It is interesting to think about what would happen if all of the texts of western religions were destroyed what would thus become of western religion.




Alfred Dilluvio 10/23


1.) The paper cult figures largely did not survive due to the Spanish wanting to destroy Indian values. Such destruction would have been particularly hurtful to the Nahua because paper represented the way information and stories, relics of cultural interaction, could be passed along.


2.) It does seem amazing to me that they were able to create and use paper so effectively. Dan mentions that it is quite remarkable that paper was the only medium of information besides oral tradition and that does seem amazing.


3.) The paper figures tell us much about the religion and traditions of the Nahua.



[Skye Naslund,, 10/23/07]

Traditional Papermaking and Paper Cult Figures

1-Otomi Indians pit religion against sorcery, regarding the two as opposites. The book talks about a religious ceremony that counteracts sorcery and diseases caused by it. Paper cutting a balance of good and harmful spirit people (24 of each) cures diseases caused by sorcery and religion triumphs.

2-The fusion of religion in traditional Nahua society was fascinating. The Apanchane or Lady of the Water, is syncrenized with John the Baptist, and for some Nahua, the two are seen as the masculine and feminine forms of the same spirit.

3-In Otomi society men and women both protect from bad spirits. In the paper cutting designs, men and women alternate to ward off judios and malos aires.





[Rebecca Coons,, 10/23/07


IDEOLOGY/SYMBOLISM: I found it interesting that during the ceremonies, only shamans can handle the paper cutouts. The idea that the spirit was contained in the figure would make it so that these are sacred objects.

SOCIAL CHANGE: I find it incredibly sad that this practice did not survive the Spanish. It is just one of a million indigenous aspects of life that was destroyed by the western world.

ENVIRONMENT: Perhaps it’s partly due to the energy savings contest here on campus, but I am impressed that the Nahua used such environmentally safe means during their ritual. I’m sure that isn’t a reason for doing it obviously, but it is good to look at the ways other cultures are able to function without relying on technology that could potentially destroy the planet. – END –