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Photographs of Los Voladores de Papantla at HemisFair’68 added to the General Photograph Collection

April 22, 2022

Special Collections recently acquired photographs by San Antonio CPA and hobbyist photographer James F. Bartlett (1920-2004), gift of Gerron Hite.  Bartlett made the photographic prints, dating from the 1960s and 1970s, in his darkroom.  Subjects include the missions and other local tourist sites, North Star Mall, and HemisFair’68.  Of special interest is a series of images of the performance of Los Voladores de Papantla at HemisFair’68.

Totonac men from Papantla, Veracruz, Mexico, performed the ancient Mesoamerican Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the Flyers) as part of the Frito-Lay / Pepsi-Cola entry at the fair.  The ritual took place in an amphitheater with a 410-foot pole from which four of the participants, with ropes tied to themselves, descended headfirst to the ground in a ceremony created to appease the gods and bring rain.  In addition to Los Voladores, there was a reenactment of an Aztec ritual human sacrifice by another group.

Jose Villanueva de la Cruz, el caporal (chief) of
Los Voladores de Papantla, with the flute and small
drum he used while dancing on top of the pole.  (122-0050-01)

The Frito-Lay / Pepsi-Cola “Aztec Amphitheater” as seen from the Tower of the Americas. 
Voladores, wearing embroidered Totonac clothing with intricate symbols and sun headdresses, perform a dance to bless their flight before four of them and the chief climb the pole. 
One of the voladores climbs to the top of the pole (122-0051-02)
As the captain performs the “Son del Vuelo” (Flight Song) at the top of the pole, four voladores, with one foot tied to a rope and another around their waist, prepare to jump backward in unison to begin their descent.  (122-0051-03)

The voladores spin round and round to the ground in a representation of the
recreation of the world and regeneration of life (122-0051-04) 
Other Papantla dancers give thanks for the safe return of the flying men by
creating a human whirlwind on pinwheel spokes (122-0051-14)

Reenactment of an Aztec sacrifice of a maiden princess following the
Danza de Los Voladores de Papantla. (122-0052-07)

Reenactor in Aztec inspired costume.  (122-0052-10)
2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 22, 2022 12:02 pm

    Reblogged this on stillness of heart.

  2. Sandra L Merrifield permalink
    April 22, 2022 7:05 pm

    How exciting! These are wonderful photographs. Thank you so much for posting them. I’m forwarding this on to many friends who will be interested.

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