The P'urhépecha, sometimes referred to as Tarascan or Purépecha are an indigenous people centered in the northwestern region of the Mexican state
Michoacán, principally in the area of the cities of Uruapanand Patzcuaro. P'urhépecha, previously referred to as "Tarascan", is also often used as a name for the P'urhépecha languagewhich is still spoken by more than 100,000 people in Michoacán. Recent attempts have been made to introduce the instruction of the language in the local school systems.
There is an ongoing discussion about which term should be considered as the correct one. The P'urhépecha (and more recently some Spanish-speaking Mexicans) refer to themselves as "P'urhépecha". The name "Tarascan" (and its
Spanish-languageequivalent, "tarasco") comes from the word "tarascue" in their own language, which means indistinctly "father-in-law" or "brother-in-law". The Spanish took it as their name, for reasons that have been attributed to different, mostly legendary, stories. The Nahuatlname for the Tarascans was "Michhuàquê" ("those who have fish"), hence the name of the state of Michoacán.
Many traditions live on, including the "Jimbani Uexurhina" or new year that is celebrated on February 1. The celebration has traditional and
Catholicelements. The community lights a fire called the "chijpiri jimbani" or "new fire" as part of a ceremony that honors the 4 elements. Mass is also celebrated in theP'urhépecha language, and this is the feast day of Jan Jerónimo Purechécuaro. The P'urhépecha calendar had 18 months of 20 days a year with 5 additional feast days. The new year used to be celebrated on the day that the constellation Orion appeared.cite journal |last= Quintanar Hinojosa |first=Beatriz |year=2008 |month= February |title=Breves |journal=México Desconocido |volume= 372 |pages=9 |url= www.mexicodesconocido.com.mx ]
Tarascan statewere one of the pre-Columbiancivilizations of Mesoamerica. Their capital city was Tzintzuntzan. Tarascan architecture is noted for step pyramids in the shape of the letter "T". Pre-Columbian P'urhépecha artisans made feather mosaics making extensive use of hummingbirdfeathers which were a highly regarded luxury good throughout the region. The P'urhépecha were never conquered by the AztecEmpire, despite several attempts by the Mexica to do so, including a fierce war in 1479. This was probably due to the fact of P'urhépecha's knowledge of metal working, an advantage over the Mexica, and still widely regarded today, in particular their coppersmiths. Even though they were enemies, the Mexica still traded with them, mainly for copper axes.
After hearing of the
Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empireand having the native population much diminished by an epidemic of smallpox, Tangaxuan II, pledged his allegiance as a vassalof the King of Spain without a fight in 1525. A legend relates of a 16–17 year old Princess Erendiraof the P'urhépecha led her people into a fierce war against the Spanish. Using the stolen Spanish horses her people learned to ride into battle.
1530the Governor and President of the Primera Audiencia, Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán, plundered the region and ordered the execution of Tangaxuan II, provoking a chaotic situation and widespread violence.
1533the Crown sent to Michoacan the experienced "oidor" (" audiencia" judge) and later bishop, Don Vasco de Quiroga, who managed to establish a lasting colonial order.
Vasco De Quiroga
* [http://www.indigenouspeople.net/purepech.htm Purépecha Literature]
* [http://www.azteca.net/aztec/prehisp/purepec2.html Beautiful Purépecha women]
* [http://www.azteca.net/aztec/prehisp/purepech.html Purépecha mother with her son]
* [http://www.mexecri.org Learn about archaeological research with a Purépecha Community]
* [http://www.dartmouth.edu/~izapa/CS-MM-Chap.%209.htm Chap. 9: The Twilight of the Gods: The Arrival of the Purépecha] (Cycles of the Sun, Mysteries of the Moon; includes area map)
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