Oapan Nawa Folktales: Links to the Pre-Hispanic Past in a Contemporary Indian Community of Mexico.

Joanne Michel de Guerrero

PhD Thesis 2010

This is a study of folktales, referred to by the people as cuentos (stories), from the town of San Agustín Oapan in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. The study takes a close look at the function of folktales in the contemporary Indian community and how it compares to the function of myths in the pre-Hispanic past, explains why there was a decline from mythology to folklore, why the folktales are syncretic entities, and why there are similarities and differences found among them; including in their themes. It also looks to understand why the same folktales are not told among different families, examines the linguistic framing and performance of the folktales, determines their cultural relevance to the contemporary Indian community, and explains what they say about the indigenous way of life in Mexico.

Folktales from six different Oapanec families were collected in Oapan Nawa and Spanish, translated into English, and examined. Oapan folktales are unique because they are not shared between families, but do contain common themes. Some of the folktales illustrate, through there overlapping themes, characteristics of European fables which are a direct reflection of contact with the Spaniards and their religion (Catholicism), while maintaining certain aspects of the pre-Hispanic mythological tradition.

The goal of the study was to determine what if any specific links, cultural or religious, the contemporary Oapanec folktales have to pre-Hispanic Mexica-Tenochca mythology from before and up to the early 16th century.