Message #109 From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG To: "'Matthias Giessler'" Date: Tue, 17 Mar 1998 Subject: Yaquis become Fariseos [ AzTeC / SWA SASIG ] : Yaquis become Fariseos Francisco Miguel, 18, is spending Lent suffering for the Lord. On Ash Wednesday, he left his parents' home dressed in white pants and a white shirt with a goatskin mask covering his face and head, rattles laced over his ankles and a belt of clattering animal hooves. Miguel is a Fariseo, or Pharisee, for Lent. He is one of several hundred Sonoran men -- Yaqui, Mayo and Yori (or non-Indian) -- who follow the punishing Indian tradition. http://www.azcentral.com/news/0317goatface.shtml Yaquis become Fariseos At Lent, men don goat masks, leave families to find where Jesus has gone By Graciela Sevilla The Arizona Republic March 17, 1998 HERMOSILLO, Sonora -- Francisco Miguel, 18, is spending Lent suffering for the Lord. Francisco Miguel, 18 (left), of Hermosillo, is spending Lent as a Fariseo. Here he portrays a soldier trying to find Jesus. On Ash Wednesday, he left his parents' home dressed in white pants and a white shirt with a goatskin mask covering his face and head, rattles laced over his ankles and a belt of clattering animal hooves. For 40 days he cannot eat or talk between breakfast and sundown, when he takes off his mask. All day long, the crucifix of his homemade rosary is in his mouth as he prays silently. At night, he sleeps under a cold desert sky on hard-packed earth. Guarding him, Yaqui Indian elders make sure he doesn't seek the comfort of a blanket. "He is fulfilling a promise to God," says Antonio Badilla, a Yaqui elder. "From the first moment when he put on the mask, he lost his mother, his father, his family. He belongs to God." Miguel is a Fariseo, or Pharisee, for Lent. He is one of several hundred Sonoran men -- Yaqui, Mayo and Yori (or non-Indian) -- who follow the punishing Indian tradition. Some might call it a big sacrifice, but Fariseos consider their ritual a blessing. For them it's devotional payback for an answered prayer. "I was hit by a car while crossing the street when I was 15. My mother prayed for my broken leg to be healed so I could walk again. When it did, she promised me to God as a Fariseo," Miguel explained one evening after sunset. Like all Fariseos, Miguel made his own ritual attire, crafting a mask from goat hide, painted wood and cardboard. He also carved and painted a walking stick and a dagger that he clacks together and uses as pointers to "speak" to his fellow Fariseos. This year, Miguel is completing a three-year vow, but some Fariseos make a lifetime promise. Jose Ubaldo Chavez, a 38-year-old construction worker, has been a Fariseo for the past 23 years. When he was a child, doctors wanted to operate to cure him of a stomach ailment. But when his grandmother prayed, the swelling and pain disappeared. At age 15, he was handed over to a Fariseo "capitan" for training. "My vow is for life. As long as I'm in good health I can't break my promise," he said. Only men can be Fariseos. When most Indians were farmers, hunters or shepherds, it was customary for them to abandon their work to carry out a 40-day pledge. But many Fariseos today work for wages, and increasingly tradition bends to necessity. Chavez has a wife and two daughters to support, so he is a full-time Fariseo only during Holy Week. That's when he leaves home to join a Yaqui ceremonial camp. "We live off charity," Chavez says, explaining that most Fariseos must beg for coins to buy food or depend on donated meals. In the city of Hermosillo, a band of 20 Fariseos from the Mayo Indian communities in Sinaloa state stand out from the crowd as they pair up to work the downtown shopping district. Outside the municipal mercado, Manuel Padilla, a 58-year-old farmer, wears an all-fur mask and shakes red-painted gourd rattles while his sandaled feet stomp-dance to a drumbeat played by his Fariseo companion, Ubaldo Valenzuela, a 53-year-old truck driver. Padilla holds out a plastic container to the shoppers who pause to watch. Some send their awe-struck children to drop coins into his collection cup. "On a good day we collect 50 pesos," less than $6, Padilla says through his mask. "The people in Hermosillo are kind and generous." An old man passing by accuses Padilla of being a fake. "Fariseos are supposed to be silent," he scolds. But Padilla explains that Mayos don't follow the Yaqui rule of silence. There are other differences. Yaqui Fariseos don't dance, and they are also forbidden to visit the cities of plenty. "We're not allowed to go downtown because there are lots of women and temptations. There are sidewalks that would make walking more comfortable. We have to stay in our community where there is no pavement. We have to rough it," Chavez said, sitting in the dirt-poor Yaqui settlement Ejido Sarmiento. But there is more than one way to keep a holy bargain. Fariseo traditions vary from one community to the next, but all follow Friday afternoon rituals when they meet at ceremonial grounds and re-enact the Roman soldiers' search for Jesus. There are three such ceremonial sites in and around Hermosillo, where perhaps 100 Fariseos will participate. For the ritual the Fariseos are accompanied by a ceremonial battalion that includes flag bearers, soldiers, a drummer, a flute player and the captains. On a recent Friday at Ejido Sarmiento, a group of two dozen women sang solemn prayers as they walked the Stations of the Cross. Following 20 paces behind were Miguel and a second Fariseo who stopped at each crude wooden cross to dig at the ground and sniff the dirt as if looking for Jesus' fresh footsteps. "It is a very sacred ceremony that we follow very diligently based on the Bible," Jose Matus, a Yaqui from Tucson, explained of the ritual. "Every Friday, we trace the Stations of the Cross in a procession." For Miguel and the other Fariseos, their days of sacrifice end on Holy Saturday, when they will burn all traces of their ritual in a bonfire that consumes their homemade masks and colorful wooden staffs. "It's very beautiful tradition, and it feels very good to have all evil erased from one's thoughts," says Chavez. "We make a promise to suffer for the Lord."