Xtaxkgakget Makgkaxtlawana: the Centre for Indigenous Arts and its contribution to safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage of the Totonac people of Veracruz, Mexico


Selected in 2012 on the Best Safeguarding Practices

© Cumbre Tajin, 2011
The Center for Indigenous Arts was designed as a response to a long-term desire of the Totonac people to create an educational institution to transmit their teachings, art, values and culture, while also providing favourable conditions for indigenous creators to develop their art. The structure of the centre represents a traditional settlement comprising house-schools, with each ‘House’ specialized in one of the Totonac arts for apprentices to follow, such as pottery, textiles, paintings, art of healing, traditional dance, music, theatre and cuisine. At the ‘House of Elders’, students acquire the essential values of the Totonac and an orientation in the meaning of creative practice. The transmission of knowledge is integral and holistic. The house-schools embrace creative practice as something intrinsically linked to its spiritual nature. The centre proposes cultural regeneration, revitalizing the Totonac cultural practices through such means as the use of the Totonac language as the vehicle for teaching, the recovery of forgotten traditional techniques, artistic production, reestablishment of traditional governing bodies and reforestation of the plants and trees needed for cultural practice. The centre also promotes ongoing cooperation with creators and cultural agencies from other states of the country and from around the world.