In the west, he visited two tribes the Mixtecas and the Triquis. The latter are a branch of the former, but much different, living in round bamboo huts, surprisingly like those of some African tribes. He secured two excellent casts of the Triquis, and three of the Mixtecas. He intended to take five of each tribe he visited, but his plaster failed to arrive.
Few people in Mexico are so little known as the Triquis. Orozco y Berra, usually a good authority, locates them near Tehuantepec, in the low country. The towns which he calls Triqui are Chontal; the five true Triqui towns are in the high Mixteca. The largest is the town which we were now approaching.
Approaching the nearest of them, the regidor politely asked her to step up and be measured. We were not, however, dealing with Triquis. The women of Tehuantepec are certainly the heads of their houses; the men occupy but an inferior position. Possibly, they are really larger than their husbands, but, whether that be true or not, they give that impression to the spectator.
At first a trip was made, by horse, from Oaxaca into the Mixteca Alta, where Mixtecs and Triquis were studied. Again starting from Oaxaca, we traveled over our old trails of 1896, through the mountains to Tehuantepec, returning by the high-road in common use. Zapotecs were studied at Mitla and Tehuantepec, and the Mixes, Juaves, and Chontals in various towns and villages.
The Triquis are people of small stature, dark-brown color, black eyes, aquiline, but low and rather broad nose; they are among the most conservative, suspicious and superstitious of Mexican indians. Most of them dress in native clothing, and all speak the Triqui and not the Spanish language. As a people they are sadly degraded, through being exceptionally addicted to drink.
Don Guillermo handed me the razor, in order that I might remove the swelling, but I refused the task. The story of the child is sad. It is the son of a young indian boy and girl, not married. That would not be a serious matter among the Triquis.
We did not find in the Triquis any admixture of African blood, but it is possible the mode of house-building may have been influenced by negro example. Our first glimpse of the town suggested a veritable paradise. At eleven the sky was clear, the sun almost tropical, the whole country smiled under its warm beams; but at two there came a change.
Although we had no letter from the governor addressed to Señor Cordova, when we showed him the communications for other jefes, we were received with the greatest courtesy and everything was done to facilitate our work. We told him that we planned to visit the Triquis at Chicahuastla. He at once wrote letters to the town authorities and to Don Guillermo Murcio, living at that village.