The Mexicah are the largest indigenous group in Mexico, which takes its name from them.  The Mexicah have a rich tradition of dances to celebrate the cycles of the year, the solstices equinoxes and changing of the seasons.  In fact they have a dance for nearly everything – the wind, the rain, the Earth, the Sun and so on.

The drum rhythms here are all pre-Columbian.  The conquistadores banned the playing of drums so the tradition was preserved though the playing of these rhythms on stringed instruments.  Nowadays the Mexicah and other indigenous people are permitted to play drums although they are still prohibited from performing their ceremonies in their sacred sites except under special circumstances, for example in the temple of Teotihuacan at the autumn equinox.

These rhythms of ancient Mexico are performed by Xolotl, who has devoted his life to preserving and teaching the Mexicah tradition.  He performs the traditional dances every Saturday in the Zocalo in Mexico City and travels to Europe to give workshops.  He also teaches Nahuatl (the most important native language of North America, spoken from Utah to Nicaragua) at the Institute of archaeology and anthropology in Mexico City.  You can see him dancing in the video at the top of this page.


Toteixpantiliz – Presentation

Quetzalcoatl – East

Xipe-Totec – West

Tezcatlipoca – North

Huitzilopochtli – South

Nahui Ollin – Four Movements

Tonatiuh –  Sun

Tonantzin – Earth

Ehecatl – Wind

Ontletlalli – Fire

Tochtli – Rabbit

Iztac Cuauhtli – White Eagle

Huitzilin – Hummingbird

Xochipili – Lord of Flowers

Yaotl – The Enemy