Zinapecuaro, Michoacan, Mexico
Zinapecuaro, in Northeastern Michoacan, has a rich and important history. The town was historically a major source of obsidian for early american indigenous empires. Now it is a source for fruit animals and home to many wonderful ceramic artists. Never the less, this area is struggling economically, POCHTECA is striving to support the artists in the region who simply want to stay at home, make beautiful ceramics and support their families.
Zinapecuaro; two Purépecha words have been suggested as possible sources of the place name Zinapécuaro: tzinapo "obsidian" or tzinápecua "healing". The obsidian quarries include one of the largest known pre-Hispanic quarries in Mesoamerica and have been exploited for nearly 4,000 years. By the time the Toltecs ruled central Mexico, about 1000 yrs ago, the mines around Zinapecuaro were the principal source of obsidian that was distributed throughout Mexico, being found as far away as Chichen Itza in the Yuacatan.
Obsidian, called itztli in the Nahuatl language, has been found at nearly every Mesoamerican archaeological site. Items made from this material had both utilitarian and ritual use. In many areas, it was available to all households regardless of socioeconomic status, and was used in hunting, agriculture, food preparation, and for many other daily activities. Obsidian was worked into a variety of tool forms, including knives, lance and projectile points, prismatic blades, general tools, and utilized flakes. Blades have been found in mixed with rabbit, rodent, and mollusk remains, indicating their use in butchery. The practical use of obsidian is obvious considering that the material can be used to make some of the sharpest edges on earth.
Around 1530, a Spanish settlement was founded at Zinapécuaro by the conquistador Don Luis Montañez. Zinapécuaro was first incorporated on 15 March 1825 as a partido in the department of Oriente in Michoacán. It became a free municipality on 5 February 1918.
Today, the area has fallen into hard times, Zinapécuaro's economy is largely dependent on foreign remittances. Fruit is produced in the area, pear, peach, plum. Wheat and maize, cattle and pigs are also raised. The area is rich in artistic talent, as shown by the ceramic contest for Michoacan.