'Uandákua Tsïuaxati/Brota la Lengua' ('The Language Springs') – Morelia, Mexico - Atlas Obscura

'Uandákua Tsïuaxati/Brota la Lengua' ('The Language Springs')

One of Mexico's few murals dedicated to an indigenous language. 


The Purépecha people (also spelled P’urhépecha and formerly known as Tarascos) are strongly associated with the state of Michoacán. Estimates put the number of Purépecha language speakers in around the 120,000s. As a language isolate, it has been the subject of many linguistic studies.

Additionally, Mexican states such as Guanajuato and Querétaro have names of Purépecha origin (“Hill of Frogs” and “Place where the Ballgame Is Played,” respectively). Ironically, Michoacán itself is of Náhuatl origin, as “Michihuacán,” or “Place of Fishermen.”

After the United Nations declared 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages, the state capital of Morelia saw an opportunity to celebrate this most representative of languages. “Uandákua Tsïuaxati / Brota la Lengua,” a collection of works by bilingual Purépecha poet Rubí Tsanda Huerta, was chosen to title the mural, and quotes from the text were incorporated in both Purépecha and Spanish. The visuals were developed by urban artist Spaik Spike.

On the mural you can find colorful fish, symbols of Michoacán’s many lakes and reputation for fishing. A man wears a bull-like figure on his back—this is the torito, which is fitted with lit fireworks to chase people on special occasions. Mother and daughter-like figures with skeletal faces represent the Purépecha Day of the Dead, known as animecha kejtzitakua.

The mother presents a viejito (from a well-known dance typical to the state) with a heart of the Purépecha flag’s tetracolor, while the girl holds a well-known María rag doll. To top it all off, another figure runs holding one of the famed guitars of the town of Paracho.

Know Before You Go

The Plaza de la Paz is public and well-lit at night, so the mural can be appreciated at any time.

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