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Love story
of the Vanilla

   Totonac tradition  

When the Totonacs, the most artistic race of pre-Columbian America, after having sculpted the marvelous stone ornamentations of Teotihuacán, decided to settle on the coast of what is now the state of Veracruz, in the Gulf of Mexico, they had not yet practiced human sacrifice.

Pantheists by nature, lovers of beautiful and delicate things, they worshiped the sun, the wind, the water and the earth, and their offerings to the gods consisted of bouquets of flowers and incineration of "copal".

In the holocaust they killed some wild animals, but they worshiped the birds, especially the brilliant plumage that they used for the plumes of their golden "copilli".

Established in the coastal region, they constituted the kingdom of Totonacapan, one of whose capitals, in addition to Cempoala and Mixquihuican, was Papantla, which in their language means "land of the resplendent moon."

The first chiefs of that manor built shrines to their main deities, among which stood out the goddess "Tonacayohua", who was the one who took care of "planting, bread and food", and who was compared by the first chroniclers with the Ceres of The ancient Romans.

At the top of one of the highest mountains near Papantla, she had her Tonacayohua temple, whose dressing and rites were in charge of twelve young noblewomen who were especially dedicated to her since they were girls and who made a vow of chastity for life.

In the times of King Teniztli, the third of the Totonac dynasty, he had one of his wives, a girl, whom they named "Tzacopontziza" because of her unique beauty, which is equivalent to "Morning Star." And not wanting anyone to enjoy its beauty, it was consecrated to the cult of Tonacayohua.

But a young prince, called "Zkatan-oxga" (The young deer), fell in love with her. Despite the fact that she knew that such sacrilege was punishable by slitting her throat, one day when "Lucero De Alba" left the temple to collect some tortillas that she had caught to offer them to the goddess, her lover kidnapped her, fleeing with her to the most abrupt of the mountain.


But they had not gone far, when a frightful monster appeared to them, enveloping them both in waves of fire, forcing them to retreat quickly. Upon reaching the road, the angry priests were already waiting for them, and before Zkatán could say a word, he was beheaded with a single cut and the same fate befell the princess. 

Their bodies were taken still warm to the shrine, where after extracting the hearts that were placed in the votive stones of the altar of the goddess, they were thrown into a ravine.

But in the place where they were sacrificed, the little grass began to dry up as if the blood of the two victims scattered there had an evil influence. And a few months later a bush began to sprout but so prodigiously, that in a few days it rose several feet from the ground and was covered with thick foliage. 

When it reached its full growth, a climbing orchid began to be born next to its stem, which, also with astonishing speed and exuberance, threw its painstaking guides over the trunk of the bush, with such force and delicacy at the same time, that they seemed like arms. of a woman, they were fragile guides, with elegant and chiselled leaves.

The burning sun of the tropics barely penetrated the fronds of the bush, under whose protection, the orchid developed like a bride resting in the bosom of her lover, and a mountain was covered with minimal flowers and the whole place was flooded with ineffable aromas.

Attracted by so much prodigy, the priests and the people did not doubt since the blood of the two princes had transformed into a bush and an orchid and their astonishment rose to the point when the sweet-smelling flowers became long and thin pods that, when ripe, As they matured, they gave off an even more penetrating perfume, as if the innocent soul of "Morning Star" quintessenced in him the most exquisite fragrances.

The orchid was the object of reverent worship; It was declared a sacred plant and raised as a divine offering to the Totonac shrines.

Thus, from the blood of a princess, was born the "(recondite flower) and in Aztec "Tlilxóchitl" (black flower).

Written by: José de Jesús Núñez y Domingo

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