A profusion of figures - turtles, deer, scorpions, rabbits, and birds - in multicolored cross-stitching completely cover the woven poncho, bell-shaped skirt, and petob, a traditional headdress stitched to the hair. The Huastecans, or Teenek, as they call themselves, embroider their clothing with traditional symbols of their mythology: the animals are the environment and family relations, the tree is life, and the star is the for cardinal points. The figures also reflect the Toltec's reverence for nature. All reflect the lives of the indigenous people of Hidalgo - a centrally located, relatively small state with a kaleidoscopic landscape.
The Huastecos take their name from the flat, low, hot and humid northern region where they live called the huasteca. This indigenous group occupies parts of Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosi, Hidalgo, and Veracruz. Nearer to the coast, robust inhabitants of the thick forests and rugged mountains, the Huastecos enjoy a profusion of rivers and waterfalls, cultivating rich soil, breeding livestock of excellent quality, and selling fruit and fresh fish -- both of which abound. The Huastecos have the reputation of being as tough as the terrain they live on, and when they find free time, being equally lighthearted and tempestuous.
The Otomi occupy various areas of the country, but are concentrated in the states of Mexico, Hidalgo, Puebla, Tlaxcala and Veracruz. Many Otomies live in poverty on the dry and temperate Palquera Highland Plateau. Here, they turn to the poor soil for both shelter and sustenance. They build their homes from the large spiny leaves of the maguey (also called agave) which grows there in profusion, and cultivate the plant to produce pulque.
Pulque, a potent alcoholic drink made from fermented maguey sap, has been part of the Mexican culture since pre-Hispanic times. The inhabitants of this region also consume manuey grubs called chinicuiles, as well as ants' eggs known as escamoles.
Hidalgo is a major provider of manganese, a mineral used to prevent the corrosion of steel and in the manufacture of batteries, for all of Mexico. Other abundant minerals are iron and zinc, along with lead, gold, and silver ore. Opals, semi-precious stones, are mined in Hidalgo, and the state also quarries stone and marble.
In the southern city of Tula, oil is refined and electrical energy generated. But the more impressive attraction is Los Atlantes de Tula, giant stone figures that represent the warrior-priests who served as protectors and guides for the Toltecs, an ancient culture of widespread influence.
Did you know...?
During the 19th century, this territory formed part of the state of Mexico; however, to resolve problems of governance, on January 16th, 1860, President Benito Juárez decreed that the northern area would form a state in its own right. The state is named after the man who began Mexico's struggle for independence, father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla.