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Los Tianguis

Cultura Latina

Los Tianguis

There are customs in Mexico that have been preserved for centuries although they have adapted to the modern world; one of them is the “Tianguis”.

These epicenters of commerce and the exchange of products were the precursors of markets. Since our country is so rich in flavors, colors, and aromas, it is not uncommon for the culture that surrounds us to be so, the “tianguis” are the proof of it. Etymologically, this word comes from tiyānquiztli and means market. The main characteristic of the “tianguis” is that they are located in a semi-fixed way between the streets and during certain days according to the uses and customs of each population;  here the local community acquires products, food, clothing, and more.

According to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (NIAH), there are still today tianguis of pre-Hispanic origin, this is the case of the market of Cuetzalan (Puebla), Tianguistengo and Otumba (State of Mexico) , Tenejapa and San Juan Chamula (Chiapas), Chilapa (Guerrero), Zacualpan de Amilpas (Morelos), or Ixmiquilpan (Hidalgo). Food is a basic need of every living thing, and the ways in which people obtain food have evolved over time.

We have gone from being hunters to being traders, building an economic system to meet our basic needs. Suppliers and consumers are integrated into this system. Trade has developed in all cultures of the world and in Mexico it has taken place in these spaces called “tianguis”. In pre-Hispanic times, the need for food led to activities where certain products were exchanged for other products: bartering. Along with this system, cocoa was used as a bargaining chip because it was so valuable, at the same level as copper tools. Who were present in the tianguis? The natives, of course.

The market began by placing the products offered on the floor on carpet; thus, those interested could observe and acquire what they needed. These spaces where the daily life of peoples their essence and their interaction coexist, are the only ones that the Spanish conquest could not defeat. Globalization either. 

They survived colonization and came to this day for precisely the same reason that they are still in effect: they are means of exchange of products, from the most basic to the most refined.


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