The Mixtec (or Mixteca) are an indigenous Mesoamerican people inhabiting the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Guerrero and Puebla in a region known as La Mixteca. The Mixtecan languages form an important branch of the Otomanguean linguistic family.

The term Mixtec ("Mixteco" in Spanish) comes from the Nahuatl word "Mixtecapan", or "place of the cloud-people". The area in which Mixtec is spoken is known as the "Mixteca". The Mixtecs call themselves "ñuu savi", "ñuu djau", "ñuu davi", "naa savi", etc., depending on the local variant of their language, the "sa'an davi", "da'an davi" or "tu'un savi".


In pre-Columbian times, the Mixtec were one of the major civilizations of Mesoamerica. Important ancient centres of the Mixtec include the ancient capital of Tilantongo, as well as the sites of Achiutla, Cuilapan, Huajuapan, Mitla, Tlaxiaco, Tututepec, Juxtlahuaca, and Yucuñudahui. The Mixtec also made major constructions at the ancient city of Monte Albán (which had originated as a Zapotec city before the Mixtec gained control of it). The work of Mixtec artisans who produced work in stone, wood, and metal were well regarded throughout ancient Mesoamerica.

The Mixtec were never conquered by the Aztecs. They put up a fierce and bloody resistance to Spanish rule until they were subdued by the Spanish and their central Mexican allies led by Pedro de Alvarado.

Today, Mixtecs have migrated to various parts of both Mexico and the United States. In recent years Mixtec Indians along with other groups like the Zapotec and Triqui have emerged as one of the largest groups of "Indians" in the United States. Large Mixtec communities exist in the border cities of Tijuana, Baja California, and San Diego, California. Mixtec communities are generally described as trans-national or trans-border because of their ability to maintain and reaffirm social ties between their native homelands and diasporic community. (See: Mixtec transnational migration.)


The Mixtec area, both historically and currently, corresponds roughly to the western half of the state of Oaxaca, with some Mixtec communities extending into the neighboring state of Puebla to the north-west and also the state of Guerrero. The Mixtec people and their homelands are often subdivided into three geographic and cultural areas: The "Mixteca Alta" or Highland Mixtec living in the mountains in, around, and to the west of the Valley of Oaxaca; the "Mixteca Baja" or Lowland Mixtec living to the north and west of these highlands, and the "Mixteca de la Costa" or Coastal Mixtec living in the southern plains and the coast of the Pacific Ocean. For most of Mixtec history the Mixteca Alta was the dominant political force, with the capitals of the Mixtec nation located in the central highlands. The valley of Oaxaca itself was often a disputed border region, sometimes dominated by the Mixtec and sometimes by their neighbors to the east, the Zapotec.

An ancient Coixtlahuaca Basin cave site known as the Colossal Natural Bridge is an important sacred place for the Mixtec.

Language, codices, and artwork

The Mixtecan languages (in their many variants) were estimated to be spoken by about 300,000 people at the end of the 20th century, although the majority of Mixtec speakers also had at least a working knowledge of the Spanish language. Some Mixtecan languages are called by names other than Mixtec, particularly Cuicatec (Cuicateco), and Triqui (or Trique).

. He successfully conquered and united most of the Mixteca region.

They were also known for their exceptional mastery of jewelry, in which gold and turquoise figure prominently. The production of Mixtec goldsmiths formed an important part of the tribute the Mixtecs had to pay to the Aztecs during parts of their history.

Further reading

* "The Mixtecs of Colonial Oaxaca" by Kevin Terraciano, Stanford University Press, 2001
* "The Mixtec Kings and Their People" by Ronald Spores, University of Oklahoma Press, 1967
*"The Cloud People: Divergent Evolution of the Mixtec and Zapotec Civilizations" , Flannery, K. and Marcus, J. (Eds.) Percheron Press, 2003.
*"Stories in Red and Black: Pictorial Histories of the Aztec and Mixtec" by Boone, E. H.,University of Texas Press, 2000.
* "Presencias de la Cultura Mixteca" (Memorias de la Primera Semana de la Cultura Mixteca), Ignacio Ortiz Castro (compilador), Universidad Tecnológica de la Mixteca, 2002.
* "La Tierra del Sol y de la Lluvia" (Memorias de la Segunda Semana de la Cultura Mixteca), Ignacio Ortiz Castro (compilador), Universidad Tecnológica de la Mixteca, 2003.
* "Personajes e Instituciones del Pueblo Mixteco" (Memorias de la Tercera Semana de la Cultura Mixteca), Ignacio Ortiz Castro (compilador), Universidad Tecnológica de la Mixteca, 2004.
* "Pasado y Presente de la Cultura Mixteca" (Memorias de la Cuarta Semana de la Cultura Mixteca), Ignacio Ortiz Castro (compilador), Universidad Tecnológica de la Mixteca, 2005.
* "Nuu Savi" (Nuu Savi - Pueblo de Lluvia), Miguel Ángel Chávez Guzman (compilador), Juxtlahuaca.org, 2005.

External links

* [http://ling.wisc.edu/~macaulay/bib.mixtec.html A Mixtec Bibliography]
* [http://www.mexicodesconocido.com/english/historia/prehispanica/detalle.cfm?idpag=2078&idsub=3&idsec=1 The Mixtec World]
* [http://virtual.utm.mx/mixteca/ Mundo Mixteca-from Universidad Tecnológica de la Mixteca (in Spanish)]
* [http://www.sil.org/mexico/mixteca/00i-mixteca.htm Mixtecan Language] (including a number of modern variants, in English and Spanish)
* [http://www.ancientscripts.com/mixtec.html Reading Ancient Scripts- (with links to Learning How to Read Mixtec Codices)]
* [http://instructional1.calstatela.edu/bevans/Art446-13-Mixtec/WebPage-Info.00001.html Other artifacts from Tomb 7 in Monte Alban]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mixtec — [mēs′tek΄] n. pl. Mixtecs or Mixtec 1. a member of an American Indian people living in the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Puebla 2. the Mixtecan language of this people …   English World dictionary

  • Mixtec — Mixtecan, adj., n. /mees tek/, n., pl. Mixtecs, (esp. collectively) Mixtec for 1. 1. a member of an Amerindian people of Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Puebla, Mexico. 2. the Oto Manguean language of the Mixtecs, consisting of a number of highly divergent …   Universalium

  • Mixtec — noun (plural Mixtec or Mixtecs) Etymology: American Spanish mixteco, from Nahuatl mixtēcatl, literally, inhabitant of Mixtlan (mountainous area of western Oaxaca), from mix cloud + tēcatl person (from) Date: 1850 1. the language of the Mixtec… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Mixtec — [ mɪstɛk] noun (plural same or Mixtecs) 1》 a member of an American Indian people of southern Mexico. 2》 the language of the Mixtec. Origin Sp., from Nahuatl mixtecah person from a cloudy place …   English new terms dictionary

  • Mixtec — /ˈmistɛk/ (say meestek) noun 1. a Native American people living in Mexico. 2. (plural Mixtec or Mixtecs) a member of this people. 3. the language of this people. –Mixtecan, adjective, noun …   Australian English dictionary

  • Mixtec — Mixtèques Répartition historique des Mixtèques Les Mixtèques (prononcer « Michtèques »), étaient un peuple mésoaméricain, dont les descendants vivent encore dans La Mixteca, zone regroupant les actuels États mexicains de Oaxaca,… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Mixtec — noun a) A Mesoamerican people who lived in southern Mexico before the rise of the Aztecs. b) A surviving descendant of this people …   Wiktionary

  • Mixtec — n. member of the Native American people primarily located in southern Mexico; language of this people …   English contemporary dictionary

  • mixtec — mix·tec …   English syllables

  • Mixtec — Mix•tec [[t]ˈmis tɛk[/t]] n. pl. tecs, (esp. collectively) tec. 1) peo a member of an American Indian people living primarily in N and W Oaxaca in Mexico 2) peo the complex of Otomanguean languages spoken by the Mixtecs • Etymology: 1840–50… …   From formal English to slang

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.