Above: Los Matachines Dancers perform on Christmas Day in Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo. This December 12 dance continues to be performed at Jemez Pueblo.
To honor Our Lady of Guadalupe on her day, December 12, Los Matachines dance to the music of a Spanish guitar, violin, and Indian rattles. In the large plaza, the Jemez have built—especially for this feast day—a piñon bower to shelter Our Lady’s candle-surrounded picture. The whole fiesta carnivals with lively melodies, bright costumes, and fast-changing dance patterns. The 10 male dancers wear masklike headdresses, brilliant silk mantas, Spanish shawls, and crocheted leggings. The high-peaked headpieces with vivid ribbon streamers resemble a bishop’s miter. Across the front hiding the eyes is a deep bead fringe. Below this the dancer-actor ties a scarf bandit-fashion across his cheeks. Sometimes, to hold the shawls in place the dancers wear a string of tiny tin bells that tinkle out the rhythm of the dance.