Patzcuaro is a city in a region of the state of Michoacan (see map) that is now famous for its towns of artisans. But of course it wasn’t always that way.
Patzcuaro used to be the capital of the Tarasco (now the Purepecha) people from about AD 1325-1400. After the death of their king, Tariacuri, the area became a 3-part league which was able to resist repeated Aztec attacks. Is that why they seemed content to accept the Spanish arriving in 1522? The Spanish returned to stay in 1529 under the leadership of Nuno de Guzman who turned out to be a vicious conquistador.
Six years of brutality under Guzman ended when the colonial government recalled him to Spain where he was arrested and locked up for the rest of his life. As Guzman’s replacement, Bishop Vasco de Quiroga arrived from Mexico City where he was a respected judge and cleric. Big mess to clean up after Guzman, but he did a fantastic job and will go down in history as a game-changer. He arrived in 1536. He established village co-operatives based on ‘Utopia’.
Education was encouraged, and agricultural self sufficiency all around the Patzcuaro area. All villagers were expected to contribute equally to the community. Quiroga helped each village develop their own craft specialty which is why this area, to this day, is full of artisan villages known for copper, or musical instrument making, or mask making. I’ll share about a few of them in following posts. On copper. And furniture making.
Nearly everyday we enjoyed wandering thru the main market near the plaza in Patzcuaro, sampling different Mexican cuisine and produce, people-watching, and Layne shopping for gifts. We ate too much because the food was so good. We are tired of tacos, but we found much more variety here.
GPS Waypoint for La Pozo RV Park in Patzcuaro N 19.54679 W 101.60098