National Geographic : 1978 May
preparing unconsciously for a part-time oc cupation in their adult life. In the same village I visited Don Teodoro, a creator of "devils." This unusual craft was born in Ocumicho some twenty years ago, but because the innovator died violently, some families have misgivings about "devil making." Far from fearing his devils, Don Teodoro finds roguish enjoyment in them. Invented, molded, fired, and painted in gar ish colors by him and his family, the devils are insolent and insouciant. They prance, romp, laugh at the spectator, causing amusement rather than the fear of hellfire. Don Teodoro pointed to a gleeful demon surrounded by dozens of placid faces-ap parently the not-too-anguished family of the damned. In another tableau a fiend gloated, his oversize red tongue hanging out, as the Virgin of Guadalupe cowered in terror by his side. Nevertheless, Don Teodoro's fam ily is a pious one, and they see no conflict be tween their faith and their devils, which burst with tenderness and humanity, and, above all, with the humor that characterizes much Mexican folk art. Animals, Dancers, and Acrobats Cavort For almost 3,000 years before the Spanish conquest, Indian crafts were noted for hu mor and strong ties to the supernatural. Some of the earliest clay figurines from Tla tilco, now overspread by Mexico City, are frolicsome creatures from daily life-ani mals, dancers, acrobats-done in a casual, vivid style, yet tied to magic and religion.