The house of the wind
The initiative to create an educational center of Zapotec knowledge under the impetus of the Zapotec painter-philosopher, Maestro Niceforo Urbieta Morales
By Denis Linckens, member of the International Collective of Young Francophones at the WSF 2022
The Zapotec civilization, known as the “people of the clouds”, is a matriarchal culture whose origins, located in the Valley of Oaxaca, date back more than 2000 years. Maestro Niceforo Urbieta Morales, whom we met at the World Social Forum 2022, is a painter and philosopher born in 1950 in the village of Santa Ana Zegache. Elements of Zapotec culture can be found in all of his artistic work. He has worked for several decades to make known and study the thought of his people. Only recently, during the pandemic, was born the idea of creating an educational center to teach Zapotec culture and thought, “the house of the wind”. Today, the project brings together fifteen people and a multitude of organizations to carry out this work of sharing knowledge, practices and visions of this culture through the multiple indigenous languages recognized in the Oaxaca Valley.
“The educational outlook of the original peoples has a lot to tell us”.
Dialogue, art and play are at the center of the educational process in the “house of the wind”. According to Niceforo Urbieta Morales, the world’s interest in Zapotec culture is a “threat” to it, as it is seen only through the prism of its folklore and transformed into a commercial service to please and sell to tourists. By focusing on folklore, the world deprives itself of the essential: the richness and complexity of the thought and philosophy of the Zapotec culture.
“La casa delviento” was born from the impossibility for universities to understand indigenous demands and proposals. Niceforo Urbieta Morales puts it this way:
“They didn’t understand that we don’t need schools of anthropology; that we have our own epistemological universe and it is on this universe that we want to create our own university. Moreover, we cannot speak of a university, but of udiversity or ludodiversity, because we promote constant play: dialogue. Dialogue is always a game, a game of ideas, a game of phenomena… We realized that we didn’t fit into the concept of a university, so the only recourse we had left was to start with ourselves . And from this observation, when the pandemic broke out, we started […]”.
Initiatives like this are what the world needs and should be widely supported.