PhillyFolk Artists

Brujo de la Mancha

Danza Azteca, Aztec Clothing, Tlapizcalli clay flutes

Brujo de la Mancha is a multidisciplinary, self-taught artist specializing in danza azteca. In 2003, he co-founded the Ollin Yoliztli Calmecac, an Aztec dance troupe and non-profit organization in Philadelphia with the mission to “investigate, understand, and raise awareness of the Mexicayotl culture, which flourished in Mexico prior to the arrival of the Spanish in 1492.”

Brujo was born in Mexico City to a family of both Spanish and Mexican Indigenous ancestry. During his childhood, he visited his father’s home near Xico in Veracruz, Mexico. There he was introduced to the cultural influences of the surviving Mayan, Olmec, Aztec, and Cathloic cultures, where he saw traditional farming and popular crafts as representations and expressions of the life of indigenous Mexican people. His paternal grandmother, who spoke Nahuatl, Tojolabal, and Spanish was particularly influential in his development as a tradition-bearer.

In 1998, he continued his family experience by moving to Philadelphia. He won a grant from The Institute for Cultural Partnership to learn how to make Tlapizcalli clay flutes, with the Master Xavier Quijas Yxayotl. In 2014, he received a Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts to study traditional Aztec dance and the sewing of elaborate, detailed regalia or costumes with master artist, Roberto Franco Totokani. From these classes he went on to make a clay instrument called Ehekachiktli, the dead whistle, used by the Aztecs during war to frighten their opponents. Today, the artist’s full-time job is traveling from town to town across Pennsylvania, educating both Hispanics and non-Hispanics alike on Aztec culture and Mexican identity in the 21st century.