Dede Stockdell Welch

Los Matachines

I copied, in clay, the Matachines painting (first image, below) by Monica Sosaya, a Santa Fe Living Treasure, done in watercolor on leather, hand framed, that I bought at Spanish Market.  I made the clay figures in clay class and then took them home and “dressed” them with acrylic paint, beads and other materials.


Los Matachines background

The Matachin dance (danza) is a dance shared by Hispanic and Native peoples going back centuries.  The danza honors the Virgin of Guadalupe and/or describes the struggle between Christianity and the Aztecs.  The dancers’ costumes are made of rich materials such as velvet and silk.

The newest addition to the dance is the little girl figure called la Malinche.  Her name stems from the ancient records that say that she was the paramour of the conquistador Hernán Cortés.  The symbolism attached to la Malinche depends on her interpretation.  Depending on how she is seen, she can represent purity or the waxing and waning moon or the dawn and dusk.  She leads the Monarca to Christianity.

The ogress is called la Perejundia and is played by a man dressed as a woman.  In this way, the figure is assured of having both the strength of the man and the power of the woman.

The chief dancer is called “Monarca” among the Spanish and “Monanca” among the Tiwa Natives.  Monarca is easily recognized as he is the only dancer who wears solid white. 

The ogre is called Abuelo and was brought in to keep order in the dance as well as to call out the movements to the dancers.  He plays the role of dance monitor or bastonero.



I copied, in clay, a 2” x 3” bookmark for the owl and then applied clay colors.  The owl weighs about 15 pounds.

My background

I have no formal training, just an interest.  I took art history classes in high school and have been buying paintings for quite a while.  For these projects, I had an incredible clay teacher, Juanita Dunn, here in Santa Fe.  She is an artist in her own right, and I was lucky to be in her class.