Heritage, Volume 04, Number 03, Winter 1986

tion, some for the social activity, and still
others because some close friend or relative
is one of the characters.
It might be added parenthetically that
the report from San Antonio does not indicate
such dedication. The editor of Los
Pastores of that city speaks in the introduction
of the hundreds who attend at
the beginning of the play. He says beginning
because the spectators are anxious to
say that they have seen the play. However,
they generally do not wait for the
end. It is too long and too complicated,
he says, so they quit. But the actors go on
because for them it is an act of worship, a
devoci6n, as they call it.
Returning to Martell, he said that the
whole play is given from memory, although
there is a prompter in the tradition
of the Spanish theater; he stands by
with the script ready to give the lines at
any moment. In the small places the shepherds
are apt to join in with the devils in
reciting what should be the more stirring
passages. The result in most cases is much
noise and confusion instead of the original
effect intended.
Martell mentioned other plays and
coloquios that had been current in his native
state of San Luis Potosi. He named
specifically Coloquio del rey Herodias (Play
of King Herod), Adan y Eva (Adam and
Eve) and Coloquio de Dimas el buen ladron
(Play of Dimas the Good Thief).
One Saltillo-based cuaderno seems to
be a cycle. Vito Alessio Robles in his
book Saltillo en la historia y en la leyenda
(Saltillo in History and Legend), as he
writes of that city in the eighteenth century,
states, "From Saltillo radiated all
commercial, military and evengelical activities
of the provinces of Coahuila,
Nuevo Leon, Texas, and a large portion
of Nueva Vizcaya."
The other plays from Mexico that have
been published and have come to my attention
are Coloquio de pastores del hijo
prodigo (Shepherds' Play of the Prodigal
Son), edited by George Barker and published
by the University of California
Press in 1954, and Coloquio de los pastores
(Shepherds' Play), edited by Stanley Linn
Rebe and also published by the University
of California Press in 1954. Both of these
plays are from the state of Jalisco in Mexico.
In the book The Native Theater in
Middle America by Gustavo Correa et al.,
and published in 1961 by the Middle
American Research Institute, Tulane

Angel Gabriel with Gila. Taken by Capt. John G.
Bourke, 1893. Copied from Los Pastores by
M. R. Cole; Memoirs of the American Folklore
Society, Vol. IX, Boston, MA, 1907. Courtesy of
the Institute of Texan Cultures.

University, New Orleans, the authors cite
various passages found in the Mexican
pastorelas.
A great deal has been written on the
shepherds' plays of New Mexico, and one
that I wish to mention is Coloquio de los
pastores, edited by Aurora White, and
published by New Mexico Folk Lore,
Santa Fe Press in 1940. A California
Christmas play called simply Los pastores
was edited by Maria Lopez de Lowther
and pubished by the Homer H. Boelther
Lithography, Hollywood, California (no
date). In 1923 the Sociedad de Edicion y
de Libreria Franco Americana, S. A.,
Mexico, D. F., published a "cuanderno
pastoril" entitled La noche mas venturosa
(Most Happy Night), by Don J. F. de L.
(Pensador Mexicano), presumably Joaquin
Fernandez de Lizardi.
These pastorelas in all cases have definite
links with the earliest developments
of the Christmas plays in Spain, beginning
with the first known anonymous
work El auto de los reyes magos (The Play of
the Wise Men). This tradition is continued
through Gonzalo de Berceo with
his Milagros de la Virgen (Miracles of the
Virgin), Juan del Encina with his Eglogas
and Lucas Fernandez with his Farsas
(farces) and Eglogas (ecologues). An excellent
detailed study of this influence is
included in The Pastorela: The Missionary's
Medium for Religious Instruction by Sister
Carmela Montalvo. This was done first by

Photo of the character Luzbel. Taken by Elicson
Photography, San Antonio, Texas. Courtesy of
the Institute of Texan Cultures.

Sister Carmela as her master's thesis at
Texas Woman's University in 1974. Later
in that year it was prepared in a bound
photocopy edition with photographs by
the Mexican American Cultural Center
of San Antonio, Texas. It has not been
published in a printed edition.
In this study Sister Carmela, in addition
to research into links with Spanish
peninsular literature, has made a detailed
comparison of the three Texas pastorelas
with the one from Saltillo, Mexico. Another
section of her investigations examines
the use made by the missionaries of
these plays in bringing the Christian story
to the indigenous populations of Mexico.
As the Spanish conquistadors pushed
their way across the lands of the vast new
world, the missionaries were there with
them. Dramatic representations of the
great events of the Christian faith had
been used for centuries in Europe, and
the padres had a ready-made store of
material at hand in the autos (plays) of
seventeenth- and eighteenth-century
Spain. The priests quite naturally adapted
these to suit their own conditions, and
Motolinia describes an auto with the title
of Adan y Eva that was put on in the city
of Tlaxcala as early as 1539, in his Historia
de los indios de las Nueva Espafia, MexContinued
on page 42 9

Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 04, Number 03, Winter 1986. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45440/. Accessed October 1, 2014.