The Vernacular House of Mexico

Vernacular  house  in  Mexico  is  diverse,  due  to the  territorial extension  where  it expands  and  the  diverse  existing  indigenous groups.  The  house  that  was analyzed  corresponds  to  the  central area,  that  was  dominated  by  the  Aztec culture.  Today,  the  house of  this  region  is  characterized  by  a series  of  spaces  with  a residential  or  a  complementary  use.  Thus  the  most important  space is  the  space  to  sleep,  because  it  has  a  symbolic  sense,  as shown below.  From  a  field  survey  it  was  determined  that  100%  of  the visited houses display this architectonic space.

Kitchen  represents  the  second  most  important  space  for  the inhabitants.  It appears  generally  separated  from  the space for  sleep. Hundred  percent of  the groups of the visited houses had this space. These two spaces constitute properly the house. There are also other spaces that complement the traditional rural house.

The first complementary space of a group of houses is the barn that is named zincolote, in Nahuatl language. This element was found in 85% of the groups of the houses. Another space is the machero, and is used to keep animals, bovine, horses or mules, and 37.5% of the groups of houses had one of this space.

Lambs are placed in a complementary space named corral. This element was found in only 47.5% of the cases. Another complementary and traditional space is the hen house that was observed in 25% of the houses. The patio (courtyard) appeared in 100% of the cases and it represents the organizing space of the group of houses.

The contemporary concept of bathroom does not exist in the traditional housing. According to the residents, the space for physiological needs was just the backyard. Thus, the presence of latrines is only 37.5%. Influence of contemporary toilet (bathroom) is low and just 25% of houses had one. On the other hand, toilet was found in just 37% of the houses, but it refers just to a water case. Another important element that characterizes theses groups of houses is the washing area. It contains a sink and next to the sink a small water tank. This complementary space was found in 97% of the traditional groups of houses.

Rituals were taken into account to relate vernacular space with pre-Hispanic influences. Regarding the room or aposento, it was found that 100% of the population performs rituals at the beginning of the construction. The most significant ritual consisted of burials. 

It was found that burials were carried out at the four corners of the room in 83% of the cases. Another ritual consists of throwing coins in the excavation made for the foundation. This event takes place in each of the four corners of what will be the aposento and this ritual was observed in 83% of the cases.

Another ritual consists of burying a palm cross at the center of the aposento, at the beginning of the construction. This was done by 75% of the population. It was observed also, that 50% of the population buried pictures of Catholic saints and throw holy water at the four corners that limited the room. There are many other rituals, but quantitatively, the most significant were described above. Each ritual may also have a different meaning, but for half of the population, the rituals are performed to ask for protection.
The Vernacular House of Mexico Floor plan and facade of a Mexican vernacular house
Altar gets a symbolic sense when sacred images with photos of relatives are placed on it. The most significant ritual in 100% of inhabitants is to place an offering on the day of the dead. Because of the sacred meaning of the altar, 100% of the inhabitants give it some meaning.

As shown by the numbers, there exist symbolic elements that give the space a symbolic character that is expressed in the rituals and their meaning.

The origin of these rituals goes back to the pre-Hispanic times. Based on the findings and contributions of Lopez Morales and Rappoport, an analogy can be made with the concept of sacred space of pre-Hispanic Mexico.

According to the Nahuatl world view, it can be said that the spatial structure of the pre-Hispanic world was based on the four children of Ometeotl (following Leon Portilla), who represents the four directions of the universe, that are defined by the location of each one of the children in the corresponding quadrant of each of the solar orientations. The intersection of these four directions determines the navel of the moon, the center of the world.

It was found that rituals are performed in the four corners of the asposento, as shown in the floor plan. This corresponds to the cosmogonic concept and the representation of the same in the pre-Hispanic codices.
The Vernacular House of Mexico Floor Plan Floor  plan  of  the  main  room  of  a  Mexican  vernacular  house.  At  the center a palm cross is buried as part of a ritual.
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