Written in English and Spanish, this collection of tales presents a small sampling of the oral literature of the Zapotec people who live in the municipality of San Lorenzo Texmelucan, located southwest of Oaxaca City in the district of Sola de Vega, Mexico. In order to make the tales accessible to the Zapotec people, the original Zapotec is included using the practical orthography of the area.
Thirteen folktales are presented, including one with a unique style in which a Zapotec poet communicates his worldview. In addition, one chapter is a collection of forty-six proverbs portraying Zapotec wisdom in short traditional expressions about life, vices, virtues, and human relationships. A cultural sketch highlights some of the patterns that characterize the people of San Lorenzo as a cultural unit.
The author had an opportunity to spend considerable time living in San Lorenzo between 1972 and 1980 under the sponsorship of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, learning the language and the culture from the people of San Lorenzo. He collected much of the material for this project in partnership with a number of Zapotec people.