Legends
Narrative

La Mujer Dormida – “The Sleeping Woman”

Informant: Maria Burguete. 20 years old. Born and raised in Mexico City.  Maria learned this legend from her parents and in sixth grade Mexican History class. Mexican history class introduced Maria to several myths, legends, and stories of the land.

Informant:

Original: “En la Ciudad de México hay dos volcanes: Popocatéptl y la Mujer Dormida. Su historia es fascinante. En Tlaxcala había una hermosa princesa llamada Iztaccíhuatl. El poderoso guerrero Popocatéptl se enamoró de ella y los dos se profesaron su amor. Desafortunadamente, el ejército Tlaxcalteca necesitaba a Popocatéptl para pelear contra los Aztecas. Popocatéptl le pidió al padre de ella por su mano, y el aceptó su propuesta pero con la única condición de que regresara victoriosamente. Popocatéptl aceptó y se fue a la guerra. Iztaccíhuatl esperó a Popocateptl por mucho tiempo pero la guerra continuaba. En Tlaxcala había otro hombre enamorado de Iztaccíhuatl. Por sus celos, inventó que Popocatéptl había sido derrotado y asesinado. Iztaccíhuatl estaba derrotada. No podía parar de llorar y murió de tristeza. Popocatéptl regresó de la guerra victoriosamente y con muchas ganas de ver a su prometida. Al ver que ella había muerto, Popocatéptl la cargo en sus brazos y la llevo hasta la cima de una montaña. Popocatéptl la acostó en el suelo y la beso. Al ver el poderoso amor, los dioses los cubrieron en nieve y los convirtieron en volcanes para que siempre estuvieran juntos y su amor estuviara conectado por el resto de los tiempos. Por eso, los volcanes se ven así ahora. Iztaccíhuatl está acostada en forma de mujer dormida y Popocatéptl es un volcán activo que tira humo y fuego por la perdida de su amada.

Translation:

In Mexico City there are two volcanoes: Popocatéptl and “The Sleeping Woman” and their story is fascinating. A long time ago there was a war between Los Aztecas and Los Tlaxcaltecas. In Tlaxcala, there was a beautiful princess named Iztaccíhuatl. The powerful warrior Popocatéptl fell in love with her and they both professed their love. Unfortunately, the Tlaxcaltec army needed Popocatéptl to fight against the Aztecs. Popocatéptl asked her father for her hand, and he accepted the proposal on the only condition that he return victoriously from the battle. Popocatépt accepted and went to war. lIztaccíhuatl waited for Popocatéptl for a long time but the war continued. In Tlaxcala, there was another man in love with Iztaccíhuatl. Due to his jealousy, he invented that Popocatéptl had been defeated and assassinated. Iztaccíhuatl was heartbroken. She could not stop crying and died of sadness. Popocatéptl returned from the war victoriously and very eager to see his fiancée. After seeing that she had died, Popocatéptl took her in his arms and carried her to the summit of a mountain. Popocatéptl laid her down on the floor and kissed her. Seeing their powerful love, the gods covered them in snow and turned them into volcanoes so that they would always be together and their love would be connected for the rest of the times. That’s why the volcanoes look like that now. Iztaccíhuatl is lying in the form of a sleeping woman and Popocatéptl is an active volcano that erupts smoke and fire for the loss of her beloved.

Thoughts: Living in Mexico City, the volcanoes are prominent objects in the landscape. In my opinion, this is one of Mexico’s most beloved legends due to its symbolism of love and its accurate description of the shapes. Ever since I was little, I have only called the Iztaccíhuatl volcano “La Mujer Dormida” or “The Sleeping Woman.” I would often ask my parents why the volcano was called as such and they used to give me a similar version of the story. In our sixth grade Mexican History class, a version of this legend was told. Of course, some of the details are not exact and the story has not kept the same narrative. For example, I remember that Popocatéptl ate a torch on fire to kill himself and then the gods transformed them into volcanoes. Although at times the narrative is different, the legend keeps the same symbolism and story. The legend has truth to it because it incorporates real tribes and real people. The magical part of the legend is something the Aztecs really believed in. They believed that the gods had a powerful effect on their lives; as a consequence, it makes sense that this legend was created. By teaching it and reinforcing it in schools, I believe that the legend will not be lost.

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