Tzantzismo was a cultural movement from Ecuador’s 1960s. It was founded in Quito by Marco Muñoz and Ulises Estrella, while the rest of the members came together throughout the decade. They were influenced by other Ecuadorian intellectuals such as Jorge Enrique Adoum, César Dávila Andrade and Agustín Cueva. Tzantzismo was expressed primarily in poetry, and to a lesser extent in fiction and theater. This literary revolutionary movement emerged in response to an alleged degradation and gentrification of Ecuadorian literature. An important book on the movement’s history was written by author Susana Freire García.
Its members, called Tzántzicos (English: Shrinkers of heads) began to meet at the home of the painter Eliza Aliz (birth name Elizabeth Rumazo) and her husband, the Cuban painter René Aliz. Later the Tzántzicos would meet on Friday nights at the Águila de Oro Cafeteria, which they renamed 77 Cafetería, to have discussions about poetry, politics and other cultural issues.
In 1962, Ulises Estrella and the Argentine poet Leandro Katz co-wrote a book of poetry entitled Clamor, which marked the birth of Tzantzismo. The first Tzántzico Manifesto was signed on August 27, 1962 by Marco Muñoz, Alfonso Murriagui, Simón Corral, Teodoro Murillo, Euler Granda and Ulises Estrella.
The Tzántzicos had a revolutionary attitude both in their art and in their policies. One of the main representatives of the movement is probably Raúl Arias, whose collection of poetry Poesia en bicicleta is considered one of the best examples of Tzantzismo. The movement was dissolved in 1969, due to ideological differences between its founders.
The Tzántzico term or name comes from the Shuar language: “maker of tzantzas”, which means to cut and shrink the head of an enemy to show it outside as a sign of victory and power.
Documentary about the Tzántzicos
Alfonso Murriagui speaks about the Tzántzicos
Notable members of the Tzántzico group:
- Abdón Ubidia (Quito, 1944)
- Agustín Cueva (Ibarra, 1937)
- Alejandro Moreano (Quito, 1945)
- Alfonso Murriágui (Quito, 1929)
- Álvaro Juan Félix
- Antonio Ordóñez (Quito, 1943)
- Bolívar Echeverría (Riobamba, 1941)
- Euler Granda (Riobamba, 1935)
- Fernando Tinajero (Quito, 1980)
- Francisco Proaño Arandi (Cuenca, 1944)
- Humberto Vinueza (Guayaquil, 1942)
- Iván Carvajal (San Gabriel, 1948)
- Iván egüez (Quito, 1944)
- José Ron
- José Corral
- Leandro Katz (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1938)
- Luis Corral
- Marco Muñoz
- Marco Velasco
- Rafael Larrea
- Raúl Arias (Quito, 1943)
- Simón Corral (1946)
- Sonia Romo Verdesoto, the movement’s only female member.
- Teodoro Murillo (1944)
- Ulises Estrella (1939)
The Tzántzico cultural movement has a prominent role in the novel La disfiguración Silva, published in 2015 by the Ecuadorian writer Mónica Ojeda and winner of the ALBA Narrative Award. In the book, the protagonists obtain an enigmatic script for a film supposedly written by Gianella Silva, a screenwriter and the only woman member of the Tzántzico cultural movement, who history had forgotten.