The Legend of Princess Donaji

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.55.24 PM By Frances Lopez (age 11)

Once upon a time in the beautiful hills of Oaxaca, hidden in the lush forest was the palace of the great Zapotec king. His daughter, princess Donaji went every morning to stroll through the forest and listen to the birds with the extraordinary feathers sing. One day she discovered a stream that soon became a river and as she walked along the river she saw a silver sheet of water cascading over a beautiful rock. Today this rock is known as Guela Bupu. Every morning thereafter Princess Donaji would go to a cave that was hidden behind the waterfall and bathe.

Some days she would keep on walking beyond her wondrous waterfall to seek more, one day she went so far she became very tired. She decided to rest at the foot of a green, mossy tree and fell into a deep sleep. While she was sleeping, she was discovered by a Castillian captain who silently watched and admired her. When she awoke she was startled by the white man and she set off running back to the palace. The next day she went out for her stroll to her waterfall, Guela Bupu. Upon her return she came across the white stranger again.

“Yesterday beautiful stranger when I saw you I could hardly believe you were real. I have travelled across the ocean to seek new lands. But when I saw you I knew my higher purpose.” And he knelt before her. Princess Donaji had no idea what he was saying.

But she enjoyed the sweet sound of his voice and the smile he wore was universal. “Diux, Hello” Responded Princess Donaji as she knelt downbeside him. They both laughed. “Padelii? Where are you from?” she persisted in Zapotec. The handsome visitor understood nothing but there was a kindness in her eyes. They spent the day walking and swimming near Guela Bupu, communicating with hand gestures and smiles.

By the end of the day when the moon was starting to rise, despite their differences in language, the friendliness and the admiration between them showed love.

When Donaji returned to the palace and shared her extraordinary adventure with her parents, the King and Queen forbid her from seeing the man again. Princess Donaji begged her parents to let her marry him but the permission was not granted. They had already arranged a marriage with a dark brave warrior, well known to his people. Princess Donaji swore that she would die before marrying anyone but the white man that she loved so dearly.

Filled with tears of sadness Princess Donaji walked to her stream, to her waterfall, to the beautiful Guela Bupu. She climbed a peak, threw herself off the rocks and fell rapidly towards her death.

Legend now has it that you can sometimes see a golden goblet floating in Guela Bupu. It is said to contain Donaji’s heart which has become a symbol of a brave and loving Zapotec heart.

There are many versions of the story of Princess Donaji. Each year this legend is reenacted during Oaxaca’s Guelagetza.

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