Atlanta-based correspondent Brandon Christopher Hall takes us on a journey through the United States’ southern neighbor, starting in Baja California, then traveling south and east through every state and the federal district of Mexico City. Along the way he takes a look at coins from each region.
Nayarit (Free and Sovereign State of Nayarit)
Capital city: Tepic
Largest city: Tepic
Nickname: (no official nickname)
Motto: (no official motto)
Area: 10,756 square miles
Order of admission to the Federation: #28 (January 26, 1917)
Despite being one of Mexico’s smallest states, Nayarit more than makes up for its size with its big personality. The coat of arms was designed by the skilled Mexican painter Diego Rivera, who perfectly blended indigenous and European themes together throughout the emblem. This theme of combining past and present previously exhibited itself when Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem in 1882 titled The Bells of San Blas, and this conflation of historical eras is a tradition that continues in Nayarit to this day. 181 miles of coastline are available for enjoyment in Nayarit, making it a tourist powerhouse. These are but a few reasons Nayarit is a special stop on our Numismatic Tour of Mexico.
Nayarit’s land mass is broken up by the Sierra Madre Occidental, and the result is many fertile valleys. Two volcanoes are present in the state: Ceboruco and Sanganguey, with rich soil that nourishes many crops. The climate is a unique blend of tropical and temperate with moderate rainfall. There is also an archipelago called Islas Marias 70 miles off the coast, with many other notable islands that are ideal for snorkeling and diving. Beaches such as Los Ayala and Frideras are renowned for their beautiful teal waters and jungle flora, as well.
Due to the hundreds of miles of precious rainforest in Nayarit, the flora and fauna of the state reflect a tropical as well as a temperate environment. Blue agave is popularly cultivated for the production of tequila, as well as tropical fruits, tobacco, and sugar. Various cactus species thrive throughout the more arid parts of the state while pine species dot the mountains. The rare jaguarondi cat can be seen in Nayarit, along with the beautiful and intelligent lilac-crowned amazon parrot. Caymans, armadillos, ocelots, peregrine falcons, and coyotes can also be seen throughout Nayarit.
The Cora were the first recorded people to inhabit Nayarit in 5,000 B.C.E, and for thousands of years they co-existed peacefully with other tribes until the merciless Spanish conquistador Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán overthrew indigenous rule of the region. Spanish control was not tolerated for long, as indigenous revolts like those led by Tenamaxtli in the 1500s constantly plagued Spanish rule until finally in 1722 the Spanish had quelled all resistance. The capital city of Tepic was a part of Jalisco following the Mexican War of Independence until 1867, when liberal politicians finally ceded the city to Nayarit.
Although there was an overall growth in economic prosperity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries due to advancements in transportation, this prosperity became too concentrated in the hands of a few, leading to the inevitable revolution in 1910. After the revolutionary party took control, Nayarit finally began to prosper unabated, with booming industries in agriculture and tourism.
Despite the tensions of the past, indigenous and immigrant communities in Nayarit blend together quite well today, with beautiful native arts and crafts for sale to any who possess an eye for talent. Nayarit is one of the least populated states in Mexico, but that is partly due to its small size. A very popular dish is cucaraches de camaron (shrimp cockroaches), which despite a very misleading name, does not contain any cockroaches or insects. One can indulge in the history of the archaeological site known as Los Toriles, an ancient site the Náhuatl people were known to occupy as early as 300 B.C.E. The capital city of Tepic also has many attractions, and presents a variety of different architectural styles from throughout the ages due to the city having changed hands so many times.
Our numismatic journey has given us glimpses into some fine examples of Mexican coinage, and Nayarit is no exception. Modern commemoratives, including the Emblematic and Heraldic coinage series in both circulating and NCLT (non-circulating legal tender) formats, are covered in volume 2 of the Whitman Encyclopedia of Mexican Money.
The example shown here is a Proof 2007 silver 10 pesos of the Emblematic series, bearing the island of Mexcaltitlán on the reverse with the words “ESTADO DE NAYARIT” and “Isla de Mexcaltitlán.” The obverse depicts the Mexican national shield. Struck in .999 silver, it has a mintage of only 6,000 pieces, and is worth about $70. This is the second stage of the same coin in 2004 that bears the state coat of arms on the reverse side.
More numismatic adventures await us as we continue our journey to the well-known state of Jalisco.