The ceremony of the Voladores de Papantla is a cultural tradition of the Totonac people of Veracruz state. The tradition dates back to ancient times and has been passed down through the generations.
The voladores, "fliers," sometimes called hombres pajaro, "birdmen," launch themselves from the top of a pole of up to 150 feet in height, and slowly descend circling the pole.
The four voladores who descend to the ground represent the cardinal directions, and the caporal at the top of the pole represents the fifth direction (vertical), the center of the universe. The voladores perform in honor of the elements: sun, wind, earth, and water—thus honoring the earth, the passage of time and their place in the universe.
This photograph was taken during Feria del Café y del Huipil in Cuetzalan, Mexico.