Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dance of the Parachico

The state of Chiapas is full of cultural diversity in the form of indigenous people groups. One group that has caught our attention is the Zoque. Overall, they are a small indigenous group who many have never heard of. Recently we went to the Zoque Museum near Tuxtla Gutierrez. While there we learned that during the Festival of St. Sebastian, the Zoque danced the Parachico.

So we headed to the town of Chiapa de Corzo to see the dancers, hoping to learn more about the history behind the dance...

We had seen the men's costumes...with a mask that resembled a white man. But why?

And we had never seen the women's costumes. They certainly resembled traditional Spanish dresses.
And again, we asked why?

Interestingly, most people who were dressed up for the festival couldn't really tell us why. One man explained that there was a Spanish and Arab influence, which would make sense since the Moors from Northern Africa had invaded Spain in 711AD and weren't run out until 1492. There is a lot of Arab influence in Spain. And of course, Mexico was colonized by the Spanish.

Later we were able to learn more of the legend that dates back to the 1760s...

Maria de Angulo was a rich, Catholic lady of Spanish origen who lived in Guatemala. She had a son who was sick and she had been seeking anyone who could help heal him. She came all the way to Chiapas, Mexico where she found a "witch doctor" who cured her son.

A few years later a drought hit the area of Chiapas. Doña Maria returns with her servants, carrying corn, beans, fruit and vegetables. They walked through town, carrying baskets and yelling, "Para el Chico" which means "for the boy" because she was thankful for the healing of her son. In the evenings, Doña Maria's servants danced and entertained the people.

Today, the women dance in remembrance of Doña Maria and the men in remembrance of the servants.

The people were equally inquisitive of us!
Notice the "basket" that Ellie is holding. It's full of confett which the
women throw, representing the food that Doña Maria handed out.

1 comment:

  1. Super interesting. Thanks for giving us a good cultural lesson today! :) Love your blog.