Arts & Entertainment

Tzeltal people dance to attract rain in southeastern Mexico

Las Rosas, Mexico, Feb 20 (EFE).- For over 100 years, the inhabitants of the city of Las Rosas, known as Pinola in pre-Hispanic times, in southeast Mexico’s Chiapas state, have dressed in traditional costumes and danced to the sound of the marimba to San Miguel Arcángel for good rains.

This year too, the participants have come out in the streets with full fervor.

The original costume of the Tancoy carnival, held between Feb. 17 to 23, is composed of boots, leggings, black pants, black jacket, tie, a cardboard mask with Spanish features and a bandana.

The Tancoy, a Mayan word, means “ash falls” and alludes to the eve of Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent.

It is also a satire, depicting soldiers as followers of the revolutionary Francisco “Pancho” Villa (1878-1923), who arrived in the state of Chiapas between 1914 and 1920, as shown in the photo album preserved by the municipal authority.

The dance is performed by the Tzeltal people, whose forefathers arrived in Chiapas in search of fertile land.

The participants, most of whom are sugar cane workers, dance to ask for a good harvest.

Dressed as soldiers, they also wear many brightly colored necklaces, carry an aluminum rattle, and have cowbells tied to the ankle that can be heard several meters away. They also carry a backpack with food and drinks.

“This is a municipality that has begun to restore that tradition that seemed to fade away with the passage of time,” Emanuel Velasco, a dancer and historian of Las Rosas or Pinola, as many inhabitants still call it, told EFE.

“This festival has a history of more than 100 years…(however) it gained strength from 1950, that is, 30 years after the arrival of the followers of the revolutionary, Villa,” he explained.

The festival “is a mockery of the white man, who came to destroy the region,” Velasco added.

Jesús Pérez Velazco’s family has been taking part in this tradition for generations.

“I started when I was 7 or 8 years old when my uncles and aunts taught me how to dance. I am the son of a traditional tancoy and he also taught me, he took me by the hand to the park at first with an outfit made out of a white blanket and a cardboard mask,” the dancer said. EFE


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