Historical Origin of Pillaro Devil´s Dance
In many societies the festivities that are celebrated at certain dates of the year, are to commemorate events that happened in the past. So celebrations are to keep them alive. One clear examples of this is the Diablada de Píllaro.
Píllaro, a city characterized by large indigenous uprisings, has caused all its historical information to disappear. In the uprising in 1898, where the natives threw themselves on the city and the Municipality, in San Juan Square they started a bonfire and in it, they threw all the documents, old and of that time that the Cabildo had. Valuable documents were reduced to ashes, thus losing the story of Píllaro.
That is the reason there is no document that gives faith when the fest of the devils (Diablada de Píllaro) started. Several researchers have tried to find the true origin of the party, in which they give many interpretations depending on the people and the site where the research was done.
Some Interpretations of how the Diablada started
- One of them refers, “to the fight between two villages, those of Marcos Espinel, men went to court the women of Tunguipamba. The parents and brothers of these women once they knew about such a procession wanted to give a warning to the men; they found no better way and taking advantage of the darkness they disguised themselves in masks, resembling a devil. “
- Another indicates that; “In the late 1940s, before the earthquake of August 5, 1949, the LEGION, represented by the most ingenious thing the human mind could develop, emerged as the innocent fest. The Cyclops, the Goblin, the Death, the Soul, the Snore Box, the Two Faces, the Mad Widow, the Uñaguille (baby devil) and the Devil. Many claim that this last personage was taken to give origin to the Devils of Píllaro (Diablada de Píllaro)”.
- “At the beginning of the new year, coinciding with the fest of the innocent, the inhabitants of Píllaro believe that the sky opens and they perform a rite where they reach the limit of their understanding, their power of resistance and mentality. They think that this practice gives them strength and supernatural powers; disguise themselves and wear a mask like the one they fear the most, they dance to mock, thinking with this they will have control over the evil one. “
- “The first inhabitants of the Republic of Bolivia, especially those from the “Alto” that were of Mitimae origin, traveled throughout the American continent, many left for the south and the north. Surely some group should have settled in what is now part of the canton Píllaro, there is the coincidence of the climate, its dance of the devils and the similarity in the colors of their flags.
- “At the beginning of the Festival of Flowers and Fruits, in the fifties, a delegation of the National Ballet of Bolivia participated in the parade, representing the Diablada del Carnaval de Oruro (Oruro Devils Dance). Surely some elements of such representation were taken and imitated, since this celebration is attended by many people from Píllaro, because of its proximity to Ambato. “
- “In the Festival of the Innocents that takes place from December 28 to January 6 of each year, the people of the villages and communities formed comparsas (a type of parade) and people danced to the sound of the band through the main streets of this town, accompanied by Guarichas, Capariches and a Devil, the same one who was in charge of making way with his whip to let through his comparsa.
Source: Taken interviews to elder people who know much about this tradition.
The “Fiesta” today
The Diablada de Píllaro has surpassed the community nucleus since groups of people from different communities, neighborhoods or hamlets, as well as from rural parishes, take part. The Diablos of Píllaro on their festivity that takes place from the first to the six of January of each year. Agglutinate to the Pillareño town with the participation of men and women of different ages and social condition. There is no prohibition for anyone to disguise themselves as devil.
For the Diablada de Píllaro the comunities organize with several months of anticipation, to look for the band of musicians that will accompany to the dancers; and make the masks.
Each troupe of devils with their respective village band that come from the parishes and rural hamlets at noon to the center of Píllaro, must dance two laps around the central park, after that they go to the place of rest that the organizers requested with anticipation.
The Diablos de Píllaro are the popular characters of this party, who wear special attire whose work takes a lot of time and effort. Animal´s horns and teeth adds the grace to the atisanally elaborated masks. Then painted, with several colors highlighting the black and red.
Their clothing consists of multicolored clothes.
Many wear cloaks with different legends alluding the devil. Black sneakers, ¾ with golden fringes, skin color socks, blouse or red shirt, a cloak, a whip (acial), like intimidating the spectadors.
Music and Dance
Parade dancing to the sound of a town band, following the rhythms of Sanjuanitos, Saltashpas tunes and Pasacalles. This comparsa ends with the Guarichas and Capariches.
Tradition tells that those who dress as devils must do it for 7 consecutive years, so that strange things do not happen to them. Like the well-known 7 steps that are part of the devil dancing ritual, this year (2017) was implemented 5 additional steps to this dance.
The components of the Diablada de Píllaro
El Cabecilla (the ringleader).- It is the person in charge of organizing in your community the participants, with a lot of time in advance.
The Capariche .- Goes before the comparsa, with a broom, sweeping the streets and the feet of the people who are watching. This character is in decline, because few people disguise themselves of that.
Los Lineas.– Men and women, who wear formal dress, representing the upper social class of the time.
La Guaricha.- A man or woman, with a white dress, a mesh mask, a hat, and a doll in his arms. They dance indifferently, dance with the spectators and giving them a glass of liquor.The doll represents a child, implying that he/she is a single mother and that the father of the child is the one who is watching.
La Banda.- The ones in charge of putting the rhythm of the dance, of them depends all the folklor that can show the comparsa. Each comparsa dances with its band, for that reason they are contracted with much anticipation.
Los Diablos.– They dance indifferently by the sides of the “Lineas”, every time the band stops singing the music, they shout “band” asking for music. Another one of their shouts is “achachay”, meaning that they have come out of hell and they feel cold.
All this takes place from January 1 to 6, and was declared an INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE, in January 2009, by the Ministry of Culture.
Other “Diabladas” of the region
- Diablada of Oruro in Bolivia
- Diablada of Puno in South Perú
- Diablada of Bellavista inPerú
- Diablos of Naiguatá in Venezuela
- Diablos of Chuao in Venezuela
- Diablos of Yare in Venezuela
- Diablada of the Feast of the Tirana in Chile.