Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dancing Devils of Chuao

Every year on the Feast of Corpus Christi, sacred brotherhoods in 14 Venezuelan towns and villages act out a centuries old tradition of devil dancing that was brought to these shores from Spain but which grew to incorporate the slaves' defiance and rejection of being left outside the church during the Sunday mass.

San Francisco de Yare, with its red devils, is the best known of these towns but the famous coastal cacao plantation of Chuao has the most interesting expression of the tradition due to the village's extreme isolation and its preservation of ancient traditions.

A former slave plantation once owned by the family of Simon Bolivar, Chuao is reached only by boat or after a two-day walk across the mountains of the Henri Pittier National Park along the mule track to Maracay, which is still used today to transport the finest cocoa beans grown in Venezuela.

The video shows the devils dancing in front of the church to the rhythm of the drum and later to the cuatro, after they have been blessed by the Catholic priest.

This is just the merest glimpse of a magical experience. In truth, the dancing devils of Chuao deserve an hour long documentary on the BBC.

Click here for an article on the Dancing Devils of Yare in literature

Click here for an article on how the Dancing Devils of Yare came to wear their distinctive red outfits

Chuao: In Search of World's Finest Cocoa Beans

Willie's Wonky Chocolate Factory brings Venezuelan cacao to the UK

New Channel 4 Series: "Raising the Bar: Willie's Chocolate Revolution"


Unknown said...

Cool Vid [;

yeah, not really.
-Sierra Jade

Alas de mariposa said...

Mi pais lindo!!! muchas gracias por escribir de ese pedacito lindo de tierra que tanto tanto tanto extraño....
Chuao, en negro juan, el negro rubio.. y muchos amigos dejé en ese sitio tan lindo como lo es chuao..
Un besito.. y nuevamente.. gracias.