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Chiapas

Echoes of the Southeast

by José Luis Ovalle


en Español⇒

Chiapas is located in the southeastern region and is the "other" frontier of Mexico. Its name comes from the Nahuatl: Chiapan or river of Chia. Most of the state is embedded in a semi-tropical forest full of vegetation and wild life and is the home to various indigenous groups, direct descendants of the Mayan civilization that inhabited the area before the Spanish conquest.

Chiapas is sub-divided into several regions, each demarked by the most predominant indigenous group. Because of this regional and ethnic division, the state's folklore is extensive and varied. It includes several styles, most of which are reminiscent of ancient Maya rituals that have managed to survive to the present. These dances either include mocking animal moves of sounds or are still extremely religious in their themes.

The dance style follows the "son" style found in the rest of Mexico: Intricate foot stomping, partner choreography or soft, waltz-like tempos.


Dress

It would take a complete, web site to describe the immense and rich variety of daily use garb of Chiapas' ethnic diversity, not including the celebration and religious outfits.

However, what has become the traditional "Chiapas" attire is a modern creation that has captured the vivid colors of local flora against the darkness of the jungle.


Listen to the Marimba

Music for indigenous dancing is also varied, it is played on harps, flutes, wind orchestras, violins, marimbas, or plain percussion. Typical music for the Chiapas "son" is mostly played on marimbas of local manufacture.

The marimba is a percussion instrument similar to the xylophone that came from Africa into Mexico during the colonial period by the African slaves. The original instrument created the resonance with tuned water filled gourds. But the abundance of precious woods in the Chiapas and Guatemala jungles have provided the resonance bars that to the present characterize this masterful instrument. Marimbas have been the source of inspiration for many Mexican musicians, while most of Guatemala's folklore is played on them. The destiny of both locations lived a converging history some time ago.




© Copyright José Luis Ovalle, 2007 - 2017. All Rights Reserved. Derechos reservados.

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