Cultural Heritage

AUTHOR: Susie Atkinson
VIDEO: BallenaTales

The cultural heritage of a nation or region is not solely composed of monuments and museum collections, but also of living intangible expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants. The definition of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) is made up of oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, knowledge, and practices concerning nature and the universe, and traditional craftsmanship knowledge and techniques.

The indigenous Borucan and Rey Curre festival “The Dance of the Diablitos” (little devils) was indoctrinated by the National Commission of Intangible Cultural Heritage (CONAPACI), stating the festival as a hallmark of Costa Rican identity.

Cultural Heritage - Dance of The Diablitos

Melvin González Rojas (Kamel), a member of the Boruca community and of the Heritage Commission of these indigenous people commented: "Our community has many years to preserve this legacy that our grandparents left us, so it is up to us young people to pass it on to the new generations.

This declaration comes to reinforce the work we are doing, to give us strength at opportune moments, because at this moment the Dance of the Devils undergoes an important cultural change because our older members are no longer there, we have lost them all in the last two or three years; there are already successors who until this year will take the baton of this practice as Elder Devils or leaders who undertake the tradition, so this declaration allows us to protect our culture, tradition, meals, dances and safeguard our immaterial and spiritual practices.”

The history of the Borucan ‘Diablito’ masks began over 500 hundred years ago when created with the intent to scare the unwelcomed invaders, the Spanish conquistadors. The Borucan people were triumphant. Traditionally, the village of Boruca celebrates its victory through what they call the “Danza de Los Diablitos” from December 30 to January 2. 

In Curré, on the banks of the Terraba River, the dances are celebrated a month later, usually at the end of January. Stay tuned!

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