KURA^DENKA, the Footprint of the Jaguar
Author: Dagmar Reinhard
Melvin González Rojas (Kamel), alias KURA ^ DEN KA, is a member of the Boruca community and the Commission for the Heritage of these indigenous peoples. He is a notable artist who stands out for his masterful carvings and his expressive and colorful paintings. He is a Boruca Major’s son who was a prominent educator, painter, and mask sculptor.
Kamel has participated in different exhibitions, including the Art and Theater Festivals, the Festival de las Spheres, the National Theater, the Costa Rican Art Museum, and the Expotural in Madrid, Spain.
In the year 2020, Kamel, like many artists, had to reinvent himself. He put the masks and paintings aside, exchanged brushes for brushes, and began to paint murals. We found him at the new Plaza Ventanas Shopping Center in the north of Ojochal, where he was decorating a store’s interior and facade with life-size scenes of wild animals. “I learned to master brushes in huge dimensions as if they were brushes,” explains Kamel. In Ojochal, he captured a large jaguar next to a mask with a ray of sunlight shining through.
“I love cats, especially the KURA ^ (jaguar). That is why I sign my works as KURA ^ DENKA, which means “Footprint of the JAGUAR.” During the year 2020, I worked in Manuel Antonio, Jacó, Sierpe, Puerto Viejo, and other places. “I hardly had time to spend with my family in Boruca.”
Its mission is to disseminate the culture and the history of its ethnic group, spirituality, mythology, and the recovery of the Boruca language full of symbolism. “I love my culture from the depths of my roots and encourage to respect, conserve, protect nature and indigenous cultures.”
At the end of last year and to recover the traditions, the warriors carried out the traditional “Little Devils Dance,” this time without public, as they used to celebrate the festivities 30 years ago: they walked three times around the town, the neighbors watched and applauded them from their homes. And… there was no disco movil (DJ with sound equipment), which has little to see with the indigenous people’s customs.
“It is for us, the young people, to pass on the legacy that our grandparents left us to the new generations,” adds Kamel.
Congratulations to Costa Rica on its Bicentennial of Independence! From its foundation in 1821, a guideline for conduct determined that Costa Rica “recognizes and respects civil liberties, property, and other legitimate national rights of every person and any state or nation.” The country
has proven that it can live in peace, freely and democratically, even with limited economic resources and facing significant challenges while respecting the environment.
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