Devils, archangels and other creatures from Panamá.

The origin of the Dance of the Great Devils has been lost in history. Although devils, caretos, correfuegos and other similar creatures are common to all the Iberian Peninsula, the structure of the dance know today in Panamá is of Catalonian origin (according to the Spanish folklorist Joan Amades, the oldest reference written we know are from the 12th century), but the background is as old as humanity, with elements common to all cultures: it is the eternal war between good and evil for the power, for the light, for the control of the fire needed to dominate the world. This is why the devils dance the day of the Catholic celebration of Corpus Christi, in the middle of June, with the climax of the representation at full noon the day of the northern summer solstice. Thus, devils, archangels, the sun at noon during the longest day of the year (the most powerful sun) as a trophy, a wild bull of evidently Mediterranean origin and other animals with human qualities, are used as symbols of that confrontation of good and evil, between light and darkness. That was the meaning of the dances organized by my family in Santiago de Veraguas seventy years ago. This is the meaning today in La Villa de Los Santos, Portobelo, Parita, Garachiné and all the places in Panamá, or wherever the Devils want to dominate our world. It is not a simple medieval dance as we try to rationalize. It is the expression of a fear that we all carry inside, a deep-rooted old fear of our humanity, that we can only try to evade representing it, in this case, with the dance of the devils and all those fights among good and evil. The photos from this portfolio are from the Dance of the Great Devils during the Corpus Christi celebration at La Villa de Los Santos, in Azuero, Panamá.

La Villa de Los Santos, Panamá

Photography