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Nicaragua » Themes » Traditional Costumes
Traditional Costumes
There are many examples of the strong cultural expression in Nicaragua, and an important one is found in the creative, traditional Nicaraguan costumes. Most of these dresses originated at different regions in the country at some time in the past (a few are more recent), where they were used during celebrative dances.
Some of these dances are still performed nowadays whereas others have disappeared from their original site of origin. Fortunately, however, most of these dances have been rescued from complete disappearance by artists who continued to perform these dances in the folkloric festivities.
These traditional costumes were created throughout the country and they are a valuable illustration of regional traditions that helped shape Nicaragua’s festive and colorful side. We at ViaNica.com have tried to show our visitors a selection of the folkloric Nicaraguan costumes. This section will be expanding over time, as we continue to interview ballet professionals and as we visit more and more regional festivities where the traditional costumes are used in dances.
Baile del Zopilote - Vulture Dance
NameBaile del Zopilote - Vulture Dance
OriginSouthern Pacific (mostly Masaya, Diriá and Diriomo).
DressThe vulture is dressed in a black bird outfit with a vulture mask. The female dress is a traditional, orange dress with black lines and flowers decorating the hair.
DanceThis dance, according to a folkloric expert, is very old and has already disappeared from the popular traditions. Currently the dance is only performed in professional dances. The dance represents the death and the burying of the 'vulture', which is a negative person characterized by this carrion bird.
MusicThe dance is accompanied by the joyful song "The Vulture Died", which is performed by chicheros (a philharmonic group).
 
Las Inditas
NameLas Inditas
OriginMasaya
DressThe "Las Inditas" dance is performed in a completely white dress, to which a large, red ribbon is added, as well as other decoration in the braided hair and a basket on top of the head.
DanceThe dance is still performed in the traditional festivities in Masaya, and it represents the hard-working women in this town. Movements are slow and attractive, just like the traditional marimba dance. The dance is performed by either one or several dancers during traditional celebrations or during professional shows.
MusicThis dance is accompanied by the marimba song “El baile de la inditas”.
 
Trencilla Costume
NameTrencilla Costume
OriginPacific (possibly Masaya).
DressThis dress is taken from the traditional clothing of mestizo or indigenous women. The dress is white with colorful lines on the upper and bottom parts. A black or red ribbon is added for further decoration, as well as flowers and earrings.
DanceThe Trencilla dress is used in all types of marimba dances.
MusicAny type of marimba music (not associated with a particular song).
 
Mestizaje Costume
NameMestizaje Costume
OriginPacific
DressThese dresses, either masculine or feminine, demonstrate the ostentatious Spanish influence on Nicaraguan clothes. The woman uses a dress with a colorful skirt and with spangles decorating the outfit (which is also known as the "luxurious Indian dress"), accompanied by a sombrero with large feathers and a hand fan (also made out of feathers). The man has a white shirt with a dark cape (decorated with spangles), a sombrero with a red flower, and a large, folded ribbon on the chest. He wears white stocking, black, short pants, and shoes.
DanceThis romance dance is gallant and sensual. The man dances with elegance next to neatly dressed woman, courting her with his movements while marimba music plays. This dance can be observed in presentations of folkloric dances by professional or amateur groups.
MusicThe 'Mestizaje dance' is performed with the “El mate amargo” song (marimba music).
 
Northern Countryman Costume
NameNorthern Countryman Costume (traje norteño campesino)
OriginNorthern regions (possibly Matagalpa, Jinotega, or Estelí)
DressAgain two different dresses for the two characters of this dance: a hard-working couple from the rural, northern region of the country. The woman is dressed in a skirt that is wrapped around her body, with a large kerchief at the top. She wears a long-sleeved shirt, earrings, and a bandana on her hear, while carrying a clay pot in her hands. The man wears long, white pants, a white (or light-colored) shirt, and a scarf around his neck. He carries a jícaro for water and on his head he wears a northern sombrero.
DanceDuring this gallant, sensual dance the hard-working farmer courts the industrious woman on a mazurka, polka, or Nicaraguan waltz rhythm. The dance is performed during cultural presentations, traditional festivities, or in professional dance plays.
MusicThe dresses are used to dance freely, or on music like mazurka, polka, or Nicaraguan waltz.
 
Los Agüizotes
NameLos Agüizotes
OriginMasaya
DressThe dresses of "los Agüizotes" include a variety of costumes representing characters from Nicaraguan legends and myths: a witch, the priest without a head, the old lady from the forest, and many others. The characters use cloth, paper, leaves, and other materials for their dresses.
DanceThis dance is performed every last Friday of October in Masaya, during the patronage celebrations honoring San Jerénimo. The dance is nowadays also starting to become implemented in the performance of professional dance presentations. The dance is performed with rhythmic movements related to the character, with festive music and gabble from the chicheros (musical group).
MusicPerformed with any type of music form the chicheros.
 
Güipil Costume
NameGüipil Costume
OriginPacific
DressThe traditional costume of the Nicaraguan mestizo. The güpil is a simple shirt (with or without embroidery), worm with an embroidered underskirt. This combination (which can be either white or black) is accompanied by a scarf (around the waist), braided hair with flowers and other decorative items. The blouse has four openings: one on the chest, two at the back, and one at each shoulder, representing the four cardinal points to the indigenous people, according to investigators. The dancers perform barefoot or on sandals. Some güipil outfits are decorated with drawings of petroglyphs encountered in the country and other simple drawings surrounding them. A hand-fan or a clay griddle are sometimes used as well. The man accompanies in a simple white shirt and pants, plus a sombrero made from agave.
DanceThe güipil shirt is used in combination with the other part of the outfit in marimba dances. Professional groups use these costumes, but other people also use it to dance marimba or other Nicaraguan music.
MusicMarimba music
 
La Vaquita
NameLa Vaquita (the cow costume)
OriginManagua
DressThis folkloric outfit was first introduced during the regional festivities in Managua by women who joined the Santo Domingo procession. The "Vaquita" is composed of a hoop around the waist, decorated with cloth that makes it look like a shirt. In front, an image or a painting of a cow's head is attached, crowned with real or fake horns. The dancer is dressed in a güipil with traditional flowery (generally red) in the same color of the cloth of the cow's image. The hairdo is furthermore decorated with flowers.
DanceThis costume is still used by women who bring vows to the saint during the Santo Domingo procession during the regional celebrations in August in Managua. The "Vaquita" accompanies the saint, dancing to the song of the chicheros and interacting with the other characters dressed as bulls. Professional ballets also use this costume.
MusicSo-called "Toros songs", performed by chicheros.
 
Source:
The information above was gathered during an interview with Haydée Palacios, founder and director of the Folkloric Haydée Palacios Ballet. This organization, founded in 1970, is dedicated to the investigation and interpretation of folkloric ballets in Nicaragua. The Folkloric Haydée Palacios Ballet has represented Nicaragua and Central America during international festivities and the ballet has obtained national and international recognition for its work. The group consists of 50 dancers, and some of them have posed for the photos used in this special.
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