14 1/2 x 11 3/4in (36.8 x 29.8cm)
Gift of Susan Toomey Frost
Known also as the "Dance of the Christians and the Moors," this post-Spanish dance drama commemorates the medieval struggles between Christians and Moslems in the Old World. It was probably taught to the Indians by Spanish missionaries hopint to substitute European mystery plays and dances for the ceremonies connected with native religious beliefs. As now performed, it has become simply a dance symbolizing struggle, while the speeches are oratorical in the knightly manner, and sometimes incomprehensible to dancer and audience alike. The costumes are highly spectacular, rich of materials and color, and characterized by the veil dropped over the dancer's face. This dance is known widely, but is danced most completely in the villages around Lake Patzcuaro in the state of Michoacan; it seems to have been preserved especially pure in Chatzio and Janitzio. Wind instrument ensembles, sometimes very numerous, provide the musical accompaniment.
Carlos Mérida (Guatemalan, b.1891, d.1984)