Los Mantudos

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Los Mantudos

Los Mantudos is a traditional Nicaraguan religious dance that is popularly performed in the Pacific region of Nicaragua, mainly in the cities of Chinandega, Chichigalpa, El Viejo and León.

Mantudos comes for the word “manta” (blanket). Mantudos are people covered by blankets.

In 1862, ancestors of the Mejía family of region "San Benito" began the tradition of "El Mantudo dance" dancing in honor of the saint accompanied by a band of philharmonic that executed the "son del Mantudo".

With the passing of the years more and more dancers were integrated, reason why it began to be known as the dance of Los Mantudos.

Every year, on May 17th and 18th during the religious festivities in memory of San Pascual Bailón, this dance is performed by promising devotees of this Catholic saint of Spanish in the district "El Calvario" of the city of Chinandega, departmental head of the department of the same name.

All Catholic parishioners have the responsibility to organize the dance and to participate directly in it as "promesante" (people who fulfills a pious promise, usually in a religious procession) during the vigil and procession of the venerated image of San Pascual Bailón.

During the vigil, the promising ones dance to the son of “Chicheros” (derogatory voice given to musicians who use wind instruments, drum, hype and cymbals. The origin of the word is not exactly known. Some musicians believe that it is due to the ease with which they earn the money. Others affirm that in the past they gave them a jar of chicha) without having an established choreography in the dance. Among the dancers there is no any age limit, but mainly men participate who dance without a defined choreography and wearing masks to cover their faces and remain incognito during the procession.

There are a variety of steps depending on the feeling of each of the promising, the most common is a balancing act in the form of waltz.

Characters
In the structure of the dance there are seven characters of devils who dance around the image, these are the "Big Devil" and six "Diablillos" (small devils) that are the representation of the seven legions of demons that "tempted" the saint according to the popular tradition. For the rest of “Mantudos” there is no limit to the number of participants.

The characters of "Diablo Mayor" with black mask, and "Diablillos" with red masks, use well finished masks, the rest use masks of old man and old women with grotesque and rogue factions.

The clothing

The clothing does not conform to an established pattern but the designs are influenced by the personal taste of each of the promising, and the level of their economic income to acquire the garments they need.

  • Palm hat, lined with brightly colored cloth, with the front of the wing upwards carrying a mirror; adorned with flowers and ribbons in the back.
  • Wrap or cloak that hangs down the back to below the knees of vivid color and adorned with shiny stones.
  • Long sleeved shirt and usually a shabby suit.
  • Work shabby trousers with multiple colored patches stitched with thread.
  • Juco, a jícara or nambira lined with pig's hide, has an open part and a steely rod in the center of the leather, which when scraped produces a dry sound.
  • Chischil or rattle accompanying the juco at the time of its execution.
  • Red high socks.
  • Black shoes or “caites” (rustic sandals) that are used because of the hot soil and to avoid  the steps received during the procession.

Music
The music is performed by a philharmonic street band or chicheros that execute the popular sounds of these celebrations: "Sound of San Pascual" in measure of 4/4 and "La Cuchara Panda" in measure of 3/4.

Among the instruments of percussion are the bass drum, the drummer and the saucers, and other wind instruments such as trumpet, saxophone, trombone, clarinet and tuba.

Los jucos y chischiles acompañan las coplas que gritan los mantudos, unas alusivas al santo y a la festividad, otras son dirigidas a ciertas personas para ridiculizarlas.

The jucos and chischiles (rattles) accompany the couplets that shout the mantudos, some allusive to the saint and the festivity, others are directed to certain people to ridicule them.

Coplets

Señor San Pascual

Te bailo en este son (bis)

Mañana vamos a la procesión

A que nos eches tu bendición (bis)

Señor San Pascual

Te bailo en esta mesa (bis)

Yo todos los años

Pago mi promesa (bis)

Señor San Pascual

Te vengo a decir (bis)

Que hasta que me muera

Dejo de salir (bis)

León

In the city of Leon, every December 12, during the celebrations in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the dance of "Los Mantudos" is performed by a group of fourteen characters: the Gallant, the Lady and twelve soldiers.

The masks of the gallant and the lady show Spanish faces.

Soldiers wear hidden faces under masks with fangs peeking from their mouths in the popular depiction of the face of the devil.

This variant is an indigenous folkloric manifestation of the indigenous community of Sutiaba. It is an expression of protest, mockery and repudiation against Spanish rule. Its origin is the reflection of the Amerindian experience with the Spanish colonization that imposed its language and its religion.

On December 12th the dancing group meets in the house of the Mayordomo (Butler). From there the parade leaves towards the square of the temple of Guadalupe. After the day of Guadalupe, the representations continue for 12 consecutive days in the houses that each of the soldiers indicate.