July 23, 2010

Las Tablas Carnival 2010: “Culecos”.

     In the Interior towns of the Republic of Panama is where most Panamanians celebrate the carnival tradition, by four consecutive days before Ash Wednesday.
     The carnival is organized by the people, divided into two streets, "Calle Arriba" and "Calle Abajo" (Up Street and Down Street), although in some villages or towns there is a third street. During this carnival festivities, the two streets are rivals and they compete to see who is better in the town's central park, where both "tunas" face other. They compete on who is better: the most beautiful queen, floats, fancy dresses, "murga" and "tuna". Generally, both “tunas” are considered winners by themself in each presentation.
     In this post I want to define three words that are important in Panamanian carnival tradition.
     “Tuna”: group of people and musicians who accompany and support their queen, either Up Street or Down Street, during their performances.
     “Murga”: group of musicians who play the songs of the queen during carnival; usually, they go in a float behind the queen; the song lyrics are to ennoble their queen, or to make fun of the Queen's family and her “tuna”. But they don’t mention names, only assumptions facts. You have to investigate who they talking about. All people who sing are behind their Murga or queen.
     "Culecos" or "Mojaderas" are made on the morning of carnival from 9 in the morning in the town's central park. The "Culecos” are made with tanker trucks parked on the streets around the park and throw water through hoses to all who attend. Each "Tuna" (Calle Arriba and Calle Abajo) presents a single float with the company of their "murga".
     In the "Culecos" or "Mojaderas" each queen goes on a float inspired by a specific theme, like her dress, trimmed with rhinestones, sequins, and feathers of exotic birds. Definitely, the queens are the only ones that are not wet, obviously, because the water would damage the dress and they would lose their grace.
     The videos that I posted are from Las Tablas Carnival 2010. The background music is played by a "murga", but it is only to give it a carnival atmosphere. They are not the songs that were sung and performed in this carnival. In addition, I posted the pictures of the costumes or fancy dresses that were exhibited at the "Reina Torres de Araúz Antropology Museum" in Panama City, weeks after the carnival. In this way, you can see the details of the costumes.

Calle Abajo de Las Tablas Theme: Cards Games
Calle Arriba de Las Tablas Theme: Diwali: Lights Festival - Nepal

Calle Abajo de Las Tablas Theme:  Valentine
Calle Arriba de Las Tablas Theme: Aphrodite

Calle Abajo de Las Tablas Theme: Romany Lineage - Gipsy Lineage
Calle Arriba de Las Tablas Theme:  Marie Antoinette Josèphe Jeanne de Habsbourg-Lorraine: Forerunner of French fashion.

Calle Abajo de Las Tablas Theme: Cockfights
Calle Arriba de Las Tablas Theme: The Music of My Land

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