Diablada de Pillaro

Admin Gentian

18 enero 2022

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Ecuadorian Festivities & Traditions

The canton of Píllaro revives the magical ancestral tradition of the diablada from January 1 to 6 every year, which brings together a large number of tourists to enjoy dancing, with colorful and incredible masks distinctive of this cultural event.

The Diablada de Píllaro is a popular celebration that has grown in the last decade. According to history, in colonial times the indigenous people used to dress up as devils in rejection of the clerical evangelization and the physical, psychological, economic and moral mistreatment they received from the Spaniards.

This amazing event resembles a liberation from the rigid norms and austerity of the Catholic Church. The members, of any age or origin, dress up as devils and get into the main group to join the celebration (which lasts for eight hours) and it is very common to see hundreds of tourists intermingled in the hustle and bustle. The real origin of this custom is still much debated, but among the many legends that circulate is a very popular one: when the landowners celebrated the beginning of the new year, the servants began to wear devil costumes as a way of appropriating the personality of the hated and discriminated character with whom, due to their situation at that time, they felt identified.

Local historians say that before each comparsa (group of dancers) there were six devils. They were slaves who were opening the way to their masters, who came down to the village to test their dancing virtues. Although we do not know for sure how the Diablada was born, the mystery and seduction that has always exercised the image of this character in the popular imagination, made that over time it was gaining popularity to finally become the central part of the whole celebration. The elaboration of the masks that represent them has become an artistic school in Píllaro as well.

Red is the predominant colour of the costumes of those who parade and flood the central streets of the city with joy. The costumes also include bangs, cuffs, and other adornments, in shades of black, yellow, green, lilac, brown and blue.

However, the huge and intimidating masks of the party put the distinctive touch. It takes between 15 and 30 days to assemble a mask, depending on the complexity of the design, the number of ornaments and the size. The mask is decorated with horns, hair, teeth and skin from cattle and sheep. These materials are available throughout the year and are obtained from local farmers.

Each mask is valued between $ 80 and $ 300, according to the size; its base is composed of a large amount of paper, cardboard, and paste, and they are exhibited almost all year round in most of the workshops/homes where they are manufactured.

If you would like to immerse in this fantastic and magic moment, come to the central Andes of Ecuador and dance together with the Devils of Pillaro!