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The video below is a Los Chinelos contest for best constume. See below for some historical perspective.
Las Fiestas de Chinelos
Las Fiestas de Chinelos is a tradition that started approximately two hundred years ago in Mexico, in the state of Morelos, after the Spanish colonization, when the some of the indigenous population, tired of being excluded from the Christian festivities, organized a group of people and dressed up with old clothing and covered their faces with handkerchiefs. They started to whistle, yell and jump around the streets. The word “Chinelo” comes from the Nahuatl tzineloa, which means shoulder and hip movement.
The dance is one of many to develop as native traditions and rites blended into Christian festivals. One of these is Carnival, with its traditions of wearing masks, role reversal, and anonymity. This dance developed as a mockery of the Europeans with their fine clothing, beards, fair skin and mannerisms. The modern Chinelos costume began to take shape from between the mid 19th century to the early 20th. The elaborate dress, gloved hands, uptilted beard and arrogant stance also makes fun of the salon dancing of the upper classes during the period of the French intervention as well as Porfirio Diaz’s attempts to “Europeanize” Mexico at the end of the 19th century.
The Chinelos costume consists of three main items: a long flowing robe, which usually has a rectangular shape; a mask; and a large plumed hat. As the tradition spread and developed, especially in Morelos, other towns and groups made distinctive changes to their Chinelos gear and today each town and troupe has its own distinctive elements. This European features. It and the bandana wrapped around the head are essential in keeping began the process of making extremely elaborate costumes in some places.
The Chinelo's masks are made of mesh and always feature an upturned beard and Chinelos’ identities secret, something reinforced with the use of gloves on the hands. The elaborate decorations have made the costumes expensive to make. Prices for making the outfit can range anywhere from 2,000 to 25,000 dollars depending on the complexity of the decoration, the materials used and the time involved.
The dance, literally called a “brincos” or “jump” is a set of repetitive steps. The choreography is very simple. With feet apart and knees slightly bent, the dancers take two shuffling steps, then leading with one shoulder or the other, take a small jump to the right or left. The dancers are always accompanied by a brass band.
The Chinelos Festivals here were filmed in Tepoztlan, Yautepec, and Tlayacapan, the birthplace of Los Chinelos.