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The dance of the Chinelos is a traditional dance of the state of Morelos, Mexico in which colourfully dressed dancers dance and wave flags accompanied by a set traditional tunes played by a brass band. The town of Tepoztlán is known for their chinelos but the dance exists throughout Morelos in towns like Yautepec, Coacalco, Cuautlixco, Atlahuahuacán, Oaxtepec, Jojutla and Totolapan, as well as in certain towns in the state of Puebla. However it arose in the town of Tlayacapan.
According to the House of the Culture of Tlayacapan, it was in 1870 when a group of young people, where so unfortunate to see themself excluded from the celebrations of Carnival, since they themselves had to respect the uninformed one of lent, organized one quadrilles, disguised itself with old clothes covering the face with a handkerchief (or piece of blanket) and began to shout, and jump by the streets of the town, making fun of the Spaniards. This improvisation was great successful, and spoken much of that, as much that the following year it was organized of new account. He is as well as the personage took form from “huehuetzin”, Nahuatl word that means “person who gets dressed old clothes” (still some chinelos use this word to be called among them). Year after year, as it became more popular, the celebration it grew and the personage was evolved gradually. In order to represent the Spaniards beards were added to the masks and appeared the name of “chinelo”.
It is not really known how the indumentaria of chinelo was constructed, but in the form of the attire and of “I jump” same notices the syncretism of the old Moors dance and Christians, with “axcatzitzintin” (axcatzitzintin: pre-Hispanic rite that means “to jump to enjoy”). We also know that the word chinelo comes from the Nahuatl “tzineloa”, that it means “I wag of hip”.
The Chinelo’s dress are like tunicas that took the friars and are elaborated of velvet. The most popular colors of these tunicas are red and black. On the túnica they wear a layer embroidered with all classes of artificial jewels.
The Chinelo’s mask is elaborated with wire fabric, properly painted and with the form necessary to simulate a face. In this mask great eyes, abundant eyebrows are drawn, moustache, and a beard of pointed form is added to him. This type of mask was invented at the beginning of century XX, by Mr. Jose Maria Villamil. Also one says that this beard accentuates the influence of the magical kings.
The dance of the Chinelo is known as “the jump” because the dance consists of vibrant “zapateado” one that has like main step the “brincoteo.” Each “comparsa” (group) of Chinelos has a name and a Chinelo of each comparsa takes waving the flag that takes its name.