USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Colombia’
Initiations
Legends
Narrative
Rituals, festivals, holidays

The Legend of El Dorado

Main Text:

AC: “I don’t necessarily no why they call it the Legend of  ‘El’ Dorado because it’t not a person, it’s not a thing, it’s a ritual. What this ritual is the ritual in which a person of a tribe of the Muisca civilization in present day Columbia the leader is chosen. So the Legend of El Dorado is the ritual and process through which this selected individual goes through. Typically, actually always I believe, the this individual is the current leader’s or the Casique’s (the leader is called the Casique) nephew from his sister’s side. This is because in the Muisca civilazation women were actually very highly regarded and they were the only people who could really discipline. So they had more power than men in most cases. So it is typically the oldest son of the eldest sister of the current Casique if that makes any sense. So as soon as the individual is chosen he was sent off to a cave in sacred ground. I forget what it is called but it is sacred because of gods and stuff. This guy goes here for like six years in seclusion and he can’t eat what a lot of people would consider luxury. For example stuff like salts, I believe it was like chili peppers and meat. So really the only thing he could eat were like fruits right, so he was on a dietary and social restriction. He could have no sexual pleasure, like he had to have a complete mind over matter kind of situation.

“So something about the Muisca people is…something that is significant to this is their religion. I am kind of jumping all over the place because I haven’t been through it in a while. So in the Muisca religion there was this evil god who came down and started terrorizing the Musica people. Essentially he made the Muisca people turn evil. So then there was another goddess Bachué who is essentially our version of Jesus Christ I guess and she came down and saved everybody and he banished the evil god. Because of all the darkness he caused he made him into the moon in order to illuminate all this hatred, it is symbolic because he caused darkness and now he has to stop darkness in the night. On the contrary, the sun was supposed to represent warmth, kindness, intelligence, wisdom and all of this. So while the Casique, or the Casique-to-be, the nephew was in this cave he was not allowed to see this sun because he wasn’t allowed to really know the wisdom yet. Like he wasn’t allowed to do that yet. right? So, he could only go out at night. And he was… I don’t necessarily know if he was with other nephews of like other sisters because that wouldn’t really make sense or if he was like training with the Casique, like he would like go and help him out. But the point is that at night he would have to march, he would have to stomp really hard in order so that everyone else would know where they are right. And they can’t step on grass because if they like step on grass they can’t hear each other march and they don’t know where a cliff is because it is in darkness, they can’t really see anything. So that is why they have to march while they are out getting food and all that and they have to be back inside the cave before the sun comes up. They can’t see the sun at all for like six years and they are on dietary restriction and social restriction.”

“At the end of the six years they bring this woman, supposedly like the baddest bitch of the tribe to test his temptation and all of that and if he passes then the next and final part of the ritual is to bring him out to Lake Guatavita which is sacred because… so here’s what happened. This is a complete side tangent to why t hey chose Lake Guatavita to do this ritual- so before this ritual I suppose there was this leader. And this leader was always super busy to his wife and like doing this and that and he had sex with a bunch of different women. So this original wife was like ‘man, like what the fuck’ so she started basically fucking this other guy, like she fell in love with this other guy. The Casique and this lady had a daughter together so she started cheating on him and he was like ‘there’s something fucking fishy here right’ like ‘She is getting dick somewhere else and I need to figure this out.’ So he sends this elderly nurse to go and spy on her and he finds out that it was actually true. So they have this big ol’ banquet like in the ruse of something like a banquet for the Casique and he served venison heart to the wife. He is like ‘Here my wife, here is some venison heart’ which is like a super big luxury, it’ deer heart. And as soon as she finished this mother fucker starts laughing like really loud. So then these peeps are like ‘ What the fuck? What is going on?’ and he is all like ‘Bro where is your man at? Like your man is nowhere to be found.’ And she realizes she just ate her man’s heart. So completely heartbroken she goes to Lake Guatavita which is the nearest lake, she brings her daughter and she drowns both of them. The Casique is like ‘ Brooo like I didn’t want that to happen I just wanted them to stop seeing each other.’ So he feels really bad and he sends out a bunch of priests and a bunch of his town and whatever and they all go. The priests go in the water to try and find them and the priests say that they actually saw her and the daughter and that they created a kingdom down there. That they are safe,  they are good, they are happy and that they don’t want to come back up. So now that is kind of like the ritual. They do it to honor an elder Casique’s sacrifice I guess. It is not really a sacrifice but anyways that is why they chose that lake. So the Casique-to-be, the nephew, after 6 years he passes the test and he hasn’t been like talking to anybody. He’s been in this fucking cave for 6 years just eating nothing but nuts and berries and now he is ready for the final part of the ritual.

” So he stands in a certain pose and he does that because this is the first time that he is allowed to be out in the sun, right. And they coat him in gold because- another thing about the Muisca people that is important is that they saw gold not as the Europeans see it. They didn’t see it as a currency. They actually believed that gold not in the shape of a form as in a God or a tool was useless. That is how they valued gold and at the time when all of this is going on I believe like 60% of the world’s gold was located in fucking Columbia. So they saw this gold as symbolism and that it came from the sun god, I forgot his name, so they think that the Casique-to-be is representative of him. So what they do is right before the sun rises he goes outside and golds that pose and what they do-they being four priests- is that they cover him in gold. It is supposed to be symbolic of the knowledge he is supposed to learn from the sun god. Come sunrise he is in this stance that allows him to absorb the most sun, AKA absorb the most wisdom and the most wealth so that he could properly lead his community. All this is to be a leader. He is sacrificing himself to be a leader. He can’t let go of that form right but he is in a cave so how does he get to the lake? He holds that form for hours while priests physically carry him to the lake. Okay so he is holding that shit the entire time covered in gold, mind you. The way they made the gold stick is they cover him in resin so that as soon as the earth hardens the gold would stay like that. So he is in this like now, right, and in this lake they have raft. The priest put him on the raft and they get on the raft themselves. The priests are in the corners and the Casique is in the middle and they bring a bunch of offerings called tumbas or something. All of these gold pieces are the offerings to the god that resides there or the god that made all of this possible. So he goes and as soon as he reaches the center of the lake they stop everything. They stop the raft and there is a bunch of people from the community here watching this go down because it is their future leader. It is kind of like an inauguration for the president so they all show up and they are surrounding this lake and they start lighting these huge pots in order for the smoke to cloud out the sun. The smoke is no longer important because he got all the wisdom that was needed , all the knowledge, everything, so now they block out the sun with all of this stuff. As soon as they reach the middle everybody is dead silent and they had these drums playing from the clifftops and as soon as they reached the middle everything stopped playing. Keep in mind this guy is still holding this fucking stance which is physically draining right. So as soon as they reach the middle they start pushing all these gold offerings, hundreds of gold offerings, into the lake. As soon as they do that finally the last offering- the gold on the Casique. He jumps into the lake and obviously gold is heavy right, so you’ll drown. And you can’t surface until you get all of the gold off of you so if you don’t get the gold off in time you become part of the offering. He scrapes all of this gold of with a Tumi knife and this Tumi knife is important because it is symbolic of sacrifice because they used it in sacrificial rituals and this and that. So obviously if he fails to scrape this off with this knife he becomes part of the sacrifice and this ritual. But of course there are people that are able to successfully scrape off this gold, he emerges and he is now the Casique.”

Context:

I knew AC knew this ritual because it was told in his family so I solicited this this information from him while we were in the car driving to go back to our hometown together for a party. AC says the he thinks the Legend is passed down for two reasons. His first reason is that this lake and city is extremely well known because either Spaniards or Portuguese people witnessed the gold being dumped into the lake and when they told people it got blown out of proportion to people believing that there is an entire city made out of gold. This belief of course then intrigues people, a lot of the time purely out of greediness, to visit Lake Guatavita and possibly even try to loot it and find all of the gold, both of which keeps this story being passed down from generation to generation in these individual’s families. The second reason that he believes that the Legend of El Dorado is passed down is as a way to preserve the Muisca people’s culture. I also asked him if he were to tell this ritual to someone, why he would tell it. He responded that it teaches about the sacrifice of becoming a leader. He continued to tell me that there are certain things that you have to do and give up in order to becomes something or someone that people admire and that he would use this as a teaching mechanism to put “community over self”.

Analysis:

AC mentioned that he believed this legend is passed down due to the greediness of colonizers and the widespread belief that El Dorado is an entire city made of gold. To add on to his analysis, many people today go searching for this city of gold and they more likely than not explain to people what they are doing which keeps this legend passing right along through any society that has any concern for wealth and riches. Many modern day examples really put this greediness on display, such as the movie The Road to El Dorado and many others like it. This folklore legend has been adapted to fit media in such a way that this legend of the “City of Gold” is reaching more and more people which causes more and more people to tell the legend in hopes that one day someone will find it and get h off of the gold that they find, even though most of these people do not realize that this is a legend about gold being dumped into a like to accept the Muisca’s future leader.

In addition to the greed analysis above, there are two other parts to this legend that can be analyzed: the culture’s relations to gold in Columbia as well as the role leadership plays in many people’s cultures. To start with the gold analysis, one needs to know a little of the history of Colombia. Gold in Columbia used to be in great abundance before South America was conquered and taken advantage of by the Spaniards. To make the first part of the analysis simpler, I will be using the Tumaco region of Colombias an example to represent Colombia’s vast wealth in gold and what this meant for the indigenous people at the time and for generations to follow. In the Tumaco region since B.C. and early A.D. times, metallurgy was a huge cultural aspect for the indigenous peoples living there because of the enormous amounts of gold and platinum available in the land. Even though the land was constantly looted for its precious metals, much like Lake Guatavita has been in history, the gold that was found on this land formed a large part of the culture of indigenous tribes because it allowed them to make precious cultural artifacts representing their gods among the things and animals they found to be sacred. Knowing the vast amount of gold found in just one region of Columbia one can begin to appreciate the amounts of gold that spanned Colombia as well as appreciate the art and cultures that formed from this gold. This history of metallurgy and the presence of gold explains one reason why this legend has been passed down and will continue to be passed down. Gold has always been a part of Colombia’s history and even the first Spanish Conquistadors acknowledged this and called it sacred land. Because of this sacredness many cultures and tribes, such as the Muisca themselves, were built around the presence of gold and this legend is passed along as a way to remember one’s origins and history.

The second reason that could explain why this legend gets passed along today still is the large influence of leadership that appears in the legend. The entire legend and the ritual performed in the legend is all about picking a leader worthy enough to represent one’s tribe, village and culture. As AC touched on in his explanation for why he would tell someone this legend, I would like to expand on the leadership lessons that this legend could teach. This legend has survived throughout history because everything in life has a leader no matter how big or how small. The school has its principle, the university has its president, animals have their pack leaders. young children have their parents, et cetera, and each one of these leaders were in one way or the other picked for this position. Leadership is very universal and can be arguably taught in any civilization around the world, which is what makes the telling of this legend so powerful and long-lived. This legend teaches about disciple, self-restraint, perseverance and sacrifice, all of the qualities that one would teach someone for them to be a successful person in society, not even a leader per se. In other words, I believe this legend is passed down because in one part the lesson of leadership is very universal and comprehensible in almost any culture and it teaches future leaders of any kind in any place and in any culture  the qualities that one needs in order to survive in this rigid world.

Childhood
Game
general
Musical

Colombian Kids Folk Song

Folk Song:

“El Marinero que se fue a la mar y mar y mar a ver qué podía ver y ver y ver y lo único que pudo ver y ver y ver fue el fondo de la mar y mar y mar” which translates to, “The mariner who went to the sea and sea and sea to see what he could see and see and see and the only thing he could see and see and see was the bottom of the sea and sea and sea.”

Context:

“So you know how kids learn patty cake patty cake and all that, that’s just one of those things that you learn as a kid. It’s almost like a tongue twister. It’s just a thing kids learn as something to do and play and occupy their time. A lot of girls do with clapping of the hands and circles and things like that. You are suppose to start slow and speed up as you go along.”

Background:

The informant is from Medellin, Colombia, but now resides in San Diego. He is 58.

My Analysis:

Colombia has coastlines on the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean, so the rhyme being about the mariner could be significant of the seafaring culture in these regions in Colombia. However, based on my informant’s understanding, this is a predominately linguistic training exercise. Spanish pronunciation of “r” requires the rolling of the tongue, which is a skill that requires practice at a young age to achieve properly. This rhyme has a lot of “r’s” in it to help kids acquire this skill. The progressive speeding up of the rhyme enables players to practice making the noise faster. Clapping helps children with coordination.

To see this done in practice, see this Youtube video: Solis, Maru. “Marinero Que Se Fue a La Mar…” YouTube, YouTube, 29 Sept. 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXpsCJqf6n0&feature=youtu.be.

Folk speech
Proverbs

Colombian Proverb: “That Which Doesn’t Kill You, Makes You Fat”

Proverb:

original language: “lo que no mata, en gorda.”

direct translation: That which no kills you, fattens

smooth translation: “That which doesn’t kill you, will make you fatter.”

Context:

“So kids can be messy. This is the equivalent of the five second rule when you’d drop food on the floor. Grandma would say, ‘lo que no mata, en gorda.’ She would say that to us anytime we dropped food on the floor.”

Informant Background:

My informant is 58, from Medellin, Colombia. He now resides in San Diego. His first language is Spanish.

My Analysis:

In Colombian culture, there is a strange paradox for women in particular regarding family and eating habits. My grandmas and aunts and mother will cook food and pressure my sisters and I to eat it all, but we can’t eat too much because they don’t want us to get fat. In Spanish, it is also common to nickname children based off their physical appearance. For example, I have always been called “flaca”, but have cousins who are still called “gordita” despite them dropping childhood weight. This funny proverb nods to the relationship between Colombian people (mainly women) and food.

Folk Beliefs
general
Legends
Magic
Narrative

El Sombrerón (Colombia)

Background information:

My roommate is Colombian and is the first one in her family who was born in the United States since her relatives all live in Colombia except for her direct family. She actively engages in the Colombian culture, speaking Spanish with her family and celebrating Colombian events and traditions. Therefore, even though she was born in the United States, she holds onto her Colombian roots and treasures her Colombian culture as she believes that her Colombian roots are a large part of what shapes who she is.

 

Main piece:

When asking my roommate is there was any other type of folklore from her Colombian culture that stuck out to her, she excitedly told me about El Sombrerón. She said that El Sombrerón was a very big fear of hers when she was younger as she did not enjoy being alone or in dark places and feared that he would come and attack her. My roommate explained that El Sombrerón, literally translated to “man in a hat” was a man that wore all black and had two very scary black dogs and rode a black horse. She interrupted her own story by saying that she did not enjoy the color black when she was younger, so this made El Sombrerón even more off-putting to her. She explained that he was a figure that would haunt and run after individuals who were alone in dark areas. Additionally, she added that the moon was an important part of this legend because it provided the only light for individuals to briefly see what El Sombrerón looked like, which made appearances more believable as many supposedly saw a man in all black with two black dogs and a black horse chasing them when they felt that they had encountered El Sombrerón. She says that her aunt and uncle told her about this legend when she was very young and that she feels grateful to have never run into him but is still a bit afraid of him if she is walking alone at night.

 

Personal thoughts:

I thought that this was a very interesting legend because it immediately reminded me of the legend of the “headless horseman” often seen in the United States and other parts around the world. I shared a similar fear of the headless horseman when I was younger and could therefore understand her fear as a child. I thought the addition of two dogs into this legend was interesting because I have personally never been scared of dogs and feel that this makes the story a bit more bearable.

 

For another version of this legend, see the following Headless Horseman legend told by S.E. Schlosser:

Schlosser, S.E. “The Headless Horseman.” The Headless Horseman: From Ghost Stories at Americanfolklore.net, americanfolklore.net/folklore/2010/07/the_headless_horseman.html.

Customs
Festival

‘Silleteros’ – Flower Carrying in Colombia

In Medellin, Colombia, our biggest festival and celebration is the Festival of Flowers, a yearly festival that celebrates our beautiful variety of flowers. We come together as a people and witness the flower growing families parading their latest designs as they carry them on their backs through the streets. It’s a breathtaking sight and something I’ll never quite forget.

The silleteros have been come a folk symbol for our region of Colombia. Diego Rivera famously painted a silletero during a visit to our region. And even outside of the festival, one often finds flower growers with heavy displays on their back, ready to sell flowers. I asked my grandmother about the history of these flower carriers. Below the verbatim Spanish text, one will find an english translation.

Por qué tienen las flores en su espalda?

“Preciso por que pesan tanto, las flores. las más lindas y lo más grande el silleto, el premio vallé más. Al principio no les daban premios, sólo los aplaudían y los sacaban el el periódico por que antes no había televisión. Decían cuales eran las más lindas y quien había ganado, quien las había cultivado, pero no habían premios en efectivo. Pero ya las producen, las industrian, la gente muy rica patrocinan la feria de las flores. Dan premios muy grandes. Un premio que se puede ganar un silletero es que lo mandan a estudiar las flores al exterior, vez? Entonces les interesa mucho, si? Antes en las ferias eran muy chiquitas las silletas, pero fueron creciendo tanto que ya son kilos y kilos. Para qué la espalda del silletero pueda resistir ay unas medidas para que no se vayan deformando las espaldas de ellos. Entonces por eso la parte que necesita la más fuerza para resistir es la espalda, y por eso las silletas generalmente se ponen en la espalda, son casi como sillas. Es como una silla que ellos asen y la cuelgan en la espalda. Esas silletas las hacen con figuras hermosas. Ya hasta son con historias completas, caracteres grandes. Son de las mismas flores que ellos cultivan. Es algo que se aprende generación en generación. Ósea, los hijos de los silleteros aprended del cultivo, del diseño de la silleta, como cargarla. Ya es una tradición. Ya ay familias con diez, quince premios porque cada año lo hacen mejor.”

ENGLISH:

Why do the silleteros carry the flowers on their backs?

Precisely because those huge displays of flowers weigh so much. The bigger and more beautiful the display, the bigger a prize the flower grower can get. Before, there were no prizes, they were just applauded and they came out on the newspaper, because before there was no television. They would write about who had had the most beautiful flower displays, who had cultivated the flowers, but there were no real prizes. But now they really cultivate those flowers very scientifically. The very richest in Medellin provide patronage the Festival now and they give incredible prizes. For example, a prize a flower grower might get is to study flowers and cultivation techniques around the world, you see? You see they’re very interested in that. Before the flower displays were very small but year on year they grew and now they’re massive and weight very many kilos. So that the spine of the flower grower doesn’t get deformed during the long festival, they’ve designed a certain device to carry that many flowers without injury. So of course the portion that needs the most reinforcement is the brunt of the back, so the device they use is called a silletera, they are designed almost like a chair that they make themselves and then hang on the back. Those flower holders, they spend so much meticulous time coming up with clever designs for them. They make beautiful art on them with flowers. Now they even have stories, figurative works, symbols for towns. They’re all made with the same flowers that that family cultivates themselves. It’s something that’s learned generation to generation. That is to say, the sons and daughters of the flower growers grow up learning how to cultivate those flowers, how to design the flower displays, how to make the flower holders, how to carry it. It has very much become its own tradition. There are families now that have won the big prizes ten, fifteen times. Every year they are looking for ways to improve, every year they are getting better.

Analysis: This has always been a big question for me before going to the festival and before witnessing it firsthand. This image of the flower carriers is all over our country, in paintings, on murals, in our songs. It’s interesting that this has become such a strong cultural tradition in such a short amount of time, and that it is carried forward by families of flower growers.

Humor

A Colombian Paisa Finds A Genie

This is a Paisa (Northern Colombian) joke I collected from a relative. Although the joke was performed as being distinctly paisa, it exists in multiple languages. In any case, it’s an excellent joke:

Below, the original Spanish followed by a complete English translation

Un paisa está haciendo un agujero en su jardín para plantar un árbol cuando desentierra una lámpara mágica.  La frota y le aparece un genio que le dice, ‘Te voy a conceder tres deseos, pero a tu vecino le voy a dar el doble de lo que tu me pidas.’  

‘Humm, mira, quiero una rubia que este buenísima y que pese 65 kilos; que le des a mi vecino cien millones de pesos, y que me des a mi un susto que me deje medio muerto….’

ENGLISH:

A paisa (Colombian countryman, cowboy) is making a hole in his garden to plant a tree when he finds a magical lamp in the ground. He rubs it and a genie appears, who says: ‘I am going to give you three wishes, with the exception that I’m going to give your neighbor double of what you ask me.”

‘Hmm, look, I want a 100 pound ruby that’s absolutely marvelous, that you give my neighbor a million pesos, and that you give me a scare that  scares me half to death’

Analysis: Any good paisa joke is based up in the mountains, or in the great outdoors where one works on the Finca, or Ranch. The joking hostility of the joke is quite interesting as the Paisa is known archetypically as a neighborly, kind Colombian. I love the joke and its play on words.

Festival
general

The Festival of Flowers in Colombia

In Medellin, Colombia, our biggest festival and celebration is the Festival of Flowers, a yearly festival that celebrates our beautiful variety of flowers. We come together as a people and witness the flower growing families parading their latest designs as they carry them on their backs through the streets. It’s a breathtaking sight and something I’ll never quite forget. I’ve asked my grandmother, a native from Medellin who has spent her whole life there about her insights on the celebration.

A note: An Antioqueño or Paisa is a person from our region in the North of Colombia, high up in the Andes Range.

Below is a verbatim transcription first in Spanish, and then fully translated to English:

“El festival de las flores…pues el festival siempre se celebra en Augusto. El siete de Augusto. Ya están organizando el del año próximo. Entonces te voy a decir del festival de las flores. El antioqueño ácido muy negociante siempre, mi amor. El que el vende, lo produce. Ai aquí cerca a Medellín un pueblito muy frío, muy frío que se llama Santa Elena. Aya desde muchos años se cultivan las flores, y las señoras ricas aquí en Medellín le busca tener floreros con flores muy hermosas. Aya se cultivan flores de todos tipos muy hermosas, finas, como las rosas, orcidias, romelias, pero también flores más baratitas, las margaritas, los camelias, las flores menos elegantes, menos caras. Entonces, el señor cultivaba las flores, y las esposas y las niñas se venían a Medellín para venderlas y habían barrios más ricos como tu conoces aquí en Medellín como por ejemplo laureles y el poblado, la gente son muy ricas.

Entonces las que venían con las orcidias, la flor nacional de Colombia, las rosas que son hermosas aquí, las romelias, las flores más elegantes de vendían en el poblado y las señoras las compraban por que ellas no tenían probeñnas de plata. Pero las otras florecitas al fin se hicieron las más populares, porque ya la gente no tenían tanta plata entonces esas flores ya se vendían muchas aquí en el centro, en el verinque, en la media, en barrios menos ricos.

Se volvió una industria grandísima. Entonces el campesino sembraba una quadrita de tierra al año, y ya después podía sembrar dos o tres. Y se volvió tan importante sembrar flores que de volvió un negocio tan importante como vender frutas o pedalear carros. Entonces esta feria de las flores se originó a por ay cuarenta o cincuenta años. Pero las flores han sido desde ase muchos años un patrimonio antioqueño en casi todos los pueblos, pero mucho más en este porque la gente de especializaron. Por ejemplo las margaritas, las naturales, eran solamente blancas y amarillas. Pero el antioqueño se inventó la forma de ser las margaritas moradas, azules, o verdes. Entonces eso les aumentaban mucho el negocio.

Entonces cada vez el campesino sabía más de esas flores, muchas variedades de esas flores se hicieron porque el antioqueño las creo, por eso se volvió una industria fuerte, por eso se ha echo famoso, y en esos últimos cincuenta años se han volvió una exhibición con esos silleteros.

ENGLISH:

“So the festival of flowers. Well, the festival is always celebrated in August. The 7th of August. They are already organizing the festival for next year. So I am going to tell you about the festival of flowers. The antioqueño has always been very business savy, my love. What he sells, he made himself. Here, near Medellin, there is a town that is very very cold called Santa Elena. There, for many years, they’ve been cultivating flowers. And the rich women of Medellin look to have big bouquets of flowers with beautiful lush flowers. There they cultivate flowers of all types, beautiful, fine flowers. Roses, Romelias, Orchids, but also cheaper flowers, Daisys, Camellias, less elegant ones that cost less. So there in Santa Elena, the men cultivate the flowers and the women and their children come into Medellin to sell them. There were richer neighborhoods like you know, such as Laurels and the town center, where the people are very rich. That’s where you buy the nice flowers. There they had the orchids, the national flower of Colombia, also the fine roses which are incredible here. The Romelias, too, the most beautiful flowers of all kinds. And the rich women would come and buy them because they had no money problems.

But in the end it was the cheaper flowers that became most popular because Colombia fell on hard times and no one had any money, so those cheaper flowers sold very well in the city center, in all of the neighborhoods with less money. The flower industry became huge. So at first the country fellow would plant one plot of flowers and then year on year it would grow, he would have two or three plots of flowers. It became so important a business that one could make more money selling flowers than selling fruit or driving around a cart.

So this festival of flowers of ours really became well established about forty, fifty years ago. But flowers have been an important facet to us antioqueños in almost ever town for a very long time, but most especially here because the people really specialized in it. For example, daisies, the natural ones, were only white and yellow. Yet the paisa came up with a method of cultivation that allowed for purple, blue, and green daisies. So these new flowers really led to quite a growth in flower production and selling.

So every time the paisa knew more about those flowers, new varieties arose, each special and cultivated by those countrymen. That’s why it became a strong industry. That’s why it’s world famous. And in those last fifty years it’s become that famous exhibition with those displays on the cultivator’s backs.

Analysis: this is a very interesting story that captures a lot of the shifting dynamics in Colombian society as well as economic disparities. This festival truly is the biggest celebration we have in Medellin and it was lovely to hear my grandmother’s thoughts on it. It has quickly become a major cultural symbol for us paisas.

general
Legends
Narrative

La Llorona- Colombia

Informant (“M”) is a 52 year old woman from Bogota, Colombia. She moved to the United States in 1992, at the age of 30. She has two kids, a boy and a girl, who she raised in the United States. She has four siblings, two brothers and two sisters, she was the second born. She has a 102 year old Grandmother. Collection was over Skype.

Collector will be specified as “S”. Collector did not speak during this portion.

Transcript:

“M: A cousin always visit us, and he always scared us with a sort of story. He would use the crying woman or the Llorona… I remember he turned the lights off and everyone in the living room, we’d sit down in the living room, and he would repeat the same stories.

“Could you tell again the story of the Llorona?” [said by "M" and her siblings]

” …everyone needs to be quite, never look outside in the windows, she could be outside there.” [Said by the Cousin]

The story was of a woman tha…. Uh… let me see thinking about how is this story…. Yeah they say that the husband took the kids from her. Yeah, and she killed herself, and she appeared every night in the cemetery, and she crying “where are my kids, where are my kids?” and the more funny thing is, my cousin was so funny, he said: “I was drunk one day, I was crossing the cemetery”.

He wanted to take a shortcut, so he took the cemetery. And he said the short way was in the cemetery, and when he was passing he heard the voice say “where is my kids, where are my kids?” . He said he was so scared he peed in his pants, and he wasn’t anymore drunk, and he said he ran like a crazy. But the funniest thing is he peed in the pants, when he went in the house, and his in the blankets.

But he doesn’t know if that was real or not, because he was drunk.

That story start in the 18th century, they said that was the time that that happened, in the 18th century.

He told us a lot of stories, that is the one I remember more.

 

Analysis:

La Llorona is a myth that has heavily permeated Latin culture, being a very common piece of Folklore in these countries (Kirtley, 1960). La Llorona, or the cying woman, is referenced here with the assumption that the person collecting the folklore knows about her origins, and her ability to be interested as a generic sort of scare in a funny situation only serves to reinforce her ubiquity in Colombian culture. The covering of the windows showed that at the very least, she believe the story could have been true at the time it was being told to her. I should also note, “M”s explanation of her origin story was simply at my request, and did not reflect her original approach to the story (the portion directly after the ellipse).

 

 

 

Kirtley, B. F. (1960). ” La Llorona” and Related Themes. Western Folklore, 155-168.

Game
general

Burlap Jump Rope- Colombia

Informant (“M”) is a 52 year old woman from Bogota, Colombia. She moved to the United States in 1992, at the age of 30. She has two kids, a boy and a girl, who she raised in the United States. She has four siblings, two brothers and two sisters, she was the second born. She has a 102 year old Grandmother. Collection was over Skype.

Collector will be specified as “S”.

 

Transcript:

“M:  We had a game that, I don’t know como se dice en ingles, it’s with the rope. Rope?

S: Yeah, like a jump rope?

M: Yeah. We played at recess every single day when I was in third grade, yeah. I remember very specific.

S: What sort of rules did the game have?

M: The rules is that you jump, and when you jump if you get stuck in the rope, you are out.

S: Did they use two ropes or one rope, was there a song that you sang?

M: You only used one rope, there was one person on one side, and someone on another, and you was moving the rope around.

S: You didn’t sing anything?

M: We count, either the person that was in the middle had to count, even if it made them tired.

M: Yeah the person who can jump for the more long time would win. But sometimes we moved the rope very fast, it was one way we made the person lose, because there was no way the person in the middle could jump that fast. But Colombia we used a specific rope, not the plastics or synthetics. It’s made with wheat, what is the name of that plant, the thing that they make of those bags that they store coffee. Very famous in Colombia. Let me look….

(Uses search engine to find name)

M: Burlap, that used to hurt a lot when it hit your legs. YEAH, it was very painful. Burns and it gave you marks in the legs, because we had a school uniform, skirts, and they hit you in the legs.

S: Just one more question, was the person in the middle usually a girl or guy, or both?

M: Doesn’t matter boy or girl, it was a mix, a mixed game.“

 

Analysis:

The game seems like a very standard version of jump rope, similar to ‘Double-Dutch’ played in the United States. The use of Burlap was emphasized by  ‘M’ because of how painful it had made the game, resulting in pain when the jumper lost, possibility attaching an extra ‘cost’ to losing the game. The moving the rope ‘extra fast’ combined with the pain generated by the sort of rope may have acted as a form of teasing among students.

The use of burlap is very common in Colombia, notably used on coffee bags (as the speaker noted), which is a hallmark of Colombian identity.

[geolocation]