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 Front Cover
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 Editor's note
 Opening comments
 Essays
 Reviews
 List of contributors
 Back Matter
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Group Title: Sargasso (Río Piedras, San Juan, P.R.)
Title: Sargasso
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Title: Sargasso
Uniform Title: Sargasso (Río Piedras, San Juan, P.R.)
Alternate Title: Sargazo
Sargasse
Abbreviated Title: Sargasso (Río Piedras San Juan P. R.)
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University of Puerto Rico (Río Piedras Campus) -- Dept. of English
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Subject: Caribbean literature -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Caribbean literature -- History and criticism -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Puerto Rican literature -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Puerto Rican literature -- History and criticism -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
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periodical   ( marcgt )
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Additional Physical Form: Also issued online.
Language: Chiefly English, with some French and Spanish.
Dates or Sequential Designation: Vol. 1, no. 1-no. 10 (2000) ; 2001-
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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page i
    Half Title
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
    List of Illustrations
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Editor's note
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
        Page xv
        Page xvi
        Page xvii
        Page xviii
    Opening comments
        Page xix
        Page xx
        Page xxi
        Page xxii
        Page xxiii
        Page xxiv
    Essays
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
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        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
    Reviews
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
    List of contributors
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
    Back Matter
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
    Back Cover
        Page 124
Full Text











































































tLt~I










SARGASSO
12006-07, II












SARGASSO
S2006-07, II
RE/VISIONS OF SANTIAGO APOSTOL:
ART, HISTORY, AND CULTURAL CRITICISM

r- :












SARGASSO 2006-07, II
Re/Visions of Santiago Ap6stol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism

Sargasso, a peer-reviewed journal of literature, language, and culture edited at the University of
Puerto Rico, publishes critical essays, interviews, book reviews, and some creative works. Sargasso
particularly welcomes material written by/about the people of the Caribbean region and its diaspo-
ra. Unless otherwise specified, essays and critical studies should conform to the style of the MLA
Handbook. Book reviews should be kept to no more than 1,500 words in length. All correspon-
dence must include one S.A.S.E. For electronic submission, write to: sargasso@uprrp.edu.

Postal Address:
SARGASSO
P.O. Box 22831, UPR Station
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00931-2831

Don E. Walicek, Managing Editor
Sally Everson, Contributing Editor
Maria Cristina Rodriguez, Book Review Editor
Carmen Haydee Rivera, Book Reviews
Margarita Castromin, Editorial and Administrative Assistant
Johanna Diaz Torres, Special Assistant
Katherine Miranda, Proofreading
Lowell Fiet, Founding Editor and Issue Editor

Editorial Board
Jessica Adams, University of California, Berkeley
Mary Ann Gosser-Esquilin, Florida Atlantic University
Peter Roberts, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill
Ivette Romero, Marist College
Felipe Smith, Tulane University

Antonio Garcia Padilla, President of the University of Puerto Rico
Gladys Escalona de Motta, Chancellor, Rio Piedras Campus
Jose L. Ramos Escobar, Dean of Humanities

Cover art: Photos by Herminio Rodriguez and Lowell Fiet;
Art by Julio Garcia
Back cover image: Poster by Julio Garcia
Layout: Marcos Pastrana

Visit: http://humanidades.uprrp.edu/ingles/pubs/sargasso.htm


Opinions and views expressed in Sargasso are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily
shared by Sargasso editors and Editorial Board members. All rights return to authors. This journal is
indexed by HAPI, Latindex, MLA, and the Periodicals Contents Index. Copies of Sargasso
2006-07, II, as well as previous issues, are on deposit in the Library of Congress. Filed Septem-
ber 2008. ISSN 1060-5533.








Table of Contents






EDITORIAL NOTE
Lowell Fiet vii
Re/Visions: Why Re-examine the Fiestas of Santiago Ap6stol?

OPENING COMMENTS
Ricardo E. Alegria xvii
Loiza: "todavia hay un caudal de informaci6n muy rica e
interesante, que se puede devolver a la sociedad contemporAnea"

ESSAYS
Mervyn C. Alleyne 3
The Voice of Bomba

Juan A. Giusti Cordero 19
El pais de Santiago: ecologia y producci6n en la region de
Loiza, siglos XVIII-XIX

Peter Roberts 31
Distinctive features of las locas --black faces, brooms,
cans, tips and big behinds

Max Harris 57
El lugar enmascarado: las Fiestas de Santiago Ap6stol en
Loiza, Puerto Rico

Lowell Fiet 81
"The Vejigante is painted/ Green, yellow, and red"


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





TABLE OF CONTENTS


David Ungerleider Kepler 97
Las Fiestas de Loiza, entire la tradici6n y los cambios:
el espejo del Puerto Rico de hoy

Lester I. Nurse Allende 101
Tambores y ritual socio-religioso Makuta --Cuba; Tambores
de Bomba y rituales en las Fiestas en honor a Santiago Ap6s-
tol en Lofza --Puerto Rico: Dos expresiones socio-religiosas
muy parecidas en el mundo afrocaribefio de races Ba-ntu

BOOK REVIEWS
Ivette Romero-Cesareo 111
Where Men are Wives and Mothers Rule: Santeria Ritual
Practices and Their Gender Implications (2005) by Mary Ann
Clark and Sacred Possessions. Vodou, Santeria, Obeah, and the
Caribbean (1997) edited by Margarite Fernindez Olmos and
Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert

Dannabang Kuwabong
Goldengrove: New and Selected Poems (2006) 114
by Lorna Goodison

LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS 118


SARGASSO 2006-07, II







PHOTOS*


"Santiaguito" viii
Santiago de las Mujeres xv
Santiago de los Hombres xxiv
Caballeros on the march 1
Vejigante in action 2
The tradition continues on the road
in front of the bohio Ayala 16
Loca in action 30
Santiago's flag 56
Viejo, Old Man, or "Loco" 75
Vejigante "Sol Boricua" 80
Jeep with Vejigante mask that precedes the Saint 99
Contemporary Caballero 100
Young spectators 108
Tradition: ex-Caballero and his Caballero son 110

















*Unless otherwise noted, all of the photos included in the text were taken by Lowell Fiet.


Re/Visions of Santiago Ap6stol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism







































"Santiaguito"


viii SARGASSO 2006-07, II








Editor's Note






Re/Visions: Why Re-examine
the Fiestas of Santiago Ap6stol?


Since at least the first half of the nineteenth century until the present day,
the citizens of Loiza, Puerto Rico --Afro-creole, African, European,
and (before 1873) many free and many others enslaved-- have annually cel-
ebrated the Fiestas of Santiago Ap6stol (St. James). Loiza is located on the
northern coast, various miles to the east of San Juan, and the core element of
the festivities places the normal civic and domestic life of township on hold
the afternoons and evenings of the 26th, 27th, and 28th of July to "correr
el santo" (march with the saint) approximately three miles from the town's
central plaza to the outer barrio or neighborhood of Las Carreras, where the
first of the three images of Santiago was originally found. The first proces-
sion (26 July) corresponds to Santiago of the Men. The second (27 July)
is reserved for Santiago of the Women. The third and final procession day
belongs to Santiago of the Children --"Santiaguito"-- the legendary saint
"miraculously" discovered beneath a cork tree, who refused to remain in the
town's church and repeatedly returned to his point of discovery.
As well as a Jeep decorated with a gigantic Vejigante or diablo-trickster
mask, the processions are led by a devotee who carries a red and yellow/gold
flag of Santiago, and each diminutive saint mounted on a white horse --two
of plaster of Paris and one carved-- is carried on a wooden cadre shouldered
by other devotees and surrounded by followers. A traditional band plays dan-
zas, muzurcas, and pasadobles from the covered platform of a truck, pedes-
trians, police, bicyclists, tourists, photographers, young and adult men on
horseback --and there's now a trolley for less agile enthusiasts-- accompany
the saints, and spectators wait on the route to participate in the processions.


Re/Visions of Santiago Ap6stol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





LOWELL FIET


Yet the heightened theatricality of the event depends on the interventions
of the four principal festive or "carnival" characters: 1) the Caballeros (knights
or gentlemen) who imitate the image of the saint with their wire screen
masks painted with blue eyes, curled thin-lined moustaches, pink cheeks,
red lips, and their fancy-dress costumes, (2) the Vejigantes (diablo-tricksters)
with their brilliantly painted horned masks made from coconut husks, volu-
minous, multicolored costumes, and, on occasion, still carrying the now sim-
ulated goat bladders --the supposed vejigas of their name-- tied to sticks to
chastise or menace spectators who do not respond to their requests for drink,
food, or money, (3) the Locas (cross-dressed crazy women) with blackened
faces who traditionally carry brooms made of the vines or pencas of coconut
bunches and dust pans made from large cracker tins and who use their exag-
gerated hips and breasts to flirt and harass spectators and participants alike
(contemporary transvestites sometimes also participate), and (4) the Viejos
(old men, sometimes called locos) who are often "dirty old men" dressed with
old clothes and unpainted cardboard masks who are easily teased and tricked
by the playfulness of the Locas.
The festive characters now usually march or dance ten to 100 yards in
front of the saint and its devotees, and often do so to the beat of recorded
contemporary Caribbean music that surges from a bicycle-propelled sound
system --the Carretdn Alegre-- decorated in festival motif. Rockets explode
along the route as the processions move from one to the next neighborhood.
The saints meet and salute each other in the street when the saint of the
day passes the houses of the keepers or mantenedores of the other saints. On
July 26th, all three saints reach the point in Las Carreras where the cork tree
once stood; on the 27th, Santiago of the Women and "Santiaguito" make the
trip, and on the 28th, usually the best attended and most energetic proces-
sion, only Santiago of the Children takes the journey back to the point of
his discovery. Additional music, dancing, feasting, and drinking follow into
the night after each procession. Other sacred and profane, European and
African, spiritual and secular elements intermingle in the festivities. These
include: Catholic novenas and special masses, African-inspired bomba drum-
ming and dancing, carnival character variations such as the Mula (a man-
mule-rider), indigenous Tainos, or the occasional rubber mask of a George
W. Bush or a Hollywood/Halloween horror figure, fritters and food special-
ties made with cassava dough or other local tubers, families with lawn chairs,
beach umbrellas, and coolers lining the procession route, streets and bars


SARGASSO 2006-01,11





EDITOR' S NOTE


overflowing with dancers and drinkers, large home dinner parties, and the
too frequent sobering effect of violence and death related to drug trafficking.
Obviously, much has changed over the years; equally obvious is the fact that
much remains constant.
Ricardo Alegria's pioneering thesis (1948; published 1954) and documen-
tary film (1949) focused critical attention on and also honed the ethnograph-
ic apparatus that has, with only minor detractions in the past two or three
decades, characterized the great majority of subsequent scholarship and pop-
ular attitudes and beliefs about the Fiestas of Santiago Ap6stol. The Yoruba
hypothesis --Santiago Ap6stol as a syncretic representation of Shango-- that
forms the basis of Alegria's descriptive analysis was supported by academic
pillars --especially Fernando Ortiz and Melville K. Herskovits-- of syncre-
tism in African-American and Afro-Caribbean rituals, religions, and cul-
tural expression. This early scholarship is invaluable and has left an indelible
impression on the public reception of the Fiestas as a cornerstone event of
Puerto Rican cultural traditions and folklore.
Uncertainty regarding the influence of Yoruba religious and cultural tradi-
tions became apparent as early as the first (1961) and second (1974) editions
of Manuel Alvarez Nazario's El element afronegroide en el espanol de Puerto
Rico. The extensive analysis of linguistic features unearths virtually no evi-
dence to support the claim of a strong Yoruban presence in Lofza or the rest
of Puerto Rico. Yet, in spite of the inconsistency, very little scholarship in-
side Puerto Rico contested the Yoruba/syncretism hypothesis. In fact, major
documentary film projects --Las Fiestas de Santiago Apdstol en Loiza (1982;
Luis Martiez Sosa, dir.) and La tercera raiz: Homenaje a la cultural negra en
Puerto Rico (1994; Carlos H. Malav6, dir.)-- reinforced the thesis with great
authority. They also underlined the urgency of the politically-charged claim
of the cultural erasure and contamination of the Fiestas as a result of new
and inauthentic features --unbridled revelry and saturnalia, rubber Hallow-
een masks, parading homosexual transvestites, non-local musical forms, new
carnival characters such as the Soldier and the Police Officer-- undermining
traditional ones.
By the end of the 1980s, there were strong hints in the research and analy-
ses of various US anthropologists and art historians that the Santiago Ap6s-
tol-Shango dyad was merely conjectural and could no longer be supported by
other historical or ethnographic evidence. By 2001, new studies that directly
contest the hypothesis of Yoruban influence in the origin and development of


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





LOWELL FIET


the Fiestas became manifest, as did new approaches to the changes brought
about by tourism, commercialization, sponsorship by foreign products, reg-
gaetdn, among other new musical forms, and the supposed cultural erosions
caused by Loiza's increasingly globalized contact with the rest of Puerto Rico
and US-dominated popular international culture.
Those concerns created the point of departure for Re/Visions of Santiago
Apdstol.:Art, History, and Cultural Criticism (20-21 March 2006) in the Jos6
M. Lazaro (main) Library of the Rio Piedras Campus of the University of
Puerto Rico. Sponsored by the Doctoral Program in Caribbean Literature
and Linguistics of the Department of English and the Graduate Program of
the Department of History of the College of Humanities, the symposium
also served as a key element of the campus's International Festival of the
Humanities (19 March-2 April 2006). The papers and talks that constitute
this volume were presented as part of the Re/Visions of Santiago Ap6stol sym-
posium.
Along with the academic work --and we'll return to that-- other impor-
tant elements contributed to the form and substance of Re/Visions of Santiago
Apdstol. Among those was the dedication of the symposium to Dr. Ricardo
Alegria's groundbreaking work in establishing the historical and ethnographic
importance of the Fiestas in the context of the development of Puerto Rican
and Caribbean cultural studies. Don Ricardo delivered the opening remarks
of the symposium, which are included as the initial essay in this volume.
The symposium also featured the exhibit "Art of Loiza" that filled the
first floor rotunda of the Lizaro Library during, and for two weeks after,
the event. It included over twenty Vejigante masks created by master crafts-
men from Loiza, Rail Ayala, Pedro Laviera, and Carlos Ayala. Several were
mounted in full costume. Masked and clothed Caballeros were also displayed
and these included costumes designed and sewn by artist-activist Tati Frid-
man. Large format paintings by Samuel Lind and Eddie Rivera Quifiones
and additional lithographs by Lind as well as Julio Garcia's banner-sized
posters adorned the hallways. The video production "Viaje de la Mascara"
(Voyage of the Mask), directed by the painter and graphic artist Daniel Lind
Ramos, and featuring Lind Ramos and performance artist Awilda Sterling
Duprey, played continuously on a large screen to one side of the exhibit.
On the other side, a similar screen revealed still photo after photo of Loiza
and the Fiestas taken over several years by artist-photographer Herminio
Rodriguez. Lowell Fiet's large format photos of Caballeros, Vejigantes, Locas,


SARGASSO 2006-07, II





EDITOR' S NOTE


Viejos, and each of the participating artists at work added a greater sense of
unity and continuity. As a whole, the exhibit constituted one of the most
impressive displays of the popular and formal Afro-Puerto Rican artistic ex-
pression of Loiza yet assembled.
Innovative composer, trombonist, and jazz artist William Cepeda's stun-
ning Afro-Rican jazz performance of Remembranzas de Loiza provided the
emotional high-water mark of the symposium at the end of the first day's
proceedings. Beginning with a procession that marched with Santiago across
the campus, Cepeda, the ten musicians, the singers, and the dance group
that joined them were then framed in front of or on a stage surrounded by
the masks, costumes, paintings, and photos of the "Art of Loiza" exhibit.
Once there, they made the LAzaro Library jump as it probably never had be-
fore (and may never again) with an electrifyingly amplified, jazz-modulated,
spine-tingling, and torso-shaking bombazo.
The second day began with the screening of four documentary films: La
fiesta de Santiago de Loiza Aldea (1949), La Fiesta de Santiago Apostol en Loiza
(1982), La tercera raiz (1994), and Loiza, realidady recuerdo (2004; Soto and
Velasco SArraga). The following panel of Ram6n Almod6var, Lydia Milagros
Gonzalez, Carlos Malav6, Ivonne Maria Soto, and Yolanda Velasco Sirrago
--producers, directors, and/or writers of those films-- then shared their expe-
riences and expertise with the public in attendance in a high-pitched discus-
sion in which cinematography, financing, and politics collided.
Creative artists Daniel Lind Ramos (painter), William Cepeda (com-
poser), Awilda Sterling Duprey (performer), Herminio Rodriguez (photog-
rapher), Pedro Laviera (mask-maker), and Rosamary Berrios (video-artist)
then participated in what became the symposium's most controversial panel:
an audience-involved discussion session that revolved around issues of artis-
tic commitment versus economic survival versus the impact on Loiza's youth
of the violent lifestyle and language of reggaetdn.
The inclusion of multiple concerns such as music, plastic arts, documen-
tary and video art, photography, and social critique contributed significantly
to the symposium's outreach to a broader audience and to the too often ig-
nored Loiza community as well. However, the academic papers provide the
more permanent record of the proceedings and directly reflect the initial
reason for organizing a meeting that proposed reinterpretations of still rela-
tively unquestioned scholarship. New issues had surfaced in two significant
recent publications: Las fiestas de Santiago Apdstol en Loiza: La cultural afro-


Re/Visions of Santiago Ap6stol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism


Xiii
***
XlIII





LOWELL FIET


puertorriquefia antes los process de hibridizacidn y globalizacidn (San Juan: Isla
Negra, 2000) by David Ungerleider Kepler and "Masking the Site: The Fies-
tas of Santiago Ap6stol en Loiza, Puerto Rico" (Journal ofAmerican Folklore
114 [2001]: 364-76) by Max Harris. The first (Ungerleider Kepler) gener-
ally supports the Alegria/Yoruba/syncretism hypothesis, while at the same
time, it provides new critical tools to examine social changes that result from
Loiza's increased cultural contact with the global marketplace. The second
(Harris) effectively challenges the Yoruba hypothesis with source materials that
contradict the suppositions of Ricardo Alegria's original studies. Harris goes
even farther by also questioning the degree to which African influences --Yo-
ruba, Bantu, or others-- contribute to the origin of what he sees principally as
a creolized Catholic celebration much like others in New Mexico, Mexico, and
the rest of Hispanic Central America. His emphasis falls more prominently on
Iberian carnival traditions and universal aspects of religious and festive perfor-
mance than on the syncretism of African and European cultural features. David
Ungerleider Kepler provides a reflection on his book for this volume, and
Max Harris's article appears here in Spanish translation.
That the Yoruba hypothesis went virtually unchallenged for forty or more
years receives partial explanation in Mervyn Alleyne's lament about the lack
of serious research on bomba in his essay "The Voice of Bomba" (included in
this volume as well):

As soon as an art form is dubbed "folklore", it seems to be afflicted with all
the negative connotations of "folklore" as a moribund quaint form of culture
that belonged to museums but are best forgotten as being incompatible with
modernisation, and then become suitable for an occasional dusting off at an-
niversaries of festivals, but not for serious research.

What applies to bomba may be even more apparent in studies of "festival"
or carnival arts or other forms of "cultural performance" such as the pro-
cessions of Santiago Ap6stol in Loiza. As an ethnographer and one of the
Caribbean's leading linguists, Alleyne places bomba drumming, dancing, and
songs in a comparative creative matrix with other African and Afro-Carib-
bean percussion forms, and thus he identifies a comprehensive "grammar" for
its reading as musical art.
In most interpretations, the plantation, sugarcane, and slavery constitute
constant features in the development of Afro-Caribbean societies and cul-
tures. All three were present in varying degrees, times, and places in the


SARGASSO 2006-07, II


xiv





EDITOR' S NOTE


history of the greater Loiza area. However, Juan Giusti's research underlines
the large number of agregados or free blacks and mulattos who worked small
agricultural plots all along the coastal zone that extends from Loiza's town
center east to Rio Grande. The principal crop was not sugarcane but cassava
(yuca), although coconuts also played a major role, and Loiza's agricultural
economy, linked by the rivers, mangroves, lagoons, and bays previously navi-
gated by Tafnos, provided the cassava bread that fed San Juan in an era in
which wheat imported on Spanish ships either arrived rancid or was hard to
find and costly.
The discovery of the first image of Santiago Ap6stol (of the Children),
and nearly every other known local feature of the Fiestas, takes place in that
zone of independent, subsistence farming and trade carried out by free blacks
and mulattos. Large sugar planations and newly arrived enslaved African
laborers are also a part of the history of Loiza in the nineteenth century. In
fact, non Creole-owned --Irish, European, and American-- plantations, even


Santiago de las Muieres


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





LOWELL FIET


though located inland and closer to what is now San Isidro and Can6vanas,
represented a social and economic threat to the population of agregados and
ex-maroons who lived on the coast. The surge in sugar production also in-
creased trade, brought more and fresher wheat and flour, and thus impacted
negatively on the local market of cassava-based products. For Giusti, reflec-
tions of these tensions find their creative expression in the shape, form, and
materials of the Fiestas of the Loiza.
European or African? Nearly every aspect of the Fiestas of Santiago Ap6s-
tol --and every study of it-- poses that question in one way or another. What
features are neither Spanish nor African, per se, but universal characteristics
of all rituals and celebrations in all human societies. Barbara Ehrenreich, in
a recent study (Dancing in the Streets. A History of Collective Joy [New York:
Metropolitan/Henry Holt, 2007]: 18), further extends Victor Turner's no-
tion of universalss of performance" by saying,

These ingredients of ecstatic rituals and festivities --music, dancing, eating,
drinking or indulging in other mind-altering drugs, costuming and or vari-
ous forms of self-decoration, such as face and body painting-- seem universal.
Other common but not universal, ingredients, especially of longer more elabo-
rate events, include processions, religious rituals involving the manipulation of
sacred objects, athletic and other contests, dramatic performance, and comedy,
generally of a mocking or satirical nature. But the core elements are, again and
again, the dancing, the feasting, the artistic decoration of faces and bodies.

The Fiestas of Loiza, then, appear to contain both universal and, like
many other cultural events through out human history, more specialized
and elaborated[d" worship and performance forms. These features appear in
both European and African rituals and celebrations, but they are equally ap-
parent in Native American, Pacific and Idonesian, and Far and Near Eastern
cultures --and in many cases, persist in altered or relatively unaltered forms
to the present day.
Peter Roberts's essay "Distinctive features of las locas --black faces, brooms,
cans, tips and big behinds" examines universal aspects of the cross-dressing
or transvestite performance of the Loca both as they appear in the Fiestas
of Santiago Ap6stol and as they relate to other Afro-Caribbean, African,
European, and non-Christian classical examples. The result convincingly de-
and re-genders the Loca as, on the one hand, a representation of the history
of Afro-Caribbean sexual experience and, on the other hand, a non-bitter
"masking hilarity" that "allowed Africans and their descendants to survive."


SARGASSO 2006-07, II


xvi





EDITOR' S NOTE


However, similar to Ehrenreich's analysis, Roberts locates universalss" of
cross-dressing in African and European carnival performance as well as in
pre-European literary history and recorded experience.
Lowell Fiet's essay "El vejigante estdpintao/ Verde, amarillo y colorao" (The
Vejigante is painted green, yellow, and red) is an English translation of Chap-
ter Five of his recent book Caballeros, vejigantes, locasy viejos: SantiagoApdstol
y losperformeros afropuertorriquenos (San Juan: Terranova, 2007). Fiet explores
the specificity of local practice --the plastic dimensions of mask, costume,
and movement and the polyvalent nature of the character as diablo, trickster,
and clown but also as a champion of sensuality and pleasure and the repressed
hero of cultural resistance-- with similar Afro-Caribbean festival characters
as well as universal satyr-like but also curative shaman-like figures who ap-
pear in ritual celebrations and cultural performances through human history.
For Fiet, the Fiestas have no center without the duality, not of Shango and
Santiago Ap6stol, but of the "sacred" saint, on the one hand, and the "pro-
fane" saint (or vejigante), on the other hand, and their possible inversions as
cosmologies and populations coincide, intermingle, and overlap.
What role does Yoruba art and religion play in the Fiestas of Santia-
go Ap6stol? The question continues to haunt the scholarly literature. The
popularity of Yoruba-based Santerfa in Puerto Rico during the twentieth
century further complicates the issue. New studies such as Joseph C. Dorsey,
Slave Traffic in the Age of Abolition: Puerto Rico, West Africa, and the Non-
Hispanic Caribbean, 1815-1859 (Gainesville: UP Florida, 2003), introduce
information that significantly alters the Yoruba hypothesis. In his introduc-
tory comments to the symposium, Ricardo Alegria stepped back from the
conclusions of his initial studies to open the door to the tracing of a stronger
Congo-Bantu influence in the development of the traditions of Loiza. Les-
ter Nurse Allende's discussion of"Tambores y ritual socio-religioso Makuta
--Cuba; Tambores de Bomba y rituales en las Fiestas en honor a Santiago
Ap6stol en Loiza --Puerto Rico . ." reinforces that suggestion through the
comparison of Bantu makuta drumming and ritual performance in Cuba and
the development of bomba drumming and dance in Loiza in relation to the
celebration of the Fiestas of Santiago Ap6stol.
This volume certainly does not explore all the unresolved scholarly issues
surrounding the Fiestas of Loiza. Nor does it propose means of addressing
chronic social and economic problems such as unemployment, high crime
rates, drugs, gun violence, police violence, high drop-out rates in the schools,


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism


xvii





LOWELL FIET


teen pregnancy, land expropriation and speculation, resorts and tourist prop-
erty developments, nearly all of which also affect other economically de-
pressed regions of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean in general. However, it
does attempt to re-open and continue a critical dialogue on the changing
secular and religious, aesthetic and spiritual functions of the Fiestas in rela-
tion to these issues and projects into the foreseeable future the roles of com-
munity unity and cultural resistance (and defense) present at their beginning
nearly 200 or more years ago.
Since this volume includes essays written in English (Caribbean, North
American, and British variations) and Spanish, and one translation from
English to Spanish and another from Spanish to English, we have tried to
preserve the stylistic preferences of each author with only minimal editorial
intervention or standardization.
Many individuals need to be thanked for their contribution to the Symposium or
to the preparation of this volume: Gladys Escalona de Motta, Chancellor of the Uni-
versity of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, Ricardo Alegria, William Cepeda, Lyd-
ia Milagros Gonzalez, Daniel Lind Ramos, Pedro Laviera (masks and set up), Carlos
Ayala (masks and set up), Raul Ayala (masks), Pedro L6pez (production), Rosamary
Berrios (video), Tati Fridman (costumes and set up), Eddie Rivera Quifiones (paint-
ing), Samuel Lind (painting and graphics), Evangelina P6rez (then Director) and
the personnel of the Jose M. Lizaro Library, Eric Landr6n, Almaluces Figueroa
and the personnel of the Caribbean Regional Library, Jorge Duany (presenta-
tion), Jessica Gaspar (presentation), Julio Garcia (poster and graphics), Miguel
Villafafie (video), Natalia Martinez (Bellas Artes), Omayra Garriga (Drama),
Ana Falc6n, Esther Davila, Angel Rivera, Marcos Osusa, and Marc Schnitzer
(then Director) of the English Department, graduate students Lydia Plat6n and
Nathan Budoff, Jos6 Luis Ramos Escobar, Dean of the College of Humanities,
Milagros Santiago, and the personnel of the College of Humanities, Rosa Luisa
Mirquez and Antonio Martorell ("Uno, dos, tres, probando"), Radio Univer-
sidad, Alida Millin ("En Rojo," Claridad), EINuevo Dia, Don Walicek and Sally
Everson (co-editors, Sargasso), Minitsa Rosado Valentin, Laura Delgado Fernin-
dez, Maria Cristina Rodriguez, Johanna Diaz Torres, Margarita Castromin and
Katherine Miranda (editorial assistants), Aileen Alvarez (translator), Bebe Soto
Varela (translator), and many others who helped along the way.
Lowell Fiet
Editor
Organizer, Re/Visions of Santiago Apdstol


SARGASSO 2006-07, 11


xvili








Opening Comments
Dr. Ricardo E. Alegria
(atedrdtico Em6rito
Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe


Loiza: "todavia hay un caudal de informaci6n
muy rica e interesante, que se puede devolver
a la sociedad contempordnea"


(Comentarios espontdneos hechos el 20 de marzo de 2006 durante la apertura del
Simposio de Estudios Doctorales "Re/Visiones de Santiago Apostol" auspiciado por
el Program Doctoral del Departamento de Ingles, Facultad de Humanidades,
Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Rio Piedras.)


Para mi es un motivo de gran satisfacci6n volver a mi alma mater, a la
Universidad de Puerto Rico, donde me form y donde tuve muchas
luchas, muchas luchas . quizds no las primeras porque yo habia luchado
antes para la soberania de Puerto Rico y por nuestros derechos desde mis
dias de estudiante en la escuela superior, pero aqui en la Universidad tuve
muchas luchas primero en defense siempre de nuestra cultural national, de
nuestra identidad como pueblo y especialmente de los valores de la cultural
puertorriquefia. Aqui di una lucha que espero que fue bastante significativa
para combatir el prejuicio racial que existia en la Universidad de Puerto Rico
con las llamadas fraternidades que se oponfan a que personas que no eran de
cierto nivel socio-econ6mico o de cierto color de la piel podian unirse. Aqui
. fund la tinica fraternidad que luch6 en contra de ese prejuicio racial.
Y aqui tambien fui uno de los organizadores del Consejo de Estudiantes
para defender el derecho de los estudiantes a opinar sobre las situaciones
universitarias. Fui su primer secretario en moments muy dificiles para esta
universidad cuando se impuso el nombramiento de un rector norteamericano.
Y aqui tambien en defense de nuestra cultural national reorganic6, escribi


Re/Visions of Santiago Ap6stol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism


xix





RICARDO E. ALEGRfA


y gestion6 la ley para construir el edificio del Museo de la Universidad de
Puerto Rico ylo llam6 Museo de Antropologia, Historia y Arte. Aqui tambi6n
destaqu6 la importancia de estudiar la herencia indigena y fund el Centro de
Investigaciones Arqueol6gicas y Etnol6gicas de Puerto Rico e iniciamos las
primeras excavaciones arqueol6gicas en Luquillo y Loiza. Tambien trat6 la
raiz africana e inici6 los studios de la Fiesta de Santiago Ap6stol.
Por eso pensaba cuando llegu6 esta mafiana que de las pocas cosas buenas
que tiene el uno ser anciano es que se tiene una perspective para ver cosas que
han ocurrido, que uno ha acumulado en su computadora [tocando sufrente],
y puede ver las diferencias. Me llena de alegrfa, satisfacci6n y orgullo ver esta
reuni6n de hoy dia. Posiblemente ustedes los j6venes no entenderian que esta
reuni6n era impossible hace cincuenta afios. Hace cincuenta afios, o un poco
mis, cuando yo estudid la Fiesta de Santiago Ap6stol fue motivo de burla,
de crftica. Recuerdo, y lo tengo que decir, cuando escribi el libro de la Fiesta
.. lo escribi en 1948 cuando hice la investigaci6n, pero se public en 1954.
Y cuando ese libro se someti6 --no por mi sino por alguien que creia que lo
que yo habia hecho tenia algdn interest ..., el libro lo habia apadrinado nada
menos que don Fernando Ortiz, gran humanista y estudioso de la cultural
africana en America-- al Instituto de Literatura Puertorriquefia para premio
--yo sabia que eso era imposible-- pero surgi6 el rumor de que el senior que
presidia ese institute de literature contaba a sus amigos la situaci6n que estaba
pasando en Puerto Rico. El contaba, "Fijese las cosas que estAn pasando en
Puerto Rico. El hijo de Pepe Alegria" --papa era un escritor conocido-- "ha
escrito un libro en el que he contado mis que cien veces la palabra cultural' Y
ide qu6 describe? De la fiesta de los negros de Loiza Aldea". Esa era la actitud
que prevalecia en Puerto Rico, en esa 6poca.
Le contaba hace poco a un amigo, que mi esposa [Mela Pons], artist, se
impresion6 tambi6n con la fuerza de las miscaras que hacian los pescadores
de Loiza. Adquiri6 una series de miscaras porque a ella le asignaron decorar el
bar del Casino de Puerto Rico en el Condado. Mi esposa pens6 que haciendo
un montage de como treinta o cuarenta miscaras ilamaria la atenci6n por su
fuerza artistic. Se hizo algo que del punto de vista artistic y etnogrifico,
tenia una gran fuerza. Pero la exhibici6n no dur6 ni una semana. Cuando
llegaron los socios del Casino dijeron que eso era "monstruoso, que c6mo ha
sido adornado aquello con las mascaras salvajes que habian alli".
0 sea, todo esto, vuelvo y repito, es la ventaja que tenemos los viejos, que
no tienen ustedes los j6venes --algo tenemos que tener a favor nuestro-- y


SARGASSO 2006-07, 11





OPENING COMMENTS


es que conseguimos una perspective para ver las cosas que ocurrieron antes
y poderlas evaluar hoy dia. Por eso, para mi, como les decia, me ilena de
satisfacci6n ver que se reunan ustedes en la Universidad de Puerto Rico ...
no se hubiera permitido antes. Porque ... cuando hice la pelicula de Santiago
Ap6stol, la llev6 a mostrirsela a un alto ejecutivo de la Universidad que no me
dej6 terminarla. Cuando apareci6 Juan Pefialosa con sus tambores y empez6
a cantar "Este cuero pica [. .] este no es mi cuero . .", 61 se levant6 y dijo,
"No, esto se acab6".
0 sea, tener un grupo de estudiosos interesados en la cultural, en esa
herencia africana que ha estado tan olvidada me llena de satisfacci6n; ver
artesanos de Loiza hacienda mascaras, y aunque difieren y deben diferir
porque son hechas cincuenta afios despues de aquellas que yo recogi, pero
veo que se mantiene la tradici6n, la riqueza y el studio --todo lo que hay
detrAs de la Fiesta. Por ejemplo, volviendo a la Fiesta, si creo que es necesario
estudiarla para ver los cambios que ha sufrido. Y otra de las satisfacciones
que tengo, que pocos antrop6logos logran tener, es la posibilidad de hacer
un studio y cincuenta afios despu6s poder ver los cambios que han ocurrido.
Pero la cultural es eso, cambio.
Es verdaderamente interesante. Por ejemplo, cuando hice el studio de
la Fiesta habia estudiado much la herencia africana con el gran maestro,
el hombre que inicia en Estados Unidos el studio del negro, Melville
Herskovits. Yo estudiaba en la Universidad de Chicago y Herskovits estaba
en Northwestern pero yo iba much alli para escuchar sus conferencias. Por
el interns que yo tenia en los studios africanistas, mi professor de Chicago,
el famoso Robert Redfield, le pedi6 a Herskovits que me atendiera, que me
oyera. Y casualmente, uno de mis regalos a Herskovits fueron unas mascaras
de Lofza, que 61 en un articulo que mis tarde escribi6 sobre el arte africano en
America, menciona estas mascaras como uno de los dos unicos ejemplos de la
herencia africana en el arte americano --y en eso esti equivocado. Yo regres6
con el conocimiento que habia adquirido con 61 y con su discipulo predilecto,
quien tuve la oportunidad de traer a Puerto Rico, William Bascom, professor
de la Universidad de California.
Es con este conocimiento que yo llego a Loiza, que ya conocia por la
herencia familiar, de mi familiar de Loiza, de la existencia de la Fiesta, y
conocia tambien de la existencia del dep6sito arqueol6gico en la cueva de
Maria de la Cruz y en Hacienda Grande. Por eso escribi el libro, que es un
libro que me llena de orgullo, pese que ha tenido, quizis, mis interns fuera


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism


XXi





RICARDO E. ALEGRIA


de Puerto Rico. Recuerdo cuando Ulegu6 a Peru, el famoso folklorista don
Tomis Lago me dijo "usted es el autor de La Fiesta de Santiago Apdstol: lo
estoy usando como texto para el studio de una fiesta".
Pero en ese moment, y es algo de interns para ustedes los que estin
revisando y re-estudiando la Fiesta, y veo aqui algunas personas que estin
envueltas en eso, los que conociamos un poco de la herencia africana en
Puerto Rico estdbamos bajo la influencia de la cultural yoruba, ya que la
cultural yoruba era muy important aqui en el siglo IXX, igual que en Cuba.
Vimos la fiesta un poco en base de los festivales medievales espafioles y la
influencia africana via yoruba. Hoy dia se esti reconsiderando tambidn la
influencia congo. Que es sumamente interesante y me trae a la memorial que
cuando yo estaba estudiando la fiesta conoci un anciano negro, quien vivia
en Loiza, que decia que era africano. HablW con el, lo entreviste, y me dijo
algo que yo, en ese moment, no que no lo creyera, pero lo tuve en duda.
Me dijo que 61 era congo, y que 61 habia llegado a Loiza siendo un nifiito.
Casualmente tengo apuntes que nunca he publicado de mi conversaci6n con
61 que tenia un vocabulario congo que el me ofreci6.
Afios mis tarde, a trav6s de mis studios etnohist6ricos, encontr6 evidencia
de que cuando naufrag6 en las costas de Humacao o Naguabo, un barco
que traia esclavos del Congo. Esos esclavos los tom6 el gobierno espafiol,
pues ya no se podian mantener como esclavos. Los esclavos que traia ese
barco eran ilegales --ya se habia prohibido el trifico de esclavos; la esclavitud
todavia existfa pero el trifico se habia prohibido. Los negros se distribuyeron
entire haciendas y una de esas haciendas fue una hacienda de Loiza. Con el
tiempo llegue a conseguir una papeleta, como un recibo, que se habia dado
a un hacendado de Loiza parte de ese cargamento de esclavos del Congo,
y entire ellos venian nifios. He pensado la posibilidad de que esa persona
que yo conoci --que me ofreci6 informaci6n-- era uno de esos nifos que
habian llegado a Puerto Rico cuando 61 s6lo tenia ocho afios. Calculando
las fechas y lo demis, podria haber sido possible. Por eso, ademis de estudiar
la herencia yoruba en Loiza, y digo esto para los investigadores, hay que
tambien estudiar la herencia congo en Puerto Rico. Porque sabemos que el
Congo fue principalmente colonizado por los portugueses en el siglo XVI,
y ellos lograron imponer alli la religion cristiana. Poca gente sabe que un rey
del Congo se hizo cristiano y envi6 embajadores al Vaticano en ese siglo. iEn
el siglo XVI habia un representante del rey del Congo en el Vaticano! Y es
especialmente en el Congo donde se hacen los crucifijos en bronce y una series


SARGASSO 2006-07, 11


xxii





OPENING COMMENTS


de piezas vinculadas al cristianismo. Digo esto para los j6venes investigadores,
tambi6n hay que adentrarse en las posibilidades de la influencia congo en
Puerto Rico y en la Fiesta de Loiza.
Veo todo esto y me llena de satisfacci6n ver el interns y alegria en este tipo
de studio, que vuelvo y repito, no habia en los afios cuarenta cuando yo estaba
aquf de estudiante y mis tarde cuando estaba organizando las actividades y
el studio de la Fiesta que hice en 1948. Mientras estaba excavando en Lofza
Aldea aprovechaba a los trabajadores que estaban trabajando en las obras para
que me ofrecieran informaci6n sobre las fiestas, sobre las actividades de ellos.
Fue una 6poca en que, siendo yo professor de la Universidad, habiendo fundado
el Centro de Investigaciones Arqueol6gicas y Etnol6gicas que todavia existe,
pude recoger informaci6n que todavia no he publicado. Espero que me den
dos o tres afios mas de vida y, que mi computadora [tocando sufrente] siga tan
bien como esta en estos moments, pueda sacarlas para afuera. Tengo por
ejemplo, una colecci6n de cuentos africanos muy interesante, son cuentos
recogidos alli en Loiza, cuentos que se ilaman de baquin6, que demuestran
que much de los cuentos que nosotros conocemos porque nos los han
hechos nuestros abuelos, que crefamos que vinieron de Espafia, son africanos,
que fueron adaptados aqui a las circunstancias nuestras. Tambi6n hay una
series de estribillos en lenguas africanas. Hay algunos que he publicado. Por.
ejemplo hay un ballet que hizo Ballets de San Juan que se llama "La bruja de
Lofza" y para el cual escribi el libreto, que esti inspirado en un cuento que yo
escuch6 en Loiza. 0 sea, que todavia hay un caudal de informaci6n muy rica
e interesante, que se puede devolver a la sociedad contemporAnea.


Re/Visions of Santiago Ap6stol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism


xxiii
































































I


Santiago de los Hombres













ESSAYS


Caballeros on the march












































Vejigante in action (Carlos Ayala)








The Voice of Bomba
Mervyn C. Alleyne
Department of English, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras



B omba is a traditional music form of Puerto Rico. It suffers from a lack
of research which is quite regrettable considering its importance for the
cultural history and contemporary performing arts of Puerto Rico. The lack
of research in traditional drum-based music seems to be attributable first
to the general disinterest in traditional folklore. As soon as an art form is
dubbed "folklore", it seems to be afflicted with all the negative connotations
of "folklore" as a moribund quaint form of culture that belonged to museums
but are best forgotten as being incompatible with modernisation, and then
become suitable for an occasional dusting off at anniversaries of festivals, but
not for serious research. There have been and there still are small sections
in some Caribbean Universities and Ministries of Education and Culture
where some research or promotion takes place, but without substantial fund-
ing. In the cases in the Anglophone Caribbean that are best known, the
Folklore Studies Project of the University of the West Indies and the Folk
Research Institute of St. Lucia have struggled to stay alive. The Institute of
Puerto Rican Culture seems to be the most vibrant of such institutions in
the Caribbean.
In addition, drums and rhythm struggle for acceptance as music. They
are evidently important components of all music. But by themselves, do
they constitute "music"? Drum music does not produce melody, at least not
clearly identifiable complex melody, within the framework of Western music
culture and aesthetics. There is no easy widespread notation system for drum
music, particularly for the different tones; no descriptive, analytic vocabulary;
to the untrained ear, it is repetitive; the untrained ear is unable to perceive the
subtleties of pitch, stress, sound quality. It is interesting to note that the most
recent forms of Caribbean popular music --dance-hall and reggaetdn-- suffer
from the same negative evaluation as music largely because they are basically
rhythm, simple and repetitive as people say, with melody being very second-
ary. Thus Bomba, dancehall and reggaet6n may be attractive for the sensuality
of their rhythms, but not as music.


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





MERVYN C. ALLEYNE


Alvarez Nazario (1974) uses the term "monotonia" to refer to Bomba
rhythm captured by both drums and voices. It is not clear what this means,
but, as was noted earlier, drum music may be interpreted as simple and repet-
itive by the uninitiated. In English, there is "monotone" which is a scientific
term in musicology, and "monotony" which is part of the general vocabulary
with a slightly pejorative connotation. In any case "monotone" or "monotony"
is strictly speaking about sound, not about rhythm; although a steady domi-
nant beat is what a lot of African music is perceived as having, and this beat
is often described by lay persons as a "monotonous" beat. As we suggested
above, this stricture has surfaced again in the most recent expressions of Ca-
ribbean music: ska, reggae, dance-hall, reggaet6n. On the other hand, African
and Afro-American music is also known for its improvisations. Performance
is often improvisation. Again, these two features, "monotony" and improvi-
sation, may seem contradictory, but they enter into a dialectic synthesis both
in artistic performance and in social organization (see below).
Apart from the lack of prior research, this paper will be affected by the
fact that Bomba music has undergone many metamorphoses. So that when
we talk about Bomba lyrics, it is a question of which Bomba. For example,
there are dialect variants, Bomba poncena, Bomba santurcina, Bomba loicefa, all
claiming primacy and authenticity and sometimes accusing one another of
falsifying the "true" form of the genre. Then there is the folkloricisation and
theatricalisation creating two variants (in addition to the "traditional", con-
servative, original version now becoming archaic): one costumed, stylised,
answering to the demands of theatre and television audiences and Ministries
of Culture, the other freed from such restrictions and free to move with the
times (as occurs in the annual Santiago Ap6stol Festival in Loiza Aldea).
This movement, as with human movements, means especially meeting other
genres and being revitalised or tainted, depending on one's cultural ideologi-
cal position, but really obeying the ineluctable process of fusion, syncretism
and hybridity, something which pleases post-modern theoreticians as if it
were a modern phenomenon when it is really a part of the evolution of hu-
man culture of all times. Bomba lyrics have been affected by all this.
Another problem is Bomba myths and legends vs. Bomba facts. Many as-
pects of Afro-American history generally are very obscure. For example, the
origins of Africans coming to the Americas constitute a major area needing
accurate and trustworthy information. The process by which an African eth-
nicity was constructed out of a number of different African cultural, linguis-


SARGASSO 2006-07, II





THE VOICE OF BOMBA


tic and ethnic elements is another major area of obscurity. There is a general
lack of knowledge about Africa by persons writing about Afro-American
culture and one can see a certain dilettantism here. One source (a PhD dis-
sertation on the Bomba music of Puerto Rico) reproduces an assertion which
had been made in an earlier work (Vega-Drouet 1979) about an "Ashanti"
origin of Bomba. This dissertation is riddled with a number of unsupported
claims and errors. Is an Ashanti origin supported by historical inferences or
facts? The Ashanti influence in Afro-America is early, the Congo (Bantu)
influence is later. If Bomba has an Ashanti origin, this would tend to put
the origins back into the 17th century. But the whole question of the alleged
Ashanti predominance in the Americas (e.g. Jamaica) needs to be reviewed
in the light of evidence that the Ashanti were a powerful kingdom at the
early period of the slave trade and were perhaps more the traders in slaves
from other conquered ethnicities than themselves enslaved. If Bomba is a
plantation phenomenon in Puerto Rico, its origins are likely to be 18th-19th
century and to be rather a Congo (Bantu) phenomenon than an Ashanti.
Furthermore the PhD source speaks of the Akan dialect of Ashanti. The fact
is that Ashanti is a dialect of Akan, a name chosen by African linguistics to
refer to a grouping of closely related dialects spoken in southern Ghana (Twi,
Ashanti, Fante, Akwapin, Guang, etc.).
Research and folkloric interest in Bomba has not yet produced a Bomba
song-book. This is delaying an initial classification of songs into the different
historical periods of their composition. There is a great need for audio-visual
materials which record live authentic performances in situ, and of course the
Santiago Ap6stol festival would be a major site although Bomba, like other
components of the festival, has undergone there significant transformation
in all its aspects. Authentic traditional performances are probably lost for-
ever, lost with the sugar-cane plantation which nurtured them. There may be
individuals alive who are versed in traditional performance and it would be
indeed a very noble act if some culturally conscious entrepreneur would seek
to assemble them in a series of performances duly recorded.
Bomba has two principal sources of the sounds of its music: the drum
and the voice. Their interrelationships in the production of music, as well as
in the structure of performance, are the main interests of this paper.
The primacy of the drum in traditional Caribbean music becomes a near
exclusive monopoly in Bomba. Rhythm, the product of the drum, is central
to Bomba music and almost completely evinces melody. There is no instru-


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





MERVYN C. ALLEYNE


ment in Bomba to carry melody as we know it. The human voice is the sole
possibility of producing a melodic component. There is voice, i.e. singing, in
Bomba, but it is very secondary to the drum in several ways. First, there can
be no Bomba music without drums, but there is Bomba music without voice.
Secondly where there is voice, it is a slave to the drum; it repeats the pattern
of the drums and enhances it.
There are indeed music where voice dominates and even attains an ex-
clusive monopoly; such as for example in a kapella singing. But exclusivity is
perhaps more enjoyed by non-voice instruments, as in so-called instrumen-
tal music. Non-voice instruments often support voice. The reverse is not so
common, i.e. where voice supports non-voice instruments. Jazz provides an
interesting although not an exact illustration. Sarah Vaughan, an African-
American jazz and blues singer of the 50s, often seemed to replace the alto
sax in some songs, especially where the voice engaged in daring improvisa-
tions. Ella Fitzgerald's scat routine also sought to reduce the difference be-
tween voice music and instrumental music.
Bomba is an outstanding example of the dominance of a non-voice source
--the drum, with voice playing a supporting role. However the secondary role
played by Bomba voice is yet important in many respects and is indispensable
to a total grasp of the Bomba phenomenon. It holds clues to deciphering the
origins and development of the music, in its minute detail; for example, Song
Sample 8 (see Appendix, 18), considered by Alvarez Nazario (1974) as one of
the oldest songs found in Loiza Aldea (and the language confirms it), is a refer-
ence to the phenotypical features of Africans. If there is a hint of disparaging,
or taunting, there, it would indicate already that Bomba was a criollo rather than
a bozal phenomenon (contrary to widespread expressed opinion). Of course it
may also be in praise of this phenotypical feature. Who knows? Or it may have
changed over time from praise to taunt. Who knows? The point is that, as in
many folklore songs, a lot of history may be encrypted there. Bomba lyrics also
provide clues and criteria for sub-classification of the genre regionally and
structurally, and the voice emphasises the aesthetic and artistic devices that
are employed by its senior partners: the drum and the dance.
The first comment on the language of Bomba must properly target the
naming of the genre and its artefacts. The name Bomba is generally accept-
ed as being of "African" origin. This is not very illuminating, but as we try
to zoom in with more geographical and ethnic precision, we encounter the
usual problems with African etymologies --there are not many Africanists,


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including native African scholars, researching African Diaspora folklore
and culture, and there are not many who are knowledgeable about that wide
range of languages brought from Africa to the Americas. Another problem is
that there are a host of other names resembling Bomba in the semantic field
of music and festivals and it is difficult to determine whether these names
are variant forms of an original etymon or whether they are independent
names.
There is the possibility that the name is onomatopoeic. Since onomato-
poeia words are not arbitrary in their relations with meaning (unlike the
vast majority, if not all, of the words of human language), but rather are
inherently motivated in the way in which their form is a copy of their mean-
ing, identical or similar words may show up in different places or different
languages without there being any historical connection. Bomba may be an
imitation of the sound of the drum (with an ending -- [-a] -- to bring it in
line with the phonological shape of words in the particular language), and
the word could be invented anywhere and anytime.
In Caribbean popular vernaculars, as in others, there is a category of
onomatopoeia which tries to capture and animate certain highly expressive
verbs. For example: he fall down bradap; he hit him bodow, bof. In English,
there are examples; many are constantly invented by comic strip writers, such
as kapow to represent a huge blow by the fist, etc.. Some have passed into the
standard English language: bang, zap.
In Caribbean English, boom enhances a variety of verbs: "he fall down
boom", "it bus open boom", "he hit him boom". Although it requires further in-
vestigation, it could be argued that, at the birth of the steel-band in Trinidad,
when it came to naming the pans, onomatopoeia may have been the recourse
for the coining of the name /bUm/ "boom" to refer to the base drum.
The two main features of the word "boom" are the initial bilabial conso-
nant /b/ and the bilabial nasal /m/. /b/ is a very expressive consonant in Eng-
lish and some other European languages (e.g. French), and, as sound sym-
bolism goes, it can express grotesqueness or huge size. It was rare in Latin
and turns up in a large percentage of words invented in Romance languages,
words that dictionaries usually annotate as being "of obscure origin". Spanish
preferred /b/ over Latin /v/ and /w/, and so did English-based vernaculars
in the Caribbean in their early stages, until English /v/ was restored in the
later stages of the second language acquisition process (or in the decreolisa-
tion process, according to some Caribbean linguists). The nasal sound /m/


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MERVYN C. ALLEYNE


in bomba is an important part of the onomatopoeia. Nasal sounds are well
known for their association with musicality, and poets of the age when po-
etry had to have a certain musicality used nasals for good effect. Two lines
from a poem of the French 19th century author Aragon offer a particularly
beautiful and expressive illustration: Les sanglots longs des violons de l'autonne/
Blessent mon coeur d'une langueur monotone.
It is not entirely clear where all this leads us. The main problem in link-
ing all of the above to Bomba of Puerto Rico is that Trinidadian onomato-
poeia "boom" captures the sound of a large base drum (this is supported by
its metaphorical extension to express the ample buttocks of some Caribbean
women), while Bomba music does not use this kind of drum.
There are a host of names of drums which in some way resemble the
word Bomba, but which, despite the courageous efforts of Manuel Alvarez
Nazario, do not provide an acceptable etymology. They all contain the ele-
ment /-vowel+mb/. This is preceded by a consonant: /g/, /k/, /t/ or /ng/, and
followed by a vowel /e/ or /a/. For example, rumba, timba, tumba, marimba,
kumba, merecumbe, gomba, gombe (Jamaica and the Bahamas), gumba, kumbe
(Jamaica). In Kikongo, /ngoma/ is a dance drum made of wood and there
are dialectal variants in other Bantu dialects. And that is not all. There are
other names denoting Afro-American rhythms which have the basic nucleus
/vowel+mb/: rumba, cumbe, mambo-jambo, samba; or with another nasal: tan-
go, bongo. We may also note that the English word "drum" itself is probably
onomatopoeic (from an original form such as "daroom"). It may also have
had the /umb/ nucleus before the sequence /mb/ was reduced to /m/ in pro-
nunciation as in "dumb", "thumb", etc. which, unlike /drum/, retain the final
/b/ in spelling. A possible earlier form such as "daroomba" is also very close to
rumba, without there being any known possibility of a direct historical con-
nection. Furthermore, French and Spanish tambour, tambor, show the same
nucleus (vowel + mb), but in this case, it seems that the original was tabor
(probably Arabic) which later had an /m/ inserted, evidently for its musical-
ity, showing how strong was the association between /vowel + mb/ and the
drum. Onomatopoeia may have played a role in the naming of other musi-
cal items in the Caribbean. And the most fascinating possibility is that two
Caribbean rhythms, one old and the other new, seem to have represented
their rhythms through the same onomatopoeic form, without there being
any chance of historical connection. In the 1950s, Jamaican popular music
created a new rhythm and dance form based, to a large measure, on the mu-


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THE VOICE OF BOMBA


sic and dance of Revival, one of the Afro-Christian religions of Jamaica. It
was named ska, in imitation, it seems, of the particular technique, sound and
rhythm of the guitar, chiefly the base guitar. It turns out that the name of one
of the rhythms of Santurce bomba is sica, which may be also onomatopoeic.
The resemblance is uncanny: ska and sica.
To conclude on the question of the name, Bomba is another example of
that fascinating interplay of creativity and continuity that provides the basic
formula, or the foundations of a theory, that would account for Afro-Amer-
ican culture. There have been attempts to present continuity and creativity
as opposite and opposing, contrasting and competing formulae, and I myself
may have been guilty of being too zealous in my defence of continuity (see
Alleyne 1980), my zealousness being more a response to a tradition of denial
of African continuities in Afro-American culture and language. This denial
had not only been part of the social and ideological consciousness of both
coloniser and colonised, but had also invaded scholarship on Afro-American
culture and needed to be corrected. The interplay of continuity and creativity
is not a special phenomenon; it achieves a high degree of universality in the
evolution of human society and culture.
There is reason to suppose that, in its origins, Bomba was more sponta-
neous and celebratory, rather than being conservative and ritualistic. Struc-
tural patterning probably emerged through the usual combination of cultural
continuity and creativity, in many respects opportunistic creativity. An out-
standing example of what I mean is the birth of the steel band. There were in
Trinidad several traditions of drumming, one of which used bamboo as the
source. It was called "bamboo tamboo" ("tamboo" is from French "tambour").
When this drumming was outlawed during the second World War, for ap-
parently security reasons, the people who had to have their drum music, as a
deep-rooted essential African cultural, aesthetic continuity, turned first of all
to the covers of garbage bins and the large cans/drums in which soda biscuits
were kept in the small neighbourhood shops; and when these proved inad-
equate they turned opportunistically but highly creatively to the discarded oil
drums of Trinidad's burgeoning oil industry. If there had been no oil boom
(no pun intended) in Trinidad, it is interesting to speculate what Trinidad's
music would have been.
In the case of Bomba, it is generally believed that it emerged in the late
18th or in the early 19th century in the southern coastal sugar plantations of
Puerto Rico, where the export of molasses and rum in wooden barrels pro-


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MERVYN C. ALLEYNE


vided the opportunity for the making of drums through the creative con-
version of boxes into musical instruments, continuing an African tradition.
Bomba then spread to urban or urbanising areas, chiefly Lofza Aldea where it
became attached to the Santiago Ap6stol Festival and may now be perceived
as being not merely grafted but genetically and organically linked. It spread
further to Santurce where the availability of imported salted meats in other
kinds of barrels brought about a change in the manufacture of the drum, as
well as other important changes which thus created two important variants
of the genre, both continuing an African tradition, in two creative ways.
Research on the lyrics will hopefully allow us to be more specific about
the details of the origins. For the moment however there are several possi-
bilities. First of all, Bomba music may have been a creation of esclavos bozales.
According to Alvarez Nazario (1974), a certain Charles Walker in a letter
in 1836 refers to Bomba as "the dance of the bozales. It is the dance of their
native land and they accompany the music with songs in the [sic] Congo
language". Another scholar, Halbert Barton, in a recent PhD dissertation
(Barton 1995), gives a scenario of Bomba history in which it is linked to slave
rebellions as it "offered an effective visual and auditory distraction, a diver-
sionary tactic which enabled other slaves to sneak away". There is even a sug-
gestion made by Dufrasne-Gonzalez (1989), relying on 19th century sources
and recent studies, that the use of an African language in the lyrics allowed
slaves to organize revolts without non-slaves being privy to their conspira-
cies. If all this is true, it implies that Bomba lyrics were initially in an African
language. Of course, the problem here is that, if that language according to
Mr. Walker, was "the Congo language" (of course there is no such thing), it is
in conflict with the suggestion that Bomba is of Ashanti origin. And if Bomba
lyrics were in one particular African language, the songs could hardly be used
in conspiracies since no one language was universally spoken or understood
by all slaves on any plantation.
It is reasonable to locate the origins on southern plantations in the area
serving the sugar and molasses and rum export centre of Ponce. This would
explain the use of sugar and molasses barrels. In addition, support for that
region comes from the fact that the Ponce Bomba tradition is one of fe-
male singers exclusively and this is probably the conservative tradition. In
the Ponce tradition, the goat skins used to cover the drum are taken from a
female goat, not from the male. The Santurce genre exhibits mixed gender
singing. The southern feature of sitting on the drum to play it may also be


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THE VOICE OF BOMBA


older than the northern, Santurce, feature of playing the drum while seated
on a stool.
Whatever its origins, Bomba quickly became eclectic in terms of its prac-
titioners and the occasions of its performance. Indeed the first written at-
testation of Bomba was in 1797 by a French travel writer, M. Ledru, who
reported that a Bomba performance had taken place to celebrate the birth of
his first-born child of a hacienda administrator in Aibonito (Ledru 1957).
This conforms to the Puerto Rican pattern of relatively rapid integration of
the different ethnic groups, African, Taino and European, into culture and
cultural performances such as language, music, religion, cuisine.
If Bomba was originally the music of esclavos bozales, its existing form
suggests that its development was eclectic. There is evidence to support an
input into the development of Bomba by people from the non-Hispanic Ca-
ribbean --Haiti and other French possessions, the Virgin Islands and the
Leeward Islands. The Franco-Caribbean connection is revealed in the nam-
ing of some of the variant rhythms of Bomba --the calinda, the boule, the
belen and perhaps also the kunyd and grasimd, and, in the opinion of some
people, the lero, believed to be le roi. Belen may be the bele dance, well known
in the French Caribbean and which many people erroneously associate with
French belair. Other rhythms whose names suggest a non-Puerto Rican ori-
gin are the holandi and the danois, presumably from the Virgin Islands or the
Dutch Antilles. There are also allusions in these songs which point to non-
Hispanic inspirations, such as the evocation of Dambamba, which resembles
the Dambala of Haitian Vaudoun (see Appendix, Song Sample 1).
African languages were not universally understood and therefore this re-
stricted their use in the lyrics. Restricted as to their ability to express referen-
tial meaning, African language forms became evocative, phatic, and aesthetic
in their purposes and functions. These forms could best fulfil these functions
at the beginning of the song. The typical early surviving song has opening
lines in an African language, followed by lines in the language of the bozales,
and in non-standard Spanish (see Appendix 17-18, Song Samples 1 and 5).
Even where there was some referential meaning, it was the needs of
the rhythm rather than referential communication needs which were being
addressed. As for example in the Song Sample 1 (see Appendix, 17). The
artistic quality and the functional achievement of the lyrics of this composi-
tion come out in several ways. First of all meter and rhythm. Each syllable
represents a meter of rhythm. Spanish is already a syllable-timed language,


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MERVYN C. ALLEYNE


and so are African languages (unlike English). So each syllable has some
stress or accentuation and prominence and clarity, but the final syllable is
highlighted by additional stress and accentuation, as when the drums go /ta
ta ta ta ti/. The verse is therefore agudo with masculine rhyme and, when
it is sung, there is also ictus, extra loudness on the final accented syllable.
This final syllable also has the vowel /a/ which, in the hierarchy of sonority
established by scientific physical phonetics, is at the highest level. Note also
the interplay and contrast between the high vowels of tinguinf and the low
vowels of dambambd. The interplay captures and enhances the high and low
pitches of the drum.
The song is slave to the rhythm and to the sonority of the drums. The
referential aspect of the lyrics is minimal. In fact, the song ignores the stress
pattern of Spanish which is vital to referential meaning; and toca becomes
tocd to meet the demands of rhythm (agudo), sonority and masculine rhyme
(all aesthetic features producing a line of near artistic perfection). This is
reminiscent of folk poetry, of an age when poetry was music --meter, musi-
cality and sonority. And I remember from my undergrad days as a student
of Romance Philology, an old Spanish folk song in which the placement of
stress takes precedence over referential meaning:

Al olivo, al olivo al olivo subi
Por cortar una rama del olivo caf
Del oliva caf quien me levantard
Esa gachi morena que la mano me da
Que la mano me da, que la mano me dio
Esa gachi morena es la que quiero yo.

And there is also of course the calypsonian, the Mighty Sparrow, who
also exploits the syllable-timing of the Trinidad popular vernacular and re-
arranges stress to suit the rhythm of the verse, as in the song mocking British
royalty (the marriage of Princess Margaret) which ends:

This cameraman
Could get a good wok in Trinidad Guardian (with main stress on the last syllable
of'guardian").


And we find the same feature of "non-referential stress on the final syl-
lable" in the style of the Cuban balladeer, Vicentico Valdez, who loved to use


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THE VOICE OF BOMBA


ictus and agudo verse. In the following song all verses end in /-a/ the highest
level of sonority and main stress is transferred to that final syllable, regardless
of where it fell in referential language:

Fue mi primer amor un desengafio mas para mi vida
Porque yo compreni que tu a mi coraz6n no lo queria
Ya que no pudo ser, resignaci6n tendr6, asi es la vida
Tu sabes bien que yo y mi pobre coraz6n nunca te olvidan

There is no evidence that Bomba lyrics served a larger purpose than en-
hancing the rhythm of the drum and stirring the dancers to more energetic
spirited performances. Since Bomba was totally secular, the words had no
spiritual evocative power but were purely aesthetic and related to sensuality.
In more recent songs there is more contemporary and more widely under-
standable non-standard Spanish and, as the lyrics are understandable, they
may communicate messages. Or it may be reverse: the need to transmit mes-
sages and commentaries on life motivates the use of understandable language.
Needless to say, in this sense, sonority and musicality are sacrificed in favour
of referentiality. But we should note however that even now in contemporary
Bomba, the referential role of lyrics is severely limited. Bomba has, as it were,
allowed the other musical genre which it spawned --Plena-- to assume the
function of carrying social messages through the lyrics. This is the major
feature which distinguishes Plena from Bomba. In Plena, lyrics became a de-
fining feature, as it is in the calypso of Trinidad. Bomba is then able to con-
tinue as predominantly rhythm-based percussion music with lyrics serving
as an enhancement. However, some Bomba songs in more recent times refer
to social events and make social commentary, such as Song Sample #4 (see
Appendix, 17) about the presence of Virgin Islanders in Puerto Rico, and
Song Samples # 5 and # 7 (18), as well as and Song Sample # 6 (18), which
is so reminiscent of a Trinidadian refrain, an ode to rum. The Trinidadian
refrain typically sung by a group of men at a Rum Bar goes:

Rum, glorious rum
When I call you, you bound to come
Repeat
You were made from Caroni cane
So you (are) the best rum in Port-of-Spain
I going to send my scorpion to bite your centipede
Sans humanite.


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But the main function of the lyrics of Bomba was and still remains the
enhancement of the main components: instrumental drum music and dance.
The communicative pattern of a Bomba performance existing within and
between components is complex, but with a unifying feature. The two drums
communicate, the buleador providing the basic beat and the other drum the
subidor or repicador improvising with virtuosity; the dancers form a circle
which follows the basic beat, while a pair of dancers in the Ponce tradition or
a single dancer in the Northern tradition take on the subidor, sometimes fol-
lowing, sometimes combining, but sometimes competing, and, at yet other
times, flirting with the drum.
Then there are the singers. And here the interactions are simpler. They,
the singers, relate to the drums which relate to the dancers; so technically,
there is no direct rapport between singers and dancers. The singers enhance
the rhythm, adding, as it were, an additional instrument or instruments with
the quality of voice and the sonority of the particular sounds of voice.
The buleador drum which keeps a steady beat may be seen as reflecting
the collectivity --a very strong force in Afro-American culture (cf. Alleyne
1984)-- and within this framework, the subidor improvises with virtuosity.
The singers and dancers also capture this pattern and it appears elsewhere
in Afro-American performances, both folk and popular. A typical pattern is
that the dancers form a circle moving with the basic rhythm of the buleador,
a pair or dancers or a single dancer step out of the circle line improvising with
creative movements in dialogue with the buleador. This is followed by a chain
of individual improvisers.
As far as the singers and the songs are concerned, there is chorus and
there are individuals, with the same distribution of roles based on the notion
of a "monotonous" collectivity interspersed with individual improvised flour-
ish and virtuosity. The singers interact within a well known Afro-American
choral device of "call-and-response" found at virtually every level in the cycle
of Afro-American music evolution.


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Bibliography

Alleyne, Mervyn C. 1984. The world view of Jamaicans. Jamaica Journal 17:
2-8
Alvarez, Luis Manuel. 1993. La presencia negra en la music puertorriquefia.
In Gonzalez 1992.
Alvarez Nazario,Manuel. 1974. Elemento Afronegroide en el Espafol de Puerto
Rico. San Juan, PR: Instituto de Cultura Puertorriquefia.
Barton, Halbert. 1995. The Drum Dance Challenge:An Anthropological Study
of Gender, Race and Class Marginalization in Puerto Rico. PhD Thesis,
Cornell University.
Dufrasne-Gonzalez, Jose Emanuel. 1982. Aspects of Homogeneity and Diver-
sity in Puerto Rican Music: A Comparative Study of Musical Folklore of
Two Puerto Rican Municipalities: Guayama and Loiza. Master's Thesis.
University of California, Los Angeles.
Dufrasne-Gonzalez, Jos6 Emanuel. 1989. La africania de los bailes de bom-
ba: la interacci6n social durante los events musicales. Revista del Cen-
tro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe 9, julio-dic.
Dufrasne-Gonzalez, Jose Emanuel. 1989. La Bomba de Puerto Rico. Salinas
Hoy, noviembre-diciembre.
Dufrasne-Gonzalez, Jose Emanuel. 1990. Ponce, el area sur y la Bomba. Re-
vista Musical Puertorriquena 5:40-47.
Figueroa Berrios, Edwin. 1963. Los sones de la bomba en la tradici6n popu-
lar de la costa surefia de Puerto Rico. Revista ICPR 21: 46-48.
Gonzalez, Lydia Milagros, ed. La Tercera Raiz: La Presencia Africana en
Puerto Rico. San Juan:CEREP
Ledru, Andre Pierre. 1957 [1797]. Viaje a la Isla de Puerto Rico. Rio Piedras:
UPR Ediciones del Instituto de Literatura Puertorriquena.
Lopez Cruz, Francisco. 1967. La Mzisica Folkldrica de Puerto Rico. Sharon,
CT: Troutman Press.
McCoy, James. 1968. The Bomba and the Aguinaldo of Puerto Rico as They
Have Evolved from Indigenous, African and European Cultures. PhD
Thesis. Florida State University.
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Vega-Drouet, Hector. 1979. Historical and Ethnological Survey on Probable
African Origins of the Puerto Rican Bomba. Including a description of San-
tiago Apostol. PhD Thesis, Wesleyan University.
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Puertorrique~ia. Vol 1. Humacao, PR: Editorial Furidi.


The tradition continues on the road in front of the bohio Ayala


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THE VOICE OF BOMBA


APPENDIX



SAMPLES OF BOMBA LYRICS

1.
Tinguini, Dambamba
Que voy bailando bomba bomb
Tinguini, Dambambi
Toca que toca toca toca

Dambamba tinguini
Que la culebra comi6 el aji
Dambambi tinguini
fio sico baila culebra aji

2.
Sumangu6 ese hombre, mi sumangu6
Me decia mi sumangue
Que tenia mi sumangu6
Sillones mi sumangu6
Una casa mi sumangue

3.
Aya, bomb, quinomb6
Oh6, oh6, mano Migu6
Ayayd, sagu, cari
Ohe, oh6, quinomb6

4.
Yo me ba a Santomi, yo me ba
Yo me ba a Santomi, yo me ba
Guacald de mi vida, Guacald


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MERVYN C. ALLEYNE


5.
Dot6 mundale guamali tamanda e
Dot6 mundale guamali tamanda e
Mira que tu madre es conga
Tu padre carabali
Tanto tiempo en Puerto Rico
Y tu no puede hablar asi

6.
Anis, anis de coraz6n
Si no hay anis que venga ron
Ron, ron pido yo
Si no hay anis que venga ron

7.
Hueso hueso na mi
Hueso hueso na mi
Hueso hueso na mi
Asi lo que te queda
Hueso na mi

Tanto orgullo, tanta vanidi
Tanto orgullo, tanta vanidi
Tanto orgullo, tanta vanidi
Asi lo que te quedas
Hueso na mi

8.
Nengue, nengue bembu
Nengue, nengue bembu
Nengue, nengue bemb6
Nengue, nengue bemb6


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El pais de Santiago: ecologia y producci6n
en la region de Loiza, siglos XVIII-XIX
Juan A. Giusti Cordero
Departamento de Historia, Universidad de Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras


Las Fiestas de Santiago Ap6stol originaron a fines del XVIII o principios
del XIX; hay raz6n para pensar que su inicio fue a mis tardar a mediados
del siglo XIX. La mas antigua referencia documental a la celebraci6n de las fiestas
que conocemos data de 1880. No mencionan las Fiestas Fray Ifiigo Abbad o
Fernando Miyares en la segunda mitad del siglo XVIII, (Abbad 1959 [1788]:
108-09; Fernindez M6ndez 1995: 302 [1775]), ni Andre Pierre Ledrui (1995:
333-34 [1797]), ni el Obispo Zengoitita en 1978, o Pedro TomAs de C6r-
doba en la primera mitad del siglo XIX (1968: I, 35-42 [1831-33]).
El limitado desarrollo azucarero que experiment Loiza hasta principios
del siglo XIX fue en el area cinco kil6metros rio arriba (Ribera Alta), cerca
de lo que es hoy Can6vanas, y no en la boca del rio (Ribera Baja) donde
estA hoy el pueblo; much menos en Mediania, hacia el este. Fue despu6s
de los 1820 que el area del pueblo y Mediania experimentaron un desarrollo
de la producci6n esclavista azucarera en sus inmediaciones, con la incursi6n
a partir de 1818 de hacendados esclavistas irlandeses y angloirlandeses de
las Antillas vecinas (donde el azucar habia entrado en decadencia) o de los
EEUU. Estos hacendados revivieron las antiguas fiestas de San Patricio de
la localidad, que antiguamente estuvieron vinculadas al cultivo de la yuca.
Las fiestas de San Patricio fueron asi revividas en un context nuevo y con
significados nuevos.
Frente a la expansion esclavista y azucarera, las Fiestas de Santiago ori-
ginaron como una expresi6n oblicua de resistencia. Las fiestas igualmente
ritualizan un viraje local hacia la producci6n del coco.

iNEGRITUD AZUCAR ESCLAVITUD?

La esclavitud y el az6car no tuvieron siempre en Lofza la importancia que
generalmente se supone; ni la esclavitud se intensific6 alli particularmente a
principios del siglo XIX. A fines del siglo XVIII, el partido de Loiza tenia


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism






JUAN A. GIUSTI CORDERO


el mayor porcentaje de esclavos (37%) en Puerto Rico, pero ocupaba s6lo el
sexto lugar en la producci6n de azucar y melaza. La producci6n de pan de
casabe era probablemente mas important (Tabla 1). Loiza tenia igualmente
un alto porcentaje de negros y mulatos ("morenos y pardos") libres (Tabla 2).
Para una region "negra" y costera en medio de la 6poca azucarera caribefia,
todo 6sto se aparta bastante de las definiciones tipicas del Caribe. Otro dato
que socava el modelo esclavista en Lofza es la alta proporci6n de agregados
(1778: 26%, 1791: 31%).

TABLA 1.
ESCLAVOS Y AGREGADOS EN LOS PARTIDOS DE MAYOR PROPORCION PUERTO RICO (1776)


Partido

Loiza
Bayam6n
Too Baja
Rio Piedras
San Juan
Humacao
Guayama
Fuente: Abbad [1778] 1959


Porcentaoe de esclavos + agregados
en la poblaci6n total
68%
39%
42%
35%
30%
25%
25%


TABLA 2.
PRODUCTION AZUCARERA Y POBLACION
DE ESCLAVOS Y AGREGADOS LOIZA Y OTROS PARTIDOS (1776)


Azucaf (Ibs)

102,800
69,000
65,250



5,000


[sdovos y porclento
de lo pobloao6n

321 (25%)
208 (8%)
425 (37%)
138 (12%)
215 (15%)
530 (9%)
501 (5%)
127(8%)
18


Agiegados y %
de la poblaci6n

125 (10%)
882 (34%)
358(31%)
118(11%)
344 (24%)
188 (3%)
1,140(12%)
257(1 7%)
(1%)


SARGASSO 2006-07, 11


RIO PIEDRAS
TOA BAJA
LOIZA
GUAYNABO
BAYAMON
PONCE
SAN GERMAN
HUMACAO
ARECIBO


Alea en cano
(cuendas)

270
138
150
217
206
251
347
82
101





EL PAIS DE SANTIAGO


Area en cano Azaor (lbs) Melaza Esdavos y porarento Agregados y%
(cuerdas) (botijas) de la pablaci6n de la poblaci6n
GUAYAMA 100 100 2,900 511 (10%) 251 (5%)
VEGA 102 ... 2,520 174(14%) 128(10%)
COAMO 94 200 644 474(10%) 117(2%)
FAJARDO 70 200 51 (4%) 133 (9%)
CANGREJOS 9 ... 11 (2%) 194(39%)
SAN JUAN ... ...... 604 (9%) 1,369(21%)

A partir del 1800, mientras la esclavitud aumentaba en otras zonas de
Puerto Rico, la proporci6n de esclavos en el partido de Loiza descendi6. La
poblaci6n esclava en Lofza se redujo por la mitad, a s6lo 18% en 1828 (Gua-
yama, 30%; Ponce, 22%; Mayagiiez, 21%), mientras la proporci6n de agre-
gados aument6 (1818: 45%). Todo ello a pesar de que el partido se hizo mis
"costero" al desvincularse Trujillo y Las Piedras en 1800 para former nuevos
partidos (de Trujillo se formarian eventualmente Trujillo Alto y Carolina).
En t6rminos de cuerdas en cafia, Loiza pas6 de sexto lugar (1776) a octavo
(1833). Las cifras absolutas para 1828 son 742 esclavos de una poblaci6n de
4,198; 324 cuerdas sembradas en cafia y 276 toneladas de moscabado.
Muchos esclavos y agregados del litoral loicefio trabajaban en la produc-
ci6n de yuca y pan de casabe. El casabe goz6 de una fuerte demand internal y
de las islas vecinas hasta principios del siglo XIX. En 1791, el mayor n6mero
de propietarios y el mayor n6mero de agregados (84) vivia en Ribera Baja,
desde la boca del Rio Grande hasta Mediania. Esto sugiere que los agregados
no se relacionaban much con la producci6n de haciendas cafteras sino con la
producci6n de yuca y casabe.
La f6rtil tierra arenosa de la Ribera Baja de Lofza es tan caracteristica del
area que se le ha denominado "tierra de Loiza" ("Loiza soil") (Uttley 1937).
Esta "tierra de Loiza" cubria casi 4,000 cuerdas del litoral de Loiza, incluyen-
do Pifiones. La "tierra de Loiza" era la base de sus comunidades, de sus tierras
de cultivo y de sus cocales. Era y es excelente para la yuca y otros cultivos, no
tanto para la cafia de azuicar.

El terreno mas inmediato a la mar es arenoso; pero a prop6sito para el
cazabe, algod6n, pifias, hicacos, melones, sandias, frijoles y otras legumbres
(Abbad 1959: 108).

Hasta el siglo XVIII, el muy nutritivo pan de casabe o "pan de los indios"
era el principal "pan" de la isla. El casabe de Loiza se vendia en San Juan,


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JUAN A. GIUSTI CORDERO


transportindolo en el camino real (la "ruta del casabe") a trav6s de Pifiones
y hacia otras parties de Puerto Rico (C6rdova 1833: 42). Tambidn se trans-
portaba en ancones por canales hasta las lagunas de Pifiones y de ahi hasta
la Bahia de San Juan. El pan de casabe tenia una cualidad important para
los circuitos de transportaci6n mis lentos de la 6poca: se conservaba largo
tiempo (hasta 1-3 afios) sin pudrirse (Moscoso 1986: 427).
La producci6n de casabe en Loiza era de primera importancia. En una re-
soluci6n de 1773, el cabildo de San Juan lament "el escaso cultivo" de la yuca,
entonces limitada a los partidos de Loiza y Cangrejos, que categoriz6 de "in-
suficiente para el consume de los mis de 120,000 almas que la pueblan". El
cabildo sugiri6 que Loiza y Cangrejos tenfan un mercado a nivel insular.
A fines del siglo XVIII y principios del XIX, el litoral loicefio, la Ribera
Baja, era el principal productor de casabe en Puerto Rico. En un censo agri-
cola de 1812, Lofza aparece como el zinico productor de casabe en la isla; su
producci6n annual estaba valorada en 27,000 pesos. Todavia en los 1820 Pedro
Tomis de C6rdova informa: "La industrial del pan de cazabe y el aceite de
coco, con otras labores de paja y emajagua que los habitantes elaboran, les
ofrece bastante utilidad". Y aun en 1849 el reparto de subsidio de Mediania
enumera a 47 de 159 contribuyentes como cultivadores de yuca, como cultivo
principal o en combinaci6n con arroz o maiz.
Sin embargo, desde 1780 la producci6n de yuca y casabe en Loiza se
debilitaba ante las importaciones de harina de trigo de los Estados Unidos.
A partir de los 1820, con el "boom" del azucar, el aumento en el nivel de con-
sumo de la isla y la intensificaci6n de su comercio con los EEUU, el consume
del casabe se fue limitando a Lofza y a los sectors mis pobres.
La producci6n azucarera en gran escala en Loiza fue muy limitada hasta
el siglo XIX. Los terrenos arenosos de Ribera Baja y los humedales inmedia-
tamente al sur imponian trabas importantes al cultivo de azucar. El desarrollo
de las haciendas esclavistas fue mis al sur, en los terrenos un poco mis altos
de Ribera Arriba (cercanos a los mogotes) y estuvo ligado a la ganaderia. En
los 1790, Ledru encontr6 que en la Hacienda Can6vanas existia aun tanto
espacio sin cultivar que corrian unas 300 cabezas de ganado cimarr6n (que se
cazaban con perros) en sus extensos montes.
El empuje de Loiza como region azucarera esclavista advino con la C6-
dula de Gracias y la llegada de various hacendados irlandeses en Ribera Alta.
Bajo la C6dula, como se sabe, la Corona efectivamente le regalaba la propie-
dad de la tierra a estos hacendados seglin el numero de esclavos que trafan.


SARGASSO 2006-07, 11





EL PAIS DE SANTIAGO


Los hacendados eran mayormente irlandeses criollos del Caribe ingl6s y al-
gunos daneses criollos de las Islas Virgenes danesas. Loiza y el oriented de
Puerto Rico tenian una larga historic de relaciones con estas islas vecinas.
La mayoria de los hacendados arrib6 a Loiza entire 1815 y 1830. Eran de
apellidos como Seary, O'Neill, Kearney, Kiernan, Fitzpatrick, Parsons, Fitz-
simmons, Viner y Quigley. Ya para 1818, los tres principles contribuyentes
en Lofza eran irlandeses.
En 1828 habia en Lofza 18 trapiches, mayormente en Ribera Alta, con
324 cuerdas (un promedio de 18 cuerdas por trapiche). Uno de los hacenda-
dos, George ("Jorge") Seary, cobr6 especial prominencia. Seary era duefio de
la Hacienda San Jos6 del Cacique (mas adelante Hacienda Grande, donde
hoy dia ubican Villa Cafiona y las parcelas Los Santos). Seary fue un hacen-
dado principal del area hasta mediados del XIX; en 1855, por ejemplo, tenia
80 esclavos. Otro hacendado prominent, en este caso dands, era Hans Henri
Berg. Berg era Teniente Gobernador de Saint Thomas y duefio de goletas
que surcaban la ruta entire Saint Thomas y el noreste de Puerto Rico. Su
hacienda, San Isidro, tenia mais de 800 cuerdas.
La presencia irlandesa en Lofza era significativa y ambiciosa. Seary pro-
movi6 cambiar el patrono de la parroquia del Espiritu Santo a San Patricio
y "revivir" nuevamente un culto local a San Patricio. Revivieron, en mayor
o menor grado, el dia de San Patricio (17 de marzo). El reinicio del culto
loicefio a San Patricio se puede fechar con alguna mayor precision que el de
Santiago: fue entire 1820 y 1850. Pero San Patricio, al menos en su modalidad
revivida, atrajo poco interns entire los residents de Mediania. Una antigua
advocaci6n local al Espiritu Santo o nunca habia tenido much fuerza en
cuanto a festividades, o habia quedado relegada al olvido.
La devoci6n a San Patricio origin en San Juan durante la Conquista,
cuando las siembras de yuca sufrieron una plaga de hormigas y luego otra de
gusano. San Patricio se invoc6 por sorteo para la segunda y fue efectivo. De
ahi en adelante San Patricio tuvo fiestas patronales en San Juan, que con el
tiempo decayeron. La devoci6n se recuper6 en los 1640 al atacar otra vez el
gusano (en Fernandez M6ndez 188). Es decir, que San Patricio no es el santo
protector contra las hormigas, como quiza se entiende generalmente, sino
contra los gusanos.
El origen del pueblo de Loiza se relaciona con el establecimiento en
1690 de una ermita dedicada al patrono local de la yuca, San Patricio, y don-
de estA hoy dia la iglesia. Sin duda el culto a San Patricio se relacion6 con la


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JUAN A. GIUSTI CORDERO


importancia de la yuca y casabe. Con Seary, diriamos, San Patricio pas6 de
ser patrono de la yuca a ser patrono de la cafia de azdcar.
En la fundaci6n del partido de Lofza y establecerse su iglesia en 1719,
el patronato del que se denomin6 oficialmente "Pueblo del Espiritu Santo y
San Patricio de Loyza" fue el Espiritu Santo, que (por su prelaci6n en la de-
signaci6n) bien podria haber sido el patrono principal. De haberse celebrado
fiestas patronales para el Espiritu Santo, habrian sido en la 6poca de Pente-
cost6s, a mediados de mayo (cincuenta dias despu6s de Pascua).
La advocaci6n del pueblo al Espiritu Santo no era una meramente official y
eclesidstica, sino que parece haber respondido (como San Patricio, en su origen) a
una devoci6n local previa. Es significativo que el Espiritu Santo es important en
la toponimia loicefia. Con su figure se denomina una de las principles montafias
y uno de los mas caudalosos rios del area. El Espiritu Santo era uno de los
tres picos de mayor altura de la cordillera que hoy conocemos como la Sierra
de Luquillo o Sierra del Yunque. Componen esa trinidad de picos:
Pico del Toro o del Suroeste (1076 m), el mis alto de los tres. Entiendo
que 6ste es el que seg6n la Memoria de Melgarejo era denominado Espi-
ritu Santo (1582; Fernandez M6ndez 118).
Pico del Yunque, el [segundo] mas alto (1066 m), ya en el siglo XVI
era lamado Furidi "puesto este nombre por negros, que en su lengua
quiere decir cosa que esti siempre llena de nublados", segin la Memo-
ria de Melgarejo (ibid.). Se desconoce en que lengua africana original el
vocablo "Furidi".
Pico del Este (1051 m), el mas remoto, que entiendo era el pico deno-
minado Loquillo, en recuerdo del cacique rebelde que luch6 desde alli
contra los espafioles.
Africa, Borinquen y una significativa figure trinitaria europea configu-
raban la trinidad del Yunque, siglos antes que el muy diferente icono del
Institute de Cultura Puertorriquefia.
En el Pico del Toro o Espiritu Santo nace el rio del mismo nombre, que
fluye integro por 19 kms. hasta el mar, sin tributaries importantes, y bordea
por el este lo que era entonces el partido de Loiza (y que inclufa al hoy mu-
nicipio de Rio Grande). El Espiritu Santo es un rio majestuoso, de densos
manglares. A su manera, el Espiritu Santo es mis impresionante que el Rio
Grande de Loiza. El Espitiru Santo es una figure poco invocada en la to-
ponimia; en America solo conocemos el estado, antes provincia, de Espiritu
Santo en Brasil, la provincia hist6rica de Sancti Spiritus en Cuba (nombre


SARGASSO 2006-07,1





EL PAIS DE SANTIAGO


original, Espiritu Santo) y la isla Espiritu Santo en Baja California, M6xico
(aunque habria que hablar tambi6n de "Trinidad" como toponimico).
En su pr6logo al fundamental studio de Don Ricardo Alegria sobre las
Fiestas de Santiago, Fernando Ortiz destac6 el interns que tiene el Espiritu Santo
en el context loicefio y sus importantes dimensions africanas. Cabe investigar
mais sobre la devoci6n al Espiritu Santo en Loiza, sobre la trayectoria de esta
devoci6n y c6mo se relacion6 con las de San Patricio y con la de Santiago. En
las tradiciones religiosas africanas las figures trinitarias son importantes; por
ejemplo, en la tradici6n yoruba, Olorun-Olodumare-Nana Balaku.
En Europa el culto a Espiritu Santo fue desaprobado por la Iglesia desde
la Edad Media, y sus supervivencias en la religiosidad popular de Portugal y
sobre todo las Islas Azores result significativa. Desde las Azores, en parti-
cular, la influencia del culto alcanz6 a Brasil donde se celebra ampliamente
la Festa do Divino Espirito Santo (Festa do Divino), fecha que coincide con
el comienzo de la zafra azucarera (como en Puerto Rico la Epifania). No
puede descartarse alguna influencia de inmigrantes de las Islas Azores en la
tradici6n regional de Loiza en torno al Espiritu Santo. En Villa Mella, Santo
Domingo (cuyo toponimico original era la Sabana Grande delEspiritu Santo)
la Cofradia de los Congos del Espiritu Santo celebra el Espiritu Santo en
Pentecost6s. En La Habana, la iglesia del Espiritu Santo es la mis antigua
aun en pie; fue dedicada por negros libres al Espiritu Santo en 1638. Por
ultimo, anotamos que el nombre original del Rio Misisipi, en los Estados
Unidos, es Rio Espiritu Santo (le fue dado por Hernando de Soto, oriundo
de Extremadura, en 1542). Pasemos ahora a las Fiestas de Santiago.

Origen y "trama" de las Fiestas de Santiago

Desde tiempo inmemorial, las fiestas de Santiago se celebran en Loiza del 26
al 28 de julio. El alcalde del pueblo en 1880 se refiri6 a "la grandisima con-
currencia con que siempre cuenta" esa fiesta popular. Existen al menos tres
versions sobre el origen de las fiestas de Santiago... o de los tres Santiagos
(Santiago de los Hombres, de las Mujeres, de los Nifios). En las tres versio-
nes, es notable la importancia del ir y venir entire Mediania y la iglesia en
el pueblo de una estatua revestida de origen natural y popular que se des-
entierra o redescubre, un vaiv6n entire naturaleza/Mediania e iglesia, donde
la preferencia de la estatua queda bien definida.
En las tres versions (tres versions, tres Santiagos, various desdobles,
itantas trinidades!) el hallazgo ocurri6 en Mediania y se asoci6 a la agricultu-


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





JUAN A. GUmsTI CORDERO


ra o al mar. Dos de las versions coinciden en que la tradici6n comenz6 con
la aparici6n de una estatua de lo que se conocerfa como Santiago, presumi-
blemente montada a caballo. En las tres versions, la tradici6n comienza con
las acciones de gente de pueblo, a todas luces residents de Mediania y no
del pueblo, ni encontr6 la figure un sacerdote u otra figure de autoridad. No
esti claro cuando el culto a un Santiago se convierte en un culto a tres, o si lo
fue asi desde un principio. Sin embargo, la importancia central del Santiago
de los Nifios se constata en las dos versions donde se encuentra una estatua,
pues la imagen alli fue la de Santiago de los Nifios.
Las fiestas loicefias original en parte en la celebraci6n de Santiago, el patro-
no de Espafia (Santiago de Compostela). Todavia hoy se celebran fiestas patro-
nales en honor a Santiago en cuatro otros pueblos de Puerto Rico: Fajardo (ori-
ginalmente llamado Santiago de Fajardo), Aibonito, Guinica, Santa Isabel y de
facto Vieques (quizi por influencia de Fajardo; la patrona official de Vieques es la
Inmaculada Concepci6n). En ninguno de estos pueblos se celebran tres Santia-
gos o son caracteristicos otros elements de Lofza como los vejigantes. De hecho,
en Fajardo y Santa Isabel (y Vieques) se asocia a Santiago con los pescadores.
Santiago Ap6stol era un pescador, y el Santiago pescador es una de las caras
espafiolas del patrono en Espafia y Am6rica. De pescador Santiago pas6 en
la tradici6n cat6lica a ser jinete, y en sus tres imnigenes loicefias Santiago va
a caballo; 6sto ayuda a explicar por que las cabalgatas son importantes en las
Fiestas de Lofza. Quizi se ha dado cierta simbiosis con la reconocida patro-
na de los mariners, la Virgen del Carmen, otra patrona tambi6n con cara
"guerrera", y cuya festividad se celebra solo dias antes (16 de julio), en nueve
pueblos, y en los costeros entire ellos con procesiones en el mar (es notable la
ausencia en Lofza de procesiones en el mar o en el rio). Hacen falta mis analisis
comparados de las fiestas patronales del pais.
A pesar de su parcial entronque espafiol, ninguno de los tres Santiagos
de Lofza es primordialmente el cruzado belico Santiago Matamoros. Esta
escasa relaci6n con lo military se acentia en la designaci6n de Santiagos de las
mujeres y los nifios.
Propongo que las Fiestas de Santiago Ap6stol comenzaron a celebrarse am-
pliamente en Loiza en los 1820 y 1830, precisamente mientras la producci6n
azucarera esclavista hacia alg6n advance en ese litoral. En esa 6poca la propor-
ci6n de esclavos en Loiza (a diferencia de sus morenos y pardos libres) estaba
entire las mis bajas de la costa puertorriquefia. El influjo de nuevos esclavos y
de influencias frescas de Africa fue relativamente menor en Lofza, aparte de


SARGASSO 2006-07 II





EL PAIS DE SANTIAGO


que se enfrentaba con una cultural local afrocriolla ya varias veces centenaria; sin
embargo, no puede descontarse su influencia entire otras razones porque arriba
precisamente en los afios en que las fiestas probablemente originaron.
Propongo tambien que las Fiestas de Santiago se desarrollaron en los
1820 y 1830 en contraposici6n mas o menos explicit a las de San Patricio,
segun la esclavitud aumentaba su agarre sobre Loiza (aunque no puede des-
cartarse que lo contrario sucediera y que las Fiestas de San Patricio fueran
una endeble respuesta hacendada a las de Santiago Ap6stol). Los loicefios de
la franja arenosa del litoral, y particularmente Mediania donde habitaba el
grueso de la poblaci6n, atravesaban una transici6n dificil desde un modo de
vida centrado en la yuca y casabe a otro en torno al coco, quizi trabajando es-
poridicamente tambi6n en las haciendas azucareras esclavistas y conociendo
de primera mano a la esclavitud ... de la cual, quizi pensarian, ning6n negro
en Puerto Rico estaba seguro.
Las haciendas esclavistas, en pleno auge a partir de los 1820, ocuparon
terrenos mds pr6ximos a Mediania; sobre todo la Hacienda Grande de Seary,
principal propulsor del culto a San Patricio. Tambien debe haber impactado
en Mediania la persecuci6n de cimarrones de las haciendas de Ribera Baja
y Ribera Alta, la vigilancia de los tenientes a guerra, el reparto de subsidio
o contribuci6n sobre la propiedad, la penetraci6n en tierras de las hacien-
das para cazar o pescar, el creciente racism que acompafi6 a la presencia
reforzada de la esclavitud, quiza intensificado por tratarse de terratenientes
extranjeros; el pago de las contribuciones para gastos publicos que podrian
beneficiary sobre todo a los terratenientes.
Las Fiestas de Santiago no fueron pues un element de aislamiento y re-
tenci6n cultural, o de supervivencia africana, sino de creaci6n cultural dentro
de determinadas condiciones hist6ricas y sociales de entronque global. Hay
que cualificar bastante el supuesto aislamiento de Loiza, que se ha invocado
para explicar tantos aspects de su historic y cultural.
Las Fiestas de Santiago Ap6stol se desarrollaron como una expresi6n
oblicua de autonomia cultural y resistencia frente a una presencia nueva y
amenazante, en decadas entiree 1830 y 1850) en que Mediania atravesaba una
crisis por el colapso del mercado del pan de casabe, mientras se fortalecia la
esclavitud, y en la transici6n hacia el coco; a la vez que se ampliaba un tanto
la vida urbana en Medianfa (cuya poblaci6n era todavia mayor que la del
pueblo) y se hacia mas necesario reafirmar los lazos comunitarios.
En julio, en pleno tiempo muerto de la caria (cuyo calendario como quie-
ra cobraba mayor importancia en Loiza en las primeras d6cadas del XIX)


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





JUAN A. GIUSTI CORDERO


habia el tiempo para una gran celebraci6n que ademis marcaba una especie
de fin del afio y lento comienzo de otro, una renovaci6n del ciclo.
Las Fiestas de Santiago fueron un rezo a Santiago en tiempos dificiles,
peligrosos, como lo han sido los contextos de otros milagros al inicio de
tradiciones. Una de las versions, la de la rogativa ante una marejada, apunta
hacia este sentido de peligro. Como toda gran respuesta popular, la de San-
tiago puede haber incorporado niveles mis antiguos y muy actuales.
Asi lo sugieren los tres Santiagos entrelazados (el de los Hombres, el de las
Mujeres, el de los Nifios), una aportaci6n excepcional a las tradiciones en tor-
no a Santiago; la mascara de los vejigantes, hechas de ciscara de coco, muchas
veces con tres picos (quiza en rescate del antiguo patrono el Espiritu Santo); el
vejigante que abre unas "alas", a la vez, el diablito Elegui, mensajero e interme-
diario como lo era tambi6n el Espiritu Santo; el palo que aguanta la vejiga como
camino bifurcado; la lengua del vejigante, prominent en muchas versions de
las miscaras, quizi una alusi6n a las lenguas del Espiritu Santo en Pentecostes;
,otra casualidad?, el estribillo "pan y cebolla" evoca al rival desplazado, el pan de
casabe, y equipara al nuevo con la tambien ex6tica cebolla, a la vez que el "veji-
gante come coco", serdn de origen loicefo estos estribillos?; las mascaras de los
caballeros hechas de tela con rasgos femeninos (una tela importada que quiza se
relacionaba como simbolo con el comercio); el marco geogrifico del gran pico
Espiritu Santo y de su rio; la indiferencia al menos aparente al viejo patrono de
la yuca San Patricio que habia sido apropiado y resignificado por los hacendados
cafieros ... y el coco de las miscaras, el que el vejigante coma, que mantenia a
raya a la amenaza esclavista con algo mis que su disefio y pintura y tres cuernos
trinitarios; del coco contaba much, como sucede con las Fiestas de Santiago
mismas, su propia materialidad.
Se trata de muchos temas y c6digos sobre cuyos significados meramente
sugerimos unas posibilidades, que estin abiertos a much discusi6n y que
quizi son indescifrables; sus propios origenes en Loiza son controvertibles.
Pero son temas y c6digos que hay que tomar muy en serio e intentar descifrar.
Por ser luidico un c6digo social no se convierte en un product del azar, ni
pierde profundidad; quizi todo lo contrario.
Para concluir. Las dimensions y c6digos que sefialamos en este articulo
parecen relacionarse significativamente con las realidades ecol6gicas, mate-
riales y culturales de Loiza a fines del siglo XVIII y principios XIX ... unas
realidades que espero convoquen a muchos mis investigadores.


SARGASSO 2006-07, 11





EL PAIS DE SANTIAGO


Fuentes Citadas


Abbad y Lasierra, Fray Ifiigo. [1788] 1959. Historia geografica, civil natural
de la Isla de San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico. Rio Piedras, PR: Ediciones
U de Puerto Rico.
De C6rdoba, Pedro Tomais. [1831-3] 1968. Memorias geograficas, histdricas,
econdmicas y estadisticas de la isla de Puerto Rico, 6 vols.. San Juan: Insti-
tuto de Cultura Puertorriquefia.
Fernandez Mendez, Eugenio. 1995. Crdnicas de Puerto Rico: desde la conquista
hasta nuestros dias, 1493-1955. San Juan, P.R.: Ediciones "El Cemi".
Ledrui, Andre Pierre. [1797] 1995. Viaje a la isla de Puerto Rico en el ano
1797. En Eugenio Fernindez M6ndez, Crdnicas de Puerto Rico : desde
la conquista hasta nuestros dias, 1493-1955. San Juan, PR. : Ediciones
"El Cemi".
Miyares Gonzalez, Fernando. 1957. Noticias particulares de la isla y plaza de
San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico. Rio Piedras, PR. : Ediciones U de
Puerto Rico.
Moscoso, Francisco. 1986. Tribu y classes en el Caribe antiguo. San Pedro de
Macoris, Republica Dominicana: U Central del Este.
Uttley, Margaret. 1937. Land utilization in the Candvanas sugar district. Tesis
PhD, Universidad de Chicago.


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





1 1


V
a..


L~H
I

-~II


I T -o


Loca in action (Julio Plaza)








Distinctive features of las/ocas-black faces,

brooms, cans, tips and big behinds
Peter Roberts
Department of Language, Linguistics, and Literature
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados



n most of the popular literature there are explanations of only two of the
four main costumed characters in the traditional Santiago festival in Loiza
-el caballero and los vejigantes; the other two --los viejos and las locas-- are
always mentioned but seldom explained in terms of their role as traditional
festival characters. The following are regular descriptions of the four sets of
characters in the Santiago festival with explanations:

The principal mask, that of a knight or horseman, honours the Spanish
warriors who opposed the Moors. The caped knights are the most sol-
emn of the revelers. The vejigantes represent Satan (and by extension, evil
and the Moors); the vejigantes are the main attraction. Men disguised as
women and appearing to be crazy (las locas) go about the town sweeping
and cleaning streets and balconies, for which they seek payment. They are
distinguished by their loud clothes, exaggerated breasts, and faces painted
black in lieu of a mask. Finally, there are the old people (los viejos), who ap-
pear in mutilated clothing and wear "snoutish" cardboard cartons for masks.
(Henry Chase 1995)

Other descriptions say that the viejos wear masks carved from wood or
coconut shells and the locas wear moustaches:

This annual event features traditional coconut shell masks such as the
Caballeros (associated with Santiago Ap6stol --symbolizing good), the
"viejos" (old men), the "locas" (crazy women and music) and "vejigantes"
(representing pure evil). (jQuiPasa!June 2005)

The idea that the locas symbolize music is not popularly stated and may
be absent depending on how the character is played:

... (3) las locas o travestis, que tradicionalmente llevan escobas y recogedores he-
chos de latas de galletas y coquetean con sus senos y traseros exagerados, y (4) los


Re/Visions of Santiago Ap6stol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





PETER ROBERTS


Figure 1. Modern-day loca (photograph by L. Fiet)


viejos, que usualmente son "verdes" burlados y frustrados por la juguetonerfa de
las locas. (L. Fiet)
("... (3) the madwomen or transvestites, who traditionally carry brooms
and biscuit tins and coquet with their exaggerated breasts and behinds, and
(4) the old men, who usually are 'dirty old men' mocked and frustrated by
the playfulness of the madwomen.")

This symbiotic link between the locas and the viejos may not be recognized
generally today.
The decided preference to play the colourful characters, the vejigante
and the caballero, has not resulted in the disappearance of the other two char-
acters over the years. In fact, sex roles always have an inherent attractiveness.
Additionally, since the masks and costumes of the minor characters have
not become stylised through modern commercial mass production, it allows
players of these minor roles more flexibility in their interpretation, as can be
seen in Figure 1, which diverges markedly from the traditional image.
It is the traditional or historical variant of the loca that is the focus of
attention here. The traditional role is important because this paper is look-


SARGASSO 2006-07, 11





DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF LAS LOCAS...


ing at a web of distinctive features and their historical connections more so
than modern interpretations or understandings of the characters. Questions
that have been repeatedly asked about such characters refer to their ethnic
and historical origin or their social/political function. Such questions are, for
example, whether these portrayals are a safety valve to release social tensions
and whether such temporary portrayals merely reinforce the established so-
cial order and status quo or whether they are revolutionary and initiate al-
ternatives to the status quo. The focus here, therefore, is not, judging from
today's world, on whether the loca is a parody or only a character in a show,
as opposed to an extension of real life. This paper is looking at combinations
and re-combinations of distinctive features that have been a part of Euro-
pean, African and Native American festivals and their use in the context of
the Caribbean.
In linguistics (phonology specifically), the concept of "distinctive fea-
tures" has been seen as important in theoretical formulation. Distinctive
features are a relatively small set of contrasts which reveal much about the
way in which sounds of different languages are organised and allow for gen-
eralised statements about human speech. Essentially, one is looking, in part,
at natural classes of sounds which are available to all human beings and the
ways in which different communities select and assemble them. To a certain
extent, one can approach cultural features in the same way, isolating certain
ones that are widely repeated across human communities and festival per-
formances specifically. One can look at those features that are 'natural' or
universally selected and see how they are arranged within a community's fes-
tivities in ways peculiar to that community. The universal features of human
masking relate to the face, skin colour, shape and size of the body, accompa-
nying accoutrements, instruments used with accompanying behaviours and
the rewards sought.
Distinctive features in the study of sounds are formulated in binary op-
positions, that is, as having a positive or negative value. A cultural feature
that can be formulated in this way is the use of white and black paint in
masking. Arnold van Gennep makes the following point:

II vaut mieux se contenter de la constatation que ces noircissements ont pour but
d'intriguer et defairepeur, et que pour des Blancs, le meilleur moyen de se modi-
fier est de changer sa teinte de peau. De la mdme maniere, dans leurs ceremonies
totimiques les Australiens, dans les ceremonies fundraires les Bantous de I'Afrique
s'enduisent le corps, ou sefont sur la peau noire ou brune des dessins compliqu6s


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





PETER ROBERTS


avec de la terrre blanche, dupldtre, de la chaux mime. Il s'agit d'une loi des con-
trastes universelle et qui a reagit sur les conceptions chretiennes de Satan et de ses
administres: le Diable et les diablotins sont forcement represents avec la peau
noire, sinon ce seraient des chretiens comme les Blancs; de mime pour les Infiddles
dans le theatre du moyen age, dans les chansons de geste, dans les danses dites
moresques, bien que lesArabes et laplupart des musulmans nord-africains, turcs,
persons, etc., soient de peau aussi blanche que le n6tre ... (1947:932)
("It is better to accept the argument that the aim of these blackenings is to
mystify or cause fear, and that for Whites, the best way of modification is to
change the colour of one's skin. Similarly, the Australians in their totem cer-
emonies and the Bantus of Africa in their funeral ceremonies paint their skin
or make complicated drawings with white soil, plaster or even chalk on their
black or brown skin. It is a universal law of contrasts, one which has affected
Christian conceptions of Satan and his subordinates the Devil and his imps
are perforce represented with black skins, or it is Christians as Whites. The
same is true for the Infidels in the theatre of the Middle Ages, in the chansons
degeste, in dances called 'Moresque', although Arabs and the majority of North
African Muslims, Turks, Persians, etc., have white skins like ours...")

Van Gennep is arguing that blackening the face in the case of light-
skinned people (and whitening the face in the case of dark-skinned people)
is a simple, universal mask --a change (inversion/reversal) of the person's
normal appearance or a contrasting colour to identify the opposite of oneself.
Of course, this is a simplification, seeing that human beings are of all colours
and there are paints of all colours, but the basic idea is that 'inversion' (binary
opposite) is a fundamental feature in masking. However, in cultural discus-
sions one can propose a continuum between the poles.
In the case of the loca character, which, as was said, is more flexible than
the main characters, one can distinguish between the way role has been in-
terpreted over the years and features of the character that have been repeated
from year to year and as such can be regarded as defining features. Histori-
cally, the defining features of the loca character are the following: (a) painted
face; (b) exaggerated breasts and buttocks; (c) mad woman; (d) man dressed
as woman; (e) carrying a broom; (f) carrying a can (g) asking for tips. So,
framed in terms of universalss' of masking, the first two in the list of loca
features can be regarded as masks for the physical self (face and body); the
third for the mental self; the fourth for the psyche; the fifth and sixth are
instruments used and the last is the reward sought.
Although the features are being examined as universalss', one has to rec-
ognise them within a history of transmissions from Europe. Looked at in


SARGASSO 2006-07, II





DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF LAS LOCAS...


this way, all the characters in the Lofza parade, as far as their recognisable,
visible, characteristic features are concerned, are to be found in European
festivals, especially Christian ones. All of the distinctive features above are
identified within European traditions of Carnival, which, as a festival, has
some features which precede Christianity and therefore are usually identi-
fied as 'pagan'. There is no question that a considerable amount of European
religion-related entertainment was brought to the Americas, as a backdrop
to and complementing the (ascetic) formalities of religious practice.
The defining features of the loca character listed above have been given,
among others, the following explanations and significance historically in Eu-
ropean festivals:

painted face
Blackening the face, especially with ashes, has been associated with Ash
Wednesday, Lent, and thus with post-Carnival penance.

exaggerated breasts and buttocks
These characteristics are usually associated with sex and fertility. In addition,
Davis (1975), commenting on an Irish connection, associates the name Sally,
which is given to a character with these exaggerated characteristics, with
wealth and goodness.

man dressed as woman
This practice is common, having had a long and varied history, with both
sexual and non-sexual implications. During periods when it was thought
not appropriate for women to take part in drama, men and boys, dressed
accordingly, played their roles. In other cases, cross-dressing carried with it
homosexual implications. In other cases still, as argued by Davis (under the
next heading), the practice had social and political functions.

madwoman
Mad women have had specific traditions in European literature. Denise Gal-
lo makes the following observations about 'mad scenes' on stage:

Called scene di pazzia in Italian and scenes defolie in French, mad scenes
were abundant in the plots of early nineteenth-century operas ...
Mad scenes generally featured women who had lost their senses for any
number of reasons.


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





PETER ROBERTS


Some characters from the Classics, such as Dido, Sappho, and Medea,
transformed well into operatic madwomen and, as such, began appearing
in operas of the late Baroque era.
Some sociologists interpret the madwoman as a manifestation of the nine-
teenth-century's repressed sexuality.

Davis, commenting on men playing as mad women in France and more gen-
erally in Europe, says:

The unruly woman appeared in the Abbeys' plays in two forms. First as
officers of Misrule. In rural areas, these were usually called Lords and Ab-
bots; in the French cities, however, they took all kinds of pompous titles.
Among these dignitaries were Princesses and Dames and especially Moth-
ers: we find Mere Folle in Dijon ... Mere Sotte in Paris ... In Wales, though
I know of no female festive titles, the men who conducted the ceffylpren, as
the local rough music was called, blackened their faces and wore women's
garb. (1975:139)

Davis, in her chapter 'Women on top', moves the man dressed as woman
character beyond festivities, arguing that the madwoman character was used
by revolutionaries as a form of disguise to effect social change.

carrying a can
In her discussion of charivari ("noisy masked demonstrations"), Davis says
that the noise/music was made by "pots, tambourines, bells, and horns".
(1975:139) She also refers (above) to the ceffylpren in Wales which involved
'rough music'.

carrying a broom
The broom has been used to symbolise cleaning and purification. Van Gen-
nep gives the following as a Carnival practice at the end of the 19th century
in one part of France:

... a l'abbaye de Saint-Claude, les moines arms de soufflets et de balais parcour-
aient le monastere, puis les rues de la ville, soufflant et balayant partout sous
pretexte depurifier les maisons et leurs habitants et defaire disparaitre routes les
impuret&s du Carnaval. (1947:1051)
("at the Saint Claude Abbey, the monks, armed with bellows and brooms,
went through the monastery and then the streets of the town, blowing and
sweeping everywhere under the pretext of purifying the houses and their
inhabitants and making all the impurities of Carnival disappear.")


SARGASSO 2006-07, II





DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF LAS LOCAS...


Nicholls, in a more general statement about European practice, makes the
same kind of claim, extending its reference to the seasons:

Sweepers belong to a broad category of masquerade companions who serve
as Heralds who clear the way, both physically in terms of crowd control, but
also in terms of dispelling bad spirits or disruptive influences. In Britain they
are known as "Whifflers" --those who wave things such as staves, swords,
inflated animal bladders on sticks, or make sweeping motions with brooms.
Alford (1978:130) describes a Whiffler in the Austrian Alps, "Their leader
is dressed in red.... He carries a long broom, swinging it from side to side,
for he is the whiffler. His duty is to whiffle away the spirits of Winter and
to clear the way for the entrance of Spring." (1998:202)

asking for tips
Performing for tips has been a common feature across European societies in
many different festivals. In reference to performance of the English Mummers'
Play, Helm says: "Widely scattered as these survivals are, they still retain ele-
ments common to versions long since extinct and to each other.... At the end
a collection is taken and the performers leave" (1981:1). This practice may
have started out as a way to get or supplement income, but may remain as
perfunctory or may disappear in cases where the player is not in a straitened
financial situation or does not want to be seen as such.
This combination of features in a 'minor' character in a festival indicates
that the character is really more significant than at first appears to be the
case. Furthermore, with so many features to combine in one character, it
is unlikely than any two manifestations of the character could ever be the
same.
A familiar approach to the explanation of these features in the Carib-
bean is to start with the idea that Europe is their source and see them as
continuities of European practice in the Caribbean. This is because of re-
sidual or high recognition of them in European festivals. It is then a matter
of explaining how these features were implemented, adopted, fashioned and
interpreted by Native Americans and Africans upon whom European festi-
vals were foisted, at the one extreme, or who adopted them wholeheartedly,
at the other extreme.
Even if this is not the most objective approach, there is no need, because
one is looking at universals, to gainsay the early connections between the is-
lands and the spread of Spanish influence, for example. If one is looking at the


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





PETER ROBERTS


manifestations of these features in Puerto Rico and Jamaica, one should re-
member that Jamaica was one of the original Spanish colonies, together with
Hispaniola, Cuba and Puerto Rico. Santiago was the early colonial name for
Spanish Town, the capital of Jamaica. The Spanish Crown gave the island
the name Santiago, but the original indigenous name prevailed. There is said to
have been one characteristic, miraculous intervention by Santiago in Jamaica, to
save Spanish Town from an English attack (1603). As a result, Santiago became
the patron saint of the town and an annual fiesta was held to celebrate the Saint's
intervention. The name Santiago survives in Jamaica today in the name of a
place, St. Jago, as well as in the name of a school in Spanish Town, St.Jago High
School. It would be perfectly normal, then, to have cultural features in Jamaica
that are historically connected to Puerto Rico.
Looking at the way this familiar, non-objective approach has been used
historically, one can see a linking between performance features in the Ca-
ribbean and what has been referred to as features of the Saturnalia. It is in-
teresting to note that writers knew about the Saturnalia, which were histori-
cally older, but not about the 'Lord of Misrule' practices in Europe, which
were historically less distant. In fact, the Lord of Misrule practices, which
evidently came out of Saturnalian practices, in turn over time formed the
basis for masquerades and it was the masquerades which were brought to
the West Indian colonies. Note the following comment by Castle supporting
the historical connection between the Saturnalia and the Lord of Misrule
practices:

The classic features of the masquerade --sartorial exchange, masking, col-
lective verbal and physical license-- were traditional carnival motifs, and
hint, if at first obscurely, at an historical connection with such phenom-
ena as the Saturnalia of Roman antiquity, the medieval Feast of Fools and
charivari, and similar "festivals of misrule" popular throughout Europe in
the early modern period. (1986:11)

One of the essential links in these practices was the element of 'inversion'.
Castle provides the following summary about comments about masquerades
in 18th century England:

Contemporary accounts inevitably focus on the antithetical surprises gen-
erated by the masquerade crowd: duchesses dressed as milkmaids, footmen
as Persian kings, pimps as cardinals, noblemen as ancient bawds, young
ladies of the court as "trowser'd" hussars. (p. 5)


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DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF LAS LOCAS...


Thus, the individual features of the loca character in Puerto Rico have been seen
as features of various characters in European Saturnalian and Lord of Misrule
activities and most of them are regarded as examples of inversion.
Parallels between Saturnalian role reversals and features of Caribbean
end-of-year celebrations among the slaves are pointed out by several Euro-
pean writers in the historical accounts with the underlying implication that
the one followed from the other. In other words, for several European writ-
ers, the automatic approach to interpretation of festivities in the Caribbean
associated with Christian celebrations was to regard them as extensions of
European practice. Even Fernando Ortiz, a noted Africanist, when speaking
of Dia de Reyes festivities in Cuba, which lasted up to the late 19th century,
made the comparison: "los blancos tenfan aquella festividad, en la cual los af-
ricanos y todos los esclavos gozaban de gran licencia, como una saturnal negra"
([1951]1981:439); ("the whites held that festivity, in which the slaves en-
joyed great liberties, as a black saturnalia.")
In Jamaica several writers during the period of slavery compared features
of the slaves' activities in Christmas and end-of-year festivities to the Roman
Saturnalia. Stewart at the beginning of the 19th century said the following,
essentially about inversion in dress and behaviour by the slaves:

On this occasion, these poor people appear as it were quite another race.
They shew themselves off to the greatest advantage, by fine clothes, and a
profusion of trinkets; they affect a genteeler behaviour, and more select and
correct mode of speech; they address the whites with greater familiarity;
they come into their master's houses, and drink with them --the distance
between them appears to be annihilated for the moment, like the familiar
footing on which the Roman slaves were with their masters at the feast
of the Saturnalia; to which a West India Christmas may be compared...
(1808:262)

Williams, about two decades later, also drew the parallel with the Roman
festival in a favourable way:

Indeed a perfect equality seemed to reign among all parties; many came and
shook hands with their master and mistress, nor did the young ladies refuse
this salutation any more than the gentlemen. .. .but they never lost sight of
decorum, and at last retired, apparently quite satisfied with their saturnalia,
to dance the rest of the night at their own habitations. (1827:22-3)


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





PETER ROBERTS


Waddell, referring to the year 1829, also explicitly makes the connection, but
in this case about urban slaves and the kind of behaviour that would have
been more typical of characters like the locas in the Puerto Rican festival: "The
three days became a week among the town slaves, who made a Saturnalia of
a Christian festival, spending the time in the grossest rioting" (1863:18).
Phillippo also showed the same negative response in his comparison and
thus could not resist also identifying such behaviour as African: "On public
holidays, particularly those of Christmas, which, in some respects, resembled
the Roman feasts of the Saturnalia, or rather the wild festivals of Africa, the
scenes were oftentimes too disgusting to be looked upon" (1843:242). Day,
whose comments about the colonies were almost all virulently negative, was
still making the comparison in the middle of the 19th century to characterise
the behaviour at Christmas among the former slaves in Barbuda: "Christmas
time is the grand saturnalia of the negroes at Barbuda" (1852 2:297).
Despite the widespread mention of the ancient Saturnalia practices,
there is no outright claim that they were transferred directly from Europe to
the Caribbean or that they developed directly from European religious and
secular practices. In fact, Wentworth, even as he made the comparison with
the Saturnalia, wondered about their source among the slaves in the Eastern
Caribbean:

...and by whatever means they have acquired a knowledge of the privi-
leges which the saturnalia conferred upon the Roman slaves, or whether
it be from the deduction of reason that they imagine themselves entitled
to them, they do not fail to practise as much impudent vivacity in "paying
their respects" to their masters, as marked the conduct of the Roman bond-
men in doing honour to the Pagan deity. (1834 2:37-8)

Indeed, it must be conceded that some of the European historical accounts
of the Caribbean moved beyond automatic attribution of the features of fes-
tivities to a European perspective. Some features were looked at from an Af-
rican perspective as well as more generally as common ways in which human
beings celebrated agrarian and weather cycles and rites of passage.
Within a more general framework, one can make the following observa-
tions about the features:

painted face
Bearing in mind that 'decorating' the face is seen anthropologically as a de-
fining characteristic practice of human beings, painting the face and masking


SARGASSO 2006-07, 11





DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF LAS LOCAS...


Figure 2. nationalgeographic.com. Faces of South Africa. Xhosa boys

in rites and festivals is simply a variant manifestation of this characteristic
human practice. There is a continuum between long-term face changes such
as flattening the forehead practised by some of the indigenous inhabitants
in the Caribbean, face modification practised by ethnic groups all over the
world commonly referred to as 'aborigines' and temporary painting or mask-
ing of the face in various festivities. There is also a marked difference in
aesthetic values across human beings in these practices.
In some West African societies, whitening the face is not a festive sym-
bol but an everyday practice required of women to indicate their period of
menstruation. In South Africa among the Xhosa, painting the face and the
rest of the body with white clay is part of the ritual for male circumcision. In
both cases the distinctive marking, i.e. whiteness, is highlighting the person
as different, albeit temporarily. One can argue that the experience of circum-
cision is one of blood, pain and suffering and that menstruation may be the
same and that both in this respect are comparable to the same experience in
the Crucifixion which is directly related to Lent and Ash Wednesday. How-
ever, such parallels are probably just coincidental. Note that it is very often
the case that (non-serious) festive painting and masking are fundamentally
related to (serious) ceremonial rites.


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





PETER ROBERTS


The fundamental binary opposition involved in masking is between the
person's real self and the masked persona, with the contrast in paint variable
depending on skin colour. Another kind of binary opposition that occurs in
face masking is the Janus concept. Janus is two-faced, having a face in front
and another behind. In European tradition, one of the interpretations is that
one face is looking backward over the year gone and the other forward over
the year to come. The month name 'January' derives from this concept. An
example of a Janus mask among the slaves in Jamaica is described by Scott:
"He had an enormous cocked hat on, to which was appended in front a
white false-face or mask, of a most methodistical expression, while, Janus-
like, there was another face behind, of the most quizzical description, a sort
of Antithesis ..." (p. 370). While the name 'Janus' encourages one to see this
kind of mask as European, it is quite obvious that it is not restricted to or a
creation of Europe. Masks throughout West Africa have opposing faces and
this could have influenced those in Jamaica or it could simply be that this
kind of binary opposition is natural and spontaneous.
Blackface, used for comic entertainment, has an extensive racist his-
tory especially in the US and the US-influenced Caribbean, e.g. Cuba. The
blackened face of the loca in Puerto Rico is therefore not historically sepa-
rable from either the Catholic symbol of penance or the racist mockery of
Africans and their descendants in the
New World. Note also that cosmetic
painting of the face in Western socie-
ties is associated with female beautifi- i,
cation and that black powder has no /
place historically in this. In the black
community of Loiza, therefore, it is
a matter of a universal feature being M Px
used with both religious and social |
significance.

man dressed as woman
A number of factors have to be borne
in mind in considering the 'man -.--1- -

Figure 3. Koo, Koo, or Actor-Boy.
I.M. Belisario, 1838


SARGASSO 2006-0C II






DiSTINCTIVE FEATURES OF LAS LOCAS...


dressed as woman' phenomenon. The first is that since at different periods
in Europe, and by extension the colonies, women were not allowed to act in
plays and other dramatic performances, it was quite normal for men to play
women's roles. This extended to roles outside the stage or theatre, and in the
Caribbean, is seen in the well-known Jamaican illustrations of"Koo, Koo, or
Actor Boy" by Belisario in the 1830s.
In West Africa, also in festive performances, players wore various kinds of
arrangements that looked like skirts. Ortiz describes the kulona, a West Afri-
can continuity in Cuba, as dancing with "un ancho aro en la cintura sosteniendo
unafalda de sueltasy colgantesfibras vegetables" (1981:446); ("a wide ring around
the waist holding up a skirt of loose, hanging, plant fibres"). In Jamaica the
character referred to as 'pitchy-patchy' wore a comparable kind of arrange-
ment, probably related to what is familiarly known as a grass-skirt.
In describing the kokorioko, a character which up until 1880 formed part
of the Dia de Reyes parade in Havana, Ortiz says:

El Kokorioko no era sino una mascara grotesca con vestimenta amorfa, a veces
con una ropa vieja vuelta del reves y generalmente con harapos, yerbajos,fibras de
palma o "guano"y numerosas tiritas de telas o cintas de colors. Ya veces colgando
de la cintura sendas ristras de ajos, que recordaban lasfaldas defibras y hojarasca
tan tHpicas de ciertos bailes religiosos africanos. (1981:480)
("The kokorioko was truly a grotesque mask with formless garb; sometimes with
old clothes turned inside out and generally with rags, bush, fibre of palm or
'guano' and numerous ends of cloth or coloured ribbons. And sometimes
hanging from the waist strings of garlic which bring to mind the skirts of
fibre and grass so typical of certain African religious dances.")

In none of these skirt-like costumes was the sexuality of the player in focus.
Ortiz again, using Leaf as his source, makes a direct link between
the Cuban skirt-like costume and a man dressed as woman costume
in Barbados:

En la isla Barbados, dondeya ciertas tradiciones religiosas de Africa se ,
ban perdido entire los descendientes de los antiguos esclavos, algunos
jdvenes insulares, entire carrera y carrera de hipddromo, entretienen
a los turistasy a los mismos nativos, bailando con caretasy "vestidos
de mujer" 7 y pidiendoles luego una propina. Lo cual es como si ante
los turistas que en invierno vienen a Cuba les saliera un diablito

Figure 4. The kokorioko. Ortiz 1985, p. 479


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





PETER ROBERTS


idnigo o un Chango montao a bailarle piruetas grotescas, por unas monedas.
(1985:444-5)
("In the island of Barbados, where certain African religious traditions have
now been lost among the descendants of the former slaves, some young
Barbadian men, between races at the racetrack entertain tourists and na-
tives dancing in masks and dressed as women and then begging for tips.
This is like before when tourists came to Cuba in the winter a diablito
ndnigo or a Chango montao would come out and dance grotesque pirouettes
for them for tips.")

Leaf's actual words were:

Something new, but not particularly exciting, was danced during the lull
between races at the racetrack on Barbados. Wearing masks and dressed
in women's garb, male dancers hopped around entertaining the Barbadian
natives, passing the hat after every performance. (1948:202)

Ortiz then goes on to make the following rhetorical comment: "gEsos ves-
tidos de apariencia femenina no serdn las batonas con que bailan ciertos orichas?"
(1985:445) ("These clothes that appear to be women's dresses, aren't they the
batonas which certain orishas wear during their dance?") Ortiz' African per-
spective therefore does not put any emphasis on sexual inversion. This sug-
gests that, from the perspective of Puerto Rican slaves, the skirt-like costume
could have had ritual significance and could have been asexual. For those
who were impersonating the slave, the costume could have been a symbol of
low socioeconomic and material poverty.
In contrast, van Gennep considers the 'man dressed as woman' practice as a
manifestation of a bi-sexuality which is characteristic of all human beings:

Il ne faudrait pas construire nonplus de vastes theories sur le changement de sexe
.... la dichotomie sexuelle psychique est un attribut normal de chacun de nous.
Donc, changer momentaniment de sexe pendant le Carnaval satisfait l'autre
parties de notre 9tre ... Par ce diguisement, chacun des sexes prend, sije puis dire,
une revanche temporaire sur l'autre, peut se permettre a son regard des libertMs,
mime des licences dites obscenes, qui sont l'explosion de tendances &rotiques re-
foulees ... (1947:932)
("It is not necessary to construct immense theories about change of sex ... the
sexual psychic dichotomy is a normal attribute of every one of us. So, to change
sex for a brief moment during Carnival satisfies the other side of our being ...
By means of this disguise, each of the sexes takes temporary revenge on the
other and thus in this respect takes liberties, even liberties that could be called
obscene, which are the release of repressed erotic tendencies ...")


SARGASSO 2006-07, II





DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF LAS LOCAS...


This kind of bi-sexual analysis has to be based not simply on appearance but
on behaviour as well --it would have to be a matter of extension of oneself
rather than one just playing a role. Ironically, those societies which do restrict
or have in the past restricted women's behaviour in public would most likely
frown on transsexual behaviour in public festivals.
The 'man dressed as woman' feature of the loca character can therefore
be regarded as having binary opposites in two ways --asexual vs sexual and,
within the latter, man vs woman. Public expression of bi-sexuality, no matter
how temporary, is a reflection of the 'permissiveness' or mores of the society
at a specific point in time. On the other hand, asexual costumes, those where
the costume worn by the man looks like woman's wear, are not socially pro-
vocative and most likely would be found across most human communities.
There is no prominent claim that the 'man dressed as woman' costume is
symbolic of the emasculation of the male slave in Puerto Rico and generally
across the Americas.

exaggerated breasts and buttocks
As with the Janus mask, a binary concept involved in breasts and buttocks is
that one is in front and the other behind and in cases where they are exag-
gerated the amusing but intriguing comment is made that the person has
something to look forward to and something to fall back on.
In the Caribbean, size and shape of breasts and buttocks, especially
the latter, are generally attributed to racial stock. In Puerto Rico and
the other Spanish-speaking islands, for instance, where physical charac-
teristics (skin colour, nose shape, hair type) are more European among a
considerable proportion of the population, hip structure (size and shape) of
a popular type is attributed to African ancestry. While a sexually preferred
shape becomes a factor in 'natural selection' and eventually part of a popu-
lation's genetics, comic exaggeration of this shape, as for example in the
Caribbean, makes a racist statement which inherently contrasts white
with black. Thus, in Loiza in Puerto Rico, the portrayal of the trasero exag-
erado ("big behind") takes on an ironic element. Note what Isabelo Zen6n
Cruz wrote in 1975:

... Sometido a un process humillante de enajenacidn, de criminal extranamiento
de nuestra vida de pueblo, el negro, nuevo Narciso, en vez de buscarse se rechaza,
porque no halla su bellezapor ninguna parte; porque no se halla en el espejo dis-


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





PETER ROBERTS


torsiando que le ha organizado el hombre blanco. No encuentra su rostro sino su
trasero. (p. 17)
("Subjected to a humiliating process of alienation and criminal estrange-
ment in our public life, the Negro, a new Narcissus, instead of looking
for himself rejects himself because he does not find his beauty anywhere,
because he does not see himself in the distorting mirror that the white man
has put in place. He does not find his face but his behind.")

As a consequence of alienation and the unwillingness to accept the truth of
oneself, the situation has developed, according to the same writer, in which
the following is normal behaviour: "... los puertorriquefos mulatos de piel no
muy oscura asignan su color al element indio. Como ya seialamos anteriormente
hay mds indios que cuando desembarcd Coldn" (p. 22); ("mulatto Puerto Ricans
whose skin is not very dark attribute their colour to an Indian element. As
I said before, there are more Indians [in Puerto Rico today] than when Co-
lumbus landed.") The trasero exagerado in the context of Puerto Rico, then,
can be regarded as an ironic case of racial inversion.
In pictorial representations, including caricatures, of female African slaves,
big breasts and buttocks were a consistent feature. In some 19th century circus-
type presentations of black African females (e.g. The Hottentot Venus), extraor-
dinarily big buttocks were highlighted in a comic manner. It was Charles Darwin
who drew attention to the Hottentots and the desirability of female 'steatopygia',
saying: "It is well known that with many Hottentot women the posterior part of
the body projects in a wonderful manner; they are steatopygous ... this peculiarity
is greatly admired by the men" (1871: 2:345). To this John R. Baker adds:

Darwin ... mentions the admiration felt for
this peculiarity by the males of their tribe.
I This should indeed not have surprised him;
I for he wrote his work on sexual selection at
f f the time when bustles were in fashion in Eng-
land, and he must have realized that the wom-
en who wore them were under the impression
that this change in their appearance increased
their charms for members of the opposite sex.
/(The 'Hottentot Venus', heretical.com)


Figure 5. Sara Baartman, the Hottentot Venus, 1810: The
... ..n. City of Westminster Archives Centre


SARGASSO 2006-07, 11





DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF LAS LOCAS...


It is to be expected, then, that the parts of the female body that are associ-
ated with sex, the breasts and hips, would be universally featured in festivities
in which suggestions of eroticism and fertility are included. This is a case
where the extremes (flat vs big) are contrasting with an optimum shape in
between.
In the case of the Puerto Rican loca, it seems as if when female physical
features are exaggerated, bi-sexuality is blocked as an interpretation. Eroti-
cism provoked by female-ness and fertility are not compatible with the ex-
pression of reverse sexuality (homosexuality). Thus, in modern interpreta-
tions of the loca, where reverse sexuality is intended, exaggerated female-ness
is absent.
In keeping with what Davis says about the dignitary names of the man
dressed as woman character in France, two well-known, named characters in
the smaller islands of the Caribbean which fit into this tradition are Dame
Lorraine/Dame Lorine and Mother Sally. [Note that some Caribbean pro-
nunciations of 'Lorraine' are identical to 'la reine' (= "queen"), thereby under-
lining the extensive references and connotations of the name.] Mother Sally
occurs in festivities in Barbados and Guyana. A feature common to both
Mother Sally and the loca is exaggerated breasts and buttocks. Indeed, the
men dressed like women dancing at the racetrack in Barbados, whom Ortiz
referred to, could only have been examples of the Mother Sally character.
These characters are not seen as highlighting bi-sexuality.

mad woman
The fact that the character is called loca means that 'madness' is seen as the
major defining feature and therefore it is the character's behaviour that is
most important. The word loca in Spanish, as 'mad' in English, is used to
refer to both insane and sane persons. While loca in the Loiza festival is
understood to mean a person pretending to be mad, it is important to note
that there are actual cases where mad people were the source of amusement
in parades. An example of this is given by Dapper in his 17th century account
of West Africa in a description of the yearly parade of the King of Benin in
which mad people and dwarfs were included for the entertainment of the
crowd (1686:311). There is no evidence to suggest that character's name in
the Lofza festival evolved from the Benin parade. The fact is that the be-
haviour of mad people, genuine or simulated, is widely regarded as amusing
across cultures and therefore, like the 'fool' character, can be regarded as a


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





PETER ROBERTS


universal. It is common human practice to poke fun at physically, mentally
or psychologically handicapped people.
Madness, as a source of mirth, can also be interpreted as behaviour
caused by some mind-altering drug which leads to behaviour typical of in-
sane people. Thus, in festivities alcohol or some other drug may be used to
facilitate madness, in which case madness may be equated with intoxicated
behaviour. In the Caribbean, as elsewhere, alcohol is used as a stimulant and
as a means of removing inhibitions to enjoy oneself in festivities. In his 18th
century description of John Connu in Jamaica, Long identified a male mas-
querader followed by a crowd of drunken women who are plying him with
alcohol: "The masquerader ... is followed with a numerous croud of drunken
women, who refresh him frequently with a sup of aniseed-water, whilst he
dances at every door ..." (1774 2:424). In spite of the differences in the two
situations, there is similarity between the masquerader followed by a crowd
of drunken women in Jamaica and the vejigante followed by locas in Loiza.
The modern loca in Figure 1 (32) has a cup in his hand.
Women supplying men with alcohol is also a part of the historical image
of the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas during their festivities. Bear in
mind that Loiza, though associated today with African-derived people, has
a historical connection with the indigenous inhabitants of the region. iQuer
Pasa! says the following: "The town's name is rooted in romance. Cacica Yui-
sa was baptized Luisa (hence the name of the town) so that she could marry
her true love, Pedro Mejias. If she were here today, she would invite you to
the famous 'Fiestas Tradicionales de Santiago Ap6stol' (St. James Carni-
val)" (June 2005). It is not that one has to put forward a case for continuity
from the earlier period, it is the repeated mention of this widespread practice
throughout the islands and in South America that is significant. The follow-
ing are examples:

In 1520, Queen Anacaona, wife of a native chief named Caonabo, danced an
Areito; and in this dance more than three hundred damsels took part. While they
danced and sang, other Indian maidens passed drinks around to the dancers.
(Oviedo 1535 translated in Slonimsky 1972:189)
... apres avoir bienfait rire toute l'assemblie par ce spectacle boufon, on leur fait
apporter par des femmes a chacun une callebasse de Oiiycou, qui tient environ
deux quarters de Paris, & il faut, quelques saofils qu'ils puissent estre, qu'ils la
viiident ou qu'ils crevent. (Du Tertre 1667 2:386-7) ("after making the whole
assembly laugh at this buffoon spectacle, each one of them was brought a


SARGASSO 2006-07, 11





DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF LAS LOCAS...


calabash of ouicou by the women, which contained about two quarts of
Paris and however drunk they were they had to empty it or burst.")

Les jemmes v apportent /e bruvage & les mets qu'elles ont prepare, & sont ex-
tremement soigneuses qu'il ny manque rien qui puisse contribuer a la rejouis-
sance. (De Rochefort 1658:454-6) ("The women bring the drink and food
which they prepared and are extremely careful to make sure that nothing is
missing which could contribute to their enjoyment.")

Assez souvent i/s s'arretent au milieu de leur danse et de leurs bruyantes ex-
clamations pour aller boire diu chica qui lear est verse par les femmes. (Benoit
1839:44-5) ("Quite often they stopped in the middle of their dances and
noisy exclamations to go and drink chica which is poured for them by the
women.")

The intent of drinking varied among Native Americans according to the
circumstances. In the mid-17th century among the people called Galibi in the
Guianas, drinking and dancing were identified as primarily either prepara-
tions for fights and battles or as celebrations after such events. In the case of
the former, the activities were portrayed as occasions during which prospec-
tive warriors whipped themselves up into a state of frenzy to go off to attack
their enemy without fearing for life or limb (Boyer 1654:277). This same
idea of using alcohol together with dancing as a stimulant is to be found
in Jean de Lery's much earlier account of the Tupi in Brazil (1578:117 &
1578:146).
Davis (1975:149) saw the 'disorderly', 'unrulv' man dressed as woman
character as a mask for performing revolutionary acts. In the case of the
indigenous inhabitants of the Americas, European writers saw drunkenness
as a catalyst for performing brave acts --the men are not dressed like women
but there is a nexus with the woman and incitement (madness) to perform
such acts. In both situations men were acting out of character or contrary to
their everyday behaviour. In the case of the Puerto Rican loca, this is the only
character in the parade that has come to be associated with revolutionary
(moral/immoral) behaviour.

carrying a broom
The broom is an instrument that brings about 'inversion' since it retains
its basic significance as an instrument of physical cleaning --it is there-
fore changing dirty to clean. However, it is usually also given a broader
moral sense of cleansing or purification. As is clear from Nicholls' state-


Re./Viiots~ of Scoiioigo Aluo'io1 A[; Id :. CnlW fo iiti ;~l





PETER ROBERTS


ment (1998:202), in Britain characters in the parade who carried inflated
animal bladders on sticks and those who make sweeping motions with brooms
were equivalent --they were 'whifflers' or 'heralds'. In the Loiza festival, on
the other hand, the vejigante (with the vejiga) and the loca (with the broom)
are different characters. It is possible that what started off as a king preceded
by subordinates who prepared the way (the whole assemblage interpretable
actually or metaphorically) was reinterpreted in the Loiza context with dif-
ferent relationships between the four characters. It probably was in no small
measure caused by the fact that the broom as a symbol of purification is
transparent whereas an equivalent or similar role for the animal bladder is
arcane.
In his analysis of the loca character, Ortiz regards the broom as an instru-
ment of cleansing or purification, but he identifies it with African practice:

Las "locas" de las fiestas en honor a Santiago parecen ser tambien de influencia
africana pues estas con sus escobas parecen querer limpiar la casa, echar afuera los
malos espiritus. En muchas aldeas de Africa se lleva a cabo una ceremonia o rito,
que al dar las doce de la noche de cadafin de ano, las gentes salen a barrer sus casas
para espantar la mala suerte, la salazdn o cualquier entidad que les cause dafio.
(1954: 20) ("The "madwomen" of the festivals in honour of St. James also
seem to be of African influence, since they with their brooms seem to want
to clean house, ejecting the evil spirits. In many African villages a ceremony
or ritual is carried out in which, at the stroke of midnight on the last night
of every end of year, people sweep out their houses to frighten away bad
luck, lust, or any other entity which may cause them harm.")

If madness is seen as the catalyst for revolutionary acts, then the broom is the
symbolic instrument to effect change.
Beside the association with purification and revolution, the broom in Eu-
ropean folklore is associated with witches, being what they use to fly. One of
the proposed explanations of the origin of this association and the idea of fly-
ing has to do with masturbation. It is difficult to determine how widespread
knowledge of this association was and if in any way the broom was seen as a
phallic symbol when used in festivities where men dressed as women. This
kind of association does not seem to be a regular part of the loca character in
Puerto Rico, although it would seem to fit in well with exaggerated breasts
and buttocks as well as with the loca as homosexual. Is it purely accidental
that the brush end of the broom used by the witch is called a 'faggot'?


SARGASSO 2006 07, 11





DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF LAS LOCAS...


carrying a can
According to one historical interpretation, the loca could be a whiffler or
herald, in which case the noise made by the can would be notice to clear the
way for the main character. This does not seem to be the reality in the Lofza
parade, however. The can here is used to make 'rough music' --what some
would characterise as noise-- as part of the festivity, as is typical of virtually
all festivities. It is not simply that the player has no knowledge of or access
to regular musical instruments, but that the use of a can, or whatever else is
available, is deliberately intended to produce the most basic type of music
in a situation of mass participation. This allows non-musicians to express
themselves freely without inhibitions. Part of the reason also for the use of a
can is that there were not many musical instruments that were loud enough
for a crowd, and at the same time were portable and accessible.
Inherently in such crowd situations a (binary) spectrum from noise to
music obtains, according to the competence of those involved. In Jamaica,
seventy years after it was first documented in 1774, the picture of a 'John
Connu' festival 'band' was augmented by Phillippo to include 'musicians':

Several companions were associated with him as musicians, beating banjas
and tomtoms, blowing cow-horns, shaking a hard round black-seed, called
Indian shot, in a calabash, and scraping the bones of animals together,
which, added to the vociferations of the crowd, filled the air with the most
discordant sounds.(1843:243)

Though the musicians were separate and distinct from the disreputable
women, the description of their music by Phillippo is consistent with what
is described in European contexts as charivari or rough music. It was most
likely Phillippo's prejudices about the slaves' music which led to his calling
it discordant and elsewhere rude, but it could also have been a conscious or
unconscious association with the European charivari. However, there is no
observation by Phillippo or others that the music had a specific intent (as
was the case with charivari), which would suggest that it was just normal
accompaniment to festivity.
In post-war Trinidad, the steel (oil) can was initially a case of 'rough'
music. Over the years, the steelband has developed into a very sophisticated
orchestra with various refined/tuned pans involved. It has become middle-
class and accepted, as opposed to its beginnings when it was associated by
the middle class with unacceptable behaviour.


Re/Visions of Santiago Ap6stol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





PETER ROBERTS


In the case of the Puerto Rican loca, his 'music' making contrasts with
the accomplished music making along the way. It does not seem to have had
any historical association with violence, as in Trinidad, or with social con-
demnation of moral turpitude, as in Wales and other parts of Europe.

asking for tips
Entertainers seeking reward/pay is probably universal across human societ-
ies, but the practice signals two things --the entertainer as a worker with
reward/pay unregulated and, paradoxically in a certain way, the one who is
collecting the reward/pay as subordinate. The experience of the artist play-
ing for tips becomes more poignant in the case of the people of Loiza in the
context of Puerto Rico.
In a basic sense, the performer expects or hopes for a response from the
crowd. The most common form is applause, which signals approbation, or
the opposite (booing or heckling), which signals disapproval. The response
can be inverted where the character's role is to scare, in which case flight or
screams would signal success. It is intriguing to think what tips would be in
cases today where the loca is seen as transvestite, bisexual or homosexual.

Concluding statement
The loca is a minor character in a parade but one encompassing a num-
ber of major distinctive features or universalss' of human festivals. Migration
with its resulting culture contact is a human phenomenon which adds to
the dynamism in evolution by modifying universals. In the Caribbean, the
effect of migration has been heightened by its suddenness (the short time
period within which it occurred), its diversity and the sharp contrasts which
it brought together. The Loiza festival is a blend of traditions, involving the
same three major elements but with a different balance that are said to be the
core of Puerto Rico --Europe, Africa and America. The quilt that is the loca
in Puerto Rico is one made principally by Africans and their descendants,
and the ways in which the pieces of the quilt are blended reveal much of
the racist experience undergone. Caricatures with blackface and exagger-
ated breasts and hips, emasculation of the black slave, intoxicated behaviour,
unsophisticated musical instruments, menial jobs like sweeping and begging
for their bread are all part of their experience in the Americas. Yet, the loca
is not a bitter character. It is the hilarity that allowed Africans and their de-
scendants to survive that shines through in the loca, a masking hilarity which
also says much about the sexual experience historically.


SARGASSO 2006-07, 11





DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF LAS LOCAS...


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puertorriquena). Second edition. Humacao, P.R.: Editorial Furidi.


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism




46
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.1i


1








El lugar enmascarado: las Fiestas de

Santiago Apostol en Loiza, Puerto Rico*
Max Harris
Director Emeritus, Wisconsin Humanities Council


Siguiendo la pauta que estableci6 Ricardo Alegria, la mayoria de los doctors
en la material creen que las Fiestas de Santiago Ap6stol en Loiza, Puerto
Rico, se inspiran en una mezcla sincr6tica de batallas simuladas entire moros
y cristianos, por un lado, y de deidades y mascaras yoruba importadas, por
otro. Mi investigaci6n reta estas aseveraciones con el argument de que las
fiestas se original en el terreno mezclado de tensions locales, el carnaval y
la cristiandad.
Gracias a la pionera erudici6n de Ricardo Alegria, y a las proporciones
y exhuberancia de sus procesiones, las Fiestas de Santiago Ap6stol en Loiza
figuran como las mejores conocidas entire las muchas festividades tradicio-
nales de Puerto Rico. El breve documental, aunque de valor incalculable, de
Alegria (1949), su important libro sobre las fiestas (1954), y el articulo que
escribi6 en elJournalofAmerican Folklore (1956) por much tiempo han sido
fuentes indisputables de la interpretaci6n. Ni el trabajo de otros estudiosos
(Rodriguez 1991: 16-17, 47-52; Ungerleider 2000; Zaragoza 1995) y de ci-
neastas (Malave 1994; Martiez Sosa 1982; Vissep6 1980), ni los elaborados
programs que la alcaldia de Loiza public cada afio ofrecen evidencia algu-
na de estar en desacuerdo con la interpretaci6n de Alegria. Aunque Alegria
cuidadosamente atenia su relato especulativo de las fiestas con frases como
"seria natural suponer que" y "es possible career que" (1956: 126, 130), especia-
listas, cineastas y oficiales locales han aceptado sus conclusions provisiona-
les sin objetar o cuestionar. Alegria (y todos los que confian en 61) alega que
las fiestas se inspiran en una mezcla sincr6tica de batallas simuladas espa-
fiolas entire moros y cristianos, por un lado, y de deidades y mascaras yoruba
importadas, por el otro.

* Este articulo es una traducci6n con cambios de edici6n menores de "Masking the Site: The
Fiestas de Santiago Ap6stol in Loiza, Puerto Rico",JournalofAmerican Folklore 114 (2001): 358-
369. Los comentarios del autor durante el simposio Re/Visiones de Santiago Apdstol.:Arte, Historiay
Critica Cultural, 20-22 de marzo de 2006, se basaba en este trabajo y, por eso, el sugiri6 su inclusion
en espafiol como su contribuci6n a este tomo. Traducido por Aileene Alvarez.


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





Max HARRIS


Las explicaciones oficiales respaldadas por erudici6n no debatida pueden
ser engafiosas. Son s6lo el "trasunto public" de las actas para usar una frase
acufiada por James Scott (1990). El "trasunto oculto" que expresa disiden-
cia y motiva la repetida representaci6n popular de las fiestas, generalmente
se percibe con indicaciones que son visible s6lo con su puesta en escena o
performance. Por muchos afios he sido observador participate de fiestas en
Espafia y las Americas y he aprendido a prestar mayor atenci6n a la acci6n
dramatica de una fiesta, y a los comentarios casuales de los actors y del
public, que a las explicaciones estandar que se dan a cl6rigos, agents del
gobierno y antrop6logos o que 6stos, a su vez, ofrecen. Busco los detalles de
la representaci6n que silenciosamente estin refiidos con el trasunto public,
porque es dentro de esta disonancia --s6lo porque probablemente se pueda
considerar inocua, confusa o improcedente por los doctors u otras autorida-
des-- que los actors populares tienden a insinuar su trasunto oculto en la
plaza p6blica (Harris 2000: 23-25).
Segun ha admitido el mismo Alegria, las tradiciones europeas y africa-
nas, cuyos vestigios l61 alega haber descubierto, no tienen significado para los
que ahora participan de la festividad. Creo que su concentraci6n en esas tra-
diciones ha oscurecido --y continue oscureciendo-- el much mas vibrant
comentario social y teol6gico al que las fiestas dan vigorosa forma dramatica.
Al exponer la debilidad del argument hist6rico de Alegria, espero abrir el
camino para una nueva interpretaci6n de las fiestas que es mis sensitiva a su
actual performance.
El punto de partida para mi interpretaci6n reside en una observaci6n
muy sencilla. Las festividades siempre se le adscriben a Lofza a pesar de
que ocurren en Mediania, que queda a casi tres millas al este de Loiza. Para
ser mis precise, se celebran en el camino de Loiza a Mediania, y acumulan
fuerza numdrica y vitalidad a media que se viajan hacia el este entire los dos
lugares. La verdadera ubicaci6n de las festividades se encubre por su desig-
naci6n official. Creo que las festividades tienen como base, por lo menos en
parte, en tensions duraderas y continues entire el prestigio social comparati-
vo existente entire Loiza y Mediania.
Loiza fue uno de los primeros poblados coloniales en la Isla. Se trajeron
esclavos negros a Loiza tan temprano como 1519 para que trabajaran en las
minas de oro y, una vez se agotaron los dep6sitos, en el cultivo de la cafia de
azucar. A mitad del siglo XVIII Loiza y sus alrededores tenia la concentra-
ci6n mis alta de negros en la Isla. El poblado en si era pequeno con sola-


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mente dos edificios de piedra (la iglesia y las oficinas de gobierno) y una po-
blaci6n de algunos oficiales blancos, y sus vecinos mulatos y negros libertos.
Los propietarios blancos vivian con sus esclavos negros en las plantaciones de
cafia adyacentes. Una creciente poblaci6n de negros libertos se esparci6 hacia
el este a lo largo de la costa del area hoy conocida como Mediania (Alegria
1954: 2-3; Zaragoza 1995: 46-47). Con el descenso de la industrial del azucar
a mediados del siglo XIX y la abolici6n de la esclavitud en 1873, la economic
de la region cambi6, pero la demografia se mantuvo casi inalterada. A pesar
de que para prop6sitos administrativos Mediania se consider un barrio de
Loiza, el viejo pueblo de Loiza retuvo la sede del poder official. Segun me
dijo Lydia Milagros Gonzalez, una etn6grafa local, "Loiza es donde estan los
bur6cratas: el alcalde, el maestro, el sacerdote, y demas. Mediania es donde
vive la gente mins pobre".
La region como un todo es todavia uno de los focos mis profundos de
la cultural afrocaribefia en la Isla (Alvarez Nazario 1974: 81-83) porque esti
mans aislada que lo que podria sugerir su ubicaci6n de 15 millas al este de la
ciudad capital (San Juan). Una carretera menor deja la principal cinco millas
tierra adentro, se une a la costa en Loiza, gira hacia el este hacia Mediania
y luego da vuelta para volver a conectar con la carretera principal [en Rio
Grande]. Hasta hace poco [1982] s6lo el anc6n cruzaba el rio que separa a
Loiza de la maltrecha carretera costera que conduce mas directamente, aun-
que no mis ripido, a San Juan.
Los origenes de la festividad son inciertos. Desde 1645 el santo patr6n
official de Loiza ha sido San Patricio. La iglesia de Loiza, la iglesia parroquial
mas antigua de la Isla, todavia esti consagrada a San Patricio. La iglesia pa-
rroquial mas nueva de Mediania es la que esti dedicada a Santiago Ap6stol.
A pesar de los esfuerzos de los propietarios de plantaciones irlandesas en el
siglo XIX de popularizar la fiesta de San Patricio (17 de marzo), la poblaci6n
negra siempre ha preferido a Santiago. Existen varias razones posibles para
esto. En primer lugar, una fiesta como la de San Patricio que cae en medio de
la Cuaresma, tiene potential limitado en lo que se refiere a celebraciones exu-
berantes del pueblo. En segundo lugar, se dice que se encontr6 una imagen
milagrosa de Santiago en el tronco de un arbol de corcho en Mediania a me-
diados de 1832. En tercer lugar, si vamos a career a Alegria, la representaci6n
traditional de Santiago como guerrero a caballo recordaba a la comunidad
negra de imigenes parecidas de Shang6, el dios yoruba (Alegria 1954: 22-25;
Zaragoza 1990: 47, 58-59, 92-93).


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





MAX HARRIS


Pero no hay evidencia de lo que sostiene Alegria. El mismo admite que
"en Loiza no sobreviven huellas visible del culto a dioses africanos: los nom-
bres de Shang6 y Ogun no tienen significado para sus habitantes actuales"
(1954:23). En la ausencia de evidencia actual Alegrfa inventa una historic
mitica. "Seria natural suponer", dice, que la primera poblaci6n negra de Lo-
iza, cuando se le requiri6 pelear junto a los espafioles en contra de los inva-
sores indios caribe y de pirates europeos, "identificaron al Santo guerrero (de
Espafia) ... con los dioses guerreros africanos." La semejanza de atributos
"puede muy bien haber llevado a una fusi6n de dos conceptss. Sin embargo,
concede en un giro final de razonamiento circular, "si tal process de sincre-
tismo ocurri6 en Loiza..., la Inica evidencia afirmativa que permanece es la
devoci6n de la present poblaci6n (negra) al Santo" (Alegria 1956: 126).
La reconstrucci6n especulativa de Alegria se deshila por el simple hecho
de que la primera poblaci6n negra de Loiza no era yoruba. A pesar de que es-
tablecer los origenes 6tnicos de una poblaci6n esclava es incierta en el mejor
de los casos, la evidencia documental sugiere --como se puede esperar de la
historic del trifico trasatlintico de esclavos en general-- que la mayoria de los
esclavos puertorriquefios del siglo XVI provenian de la costa de Africa Occi-
dental entire lo que actualmente son Senegal y Liberia, y un flujo creciente de
esclavos provenientes de Angola y el Congo comenz6 a llegar a Puerto Rico
a finales del siglo XVI (Alvarez Nazario 1974: 44-49, 55-60; Sued Badillo
y L6pez Cantos 1986: 167-68). La mayoria de los de Angola y el Congo
era bantui. El trafico de esclavos yoruba, transportados en la mayoria de los
casos desde la Ensenada de Benin al sur oeste de Nigeria, era virtualmente
desconocido durante este period. Unos pocos pueden haber llegado durante
la segunda mitad del siglo XVII, pero un numero sustancial de yoruba s6lo
comenz6 a llegar a las Americas a finales del siglo XVIII y principios del
XIX. De estos, la mayoria fue a Brasil y a Cuba (Alvarez Nazario 1974: 25-
26; Curtin 1990:120).
En su detallado studio sobre el vocabulario africano en el espafiol de
Puerto Rico, Manuel Alvarez Nazario encontr6 poca evidencia de influencia
yoruba. "Es possible dijo, "que un numero apreciable de yoruba llegaran a
Puerto Rico durante el uiltimo tercio del siglo XVIII y principios del XIX,
como ocurri6 en Cuba. Sin embargo, durante este period, y de hecho mien-
tras el comercio de esclavos continue con firmeza hasta el siglo XIX, el grue-
so de los esclavos importados (hacia Puerto Rico)... parecen ser de origen
bantui, ... como puede verse de las etimologias de la gran mayoria de las voces


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africanas que han sobrevivido en el espafiol puertorriquefio"(Alvarez Nazario
1974: 366-367). Ir6nicamente, la (inica evidencia que Alvarez Nazario ofrece
de una presencia yoruba en Puerto Rico es la afirmaci6n hecha por Alegria de
que las Fiestas de Santiago Ap6stol en Loiza tiene indicios del dios yoruba
Shang6 (Alvarez Nazario 1974:51). Joseph Carrol Dorsey (1988: 266, 273)
es igual de enfatico cuando en un studio detallado sobre la participaci6n
de Puerto Rico en el trifico de esclavos durante el siglo XIX, describe sobre
la "casi ausencia" de un elemento yoruba". Judith Bettelheim sugiere que la
afirmaci6n de Alegria "sobre un vinculo yoruba puertorriquefio" se debe mas
a las influencias eruditas bajo las que escribia que a cualquier evidencia real
en Puerto Rico (comunicaci6n personal, 12 de marzo de 1999).
Cuando fue estudiante graduado en la Universidad de Chicago, Alegria
trabaj6 estrechamente con los especialistas en yoruba Melville Herskovits y
William Bascom de Northwestern University. De ellos obtuvo no s6lo un
interns regional, sino tambi6n una agenda political, pues Herskovits de ma-
nera consciente dirigi6 su studio en contra de la convicci6n muy difundida
de que la esclavitud habia despojado de todo vestigio de su cultural original
a los africanos del Nuevo Mundo (Herskovits 1941). Como muchos otros
"desmitificadores" respetables, se ha acusado a Herskovits de "equivocarse
por ser tan enfatico" (Raboteau 1947: 52). De lo mismo se podria acusar a
Alegria, quien termin6 sus studios en Chicago en 1947, dos afios antes de
filmar las festividades de Loiza.
Atn los detalles de los trabajos de sus mentores no apoyan la causa de
Alegria. Herskovits, en un articulo que Alegria cita, sefiala que los africanos
cat6licos del Nuevo Mundo sincretizaron santos cat6licos y dioses africanos,
pero identifica a Shang6 con Santa Barbara en vez de con Santiago (Ale-
gria 1956: 133n2; Herskovits 1937: 640). Bascom (1972) en su studio sobre
Shang6 en el Nuevo Mundo encuentra conexiones entire Shang6 y los santos
Jer6nimo, Juan, Miguel, Barbara, Pedro y Jorge, pero no Santiago. Henry
Drewal, un expert mins reciente en la diaspora yoruba, confirm estos vincu-
los, y afiade que aiun en Brasil y Cuba no conoce conexi6n entire Santiago y
Shang6 (comunicaci6n personal, 7 de septiembre de 2000).
De manera que Alegria se circunscribe a comparar las imigenes de San-
tiago en Loiza con una talla en madera de Shang6 a caballo procedente de
Nigeria (1954: 23), pero Bettelheim sefiala, "No hay tradici6n de tallas en
madera que se parezcan a esta manera de representar a Shang6, ni en Cuba
ni en Puerto Rico (comunicaci6n personal, 12 de marzo de 1999). Drewal


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





MAX HARRIS


confirm la observaci6n de Bettelheim y afiade, "Existen representaciones
[en Cuba] de Shang6 a caballo, pero se vinculan con imigenes de Santa Bir-
bara, a caballo, con armadura y frente a un castillo" (comunicaci6n personal,
7 de septiembre de 2000).
En resume, la devoci6n de Santiago en Loiza nada tiene que ver con
Shang6. Quizis se derive del papel ambiguo que el santo desempefia en la
mitologia del colonialismo espafiol. Hay tres imigenes procesionales de San-
tiago en Loiza. Cada una de ellas consiste de una imagen pequefiisima de un
palido Santiago que va sentado en el lomo de un caballo parado en las patas
traseras; bajo las patas hay una o dos cabezas cortadas de moros negros. San-
tiago, pues, se represent como el santo patron de Espafia, lider sobrenatural
de las tropas cristianas en contra de moros y otros enemigos de piel oscura,
y heroe arquetipico del triunfalismo cat61lico espafiol blanco. Pero tambien
se puede interpreter a Santiago como un guerrero natal opuesto al dominion
externo, porque alcanz6 sus primeras y mis famosas victorias no en las gue-
rras de conquista, sino en las de la reconquista al desplegar su proeza military
durante la larga campafia medieval espafiola de echar a los moros de la Pe-
ninsula Ib6rica. De manera que la aprobaci6n official del papel de Santiago
como defensor de la fe va conjuntamente con la apropiaci6n subordinada de
su papel como libertador, una combinaci6n que contribute much a explicar
su extendida popularidad en la Am6rica Hispana.1 Sospecho que no es el
color relative de la piel de Santiago y de sus victims lo que atrae a los de
Mediania, sino que venci6 a las fuerzas extranjeras opresoras.
Una ambigtiedad similar rige las relaciones de las tres imigenes proce-
sionales de Santiago, pues su condici6n depend de la ubicaci6n social del
espectador. Vistas desde Loiza, la jerarquia official coloca estas imagenes en
el orden en que primero aparecen [en las fiestas]: Santiago de los Hombres,
Santiago de las Mujeres y Santiago de los Nifios. Por lo tanto, los hombres
van por encima de las mujeres, las mujeres sobre los nifios, mias grandes sobre
mis pequefios, y los primeros sobre los ultimos. El primer dia de las cele-
braciones se honra a Santiago de los Hombres. Aunque s6lo mide alrededor
de dieciocho pulgadas de alto, esta es la imagen mas grande, es la unica que
comienza sujornada yendo hacia el oeste --guiada por los curas-- hasta Lof-

I En la danza de los santiagos de la Sierra de Puebla, M6xico, por ejemplo, un trasunto hecho
public de una victoria catolica esconde otro trasunto en el que Santiago, representado por
un guerrero indigena del sol, derrota a los conquistadores e invasores espafioles (Harris 2000:
20-27).


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za, y es la finica de las tres imagenes que ahora se permit entrar en la iglesia
parroquial de San Patricio.2
Vistas desde Mediania, donde cada imagen se queda un afio en la casa
de su mantenedor(a) respective, la jerarquia popular favorece a Santiago de
los Nifios. Esta imagen que mide cerca de nueve pulgadas de alto es la que
milagrosamente apareci6 en un arbol de corcho y se cree que tiene gran poder
milagroso para los indefensos (los que los poderosos tratan como nifios sin
importar la edad). Cada imagen sale de la celebraci6n luego de compartir
su dia de honor con las que se colocan por debajo en t6rminos de jerarqufa
official; por lo tanto, Santiago de los Nifios reina solo el ultimo dia de las fes-
tividades, que es cuando participa la mayor cantidad de personas.
Antes de que comenzaran las festividades, visit la Isla en julio de 1997 y
pregunt6 en la alcaldia d6nde podia ver las imigenes. Me dirigieron hacia el
este y conduje hacia las afueras del pueblo. Volvi a preguntar y me indicaron
que no me habia alejado lo suficiente. Finalmente me percat6 de que a pesar
de la ubicaci6n official de las festividades, me habian dirigido fuera del pueblo
en direcci6n de Mediania. Aun Santiago de los Hombres no vive en Loiza,
sino en Mediania Baja, la mas cercana de las dos Medianias a Lofza. Cuando
encontr6 su casa, la hija de la mantenedora estaba afuera dando los toques
finales a las vestimentas del santo. Me dio la bienvenida y me present a va-
rios miembros de la familiar. Tambidn me dijo que su madre, a su vez, habia
heredado el papel de mantenedora de su madre hacia 37 afios. Antes de reti-
rarme la mujer se asegur6 de que yo supiera que las festividades comenzaban
mis tarde en el dia --como se hace cada 24 de julio desde hace 37 afios-- en
la calle frente a la casa de su madre.
Mis tarde en la tarde, mientras el sol estaba caliente aiun a la sombra de
unos flamboyanes, se form una pequefia procesi6n y se encamin6 al oeste
de la casa de la mantenedora. Dos policies en motocicleta escoltaron un jeep
abierto atrds que ilevaba una enorme mascara de papier-mache en la capota.
Detris del vehiculo, una mujer caminaba con un estandarte rojo y dorado que
lefa "iViva Santiago Ap6stol!" Luego seguia un pequefio grupo de devotos,
mayormente mujeres, que vestian ropas comunes; dos de ellas llevaban la
imagen de Santiago de los Hombres. Al final venia un conjunto de metales

2 Se me dijo que se dejaba entrar a las tres imaigenes, "pero los curas pusieron reparos" a los
vejigantes enmascarados y a las locas que acompafiaban a las otras dos imagenes. En el film
de Alegria vemos a Santiago de las Mujeres salir de la iglesia de Loiza.


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





MAX HARRIS


sobre un camio6n de plataforma que se habia adaptado para que pareciera un
quiosco de musica rodante.
A medio camino de Lofza, la procesi6n se detuvo y se le unieron dos cu-
ras con casullas blancas y estolas rojas3 que rezaron y repartieron papeles con
canciones impresas. De ahi en adelante los pasodobles de la banda alterna-
ron con las canciones religiosas. El numero de participants creci6 mientras
progresaba la procesi6n, pero nunca super a los cien. Un pufiado de obser-
vadores nos veian pasar. Cuando la procesi6n lleg6 a Lofza, pas6 detris de
la iglesia, se movi6 en contra de las manecillas del reloj en torno a la cuadra
formada por la plaza y la alcaldia, y una vez mis se desplaz6 alrededor de la
iglesia antes de entrar en ella por la puerta principal. Luego de una breve
exhortaci6n sacerdotal y de una canci6n de los congregados, los devotos se
dispersaron.
Aprovech6 de la oportunidad para ver mis de cerca a Santiago de los
Hombres. Una mujer negra apart las cintas que colgaban de los lados del
caballo para que yo viera mejor las dos cabezas sin cuerpo. "Dos moros", dije.
Rebosante de alegria me dijo: "Santiago Matamoros" y volvi6 a sonreir.
Cuando salimos de la iglesia, cerr6 la puerta. Se dej6 al santo solo dentro
de la Iglesia. Un poco despu6s, en el estadio de deportes de Loiza, el alcalde
proclam6 el inicio de las festividades, recordando a los loicefios que esta es
una festividad en honor a Santiago y no un carnaval. La primera procesi6n se
habia amoldado a las expectativas oficiales.
El pr6ximo dia comenz6 a retarlas. Tarde en la mafiana un conjunto
de vejigantes, unos 150, se congregaron en las calls al oeste del centro del
pueblo. El vejigante es el mis colorido de los personajes enmascarados de la
festividad. Se described a si mismos como "diablitos", usan holgados atuen-
dos multicolores de una sola pieza que, al levantar los brazos, revela un arco
de material translucido que conecta las mangas con los costados como si
fueran alas de murci61ago. Los rostros quedan ocultos tras mascaras elabo-
radas que, en la mayoria de los casos, se hacen de cAscaras de coco a las que
se les tallan facciones africanas exageradas, como por ejemplo nariz chata,
labios gruesos. Otras mascaras se han tomado prestadas de los vejigantes del
carnaval mas grande de Puerto Rico en la ciudad de Ponce, hechas depapier-

3 El conjunto de las vestimentas rojas y blancas de los curas --colores que tradicionalmente se
asocian con Shang6 en el rito yoruba-- es una coincidencia. En la Iglesia Cat61lica el rojo es el
color liturgico obligatorio para los dias conmemorativos de ap6stoles y mirtires. La estola roja
sobre la casulla blanca es la vestimenta mis sencilla de los curas para la ceremonia.


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mach& y moldeadas como monstruos fantisticos. Todas estin pintadas con
colors brillantes y tienen multiples cuernos muchas veces mis largos que
la mascara misma. El nombre de estos personajes se deriva de la vejiga que
solian llevar amarradas a un palo. Algunos todavia llevan globos o bolsas de
papel inflados.
Aunque admite que "no es possible determinar la existencia de una tradi-
ci6n artistic en Loiza derivada del vigoroso arte africano", Alegria propone
que el estilo de las miscaras de vejigante tiene influencia de las mascaras
yoruba tradicionales. Una vez mias su argument se basa en una presumible
semejanza a una historic mitica. Igual que las miscaras yoruba", dice, "las de
Loiza representan caras grotescas con expresiones extremes, son policromas,
y los detalles se pintan con gran elaboraci6n. Se exageran los rasgos faciales,
especialmente la boca y los ojos, que por lo general son de forma ovalada"
(1956: 130). Dando un caracteristico salto de la imaginaci6n, concluye que,
"Es possible career que en Loiza ... la influencia de la escultura africana se
mantuvo entire los descendientes de los esclavos y se manifest en las oportu-
nidades artisticas que la fiesta ofreci6" (1956: 130).
Dado el origen 6tnico de los primeros esclavos en Puerto Rico, esto re-
sulta improbable. Cabe preguntarse no s6lo c6mo las tradiciones artisticas
yoruba tan lejanas dominaron sobre la artesania loicefia local de hacer mas-
caras, sino tambi6n c6mo se tergiversa el estilo yoruba. Bascom ofrece una vi-
si6n antit6tica de la t6cnica yoruba: "Comparadas con muchas otras cultures
africanas, la talla yoruba es relativamente naturalista y moderada, y por esta
raz6n no ha sido apreciada por los que prefieren lo abstract o lo grotesco"
(1969: 111). Las miscaras yoruba Egzingzin, que incorporan lo grotesco para
satirizar personajes antisociales como lo son los borrachos, las prostitutes o
los enemigos son una excepci6n a esta regla general. Sin embargo, luego de
una visit reciente a Loiza, Henry Drewal escribi6, "Los yoruba no utilizan
cocos para tallar y no hay tradici6n generalizada de [colocar] cuernos en las
mascaras yoruba ... [No vi] vinculos claros o explicitos con las miscaras yo-
ruba [en Loiza]" (comunicaci6n personal, 7 de septiembre de 2000).
Una explicaci6n mis plausible es que las mascaras de coco, igual que
las mascaras fantasticas de papier-mache, tienen como origen la tradici6n de
carnaval de la Isla. Las mascaras de coco me sugieren una especie de carica-
tura 6tnica carnavalesca, que exagera, y, por lo tanto, se burla de la asociaci6n
que el colono blanco hace de la piel negra y lo demonfaco. Un efecto similar
--por medios diferentes-- se logra en el Carnaval de Trinidad cuando los


Re/Visions of Santiago Ap6stol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





MAX HARRIS


enmascarados negros se ennegrecen todavia mais con fango o aceite, y simul-
tineamente hacen de diablos y esclavos (Harris 1998:111).
Alegria tambi6n esti convencido de que los vejigantes alguna vez pelea-
ron en contra de otro de los personajes enmascarados: los pilidos caballe-
ros. "Podria parecer", describe, sin ofrecer evidencia para esta sugerencia, "que
anteriormente los caballeros servian de escoltas del Santo y llevaban a cabo
pantomimas que representaban batallas entire ellos y Santiago Ap6stol, por
un lado, y con los moros, por el otro (1956: 130). Y afiade: "Estas pantomi-
mas pueden haberse parecido a las fiestas de moros y cristianos que todavia
se celebran en M6xico" (1954:56n2). Aunque estas batallas fingidas entire
moros y cristianos se representaban en el Puerto Rico colonial (L6pez Can-
tos: 1990: 168-174), 6stas, y las danzas rituales elaboradas y las batallas a gran
escala de la tradici6n mexicana (Harris 2000: 3-17, 243-250), no se parecen
mis que superficialmente a las festividades de Loiza.
Por ejemplo, no conozco ningdn otro caso de esta tradici6n, en ningin lugar,
donde los moros hayan portado vejigas. Estas si eran propiedad comun del buf6n
medieval (Chambers 1903: 385-387, Southworth 1998:4-7) y todavia los en-
mascarados del carnaval las cargan en algunas parties de Europa vases, por ejem-
plo, Cocho 1990: 138, 150-151; Giroux 1984: 36). Ademis, aunque no existe
evidencia hist6rica de la participaci6n de vejigantes puertorriquefios en batallas
fingidas, si hay testimonios de su participaci6n en especticulos civicos, mascara-
das y el carnaval. Un vejigante "con un atuendo ridiculo" particip6 en las fiestas
de San Juan en mayo de 1747 en que tardiamente se celebraba la coronaci6n de
Fernando VI de Espafia. El informed dice que "A los que en Europa se les llama
diablitos, en esta isla se les llama begigantes (sic)" (Relaci6n 1925: 178).4 Un
observador del siglo XIX en San Juan recuerda entire los enmascarados que
llenaban las calls cada domingo de junio, "un nlmero infinito de negros
vestidos como demonios a quienes se les llama vejigantes". Su papel entonces
inclufa intercambiar coplas graciosas con los nifiitos que los segufan (L6pez
Cantos 1990: 195, 204). Y Louis Bonafoux (1918: 111) en 1879 inform
haber visto en los carnavales de Puerto Rico "conjuntos de vejigantes, cuyo
humor consiste en pegar con grandes vejigas al primer bipedo que se en-

4 Scarano (1996: 1416) define esta vez al vejigante como "un monstruo que importunaba a
los asistentes al carnaval con el contenido de una vejiga que con frecuencia era orin, o heces
fecales". Ain en el context del carnaval, no he visto vejigas llenas de otra cosa que no sea aire.
Bonafoux (1918: 108-109) dice haber visto --a finales del siglo XIX en Puerto Rico-- "Cocos
del carnaval" llenos de orin y materiala fecal", pero su editor dispute esta aseveracion.


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cuentren". Nenen de la ruta mora, un filme de 1956, muestra a los vejigantes
loicefios blandiendo vejigas infladas acompafiados por un coro similar de ni-
fios pequefios segmentss mostrados en Martiez Sosa 1982; v6ase tambi6n a
Alegria 1954: 59; Palma 1981: 166-167), pero ni 6ste ni el filme anterior que
Alegria hizo contienen indicio alguno de batallas fingidas.
Lydia Milagros [Gonzalez] me dijo de una amiga que decia recorder
de su infancia una pelea con espadas entire vejigantes y caballeros, pero no
encontr6 evidencia real de combates entire los dos grupos. Mas auin, al pre-
guntar a unos vejigantes si representaban a los moros, estos consideraron mi
sugerencia como muy extrana:
"No", dijeron. "Somos diablitos. Estamos en contra de Santiago. Los ca-
balleros defienden a Santiago".
"iUstedes pelean?", pregunt6.
"Si, con espadas", contestaron.
"Pero, yo no los he visto pelear".
"No", me dijeron. "Eso es s6lo el cuento. No peleamos de verdad. Real-
mente nos Ilevamos bien con los caballeros y con Santiago. Somos amigos".
El cuento puede ser el de Alegria que se ha repetido por 50 afios. Aunque
con la evidencia existente no puedo probar mi hip6tesis, asi como Alegrfa no
puede probar la suya, mi mejor opinion es que los vejigantes y los caballeros
son figures carnavalescas de origenes independientes aunque complementa-
rios y ambos representan caricaturas 6tnicas cuya yuxtaposici6n coincidental
en Loiza sugiri6 una racionalizaci6n posterior de un origen comun siguiendo
la tradici6n de moros y cristianos. Las locas, los viejos y otros personajes car-
navalescos que se unen al desfile fortalecen mi hip6tesis, pero exponen una
debilidad en la de Alegria puesto que ni 61 supondria que estos personajes
surgeon de batallas fingidas entire moros y cristianos.
Es cierto que los vejigantes que vi en la mafiana del 25 de julio im-
plicitamente se oponian a la imagen de Santiago de los Hombres que
permanecia confinada dentro de la iglesia. Sin embargo, su resistencia era
mas caracteristica del despliegue de jerarquias alternas de poder dentro
de un carnaval, que el preludio de la victoria de cristianos sobre moros.
El ruidoso desfile por Loiza era encabezado por tres nifiitos que portaban
el banderin distintivo del grupo, un grupo de nifias vestidas como muje-
res esclavas afrocaribefias del siglo XIX y preparadas para bailar la plena
traditional [o bomba], y un grupo divers de j6venes vestidos como indios
tainos. DetrAs venian los vejigantes: primero los mas j6venes y luego una masa


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





MAx HARRIS


de adults enmascarados que ululaban y desplegaban sus alas al pasar. Todos los
disfraces, de una u otra manera, representaban o series no europeos, o demonia-
cos. Un camion pequefio venia al final con enormes altoparlantes que estrepi-
tosamente hacian retumbar musica bailable caribefia, inclusive una canci6n
("Movin"' de Marvin y Nigel) que reconoci como la canci6n ganadora como
Road March song (Canci6n del Desfile) en el Carnaval de Trinidad de 1996
(Mason 1998: 179). El jubiloso desfile pas6 en contra de las manecillas del
reloj alrededor de la alcaldia, de la plaza y de la iglesia parroquial, rodeando
al Santiago de los Hombres "atrapado" dentro de la iglesia y recuperando
las calls para aquellos cuyos disfraces declaraban su oposici6n festival a los
tradicionales criterios coloniales y eclesidsticos de valor.
Como este dia se dedica a los loicefios ausentes (la diaspora loicefia que
una vez al afio regresa a las fiestas), una caravana de autos y otros vehiculos
guiados por ausentes se reunieron para viajar por la ruta procesional desde
Loiza hasta el arbol sagrado de corcho en Mediania. Todos los autos patrulla
de la policia, las ambulancias, y cualquier otro vehiculo disponible con sirenas
y luces parpadeantes escoltaron al lento desfile de autos que, a su vez, hacian
alboroto con sus bocinas y radios.
Al dia siguiente, 26 de julio, era el dia de Santiago de los Hombres. En
el sofocante calor de la tarde se sac6 de la iglesia de San Patricio a la oficial-
mente privilegiada imagen de Santiago y un pufiado de files seguidores la
encamin6 hacia Mediania acompafiados del cami6n con la banda de metales.
No habia curas. Un grupo de vejigantes que caminaban much mIs adelante
que la imagen se les uni6 a las afueras del pueblo. Despu6s de viajar unos tres
cuartos de milla, los primeros caballeros entraron al desfile y se colocaron
entire la imagen y los vejigantes.
Los caballeros Ulevaban miscaras hechas de tela metilica pintadas con ojos
azules y bigotes finos, adem~s de piel palida, como caricature de las facciones
aristocrdticas espafiolas. Los sombreros estaban decorados con plumas grandes o
flores de papel y espejos, a la vez que largas cintas multicolores caian por delante
y por detras. Sus uniforms de capa, gabin y pantalones, todos hechos en telas de
flores o cuadros, "conjuraban la imagen de un arlequin" (Zaragoza 1995: 108) en
lugar de la de un guerrero. No Ulevaban armas. Aunque hay fotos y peliculas de
los 1940 y 1950 que muestran caballeros a caballo (Alegria 1949, 1954: 54-55;
Martiez Sosa 1982), todos los que vi iban a pie. Alegria dice que las vestimentas
de los caballeros son mis caras que la de los vejigantes, restringiendo el papel de
los primeros a "los que tengan mayores recursos econ6micos" (Alegrial954: 54;


SARGASSO 2006-07, 11





EL LUGAR ENMASCARADO


vease tambi6n a Ungerleider 2000: 66), pero lo contrario era lo que se palpaba
en la tienda de miscaras de la familiar Ayala en Mediania.5 Aunque el negocio
del turismo puede haber afectado el precio relative de las miscaras en los iltimos
50 afios --donde la mascara mas spectacular del vejigante se vende mis cara--
sospecho que los disfraces son para burlarse en lugar de reflejarjerarqufas de clase
y etnicidad.6
A media que la procesi6n religiosa se acercaba a Mediania, mis y mis cele-
brantes, con o sin disfraces, se unian al desfile carnavalesco que les precedia. Los
vejigantes y los caballeros proliferaban. Los viejos y las locas eran menos. Estos
uiltimos tradicionalmente usaban ropas raidas y miscaras hechas de papel o de
cajas de zapato de cart6n. Actualmente, no es de extrafiar verlos con miscaras
compradas de hombres lobo o de caras repugnantes. Al igual que los persona-
jes mexicanos de los viejos o abuelos, no representan hombres viejos sino mis
bien los espiritus de antepasados muertos (Harris 1997a: 122-131). Las mascaras
plisticas del Dia de las Brujas (Halloween) no son meras concesiones a lo moder-
no o a disfraces carnavalescos gen6ricos, sino actualizaciones especfficas de una
tradici6n antigua. Tradicionalmente se rinde honor a los antepasados cuando la
procesi6n pasa por el cementerio a las afueras de Loiza.
Las locas solian ser hombres vestidos de mujer, con relleno exagerado por
delante y por detris, y que alternadamente coqueteaban con los hombres y
barrian las calls con escobas cortas, aparentando recoger el polvo en latas de
galleta. Eran parodia tanto de la mujer domesticada como de la mujer de la
calle (Zaragoza 1995: 116). En la actualidad tienden mas a ser sencillamente
afeminados ridiculous.


5 Hasta su muerte, Castor Ayala era el principal artesano de mascaras de la region. Al pre-
sente, su hijo Raul Ayala hace mascaras de acuerdo con los disefios de su padre. Rauil aparece
en Malav6, 1994.
6 Por 500 afios los negros de las Am6ricas han insinuado caricaturas de la clase dominant
blanca en los festivales del pueblo. En 1539 en Ciudad de M6xico, durante un carnaval espe-
ctacular ideado por Cort6s y el primer virrey, los miembros de una cofradia de negros cabal-
garon dentro de la plaza, enmascarados, suntuosamente vestidos y llenos de joyas, en discreta
parodia de los conquistadores y sus mujeres (Diaz del Castillo 1992: 545[cap. 201]; Harris
2000: 128-131). En Lima en el siglo XIX, Manuel Fuentes (1858: 595) se quej6 de "las
ridiculas figures de esos reyes negros que parodiaban a los hijos de Granada". En Trinidad
durante el carnaval de 1996, pude ver a un Bookman demoniaco y enmascarado que anotaba
los pecados de la muchedumbre en un gran libro. El Bookman (hombre del libro) usaba una
mascara blanca depapier-mache. Uno de los enmascarados me pregunt6: "Sera coincidencia
que Satands siempre se ve asi? A mi me parece muy europeo".


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





MAX HARRIS


Segtin iba aumentando la cantidad de personas que precedia a Santiago,
asi tambien aumentaba el nimero de policies, algunos en motocicleta, otros
en bicicleta o a pie. Pregunt6 a uno de ellos si en el pasado habia habido
problems, pero no contest mi pregunta directamente. "Aqui hay muchas
personas felices", me dijo. "No trabajan, dependent de la asistencia social. Las
personas contents quieren bailar. Entonces se meten en peleas y no quie-
ren parar de pelear". El consume prolifico de cerveza y ron se afiade a esta
mezcla, pero no presence peleas. Para cuando ilegamos a Mediania, various
cientos de personas caminaban delante de la imagen, en una especie de fiesta
callejera en movimiento. Cientos de otras personas flanqueaban las calls
como espectadores.
A media que la cola de la procesi6n se acercaba a la casa donde se guar-
da la imagen de Santiago de los Nifios, cuatro personas la cargaron y llevaron
a la calle a enfrentarse con Santiago de los Hombres. Las dos imaigenes se
acercaron una a la otra, cada una precedida por un abanderado. Los aban-
derados hicieron tres genuflexiones mientras movian sus banderas haciendo
un disefio de figure de ocho; mientras tanto, los que portaban las imigenes
tambidn hacian genuflexiones haciendo que cada Santiago se inclinara en sa-
ludo al otro. La multitud aplaudi6. Entonces Santiago de los Nifios se coloc6
detrAs de su tocayo y la procesi6n sigui6 hacia el este. Al llegar a la casa de
la mantenedora de Santiago de las Mujeres, ocurri6 un saludo similar antes
de que esta imagen de Santiago se uniera a la procesi6n ocupando el lugar
entire Santiago de los Hombres y Santiago de los Nifios. De igual manera, en
el San Juan del siglo XIX las imigenes de Nuestra Sefiora de la Soledad y la
de Cristo resucitado se encuentran y saludan en la calle antes del amanecer el
Domingo de Pascua (L6pez Cantos 1990: 69).
En el centro de Mediania Alta, donde la aglomeraci6n de caminantes
y espectadores era mis densa, la procesi6n vir6 hacia la izquierda hacia el
sector de Las Carreras. Cuando las imigenes ilegaron al lugar del sagrado
Arbol de corcho (ahora, lamentablemente, muerto), se viraron para quedar de
frente a la calle que transcurre por unas cien yards desde el camino principal
hasta la playa. Fuegos artificiales estallaban en lo alto. Tres jinetes trotaron a
todo lo largo de la calle desde el camino principal portando los estandartes
rojos y dorados de las imigenes.7 Mas tarde la procesi6n volvi6 por donde
lleg6, dejando cada imagen en la casa de su mantenedora correspondiente y

7 Zaragoza (1995: 75) describe que los jinetes estin "vestidos como Santiago", pero en tres dias
solamente vi uno que estaba disfrazado y mis bien parecia charro mexicano.


SARGASSO 2006-07, 11





EL LUGAR ENMASCARADO


reduciendose en tamafio hasta llegar a la casa de Santiago de los Hombres.
Entonces la procesi6n finalmente se disolvi6 y dej6 a su paso una series de
grupos callejeros que bebian y bailaban al son de mtsica fuerte frente a los
bares y las casas de los santos.
Dej6 que la procesi6n siguiera adelante, caminando mis lentamente y
detenidndome para tomar refrescos en el camino. En el polvoriento corral
frente a la tienda de los Ayala, observe a un grupo de cuatro tambores que
llam6 a bailar bomba en el espacio abierto frente a los instruments. En un
alegre concurso musical cada bailador improvis6 pasos ritmicos complejos
y ret6 al tambor principal a seguirlo con su instrument (Bilby 1985: 191;
Vissepo 1980). Aunque estd equivocado sobre el origen tanto de la devoci6n
loicefia hacia Santiago como del disefio de las mascaras de vejigante, Alegrfa
tiene raz6n en cuanto a que los bailes de bomba son "de origen africano"
(1956: 131). Pero no son yoruba. Cuando Charles Walter vio bailar bomba
a esclavos negros africanos en Ponce en 1836, observ6: "Es el baile de su
tierra natal y acompafian la musica con canciones en lengua congo" (Alvarez
Nazario 1974: 304; Scout 1965: 43). Muchos de los nombres que todavia se
usan para los bailes de bomba son "probablemente de origen bantu" (Alvarez
Nazario 1974: 303-320; vease tambi6n Maule6n Benitez 1974: 91-99).
Antes de dejar el corral, compr6 una de las mascaras de vejigante de
Rauil Ayala. Luego, lentamente camin6 las tres millas de vuelta a Loiza,
dejando atris las fiestas de la calle y deseando que un huracan no hubiera
arrasado con tantos drboles de sombra que solian crecer a lo largo de la
ruta, hacia unos pocos afios. Comi en un restaurant de comida ripida
que estaba decorado con mascaras de vejigante muy adornadas y magnffi-
cas pinturas de las festividades del pintor loicefio Samuel Lind. Anterior-
mente habia visitado el studio de Lind en Mediania, donde habiamos
conversado en detalle sobre las fiestas, sus pinturas, y sobre sus disefios
del cartel annual de las festividades y de la portada del program. Sin em-
bargo no fueron sus pinturas o nuestra conversaci6n lo que me ayud6
entender mejor las fiestas, sino una preparaci6n much mis modest que
Lind hizo de un boletin de la iglesia.
A la mafiana siguiente, asisti a misa de domingo en Mediania. Fue un
servicio amistoso e informal y al final del mismo se celebraban los cumplea-
fios y los visitantes --yo incluso-- se presentaban. La caligrafia festival de
Lind en la portada del boletin daba loas a Santiago en el dialecto local
(Maule6n Benitez 1974) como "protector de los pobres, amable con las


Re/Visions of Santiago Apostol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





MAx HARRIS


mujeres y carifioso con los nifios", que habia venido a Loiza "pa'goz y sufri' con
nojotro". Santiaguito de los Nifios, afiadi6, es "el mis gracioso y chiquito de to'
los santos". Breves exposiciones de las lectures biblicas del dia proponian que la
aceptaci6n de Dios como unico Padre y Sefior es "la mejor garantia de que puede
haber hermandad entire los hombres y que nadie puede afirmar ser senior sobre
otro", y nos exhortaban a "rechazar, como Jesus, toda tentaci6n de triunfalismo,
sobre todo en el aspect politico y social". En Mediania la Iglesia habia abrazado
al Dios carnavalesco que "Sac6 a los poderosos de sus tronos y puso en su lugar a
los humildes" (Lucas 1: 52). No es de extrafiarse, entonces, que los desfiles y las
procesiones de las fiestas representan de manera repetida un gozoso 6xodo desde
Lofza --donde los duefios de las plantaciones rendian culto y los "bur6cratas"
todavia dominan-- hasta Mediania donde Dios envia al mas pequefio y mas
benevolente de los santos para vivir entire los pobres.
Despues de ir a la iglesia, se meti6 a Santiago de las Mujeres sin much
ceremonia dentro de un auto y se llev6 a Loiza para encabezar el segundo
6xodo. Esa tarde, en vez de caminar desde Loiza, estacion6 mi auto en Me-
diania y esperi en la casa de Santiago de los Nifios a que Ilegara la procesi6n.
La anticipaci6n, y no la resistencia era para mi la t6nica de este dia. Mientras
esperaba, pude observer bien a Santiago de los Nifios: su tamafio diminuto,
la sola cabeza entire las patas del caballo, las cintas multicolores que se ataron
a sus vestidos a manera de regalo, los milagros (pequefiisimas extremidades
hechas de metal plateado, que significant oraci6n para su sanaci6n) que ro-
deaban la base de la imagen.
A media que la tarde languidecia, lleg6 el primero de los caminantes. Habia
un poco mis de personas que el dia anterior. En especifico, habia mis locas; pa-
rejas de hombres j6venes con lIpiz labial y vestidos de mujer caminaban tornados
del brazo mientras su verdadero genero a veces era traicionado por finos bigotes.
Cuando lleg6 Santiago de las Mujeres, Santiago de los Nifios lo salud6 con re-
voloteo de bandera y genuflexiones, y luego se situ6 detris. No habia sefiales de
Santiago de los Hombres. Me dijeron que "El ya termin6".
Detris del cami6n banda llegaron mas de cien jinetes en vestimenta co-
min. Quizds antes fueron caballeros; quizds para algunos peregrinos sen-
cillamente es mejor cabalgar que caminar. En el sector Las Carreras, dos
jinetes entregaron las banderas rojas y doradas a sus respectivos portadores.
Entonces, el desfile devolvi6 otra vez las imigenes a sus mantenedoras y se
disolvi6 entire fiestas callejeras. Permaneci un rato observando a un impro-
visado grupo de percusi6n antes de unirme a los vejigantes y caballeros que


SARGASSO 2006-07, 11





EL LUGAR ENMASCARADO


se desenmascaraban en casa de Santiago de las Mujeres. La muchedumbre
ambulaba por las calls; unos bailaban al acorde de musica grabada, otros
bebian y conversaban. Santiago y su caballo blanco quedaron ilenos de cintas
e ignorados en el balc6n.
El tercer y iltimo dia de las procesiones, adopt otra estrategia mis. Esta
vez, conduje hasta Loiza para ver a Santiago de los Nifios salir de una casa
en el extreme este del pueblo. Una vez comenz6 la ruidosa procesi6n, me
llegu6 hasta la avenida principal desviindome de la ruta del desfile, volvi a
Mediania desde el este y me estacion6 cerca de la casa de la mantenedora de
Santiaguito. Entonces camin6 por la carretera para ir al encuentro del desfile
que se aproximaba. Por una milla, quizis mis, la carretera estaba atestada de
caballeros, vejigantes, locas, viejos, y una extensa variedad de otros perso-
najes con disfraces de carnaval que no eran los usuales de estas festividades,
aunque todos estaban numdricamente aventajados por la multitud de cami-
nantes festivos en ropas comunes. Me uni al desfile entire uno de los grupos
mis animados, apifiado detris de una especie de rickshaw en bicicleta que
halaba un sistema de sonido y no asientos para pasajeros. El grupo bail6 hacia
el este, silbando, saltando y gritando al ritmo de las bocinas.
La estrella del especticulo era una loca atl6tica que media mis de seis pies,
que ilevaba el rostro ennegrecido, ldpiz labial rosado intense, pafioleta rosada y
vestido largo color marr6n. De vez en cuando barria la calle con la escoba y la
lata de galletas tradicionales. En un moment dado, detuvo la bicicleta, y bail6
sobre una pequefia plataforma instalada sobre la rueda delantera, se vir6 hacia
atras y lascivamente agit6 su trasero exageradamente rellenado hacia la multitud
de enfrente. Cuando alguien brinc6 a la plataforma para fingir sodomia, la loca
simul6 tanto sobresalto como placer. Era un buen actor que desempefi6 su papel
con energia e imaginaci6n obscenas. Tambien en nuestro grupo habia una figure
de caballo hecho de tubos de plistico, tela de saco y paja, que su jinete identific6
como "mula". Debido al alto nivel de inmigraci6n catalana hacia la Isla du-
rante el siglo XIX (Cifre de Loubriel 1975; Sonesson 1995), probablemente
la mula se basa en las figures de caballo y las mulas malgeniosas tradicionales
de los festivales catalanes (Harris 1997b; v6ase tambidn Sciorra 1994: 37-38
para una id6ntica mula puertorriquefia en Nueva York).
En el coraz6n de Mediania Alta, que palpitaba con energia, sirenas y
mdsica, dej6 que el grupo siguiera adelante y esper6 a Santiago de los Nifios.
Ni banderas agitadas ni genuflexiones santas habian interrumpido su progre-
so hoy, pues habia tenido la ruta del desfile s6lo para si y no se le habia obli-


Re/Visions of Santiago Ap6stol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





MAX HARRIS


gado a reconocer a ninguna imagen mis grande, mis patriarcal, ni de mayor
autoridad. Aun Santiago de las Mujeres habia cedido ante "el mas gracioso y
chiquito de to' los Santos". Santiaguito, solo, habia conducido el 6xodo final
desde Loiza, recogiendo cada vez mis celebrantes exuberantes a lo largo de
la ruta, hasta llegar --como diminuto protector de los pobres, las mujeres, los
nifios, los muertos, los diablitos, los locos, y los travestis-- al centro mismo de
una jubilosa fiesta de los marginados hecha en su honor. Hasta los caballeros
habian abandonado sus reclamos de rango mis alto y habian abandonado
los confines privilegiados de Loiza para unirse a sus hermanas y hermanos
de Mediania. Como compensaci6n a los cl6rigos y bur6cratas dejados atris,
como si esto los pudiera ayudar a alcanzar su propia libertad, los parranderos
estaban felizmente dispuestos a ser hip6critas ante la pretensi6n de que las
fiestas se estaban celebrando en Loiza.
Santiago de los Nifnos serpente6 por las calls secundarias del sector Las
Carreras, con los jardines que flanqueaban su ruta repletos de flores de vividos
colors, hasta llegar al sitio donde estuvo el irbol de corcho donde una vez se
encontr6 esta imagen. Luego de que su bandera recorri6 a caballo, sin rivals,
por la larga calle, la imagen volvi6 lentamente a la casa de su mantenedora.
El camidn banda toc6 pasodobles; yo regres6 con amigos subido al jeep de
la mascara que iba al frente de la procesi6n, mientras algunas locas agitaban
sus brazos en serial de saludo. Una segunda mula montada por un viejo con
traditional mascara de papel, bail6 brevemente a nuestro lado. El cura de la
parroquia de Mediania, ahora vestido con ropas de civil, camin6 alegremente
con el pueblo. Me uni a la fiesta a las afueras de la casa de la mantenedora,
escuch6 misica, camind entire la muchedumbre, y observe a la loca estrella
montar un espectAculo de mimica sexual exuberante.
Un vejigante de sesenta afios me cont6 que cada afio vuelve de su exilio
en Nueva York para participar de las fiestas en Mediania. Su padre y su abue-
lo (proveniente de Africa) le habian ensefiado c6mo desempefiar su papel de
vejigante y ahora lo ensefiaba a su hijo. Conduje de vuelta a Mediania y por
iiultima vez me detuve a observer los bailes de bomba en el patio de los Ayala.
Los miembros de la familiar sirvieron refrescos y bacalaitos (frituras de baca-
lao). Cuando al fin me retire, la fiesta callejera de Santiago de los Nifios, de la
que nadie --excepto los que se creen demasiado buenos-- se excluye, todavia
estaba en pleno apogeo en Mediania.
No habia encontrado evidencia de que para los que estaban en las calls de
Mediania las Fiestas de Santiago significaran una apropiaci6n de arte ancestral


SARGASSO 2006-07, II





EL LUGAR ENMASCARADO


yoruba, ni de batallas espafiolas simuladas entire moros y cristianos. Por el contra-
rio, las fiestas de Santiago Ap6stol parecen estar basadas en el terreno mezclado
de tensions locales, el carnaval y la cristiandad. Existe una tension de largos afios
y que aun perdura entire el relative prestigio social de Loiza y el de Mediania.
Existe una tradici6n del carnaval que reta las jerarquias de poder convencionales.
AdemAs, una interpretaci6n de la narrative cristiana insisted en que a nadie --a
pesar de que los que dominant la sociedad humana los haya mantenido al mar-
gen-- se excluya de las festividades de Dios.
Jesus narr6 la paribola del hombre rico que sirvi6 un banquet (Lucas
14: 15-23). Dijo a su sirviente, "Anda rApido por las plazas y calls de la ciu-
dad y trae para acA a los pobres, a los invalidos, a los ciegos y a los cojos ....
Anda por los caminos y por los limits de las propiedades y obliga a la gente
entrar, de modo que mi casa se ilene". En Mediania, durante la fiesta de San-
tiaguito de los Nifios, esta paribola representada incluye mujeres dementes,
muertos, diablos y travesties.


Viejo, Old Man, or "Loco"


Re/Visions of Santiago Ap6stol: Art, History, and Cultural Criticism





MAX HARRIS


Notas

Reconocimientos. Agradezco a Carmelo Esterrich por haberme hablado
sobre las fiestas de Loiza; a Frederick Jonassen, David Ungerleider, y los
funcionarios de la Fundaci6n Puertorriquefia de las Humanidades, en espe-
cial a Juan Gonzalez Lamela y Pedro Reina por brindarme material valioso;
a Lydia Milagros Gonzalez, por su hospitalidad y perspicacia durante mi
visit; a Judith Bettelheim y Henry Drewal por compartir conmigo sus co-
nocimientos sobre el arte de Africa y la diaspora africana; a Jessica Gaspar
por haber leido el borrador de este articulo con loable ojo critic; a Lowell
Fiet por haberme invitado a participar al excelente simposio Re/Visiones de
Santiago Apdstol: Arte, Historia y Crftica Cultural (20-22 de marzo de 2006);
y a Aileene Alvarez por haber traducido tan cuidadosamente al espafiol mi
articulo.


SARGASSO 2006-07, 11




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