The CONGO art of Panama listed as an intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO

The ritual and festive expressions of the Congo culture encompass the contemporary vision of a collective celebration of black rebel descendants enslaved during the colonial period During the Congo season, participants act out a matriarchal society in a palisade, ruled by a queen and her court. Everyone must help protect the queen and members of the palisade from the devils (diablos), and the season concludes with a confrontation between the diablos and the congos. Everyone takes part, and the expressions have been fostering social integration for generations.

 

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The Congo Dances from Portobello: Celebrating our African heritage

 The Congo Dance of Panama is a unique and colorful celebration of dances and part of the folklore in the province of #Colon. The dance has its roots in Africa and came to Panama by way of escaped former slaves known as “Cimarrons.”  The dance has been passed on from generation to generation, and can be seen today in the province of Colon, in costal towns such as Portobello (1 ½ hours from Panama City) where the Afro-Panamanian legacy remains very much alive.  Girls and women from #Colon province during the Congo festivities.

The Congos of Portobelo today are the descendants of the cimarrones—runaway slaves who fought for their freedom during the Spanish colonial period. After escaping into the mountain hills and forest, the cimarrones built their villages (Palenques) from which they waged wars against their former enslavers.

The Congos is beautiful dance full of mystery and legends, in which men and women stage with dances, songs and sonorous drums, the ancestral drama of life, and the fight between the good and evil.

The women dance swaying their hips in an almost erotic manner, using hands and feet to mark the man limits. They wear a long skirt made ​​up of a patchwork of very bright colors fabric, a blouse with a colorful frill necklaces, flower in her hair, and bare feet. The men wear a fringed shirt and pants (made of strips of colored cloth), masks, and bare feet and dance around the women, doing their best to get close and kiss them. The rhythm of drums, singing and applause invites everyone around to participate in the Congo.

Check out the video below of a local news report about the 2013 Festival of Diablos and Congos: