Carnaval de Negros y Blancos

( Blacks and Whites' Carnival )

Blacks and Whites' Carnival (Spanish: Carnaval de Negros y Blancos), is the largest and most important festival in southern Colombia. Although its geographical location belongs to the city of Pasto, it has been adopted by other municipalities in Nariño and southwestern Colombia. It is celebrated every year in 2–7 January and attracts a considerable number of Colombian and foreign tourists.

On 30 September 2009, this Carnival was proclaimed by UNESCO as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Origins  Great Parade, 6 January 2007

The Blacks and Whites Carnival has its origins in the fusion of multiple cultures and expressions: the Andes, the Amazon and the Pacific culture. It was first celebrated in the 16th century, in 1546. This distinguishes it from other similar festivals, starting with the date on which it is performed, which has a distinctly indigenous origin. It coincides with the celebration of the Moon (Quilla), which is reminiscent of the rituals performed by the Pastos and the Quillacingas, agrarian cultures who, at harvest time, honored the moon with dances, and in other rituals they prayed to the sun to protect their crops.

These celebrations, with the fusion and influence from Spanish culture, gave rise to Hispanic religious syncretism, whose expressions eventually would become the Pasto carnival. In the 19th century, the authorities prohibited these festivities to avoid indigenous uprisings, and around 1834 the festivities reappeared, of the indigenous people with their children, the mestizos with masquerades and mainly local people's celebrations. These were all duly framed in the religious calendar, mainly with the festivities of the Virgen de las Mercedes, (Virgin of Mercy, September 24th) and the Immaculate Conception of Mary (December 8th).

In those times, on the eve of Three Kings' Day, the game of negritos (little blacks) was also held festively and spontaneously, mainly between whites and mestizos, due to the low presence of the black population in Pasto. This festival contrasted by the extroversion of a community characterized by a peaceful and taciturn life, which found in those days an opportunity to break the established.

Its origin was a "holiday" for blacks, originating in Gran Cauca, the region to which Pasto belonged. In 1607 there was a slave rebellion in Remedios, Antioquia that caused panic among the colonial authorities. This event was remembered by the large black population of Popayán who demanded a day of rest in which they could be truly free. To preserve social peace, the Spanish Crown granted January 5 for this purpose.

“THE PRINCE, EMPTY DAY FOR THE BLACK SLAVES.” Now understanding this relationship and request of many black slaves of said province, I come to tell you out loud that this request is paternally accepted and an empty day will be given entirely to the blacks and it will be on January 5, the eve of the feast of the Holy Majesties and venerating esteem the Holy Majesty of the Black King. Dated in Madrid. “I the Prince.”3

This news was proclaimed in Popayán and thus January 5 was declared a day off for people of color.The black population of the capital of Cauca took to the streets to dance to the rhythm of African music and began to paint the famous white walls of that town black. Later this custom spread to the south, gaining an unusual strength in the cold city of Pasto, where the historian José María Cordobés Moure says, there are already vestiges that it was played around 1854. This is how the genesis of the game of Negros is configured. and Blancos de Pasto, and in this way his first decades would pass.

The Blancos game, an important part of the carnival, was born at the dawn of Three Kings' Day (January 6) in 1912, founded on the need to express imagination, play, friendship and share the joy that on those dates revives life. In a fine and exclusive brothel in the city, The House of the Robby Ladies, located on Calle Real (current Carrera 25), the daring of the group of tailors from the famous tailoring shop owned by Don Ángel Zarama, among whom Ángel María López and Máximo Erazo were there, he takes them to take the French compact of one of the most sought-after ladies and proceeds to spread the powder with women's perfume among all those present with the cry of ¡Vivan los Blanquitos!, as a response to the already traditional game of Negros. It didn't take long for the master cutter's companions to become victims first and then participants in the game. Then, everyone would have to go out into the street to repeat the joke with the unsuspecting parishioners who were leaving the Three Kings' Mass in the church of San Juan Bautista, repeating Long live the Blacks and long live the Whites! The custody of the Galeras will be inserted forever and vigorously into the essence of the Pastusos.

Establishment  Side view of Pachá Carnaval in the Great Parade, 6 January 2006.

It wasn't until the mid-1920s that the actual celebration acquired its corpus, which merge other instances, dates and places, giving it a more urban and inclusive style. On January 6,1926, senior students from the high schools and the University of Nariño decided to participate actively in the party, choosing as his queen to Romelia Martinez, and go out through the streets dressed in carnival costumes and dancing to the regional music. That was the first real Parade, not for the traditional Epiphany,` but Whites' Day.

By January 4, 1929, a cavalcade of over a hundred riders preparing to cheer up the Blacks (5) and Whites' (6) game, for it had been concentrated near the Boyaca Battalion. At three p.m. when the riders were ready for the parade, a whole family arrived, there was the father, the mother, two girls, two boys, and three young men who rode tired nags and who were followed by laborers who herded the mules charged with trunks, and trying the pigs and sheep did not disband. That people were loaded with lugging cages with parrots and monkeys, not to mention the "mica"(pot). The father was an Antioqueño settler traveling with all his family, who after spending many years in the east (Putumayo Department), had decided to leave the jungle to return to "civilized" earth.

Alfredo Torres and Carlos Martínez Arellano Madroñero, parade organizers, ordered, two of the ride to open countryside and no shorts or lazy included the tired travelers among the cavalcade. Those who came from the east were joyful by this unexpected encounter and ignoring why so animated "bumper" were placed at the center of the parade, and surrounded by the riders in the process of promoting the carnival. The head of the family greeted the crowds who witnessed the passage of the ride.

 Arrival of the Castañeda Family, 4 January 2007.

Then, the historic shout echoed through the city: "Viva la Famila Castañeda" (Hurray to Castañeda Family) That was the invention of Torres Arellano, worthy of his talent, and passed into posterity as a new and original sign of joy. The settler and his people paraded happy and excited, through the streets of the city. The unexpected passengers received the cheers of thousands of Pastusos along roads, squares and avenues of the capital of Nariño.[1] At the end of the parade, members of the Castañeda Family asked their new friends to accompany them to the Hotel Paris where they would stay. The hotel was located in the Calle Real (Royal Street), where now stands the "Zuchín" building at 25th Carrera between 17th and 18th Streets.

Other versions said the Castañeda family characterized in the comparsas on 4 January is also a cartoon of Bucheli Ayerbe family, one of whose members Don Julian Bucheli Ayerbe, became the first governor of Nariño, at the break of the 20th century.

Until the advent of Carnavalito (Children's Carnival), the parade of the Castañeda family would become the opening of the Carnival. The decades of the 1930s and 1940s watched a structured Carnival, and before the advent of the first heavy industries, acquired presence and prominence in folk art, particularly the creative expression of the artisans represented in monumental paper sculptures, just like mobile motorized scenarios built on trucks, the famous floats.

Maturity  In the 1950s, the Mayor's office began to reward the best comparsas and murgas

In the 1950s, the figures of the main floats acquired movement, and thanks to the work of the master artisan Alfonso Zambrano began a new era of splendor. During this time, the Mayor of Pasto (sometimes with the participation of the Government of Nariño) began to take control of the organization of the festivities, especially the appropriation of resources to fund the awards for best floats, which were extended soon to the comparsas and murgas.

In the late 1960s, the search and recruitment of national and international commercial orchestras was started, the most famous were Venezuelan Los Melódicos, Billo's Caracas Boys and Ecuadorian Medardo and his Players. In those years, Luis Quenguan was the first cameraman, who made a record in film (black and white) of 8 mm, Super 8 and 16 mm of the Carnivals.[2] In 1966, thanks to Don Mario Fernando Rodriguez, arises in the Bolivar neighborhood, the Carnavalito, or Children's Carnival, this autonomous party will take at least a decade in joining the official program.

Renovation  Tinkunni winner float of 2008 Great Parade

With the arrival of the Pan-American Highway in the 1970s and the greater inclusion of Pasto in the Colombian economy, the Carnival was renewed with the presence of new trends in materials handling, new rhythms and a growing stream cultural advocated by the rediscovery of the Quillacingas roots following with the activism in the Great Parade or Whites' Day. Was at that time that the floats were filled with figures and references to various social demands of the Pastusos. Anyway, in those years, the first color footage of the parade on 6 January was taken, again in charge of Master Luis Quenguan.[2]

For the 1980s, the multiplicity of cultural trends around the Carnival and the yuppie style highlights the need for creating a strong Corporation to assume the planning, organizing and executing of this event. It was planned that the institution had involvement of both the City of Pasto, as industrial and commercial sector, artisans and of course, the academics from the region.

In this decade, the populations near Pasto began to assemble their own carnivals, some ephemeral as Greens' Carnival in the city of Ipiales (now Carnival of the Frontier) and other more durable as the Reds's Carnival in the city of Buesaco. The predominant note is that throughout the southwestern region of Colombia, became widespread festivities that coincided with the end-of-year celebrations that took borrowed elements of the now popular Blacks and Whites' Carnival.

This reality has two attempts to establish of an institution to ensure the preservation of the feasts of Pasto, but efforts of the mid-1980s, and the start of the 1990s, were not fruitful because the various sectors involved didn't agree, it will be the Mayor of Pasto, which still managed the festival through a special Undersecretary's Office called the Carnival Office, this office began to concern about the loss of identity of Blacks and Whites' Carnival, mainly with the massive introduction of the Ecuadorian canned foam. Was at this time of upheaval, which massifies the use of the now traditional expression: "¡Viva Pasto, Carajo!" (Hurray Pasto, Carajo!)

21st century

Finally, in November 2001, by Law No 706, the Blacks and Whites' Carnival was declared "Cultural Heritage of the Nation" by the Colombian Congress[3] and with such declaration, took priority the construction of the Plaza of Carnival and Culture, signaling the Senda del Carnaval (Carnival Path) and the creation of the Corpocarnaval (Carnival Corporation) as an entity of private law, associative, with mixed participation, for non-profit and common good, providing adequate and proper conduct of Carnival, which rescues as: "a transverse cultural playful expression in the urban context".[4] Therefore, one of its first tasks was the creation of the Museo del Carnaval (Carnival Museum).

With these achievements, new era began for this event, characterized by the planning, organization, dissemination, research and modernization, taking priority for the promotion of culture and addressing controversial issues like whether or not to negotiate the broadcast rights for radio, television and internet. Now, the Blacks and Whites Carnival has been officially included in government plans of the municipality of Pasto, but managed by an autonomous office, which had as its main project, its recognition and accreditation with the international community and agencies such as the Unesco, definitively introducing these celebrations in the globalized world, such as Intangible Heritage of Humanity. This goal was finally achieved on September 30, 2009.[5]

^ Benavides Rivera, Naphtali, "Kar A. Melo points (Old Pasto Stamps)" (in Spanish), Pasto, Tipografia Javier, 1983, p. 25. ^ a b Viztaz Taller de la imagen (2003). "Senior Photographer Luis Quenguán" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 28 April 2020. Retrieved 25 September 2009. ^ Cite error: The named reference Colombian Senate was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Corpocarnaval (2003). "Corpocarnaval Philosophy, Carnival Conceptual Motto" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 6 January 2007. Retrieved 25 September 2009. ^ UNESCO (30 September 2009). "Carnaval de Negros y Blancos". UNESCO. Retrieved 30 September 2009.
Photographies by:
Etienne Le Cocq - CC BY 3.0
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