Las Chunta

On the night of January 8, Las Chuntá dances in a parade to announce the Fiesta Grande de Chiapa de Corzo. This tradition amazes, surprises and evokes several questions: Who are the Chuntá?

They are men dressed as women, with gross makeup and with a basket of fruits or vegetables on their heads. Their presence in the streets of Chiapa de Corzo is part of a ritual and comes as a result of religious syncretism, related to the legend of Doña María de Angulo, and the parachico.

They demonstrate faith and tradition, by recalling and illustating the history of the maids of  doña María de Angulo (they accompanied the lady to distribute food among the inhabitants of Chiapa de Corzo). They are men who shout, dance, drink beer or “curadito” and copy women with makeup and costumes, but they don’t feel like one of them.

Chiapacorceños ensure that the flowery skirt, embroidered shirt, leather huaraches, basket with flags mean the union of the neighborhoods, and the braids are the main outfit for the party, and the liquor is to feel the emotion by offering to the patron saints.

The tradition of the chuntás has marked the cultural history of Chiapa de Corzo, thanks to the brotherhood and the inhibition of the men, who at the beat of the drum and reed show their roots.

“The men who become Chuntá prepare from very early. They wear a flowery skirt, an embroidered blouse, usually white. Their wives, mothers and daughters help them with a make-up: red lips, outlined eyes, colored eye-shades. […]

The Chunta leave at night in groups: neighborhood groups, friends and family. They visit the altars and hermitages of the saints and announce the celebration of the Lord of Esquipulas coming soon. […] There are very famous traditional groups, such as “Jerry’s Gang” of the Mardigal Nigenda family; that of “Pollo”, that of “Manuelito”, and that of Mrs. Esther Noriega.

They dance to el Son de Maria de Angulo with joy and good humor and stomp to the rhythm of the drum and the flute of carrizo, while they shout “las vivas”:

“Viva Santa Martha!

Viva La Virgen morenita!

Viva el patrón de nuestra fiesta!


* Photo and text quoted from the book FIESTA GRANDE CHIAPA DE CORZO, published by Comisión Organizadora del Estado de Chiapas, 2009.  Photography: Bob Schalkwijk, Pim Schalkwijk