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Wanaragua Oral History / Historia Oral

La historia oral cuenta que durante las guerras del caribe que duraron más de 150 años, de que los ingleses siempre atacaban a los hombres y nunca a las mujeres, entonces Barauda, la mujer del jefe Chatuye, le dijo a su esposo y sus guerreros de que se pusieran los vestidos de las mujeres y que cuando llegaran los ingleses a atacarlos, que los logren sorprender cuando llegarán y vieran que eran mujeres y así los lograron vencerlos. Por eso los Wanaragua se ponen atuendas semejando vestidos imitando a las mujeres y las máscaras hacen burla a las caras blancas de los ingleses.

Oral history tells that during the Caribbean wars that lasted more than 150 years, that the English always attacked men and never women, then Barauda, ​​the wife of Chief Chatuye, told her husband and his warriors that they put on the women's dresses and that when the English arrived to attack them, that they managed to surprise them when they would arrive and see that they were women and thus they managed to defeat them. For this reason, the Wanaragua dress, resembling dresses imitating women, and the masks make fun of the white faces of the English.

Recuento tomado del señor Flavio Álvarez (guatemalteco) y Carlos Domingo Álvarez (hondureño)

Account taken from Mr. Flavio Álvarez (Guatemalan) and Carlos Domingo Álvarez (Honduran)


Wanaragua Apparel

Costume apparel typically features wire mask on which are painted European faces, colorful cotton head wraps, headdresses made of cardboard covered with colorful fabric, paper maché balls and circular glass mirrors. Long, dyed, wild turkey features are also attached to the headdress. Garifuna men in Dangriga, Belize wear long-sleeve white shirts across which wide strips of black or pink and green ribbon are attached. Dancers also wear white gloves, black or white pants, cowry shell knee rattles that are attached below the knees, long black stocking socks, and tennis shoes. Onlookers are further amused at the presence of wanaragua hiñaru, men who pose as women by wearing a blouse, skirt, mask, communion or wedding veil, and women’s tennis shoes. Therefore, costume and movement are integral to the mocking and mimicry of British military and social costumes: the primary objective of wanáragua. In Guatemala and Honduras men often wear head dresses that are similar in construction to those described above, but more elaborate and feature additional strips of colorful ribbon. However, they traditionally wear long dresses of colorful material instead of exaggerated replicas of military regalia as in Dangriga, Belize. Though the movements and dances of wanáragua are entertaining and humorous to onlookers, the themes of the many wanáragua songs are pensive and serious in nature. Because wanáragua is a male social commentary song form, many of the themes address issues such as unrequited love, the desire to find a wife, an unfaithful lover, and the lost of a loved one. Wanáragua songs, like most indigenous Garifuna songs, are performed in succession in a call-and-response manner without pause. The dangu (drummers) provide rhythmic accompaniment for dancers as the song leader and responding gayusa (a chorus primarily composed of women) continuously sing social commentary songs. The existence of the wanáragua songs in Belizean English creole support the belief of some Garifuna scholars that the wanáragua may have been first introduced to Garifuna in mahogany camps in the 19th and early 20th century when Garifuna men worked with creoles who are thought to have first practiced a version of wanáragua (jankunu). Oliver N. Greene, PhD

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