Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Diablico Sucio in Casco Viejo

The Panama Canal may be the most famous structure in Panama but the notorious Diablico Sucio represents the most familiar cultural figure. The name translates to dirty devil and I met this character when I visited Casco Viejo, the old colonial section of Panama City. Diablico Sucio also dates back to colonial times, when villagers, especially from Los Santos, would construct a costume from a blanket painted with red and black stripes made with coal and annatto seeds. The dance connected with the character would make the dancers sweaty, blurring the coal and annotto so that it resembled dirt, hence the name. Diablico Sucio is associated with the religious feast of Corpus Christi. The dancers use elaborate footwork, castanets, bells and a walking stick to symbolize the vivid battle between good and evil. During carnaval, these devils roam the streets and whip revelers with the walking stick unless they pay them or carry their own walking stick for protection.


A UNESCO World Heritage Site,Casco Viejo is a lively area filled with 16th century buildings and lots of bars, cafes and restaurants. The diablico sucio stands outside of the traditional Panamanian restaurant, appropriately named, Diablicos. I didn't eat in the restaurant but I did stop to hug the colorful devil character. Luckily for me, he didn't have his stick for any impromptu whipping. I headed back to Westin Playa Bonita, which sponsored the Panamanian exploration, and relaxed in the chic confines of the Oasis Lounge. The dynamic sounds of cumbia and salsa transported me back to contemporary Panama, although I was still on the lookout for that diablo sucio and his stick..


8 comments:

Rachel Cotterill said...

Wow, I don't much fancy being smacked on the street! :)

Fly Girl said...

Rachel, Lol! Carnaval can get pretty crazy!

Ekua said...

Really interesting, thanks for sharing. Good thing you walked away unharmed :P

Fly Girl said...

Ekua,
Luckily, this was only a statue! I don't think I would have gotten so close if it were real!

Andrew Graeme Gould said...

Well... that's an interesting tradition, Rosalind. I hope they don't hit hard!

Thanks for your recent comment on my blog. As you say there, it doesn't look dark, so I checked the metadata, and the time was 20:06:49.

Fly Girl said...

Andrew,
Very interesting indeed!

A Cuban In London said...

Thanks for the info on Diablico Sucio. I didn't know anything about it. Love to read about your travels. Always interesting.

Greetings from Londn.

Fly Girl said...

Cubano, I know Cuba doesn't have any religion based events like this but is there something similar?