Danza de los Cornudos – an afterparty with machetes


Danza de los Cornudos

Danza de los Cornudos is an anual event taking place during the Semana Santa in San Bartolomé  de Aguas Calientes, state of Guanajuato, Mexico.

During the 3 days celebration, local indigenous people, known as Otomi, are reenacting the scene from Passion of Christ, where the Pharisees, locally called Cornudos, face Barabbas – in a fight with machetes.

Nobody has an exact date of the origin of the dance, since most adults of the community say that when they were children they were taught by the older brothers how to master the machete in a battle.

The Pharisees, who represent the jews, carry unique dresses, made of one piece wool blanket that covers the entire body and the horned evil mask, made from local tree known as Colorín, which is characterized by soft texture that makes it easy for carving. Their opponents – Barbaras, do not suppose to wear masks, however the tradition have shifted during the history of time.

Thats the original story of celebration – the reality was way different.

Either the fact that I arrived to the event on the final day is the one to blame, or evil had won the battle a while ago, cause the reality was ridiculously different from what was expected. Everything looked like a badass afterparty.

The pueblo was literally trashed, the kids were having loads of fun, swinging machetes all over the place and even the masks couldn’t hide how wasted everybody was.

For the question isn’t it a dangerous combination – drunken adults + kids with machetes all the answers were basically the same.

It’s our tradition – we are learning the machete fight since we are kids.

Do people get hurt?

Yes, sometimes. Every year somebody get cut. Yesterday a boy cut his hand.

The absurdity level have risen even higher when all the participants have formed a ceremonial procession – carrying Jesus for crucifixion. The cultural event, that suppose to represent the history of the community looked more like an act of social disobedience.

The mass of masked, drunk and horned ones were raging the streets carrying the cross – giggling, screaming and pushing each other under the cacophony of trumpets, accompanied by  gangs of street dogs.   

Maybe that’s the direct example of how the pop culture is invading indigenous minds, but the truth is that for locals – it is the most important celebration of the year – a cultural heritage, everybody in the town is proud of  – and the joy here is enormous.