March 31, 2009
In this episode of Arriba! Folklorico Music and Dance of Mexico, we explore the idyllic region in Southwestern Mexico, the land of the Tarascan indigenous tribes--the Tarascos-- the state of Michoacan.
The Tarascan tribes are a people that feel that they have never been subjugated by the Spaniards--although their land was occupied. Like other indigenous tribes of Mexico today, they still mingle their Spanish language with inclusions of phrases and words from their own native dialects, which descend from the word-of-mouth teachings in the Tarascan tongue.
Case in point: the song in the audio podcast episode demonstrates the Tarascan lady singing in Tarascan language, then ending up with a Spanish phrase, as she delves into the eternal theme in Mexican folklore--that "Life is a Dream" (la vida es sueno).
In addition to the song whose lyrics are mixed with both languages, the instrumental piece of folklore that is common to the entire region of the Tarascos is the Jarabe Michoacano. This is a longer dance, in which the shyness of the woman is characterized by her never looking at her partner--instead, she stares at the ground through most of the dance, until the joy of the parts signifying fiesta, burro, noviazgo, aguila, estrella, and the final pursuit or chase.
In the end, the man (who is wearing a zarape or large gavan) covers her braided hair under her straw hat (sombrero michoacano) and symbolizes the marriage--a union of the man and woman.
A fitting end to this jarabe from Michoacan, as this dance contains all the symbolism of work, life, fiesta and fun, courtship (as all jarabes are), conquest of the lady's heart, and commitment of marriage and acceptance of the man by the woman.