Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pineapples, textiles, dance...and cosmic forces

Tio Frumencio, an uncle on my mother's side had a pinapple plantation in Loma Bonita, Oaxaca. While on our way to Chiapas my family used to stop and visit. I remember seeing endless fields of pinapples growing everywhere in this area. At that age I actualy didn't like pinapple that much since I found it too tart, but Loma Bonita's sweet yellow pinapple was not tart at all. Uncle frumencio was a very industrious man and had some of this pineapple canned, juiced and ready for export. Unfortunately Mexican pinapple was never famous here in the US, it was unable to compete with the more popular Hawaiian kind.

The image above comes from Instituto Cultural Oaxaca, via Flickr. It is from a Oaxacan dance known as "Flor de piña." According to Alejandro Montiel Coello the dance of the Pinapple flower is full of symbolic ritual meaning related to fertility. The dance begins when a young woman lavishly dressed in fine textiles picks up a pineapple from the floor and begins to dance. She is barefoot, and performs very slow movements: she slowly spins, at times she raises the fruit and presents it to the sun, or some times she rocks it like a baby. Other dancers join, and carry pinapples on their shoulders. The fruit is some times decorated with ribbons, and are eventually given to the audience.

So, how is this dance related to cosmic forces? "Latin" dance doesn't have to be fast - the movements of the dancers mimic the movement of the planets in relation to the sun. Oaxacans thank the sun and remind us that everything we do in this planet comes in cycles: birth, death, seasons, life. I wish you a happy earth day!

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