Julio César Díaz Nafate, Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapas
Chiapa de Corzo is a quaint and small colonial town in Chiapas close to the Capital of Tuxtla Gutiérrez. It is known for the many artisans who live there.
The two symbols of the town are the embroidered black gauze costumes of its women, often representing colonial Chiapas as well as its Danzantes (dancers), the Parachicos.
The Parachicos come from a tradition that started in Chiapa de Corzo and is considered an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO. It is a celebration that goes back to the 16th century when a Spanish woman arrived in Chiapa de Corzo with her sick son to consult the indigenous medicine men. They made masks of white men in order not to scare the child while practicing their rituals. The child healed and the thankful mother saved the population from a famine by giving them food and she said it is “para el chico“ (for the little one), hence the name of Parachico.
For the fiesta, the men dress in a costume that consists of a colorful sarape known as jorongo and carry lacquered rattlers called chinchin. They wear a Parachico mask and go out in the street dancing and playing music from church to church.
The Parachicos have a boss (patrón) whose mask has a severe expression. That mask is never copied or sold as it is considered a ceremonial mask. More than 50% of the male population participate in the fiesta which is linked to the San Sebastian fiesta in January. There are thousands of Parachicos and the masks are sold to the local population. Some of the fine ones are passed on from father to son, and the great master is Don Antonio López Hernández who is famous for making the finest masks in existence.
The masks are carved from one piece of wood. Then they are sanded to a very fine finish, painted and buffed with the skin of a cow's stomach and water and then are oiled with chia oil. It takes between 4 and 6 weeks to make one mask, Julio César Díaz Nafate is an alumnus of the great master Don Antonio and is known as one of the two top mask makers in town after Don Antonio who is now dedicating himself to teaching his art.
Julio César has been dedicating himself for the last 33 years to mask making and lives and works by the river in Chiapa de Corzo.
Calle Miguel Negreta S/N
Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapas
Cell 961 145 6363