There are many examples of the strong cultural expression in Nicaragua, and
an important one is found in the creative, traditional Nicaraguan costumes.
Most of these dresses originated at different regions in the country at some
time in the past (a few are more recent), where they were used during celebrative
Some of these dances are still performed nowadays whereas others have disappeared
from their original site of origin. Fortunately, however, most of these dances
have been rescued from complete disappearance by artists who continued to perform
these dances in the folkloric festivities.
These traditional costumes were created throughout the country and they are
a valuable illustration of regional traditions that helped shape Nicaragua’s
festive and colorful side. We at ViaNica.com have tried to show our visitors
a selection of the folkloric Nicaraguan costumes. This section will be expanding
over time, as we continue to interview ballet professionals and as we visit
more and more regional festivities where the traditional costumes are used
Baile del Zopilote - Vulture Dance
|Baile del Zopilote - Vulture Dance
|Southern Pacific (mostly Masaya, Diriá and Diriomo).
|The vulture is dressed in a black bird outfit with a vulture mask. The
female dress is a traditional, orange dress with black lines and flowers
decorating the hair.
|This dance, according to a folkloric expert, is very old and has already
disappeared from the popular traditions. Currently the dance is only performed
in professional dances. The dance represents the death and the burying
of the 'vulture', which is a negative person characterized by this carrion
|The dance is accompanied by the joyful song "The Vulture Died", which
is performed by chicheros (a philharmonic group).
|The "Las Inditas" dance is performed in a completely white
dress, to which a large, red ribbon is added, as well as other decoration
hair and a basket on top of the head.
|The dance is still performed in the traditional festivities in Masaya,
and it represents the hard-working women in this town. Movements are slow
and attractive, just like the traditional marimba dance. The dance is performed
by either one or several dancers during traditional celebrations or during
|This dance is accompanied by the marimba song “El
baile de la inditas”.
| Trencilla Costume
|Pacific (possibly Masaya).
|This dress is taken from the traditional clothing of mestizo or indigenous
women. The dress is white with colorful lines on the upper and bottom parts.
A black or red ribbon is added for further decoration, as well as flowers
|The Trencilla dress is used in all types of marimba dances.
|Any type of marimba music (not associated with a particular song).
| Mestizaje Costume
|These dresses, either masculine or feminine, demonstrate the ostentatious
Spanish influence on Nicaraguan clothes. The woman uses a dress with a
colorful skirt and with spangles decorating the outfit (which is also known
as the "luxurious Indian dress"), accompanied by a sombrero with large
feathers and a hand fan (also made out of feathers). The man has a white
shirt with a dark cape (decorated with spangles), a sombrero with a red
flower, and a large, folded ribbon on the chest. He wears white stocking,
black, short pants, and shoes.
|This romance dance is gallant and sensual. The man dances with elegance
next to neatly dressed woman, courting her with his movements while
marimba music plays. This dance can be observed in presentations of folkloric
dances by professional or amateur
|The 'Mestizaje dance' is performed with the “El
mate amargo” song (marimba music).
Northern Countryman Costume
|Northern Countryman Costume (traje norteño campesino)
|Northern regions (possibly Matagalpa, Jinotega, or Estelí)
|Again two different dresses for the two characters of this dance: a hard-working
couple from the rural, northern region of the country. The woman is dressed
in a skirt that is wrapped around her body, with a large kerchief at
the top. She wears a long-sleeved shirt, earrings, and a bandana on her
hear, while carrying a clay pot in her hands. The man wears long, white
pants, a white (or light-colored) shirt, and a scarf around his neck. He
carries a jícaro for water and on his head he wears a northern
|During this gallant, sensual dance the hard-working farmer courts the
industrious woman on a mazurka, polka, or Nicaraguan waltz rhythm. The
dance is performed during cultural presentations, traditional festivities,
or in professional dance plays.
|The dresses are used to dance freely, or on music like mazurka, polka,
or Nicaraguan waltz.
|The dresses of "los Agüizotes" include a variety of costumes
representing characters from Nicaraguan legends and myths: a witch, the
priest without a head, the old lady from the forest, and many others. The
characters use cloth, paper, leaves, and other materials for their dresses.
|This dance is performed every last Friday of October in Masaya, during
the patronage celebrations honoring San Jerénimo. The dance is nowadays
also starting to become implemented in the performance of professional
dance presentations. The dance is performed with rhythmic movements related
to the character, with festive music and gabble from the chicheros (musical
|Performed with any type of music form the chicheros.
|The traditional costume of the Nicaraguan mestizo. The güpil is
a simple shirt (with or without embroidery), worm with an embroidered underskirt.
This combination (which can be either white or black) is accompanied by
a scarf (around the waist), braided hair with flowers and other decorative
items. The blouse has four openings: one on the chest, two at the back,
and one at each shoulder, representing the four cardinal points to the
indigenous people, according to investigators. The dancers perform barefoot
or on sandals. Some güipil outfits are decorated with drawings of
petroglyphs encountered in the country and other simple drawings surrounding
A hand-fan or a clay griddle are sometimes used as well. The man accompanies
in a simple white shirt and pants, plus a sombrero made from agave.
|The güipil shirt is used in combination with the other part of the
outfit in marimba dances. Professional groups use these costumes, but other
people also use it to dance marimba or other Nicaraguan music.
|La Vaquita (the cow costume)
|This folkloric outfit was first introduced during the regional festivities
in Managua by women who joined the Santo Domingo procession. The "Vaquita"
is composed of a hoop around the waist, decorated with cloth that makes
it look like a shirt. In front, an image or a painting of a cow's head
is attached, crowned with real or fake horns. The dancer is dressed in
a güipil with traditional flowery (generally red) in the same color
of the cloth of the cow's image. The hairdo is furthermore decorated
|This costume is still used by women who bring vows to the saint during
the Santo Domingo procession during the regional celebrations in August
in Managua. The "Vaquita" accompanies the saint, dancing to the song of
the chicheros and interacting with the other characters dressed
as bulls. Professional ballets also use this costume.
|So-called "Toros songs", performed by chicheros.
The information above was gathered during an interview with Haydée
Palacios, founder and director of the Folkloric Haydée Palacios Ballet.
This organization, founded in 1970, is dedicated to the investigation and interpretation
of folkloric ballets in Nicaragua. The Folkloric Haydée
Palacios Ballet has represented Nicaragua and Central America during international
festivities and the ballet has obtained national and international recognition
for its work. The group consists of 50 dancers, and some of them have posed
for the photos used in this special.