Place: aprox. 19 km (11 miles) northeast of the city of Ambato - Tungurahua province.
Date: January 1st – 6th
Past midday on January 1st through 6th, thousands of devils with colorful, elaborate masks jump around shouting and groaning all the way from the neighborhoods of the city of Píllaro and its surroundings to the city´s central park, in what is known as “la Diablada de Píllaro”. Accompanied by popular bands and fireworks, the devils frighten the curious public with whips and sometimes even dead or dried up animals.
Young, old, locals and foreigners join this peculiar tradition every year.
It is believed that participating in the “Diablada de Píllaro” brings good luck. However, tradition says those who dress as devils have to do it for seven consecutive years if they want to keep this good fortune; otherwise, they will experience strange things…
The genuine masks of the “diablos de Píllaro” are made of glued paper, and usually have teeth and horns. Many of them use real horns and/or teeth of several animals such as goats, dear, bulls or lamb.The devils also use capes and wigs.
Although the devils are the main figures of this festivity, other characters include the “Cabecilla”, who is in charge of organizing his/ her community; the “Capariche”, who goes in front of the group with a broom, sweeping the streets and the feet of the public; the “Líneas”, who are dressed in formal attire, representing the high class and dance in couples; and the “Guarichas”, dressed in white with a net mask, a hat and carrying a doll. The “Guarichas” dance around toasting with the public.
The origin of the “Diabladas de Píllaro” is not certain. The city of Píllaro was the scene of several indigenous uprisings. In 1898, in a huge rebellion, the municipality was plundered and several documents were set to fire. Thus, much of the history of Píllaro was lost, and the origin of the “Diabladas” is only known through oral tradition, but there are several different versions.
Some say that the devil used to appear in Píllaro in the XVI Century. Others say that the festivity was taken from a religious procession of Mitimae origin in Bolivia, the “Diablada del Carnaval de Oruro”. Whatever the origin, this popular tradition continues and grows every year…
The city of Píllaro
Píllaro (pronounced 'PEE-yah-ro') is a small city that stands about 19 km northeast of Ambato in the Tungurahua province. It is located at an altitude of 2,800 meters above sea level and has an average temperature of around 13 °C. It is an agricultural centre, producing primarily cereals, potatoes, and fruit (mainly apples). It is also known as a centre for wood-carving.
Photos courtesy of: Ministry of Tourism