Wanaragua: Garífuna Masked Warrior Dance
Garífuna masked dancer wears the disguise of an ancestral warrior. Triunfo de la Cruc, Honduras. Photo credit: Drew Irwin.  
The History of the Wanaragua Dance
The origin of this masked dance dates back to the epoch in which the Garífuna inhabited Saint Vincent Island (XVII-XIX century). In those days, the British colonizers infiltrated the island, setting their sight on the huge expansions of land and the local work force, the Black Carib. These Garífuna ancestors resisted imperialist attacks and engaged in armed conflict with the British. This dance readopts the disguise that the Garífuna warrior utilized as a strategic defense against British forces. It is a celebration of their military victories.

According to Garífuna oral tradition, Barauda, the wife of the legendary Garífuna chief, Satuye, insulted her husband for not "being enough of a man" to avenge the British. The British were invading their communities and burning their cassava fields. She says, "women, we are going to have to dress as men and fight against the British. Meanwhile, men, you had better dress as women. Because the only thing you do is flee each time the British come near our villages."

Young girl from Triunfo de la Cruz, Honduras dances the Wanaragua. Photo credit: Drew Irwin.  
In response, Satuye developed a strategy wherebye Garífuna men disguised themselves in women's clothing. The British entered the Garífuna towns unprepared, not expecting male resistance. They assumed that only women were at home in the villages. Dressed as women, the male warriors assaulted the British and took the troops off guard. That is how the Garífuna cleverly deceived the British.

Continue! Learn how this legend of disguised warriors is reflected in Waranagua dance costumes today.
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Credit: Compiled by Alejandro Tosatti, InCorpore Cultural Association©. Based on interviews with Garífuna community members, Junior Clother, Santos Guzmán, Natividad Roches, Purificación Arriola López; Triunfo de la Cruz, Honduras, July 1998. All rights reserved. Edited and translated by Kristina Stevens, Latin American Studies, Stanford University, 2/1/00.