August 18, 2020

The Yonna is danced! Did you know that in La Guajira people don’t just dance vallenato?

The Yonna

La Guajira is known for being the land of Vallenato music … and how could it not be? If in La Guajira the vallenato is danced, played and sung day and night. In fact, through La Guajira, the first accordion entered Colombia and there the story of Francisco el Hombre became famous. Although we will not talk about this time. Today you will learn about the Yonna, a typical and representative dance of the Wayuu indigenous people, who are also known as guajiros in Venezuela, this dance is done to the rhythm of the Kasha or Wayuu drum.

The Yonna has various manifestations and its meaning is rooted in Wayuu customs and beliefs. If you’ve never had the opportunity to witness this cultural demonstration, at first glance it may seem like a dance with basic steps; It is danced in pairs, where the woman steps forward trying to knock the man down and the man steps backward trying not to fall, both circling on the pioi (dance floor). However, it is not as simple as it seems, each of its steps and positions represents symbols within the origin of being Wayuu. Just the act of dancing in circles is a representation of deities such as kashi (full moon) and kai (the sun) due to their circular shape when moving.

 

For what purpose is the Yonna danced?

 

In reality, the Yonna is danced at special events that embodies the Wayuu cosmogony; to pay tribute to Maleiwa(creator god) and other deities such as Juya (rain) and Mma (earth). In the steps of their dance, the figures of their uchiiancestors (animals created by Maleiwa) are adopted.

Under this conception, they do it to ask their deities for the grace to maintain the natural appearance of their humanity and that of their environment. The Wayuu also dance to give thanks for the favors granted; to counteract ills like death and other misfortunes predicted through dreams; and to introduce socially to a new piache (Wayuu doctor with the ability to speak and make deals with the spirits for good) or to the young women, after their confinement after having their first period to announce that they are suitable for marriage and for procreation. If you are in good physical condition, dancing the Yonna is an experience that you must live when you visit La Guajira. Ask your operator or tourist agency if it is included in your tour. You will be able to get closer to the Wayuu culture and perhaps you will return home with a marriage commitment.

 

Sources:

(2009) Símbolos, espacio y cuerpo en la Yonna wayuu, G, Ángela & Finol, José Enrique & G, Nelly.

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