The Southern Zone of Cosa Rica
The Indigenous Tribes of Southern Costa Rica
Various groups such as the Cabécares, Guaymies and Borucas live in the Southern part. Although it is true that one can visit the following reservations: Ujarrás, Salitre, Cabagra, Boruca, Térraba, Limoncito de Coto Brus, Abrojos Montezuma, Conte Burica and the Osa Peninsula, very few of these tribes have kept many of their traditions.
Térraba Indians: They are located in the county of Buenos Aires, in the province of Puntarenas, in the town of Térraba and other hamlets within the Boruca-Térraba Reservation. These Indians use agricultural and domestic tools; they dress the same way as the peasants of the area and purchase their needs in the local stores. Currently, their homes are made of sawed wooden planks and a zinc roof.
This group is quite small and has lost its language that is only known mostly by its elders. However, for the past several years their language is now taught in their grade schools and the younger population now is bilingual. Their handmade masks of balsa wood or cedar are most beautiful.
In Boruca and Rey Curré one can purchase the crafts made by traditional techniques and one can enjoy watching their traditional Danza de los Diablitos y los Negritos (Dances of the Devils and the Little Black Ones).
The Fiesta de los Diablitos or Feast of the Little Devils represents the fight to the death between the Spanish Conquerors who invaded the Indian territories and the Indians in their effort to keep their traditions, customs and beliefs.
The Feast of the Negritos is another important activity that takes place between December 6 and 8 and combines ancient rituals with honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary. The preparations for this activity are similar to those done for the Fiesta de los Diablitos. The Indians paint their faces with charcoal and do not use special costumes. There is a head devil that directs the entire activity.
In Boruca they represent the fight with a bull and a horse carved in wood where in Térraba it is a cow and a mare.
For several years now the Guaymi Indians have characterized themselves as being a semi-nomadic tribe mainly living in Villa Palacio de Brusmalis in Coto Brus, the margins of the Limoncito River, Alto Conte, the Burica Peninsula, the Bajo de los Reyes, Abrojo and San Miguel de Ciudad Neily.
Their living quarters consist generally of two structures, one used for cooking, and the other for living. They use platforms for sleeping that are attached to the walls of the hut.
The Guaymies use woven bags known as ‘chácaras’ in all sizes made of nylon, hemp or tree bark. The natural fibers are painted with non-artificial dyes. They also make necklaces called ‘nuňunga’ from plastic colored beads. The Guaymies are also very good at making drums, maracas and flutes. The drums made of balsa or cedar wood have a double drumhead made with peccary or armadillo skins.