New book The Game of the Devils details the history of this indigenous tradition.

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The “Diablitos Game” is an indigenous tradition, of ancestral origin, that takes place in the communities of Boruca and Rey Curré, canton of Buenos Aires, Puntarenas; indigenous peoples of Costa Rica that preserve ancestral customs and traditions, which are part of the multicultural and multiethnic identity of the country.

This tradition recalls the historical drama of the conquest: the struggle of the Borucas, personified by devils, against the Spaniards, symbolized in the figure of the bull, emphasizing the resistance of the indigenous people to colonization. Precisely, this cultural manifestation has been studied and collected by the anthropologist José Luis Amador in the book “Game of the little devils in Curré”, recently published by the Editorial of the State Distance University (EUNED).

“The‘ Game of the Devils ’, a traditional festival of the Boruca people, was released in written form from early in the 20th century. For example, Mr. Serafín Mora Sáenz, a teacher at the Boruca school, reported it in a letter to Mr. José Fidel Tristán in 1928. However, the scholar who has delved the most into its characteristics and, among these, its symbolism, has been the author of this book, José Luis Amador ”, stressed the president of the Editorial Board of EUNED, also an anthropologist María Eugenia Bozzoli.

The Game of the Devils is a cultural celebration that represents the Boruca indigenous collective identity, especially manifested during the three days that the game lasts. “Their preparations involve logistics that few peoples could do, due to the community unity, passion and symbolism with which they assume this commitment,” said Amador, author of the publication.

As reported by EUNED, this book contains a pleasant description, as well as an interpretive analysis of the game, involving multiple characters, rogue and colorful. This analysis is accompanied by photographs taken during the party.

Bozzoli added that this work “describes the feast of the devils in neat detail, from its preparations to the triumph of the indigenous devils over the invading foreigners; analyzing, in addition, in it, the symbolic interpretations of this dramatic representation of the communal birth and rebirth. The information in the book makes it possible to assess the correctness of the declaration of the ‘Diablitos Game’ as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Costa Rica, made on December 14, 2017 ”.

For his part, Francisco Corrales, an archaeologist at the National Museum of Costa Rica, stated that “one of the most important traditions of the indigenous Borucas is the so-called ‘Game of the Devils’. This celebration possibly has pre-Hispanic roots and is associated with other representations of the struggle between the indigenous and the Spanish present in Latin America. In this game, which is more like fighting, the devils are the indigenous people and the bull is the Spanish, although today this original meaning has been adapted to the circumstances or threats to cultural continuity. The bull is everything that is against the Boruca culture. By fighting the external bull, the Boruca identity is revitalized and shows once again that unity is strength ”.

“This game lasts for three days and is held in Boruca between December 30 and January 2. In Curré it is celebrated at the end of January, beginning of February between Thursday and Sunday ”, added the specialist from the National Museum of Costa Rica.

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