The folklore of death: 'cantos de angeles' and cultural syncretism on the island of Chiloe

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Garrido, W & Garrido, S 2011, 'The folklore of death: 'cantos de angeles' and cultural syncretism on the island of Chiloé', 7th International Small Island Cultures Conference, Airlie Beach, Whitsundays, Qld. Small Island Cultures Research Initiative.

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Chiloé has become well-known as a cultural tourism destination since its recognition as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000 on account of its distinctive wooden architecture. Similarly, the island's traditions of song, dance and instrumental performance have come to play a large role in summer season tourism in the region. While these two aspects of the island's 'patrimonio cultural' (cultural heritage) have established a high visibility in the island's branding as a tourism destination, a number of equally distinct cultural traditions continue – albeit 'below the radar' of tourism marketing. Amongst these are a number of elaborate syncreticisms that combine European colonial and Indigenous traditions in highly idiosyncratic ways. A prime example is the ‘cantos de angeles’, a particular song form used for the funerals of children under the age of five. While this ritual existed in other parts of Chile and Latin America, the isolation of Chiloé from the mainland has preserved it in distinct form. This particular ritual will be discussed with reference to the folklore surrounding death that exists on Chiloé.