It is said that the word “chinelo” comes from the Nahuatl word tzínelogua which means hip movement, but also “chinelo” or “chinesco” was applied in the 18th century to everything exotic, oriental or Arabic.
The Chinelos dance is one of the icons of Morelos. There is no popular festival that does not have the “jump” of Chínelo, accompanied by a wind band. It was born in Tlayacapan, as a carnival dance in which the Tlayacapan people, disguised in rags and old hats, made fun of the Spanish landowners who exploited them, without fear of reprisals.
It is said that the first costume was a cassock and a cardboard miter, which imitated the Saint Augustine painted in the convent, then an inverted conical hat and beaded embroidery was used and the blanket cassock was sewn with blue stripes. The hat may be a derivation of a Turkish cap from the dance of the Moors and Christians; Later it was adorned with feathers, and from 1968 Don Ángel Rojas, better known as the Devil, added new designs, materials and Aztec characters that have made his hats internationally famous.
From Tlayacapan, where they wear a white coat with two horizontal stripes at the bottom and the sleeves, as well as scarves and gloves, Chinelo went to Tepoztlán where the blanket suit was changed for a velvet one, with a short shell embroidered at the back. or painted with Aztec or Guadalupan motifs, and the hat became taller and more closed. In Yautepec it became more variegated and the decoration more profuse. A fundamental element in any of these communities is the mesh mask painted in pink with horsehair, which maintains the anonymity of the dancers.
the mask occupies a preponderant place in the ritual life of every culture. In addition to that of Chinelo, other masks are produced in different communities of Morelos, such as in Xoxocotla for the Dances of the Three Powers, which is staged with three demons; that of the Tenochme, which recreates a wedding between a mestizo and an indigenous woman at the time of the conquest; and the dance of the Tecuani, the one with the greatest pre-hispanic heritage, which is celebrated in Axochiapan and narrates the hunt of the jaguar (tecuan).