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Ireme, the symbolic little devil of Abakuá

I will go abakuá

How many times have we not caught a glimpse of the striking character, symbol of the Secret Society Abakuá? And is that the little devil Ireme, has gone from being a fully religious symbol, to swell the manifestations of Afro-Cuban culture.

We must know that the complex of associations Abakuá or Ñáñigas are secret societies considered as brotherhoods for mutual aid, of which there are more than a hundred in the cities of Havana, Matanzas and Cárdenas in Cuba and are unique in the American continent.

Symbology and meaning of Ireme

The iremes or devils, are masked dancers who today constitute symbols of Cuban folklore and of the Abakuá Secret Society.

They are a symbolic element within the ritual that represents nature and are very popular as artistic-religious expressions.

Devil's outfit:

El little devil abakuá the head is covered with a jute cap finished in a point, which only has one pair of embroidered eyes and to this is added a garment of bright colors and different woven designs.

On the neck, knees, cuffs and edges, they wear festoons of frayed rope, while several metal cowbells are hung from the waist that ring especially when they perform their dance.

The iremes they carry in their hands a piece of caña of sugar and a branch of 'bitter broom' and in rituals, they always represent the spirit of some ancestor.

They never speak, but express themselves through gestures in their choreography with strong and striking gestures.

Ireme: The Diablitos Abakuá and their ancestral rite

The iremes or devils they represent characters from the liturgy of the ñáñigos as priests, sorcerers, acolytes, musicians, choirs and other representations of beings.

They appear during the so-called representative plants for each rank: the Eribangandó, for the initiation rites, the Enkánima in its role as purifier, the Aberiñán, the executioner for sacrifices and the Anamanguí, for the funeral rites.

Fernando Ortiz recalled in his works that the whites called them "little devils" due to the similarity with the diabolical masquerades that in ancient times accompaniedañaban Corphus Christi processions in Spainaña and in Cuba.

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