Papantla Flyers in Puerto Vallarta

You can’t begin to imagine my delight when we stumbled upon the Papantla Flyers on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta! The Malecon is the recently renovated boardwalk which without a stroll down our #VallartaFUN trip would not be complete. I approached one of the flyers or Voladores as they are called, who was working on his costume and asked when the performance would be, “en cinco minutos!” he replied holding up his five fingers. 5 minutes, how lucky could we be?!

The pictures in the slideshow are examples of the detail of the costumes and the performance.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
 Truly a sight to see!

This ancient ritual ceremony of the Voladores dates back to 600 BC and has been designated by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage. The purpose of this designation is to help preserve and bring awareness to the ritual of the Dance of the Flying Men, also known as the Papantla Flyers. There are 33 registered groups of Voladores, Flying Men. Legends tell the original ceremonies began during the dry season when elders sent out men to pray to the gods for rain and fruitful crops. A large tree of over 65 feet would be sacrificed which would take 200 men to post in the ground.  Everything surrounding the ceremony, the costumes, the preparation and dedication of the pole, and the actual flight were all highly sacred with precise rituals. Entire communities would help in preparation. Today, performances are done in many areas of Mexico including major tourism destinations. There are even international traveling troupe performances.

The costumes are full of symbolism. They are decorated with hand needle and bead work representing the beauty of nature. The red of the Papantla flyers pants signifies the values honored, the white shirt is said to represent the purity of the human spirit. The plume on the cone shaped hat symbolizes triumph while the colored ribbons attached reference the rainbow. The mirrors signify the reflection of life and flowers express fertility. The Voladores make 13 turns around the pole which represents the tree of life and the 4 flying men the corners of the earth. The 5th man stands in the middle at the top while playing a chirimía with his left hand, the small 3 holed bamboo flute and with his right hand playing the attached deerskin drum, the teponaxlte. To say one must be coordinated to be a Papantla Flyer is an understatement!

La Nostalgia by Ramiz Barquet, 1984

 See the Voladore working in the shade of the sculpture?

We’ve had the privilege of seeing performances by Papantla Flyers on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta, near Cancun in the Riviera Maya at Xcaret Park and at the site of the Mayan ruins in Tulum. In order to preserve the culture of the Voladores, the Mexican state of Veracruz has created schools where children can learn the sacred ancient rituals, prayers and music to become Papantla Flyers.

Have you ever seen the Papantla Flyers, where? Please leave your comments below.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Tags: , , , ,


Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

7 Responses to “Papantla Flyers in Puerto Vallarta”

  1. Jackie
    January 4, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    We were fortunate to see the voladores at their home in Paplantla. They regularly perform in front of the church in Papantla, as well as at the nearby ruins of El Tajin. There is something special about watching the ritual performed in Paplanta.

  2. June 8, 2012 at 8:10 am #

    I didn’t know you saw them on your trip. Los Voladores de Papantlas were in Santa Fe two years in a row and we went both times. We were invited to the pole erecting ceremony the first year and the blessing of the pole the 2nd. That was amazing! Here are links to 2 Photos of the Week we posted of them. and Extraordinary experience! Glad you got to see them.

  3. June 8, 2012 at 12:52 am #

    How very interesting. That sculpture is so moving.

  4. June 8, 2012 at 12:52 am #

    How very interesting. That sculpture is so moving.


  1. Postcards from Tulum; Mayan 'City of the Dawn' - Mallory On TravelMallory On Travel - October 15, 2012

    […] a rope and spinning around as they slowly lower to the ground. These Hard-core entertainers are the Papantla Flyers. They are designated as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage and definitely deserve any loose […]

  2. Malecon in Puerto Vallarta - June 9, 2012

    […] a mission to photograph all the statues that line the Malecon, we also stumbled upon the performing Papantla Flyers along the […]

  3. Sculptures on the Malecon - June 8, 2012

    […] sculpture is in front of the Papantla Flyers pole.  You won’t want to miss their performance! La Nostalgia by Ramiz Barquet El Sutil […]

Leave a Reply