CultureFolklore

Giant Kites of Santiago Sacatepéquez

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On November 1st and 2nd, colourful kites take flight over Santiago Sacatepéquez as hundreds of people gather at the local cemetery to honour their departed. The kites are massive-some over 10 metres in diameter-and painted by hand. They’re strewn from the ground as the crowd watches them carry their various messages and beautiful imagery across the sky.

According to local folklore, in this tradition, which dates back to pre-Colombian times, the kites represent a link between the living and the dead. So, several messages for the departed would be added to the kites’ designs. However, in recent times, the Cultural Development Association of Santiago indicated otherwise. “It has to be considered as a means of expression,” their public statement said. “The design of the motifs used in the kites do not correspond in any way to some sort of symbolism that allows you to suppose that they are a means of communication between the living the dead.”

Still, on the Day of the Dead and All Saints Day, the colourful kites fill the skies above the town as they have for more than a hundred years.

A man climbs a pole that will support a giant kite in Santiago Sacatepéquez. Photo: Luis Soto/Comvite

Women visit their deceased during the festival. Photo: Luis Soto/Comvite

Men tie the giant kites to hold them down in Santiago Sacatepequez. Photo: Luis Soto/Comvite

Women decorate the grave of loved ones in Santiago Sacatepéquez. Photo: Luis Soto/Comvite

The skeleton of a kite beside cemetery niches in Santiago Sácatepéquez. Photo: Luis Soto/Comvite

People fly kites beside the giant ones in Santiago Sacatepéquez. Photo: Luis Soto/Comvite

People raising a kite in Santiago Sacatepéquez. Photo: Luis Soto/Comvite

Visitors photograph the giant kites of Santiago Sacatepéquez with their smartphones. Photo: Luis Soto/Comvite

Giant kites of Santiago Sacatepéquez. Photo: Luis Soto/Comvite

A kite flies over the skies of Santiago Sacatepéquez. Photo: Luis Soto/Comvite

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