Celedonio Molinar Learning about the Major Devil and Blessing the Devil

Interviewee: Celedonio Molinar
Biography: Celedonio Molinar Ávila (1916-2005) is the most renowned 20th century Major Devil in the Congo carnival tradition of Portobelo, Panama. Born in Nombre de Dios, he learned how to perform the character from the person that had previously played it in Portobelo. In 1945, he married a woman from Portobelo, moved there, and brought the Major Devil character back with him. He also re-introduced the tradition of "Blessing the Devil." Having served in the role for 60 years, Celeonio influenced and shaped the devil character in Portobelo more than any other 20th century figure.
Excerpt Description: In this excerpt, Molinar discusses how he learned the role of Major Devil and the tradition of "Blessing the Devil" from a Portobelo native named Viudo Ceballos who had moved to Nombre de Dios. He also describes the way the devil tradition was practiced in Portobelo when he arrived there in 1945.
Entire Interview: Listen to the full interview and read the transcript.
Interviewer: Renee Alexander Craft
Secondary Interviewer: Arturo Lindsay
Date of Interview: 3-Jun-00
Interview Location: Front porch of interviewee's home in Portobelo, Panama
Interview Transcribed By: Gustavo Esquina
English Translation By: Oronike Odeleye, Arturo Lindsay
Ethnoracial Identity Discussed: Afro-Colonial, Afrodescendiente
Cultural Identity: Major Devil in the Congo Tradition
Location Mentioned: Portobelo, Panama; Nombre de Dios, Panama
Congo Spaces:
Congo Characters: Devils and Devil Tradition, Major Devil
Congo Tradition Mentioned: Congo culture, Congo game, Devil embodiment
Cultural Organization: Congos
Themes Mentioned: Blessing the Devil, Congo tradition, Cultural change, Cultural innovation
Cultural Festivals: Carnival
People Mentioned: Viudo Ceballos
Time Period Mentioned: 1932-1946
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Timestamp: 00:03:20.7-00:10:38.7

Photo by: Charles Mack