QCOSTARICA – The quijongo is now in very good health thanks to the care of the people of Guanacaste, who are dedicated to protecting it and making it known in that province and throughout the country.
Ten years ago the story was different. There were only three quijonguero masters, Eulalio Guadamuz, Isidoro Guadamuz and Felipe Quirós, the latter of whom died in January 2018.
The instrument, a type of musical bow used by the indigenous Chorotega people of Nicoya in Costa Rica, is of African heritage, possibly arrived with the first Africans during the conquest. It is made up of a stick from a young guácimo tree, a wire that functions as a rope, a gourd that is the resonator, a push button (wooden stick) and, in some cases, a resonance box is used.
“About the playing and construction, the musicians not only know how to play it, but also how to build it. Before, a leather strap or a liana was used as a rope, but over time the musicians looked for other more resistant materials, the rim wire being the best they found,” explains Adriana Méndez González, an anthropologist from Guanacaste.
Video: The sounds of the quijongo!
In 2010, Adriana together with another anthropologist, Estíbaliz Hidalgo, began their research on the instrument. Some five years earlier they had already started the first serious works in the province.
In fact, it was Adriana, in 2014, who nominated for the Emilia Prieto National Prize for Popular Culture to two Guanacaste Quijongueros: Don Eulalio Guadamuz, from Bagaces, and Don Isidoro Guadamuz, from Santa Cruz, who won it.
At that time, Felipe Quirós, also from Bagaces, was not included because they had not yet met him.
On February 17, the Legislative Assembly approved in first debate the law to declare the Guanacaste quijongo as Costa Rican intangible cultural heritage.