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Tumba Francesa

The Tumba Francesa, santiaguera tradition musician-dance, comes as representative element of the culture of the slaves of the eastren Cuban region, in particular south part: Baracoa, Guantánamo and Santiago de Cuba.

Las Tumbas Francesas, daughters of the coffee growing, overcome thier origins to so early times as the last quarter of the XVIII century in the Island of Cuba, when the planter colonists French and franc-Haitian allowed to their endowments slaves, in particular domestic, to dance and to sing the day of the Patron Saint, or any other festivity with the master's consent.

The name of Tumba because the etymological own meaning of the word - drum, tambú or revel - and French for the identification that their own protagonist (slaves) would keep save with the French master's culture; appropriating of some dances, attires and words of the court Versailles.

As the dialect or language that the songs are interpreted is recognized Spanish and the Creole, with an African strong phonetics loaded by words of the French language and a deep epic sense, of rebelliousness, identity, lyricism, dramatic nature and satire.

The women generally dress, their traditional train and princess cut dresses, with of wide necks and lace fists or embroidered corners, skirts of three big swirl, besides starched thread ‘s petticoats. The feminine head is adorned with handkerchiefs of alive well-known colors as duván and shawls. This society possesses two authentic silk shawls and a stone necklace of glass rock, used by the first queen of this Tumba Francesa.

The men on the other hand, dress very elegant with starchy shirt, vests, tuxedo and pants of French court. All these attires always differentiated them of the rest of the black town councils in Cuba.

From the culinary perspective, it stand out plates that have a traditional character in Cuba: the beef, meat stew, jigote, ajiaco, small pies, fritters of shellfish especially the cod, salted and sweet flour of corn, viandas boiled with garlic sauce, congrí, drinks like the punch, liquor, different rums and desserts among those that stand out the nougats, the rice pudding, etc..

Example of this cultural tradition we have the society santiaguera of Tumba Francesa "The Charity of East" that had its origins February 24 1862 in the Caney with the name Lafayette like expression musician-dance results of one of the plantations of French masters, the one which in 1905 is already divided under society conditions and assumes the name of La Caridad de Oriente preserving the joining of the families Venet - Danger that arrives until our days in its sixth and seventh generation.

For 1982 this society of Tumba Francesa is declared cultural focus as carrier group of the centennial traditional popular culture.

The Society has also received important recognitions among which stands out the Premio Nacional de la Cultura Comunitaria in 2000.

The Society of Tumba Francesa " La Caridad de Oriente ", declared November 7, 2003 for UNESCO, World Oral and Immaterial Heritage Masterpiece; it conserves in all its splendor the contributions bequeathed by the French and dahomeyana - Benin, Congo and Niger cultures - in the island of Cuba; as genuine example of the tradition and expression of the popular culture of the Cuban east.

By the authenticity and all-round’s guarantee in the historical thing, ethnologic, anthropological, scientific, aesthetic and cultural, that possesses this carrier group of the traditional popular culture of the Cuban east: The Society of Tumba Francesa "La Caridad de Oriente", is that it’s intends its inclusion in the list of the World Heritage as expression of one of the most significant processes inherited in the Cuban and regional Caribbean culture, result of the assimilation and transculturation of historical and cultural processes linked to the presence French and African dahomeyana.

This santiaguera tradition musician - dance inherited of the XIX century, it has the merit of preserving till the present its transmission generational, in an empiric and oral way that keeps live its spiritual and materials essences: songs, play, dances, linguistic phenomena, culinary patrimony and the most important thing, the respect for the antecedent generations, the unit and cooperation to each other and the necessity to maintain their authenticity, independently of the own dynamics of changes situational indicators of the progress.