Papantla Flyers

The Papantla Flyers perform a unique religious ceremony. Dating back thousands of years, this ritual is still performed for the joy of the tourists and to keep the tradition alive.

The setting comprises an 80 or 90 feet pole and five people, one of them an Indian priest. The 4 flyers represent air, fire, water and earth elements, and also the 4 cardinal points. The dancers and the priest climb the pole one by one. Once on top the priest starts playing and dancing on a 9 inch platform, with a flute and drum, and the dancers throw themselves backwards tied to the pole by the ankles. They slowly start their descent, making exactly 13 revolutions around the pole, thus representing the 52 year time span of the pre-Hispanic cosmic cycle (4 dancers X 13 revolutions = 52), after which a new sun is born and life begins again.

This rite is believed to be started 1,500 years ago in central Mexico, as a prayer to the God of Sun, for fertility and good harvest. After the conquest, the ceremonial rite was disguised as a game to avoid the Christian priests to interfere and allow the Indians to continue practice their religion.

You can see this spectacular show in many tourist destinations such as Cancun, Xcaret, Puerto Vallarta. When in Mexico, we recommend you to ask for this unique ritual. It is a once in a lifetime experience to watch.