Honduras Arts and Culture

By | October 14, 2021


The dominant imprint in Honduran cultural life is certainly the Spanish one. The influence of the European rulers overlapped the local customs, giving rise to architectural, artistic, religious expressions of strong peculiarity: an example are many buildings of the colonial period, rich in elements ranging from the Baroque to the Moorish. Literature, music and folklore also testify to the fusion of heterogeneous elements and impulses. The capital is full of churches and historic buildings, such as the old university building and the cathedral (built in the eighteenth century) full of works of art. The Republican History Museum is also located in Tegus, the nickname with which Tegucigalpa is indicated. Comayagua, the ancient capital, also has reasons of historical and cultural interest: the first university in Central America was founded here (1632), now home to the Colonial Museum, where many works of religious art dating back to the centuries of foreign domination are preserved; in the city there is also an archaeological museum. The current main university center is that of Tegucigalpa, founded in 1847. The Copán, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980, located almost on the border with Guatemala and whose archaeological ruins (the “staircase of hieroglyphics”, the temples of the acropolis, the sculptures) are evidence of the civilization that lived here in starting from the 2nd century. Among other cultural institutions, a prominent place is occupied by the National School of Music. The most popular sport of all is football.


In the Indian villages the natives retain many of the original habits and traits, starting with the language, which has not been supplanted by Spanish or English. Another peculiarity typical of the village clans is the strong family bond that still permeates society today. A feature common to many Caribbean states or those that have been the object of evangelization is also a sort of syncretism in the spiritual field that presents an amalgam of beliefs and rites, from Christianity, practiced according to different confessions, to animism. The most important religious festival is the one dedicated to the virgin of Suyapa, celebrated on February 3rd. In the colorful markets of the cities, local handicraft products (wood, leather, fabrics) and agricultural products are on sale, which also form the basis of the diet of a large part of the population: the cuisine revolves around simple dishes consisting of cereals, potatoes, fish, chicken. Cave, a coffee-based liqueur, is the country’s most famous drink.


According to thefreegeography, there are no Honduran writers before the illuminist José Cecilio del Valle (1780-1834), author of the act of independence (1821) and other committed writings. The neoclassical poet José Trinidad Reyes (1797-1855), founder of the University of Tegucigalpa, was an active promoter of culture. However, a true literary activity began only with the modernist poets Juan Ramón Molina (1875-1908) and Froilán Turcios (1875-1943), the latter also an excellent storyteller. Examples followed in various ways by Jerónimo J. Reina, Luis A. Zúñiga, the brothers Augusto and Adán Coello, Jorge F. Zepeda, Salvador Turcios, Julián López Pineda and others; while Alfonso Guillén Zelaya (1878-1947) introduced avant-garde manners into poetry. But the most important writer of the century. XX was Rafael Heliodoro Valle (1891-1959), poet, publicist, historical narrator and essayist of copious production. In the contemporary panorama there are the poets Oscar Acosta (b.1933), Daniel Laínez (1919-1959) and Roberto Sosa (b.1930) of which some collections of verses have also been published in English (The Difficult Days, The Return of the Rivere Daniel Laínez), the narrators Víctor Cáceres Lara (1915-1993), Eduardo Bähr, Julio César Escoto (b.1944), Ramón Amaya and the playwright Andrés Morris.


In the eastern region of Honduras, artistic manifestations consisting of rock carvings, pictographs, ceramics, glyptics and stone sculptures, show affinities with the art of Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The western region of Honduras, on the other hand, was affected by Mexican and especially Mayan influences, of which precious testimonies and artifacts are preserved in the country (above all, the pottery of the Ulúa valley, which has elements similar to that of Central America). The figurative art of the twentieth century has opened up to foreign influences, allowing various artists to come into contact with experiences, reviews, international suggestions. The most prominent personality is undoubtedly Jose Antonio Velasquez (1906-1983). At the end of the century, the presence of Honduran works in the pavilions of Latin American art set up in the major European, American and Eastern centers became frequent. Among the most important names in painting and sculpture are Yovany Adonay Navarro (1974), Pinto Rodezno (1965), Dario A. Rivera Trejo, Roque Zelaya (1958), MAFFELA (Maria Ofelia Garcia Casanova).


Throughout the colonial period there is generally vague news of representations of autos sacramentales, indie dances and an autonomous stage form, the so-called bailes de moros y cristianos. In the last years of the 19th century, companies arrived from Spain and occasionally local formations hosted in makeshift venues acted. Only in 1915 was the first permanent theater inaugurated in Tegucigalpa, still open to local semi-professional groups and foreign touring companies.

Honduras Arts and Culture