AlférezIn medieval Iberia, an alférez was a high-ranking official in the household of a king or magnate. The alférez was generally the next highest-ranking official after the majordomo. He was generally in charge of the king or magnate's mesnada (private army), his personal retinue of knights, and perhaps also of his armoury and his guard. He generally followed his lord on campaign and into battle.

The term and concept of the alférez was brought into Chile by Spainiards during the colonial period in the sixteenth century.  The first "balies religiosos" were founded in 1584 by the alférez, Laureano Barrera, in the town of Andacollo, zona norte de Chile. These religious dances, predecessors of the baile chino, fused Spanish and Andean ritual traditons including the unique dissonant music,"sonido rajado", of the ancient Paracas culture of Peru.

Today, the alférez of a baile chino leads his group in ritual performance often involving a "contrapunto", a singing duel of improvised quatrains with a competing group.

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