By far the largest settlement of the Southern Altiplano, palindromic Oruro is a city of miners with a tough climate. In many ways it is the most Bolivian of the nine provincial capitals of Bolivia, an intriguing place where 90% of the inhabitants are of pure indigenous heritage. Locals refer to themselves as quirquinchos (armadillos), after the carapaces used in their charangos (traditional Bolivian ukulele-type instruments). Orureños are salty, hard-working and upfront people who have had it tough over the years with the decline of Bolivian mining and the extreme climate.
Oruro, whose name means where the sun is born, sits against a range of mineralrich low hills at the northern end of the salty Lakes Uru Uru and Poopó, linked by river to Titicaca. While many visitors slate Oruro, it is got decent museums and restaurants, and there is plenty to see in the surrounding area. It is also culturally very colorful, with a rich dance and musical heritage that culminates in the riotous Carnaval celebrations, famous throughout South America for the lavish costumes and elaborate traditions on display.
Founded in the early 17th century, Oruro owes its existence to the mineral-rich 10-sq-km range of hills rising 350m behind the city. Chock-full of copper, silver and tin, these hills still form the the economic backbone of the city.
By the 1920s thriving tinmining industry of Bolivia rested in the hands of three powerful capitalists. The most renowned was Simón Patiño, a mestizo from the Cochabamba valley who became one of the wealthiest men of the world. In 1897 Patiño purchased La Salvadora mine near the village of Uncia, east of Oruro, which eventually became the most productive tin source of the world. The fortunes of Patiño snowballed and by 1924 he had gained control of about 50% of the tin output of the nation.
Once secure in his wealth, Patiño emigrated from Bolivia to Britain, where he started buying up European and North American smelters and tin interests. As a consequence, Bolivia found itself exporting both its precious metal and its profits. Public outcry launched a series of labor uprisings, and set the stage for nationalization of the mines in 1952 and the subsequent creation of the government-run Corporación Minera de Bolivia (Comibol).
Decades of government inefficiency, corruption and low world tin prices preceded the push for capitalización (a variation on privatization), which eventually brought about the dissolution of Comibol in the mid-1980s. When the last mine had closed in Oruro, it was a hard hit for the city.
Orureños are extremely proud that Morales is from their province; he was born in Isallavi, a tiny Aymará village on the western side of Lake Poopó, and went to secondary school in Oruro.
Emergency Tourist police (T. 5287774) Round-the-clock operation at the bus terminal; shares the kiosk with the tourist info point and gives out maps.
Immigration (T. 5270239, Soria Galvarro, 8:30-12:30 and 14:30-18:30 Mon-Fri) Extend your stay here (last door on the left).
Internet Access There are plentiful places to get online in Oruro. Many also offer cheap international calls.
Laundry Lavanderia (Sucre # 240) Charges 10 BOB per kilo for 24-hour service.
Medical Services Policlínica Oruro (T. 5242871, Rodríguez) Near Plaza la Unión, this is the best hospital of Oruro.
Money There are several banks with ATMs in town (as well as change kiosks at the bus and train stations), which will change several currencies, including euros (at a pretty poor rate).
Post and Telephone The main post office is just north of Plaza 10 de Febrero. Parcels must first be inspected by the Aduana Nacional (Customs; Velasco Galvarro at Junín). The modern Entel office is west of the corner of Soria Galvarro and Bolívar. There are numerous other telecom centers around town, plus there is also a Punto Entel and a last-minute postal kiosk downstairs at the bus station.
Tourist Information Municipal tourist bureau (T. 5250144, Plaza 10 de Febrero, 8:00-12:00 and 14:30-18:30 Mon-Fri) On the top floor of Cine Palais Concert, the municipal tourist office is not really designed for walk-ins but can be helpful and gives out maps.
Climatically, the best months to visit are August, September and October, after the worst of the winter chills and before the summer rains. From May to early July, nighttime temperatures combined with stiff winds can lower the wind-chill temperature to -40.5°C. Summer is warmer but, for an arid area, there is quite a lot of rainfall between November and March. At any time of year you will need protection against sun, wind and cold.
The Museo Sacro, Folklórico, Arqueológico y Minero (T. 5250616, Plaza del Folklore s/n, 9:00-11:15 and 15:15-17:30) is an excellent double museum attached to the Santuario de la Virgen del Socavón. Access is by guided tour only, which descends from the church down to an old mining tunnel with various tools from both the colonial and modern mining eras as well as representations of the devilish El Tío, spirit of the underground.
The tour then goes upstairs to the other part of the museum, which has a variety of exhibits, from Wankarani period stone llama heads to Diablada costumes. Guides are knowledgeable but you should be aware that they do not speak English; however, some exhibits have bilingual explanations.
At the south end of town adjacent to the zoo, the Museo Antropológico Eduardo López Rivas (T. 5274020, España s/n, 8:00-12:00 and 14:00-18:00 Mon-Fri, 10:00-18:00 Sat and Sun) is an anthropological and archaeological museum well worth a visit. The fascinating hodgepodge of exhibits includes mastodons, Carnaval costumes, stone-carved llama heads, mummies from the chullpares (funerary towers) that dot the region and skulls exhibiting the horrific cranial deformations once practiced on children. Take any micro (minibus) marked Sud from the northwest corner of Plaza 10 de Febrero or opposite the train station, and get off just beyond the old tin-foundry compound.
A university-administered cultural complex, the Museo Patiño (T. 5254015, Soria Galvarro # 5755, 8:30-11:30 and 14:30-18:00 Mon-Fri, 9:00-14:30 Sat) is a former residence of tin baron Simón Patiño inside Casa de la Cultura. Exhibits include his furniture, personal bric-a-brac, fine toys and an ornate Art Nouveau stairway. Visiting exhibitions are featured in the downstairs lobby; the permanent collection is on the upper level. Entry is by guided tour only.
On the university campus south of town, the Museo Mineralógico (T. 5261250, Ciudad Universitaria, 8:30-12:00 and 14:30-18:00 Mon-Fri) houses a remarkable collection of more than 5200 minerals, precious stones, fossils and crystals from around the world, housed in wooden cabinets amid a series of stairways, exposed bricks and glass. Hop on minibus 102 or 2 or any micro marked Sud or Ciudad Universitaria from opposite the train station or Plaza 10 de Febrero.
Museum Casa Arte Taller Cardozo Velasquez (T. 5275245, Junín # 73) A family of seven artists ? Gonzalo (sculptor), his wife María (potter) and their five daughters ? open their whimsical little house and art studio to visitors. The tour includes a peek into their workshop, the many nooks and crannies with artsy bric-a-brac and a leafy patio with fascinating sculptures of Gonzalo (check out the one in the middle, devoted to Pachamama). If you are lucky, you may even get a tea made with medicinal herbs from their courtyard garden. On Sunday mornings, the family goes out to the streets to paint with children. Every first Friday of the month, they hold a koa ceremony, an Andean ritual that pays respect to Pachamama, which you are welcome to join if you announce yourself.
La Catedral Just east of the main plaza, the cathedral has fine stained-glass above the altar. The adjacent tower was constructed by the Jesuits as part of a church before Oruro was founded. When the Jesuits were expelled, it was designated as the cathedral of the Oruro bishopric. In 1994, the original baroque entrance was moved and reconstructed at the Santuario de la Virgen del Socavón (Virgin of the Grotto), which presents a grand city view. It was here that 16th-century miners began worshipping the Virgen de Candelaria, the patron of Oruro miners.
The present church, which is a 19th-century reconstruction of the 1781 original, figures prominently in Carnaval of Oruro as the site where good ultimately defeats evil.
A steep climb from the end of Calle Washington, offers impressive city views. A couple of blocks southeast of the main plaza, it is worth checking out the Portada del Beaterio, the facade of a convent church carved with ornate vegetal and bird motifs.
On November 17, 1851 the red, gold and green flag of Bolivia was first raised at Faro de Conchupata: red for the courage of the Bolivian army, gold for the mineral wealth of the country and green for its agricultural wealth. The spot is now marked by a platform and column topped by an enormous glass globe, illuminated at night. It provides a fine vista over the town.
There are numerous mines in the Oruro area, most of which are abandoned or operated by cooperativos (small groups of miners who purchase temporary rights). One of the most important is Mina San José (T. 5247759), which has been in operation for over 450 years. Now run by six cooperatives, they have opened a part of the mine to tourists.
The Termas de Obrajes hot springs, 25km northeast of town, are a popular destination. It is a well-run complex, with a pool and, around the edge, private bathrooms, which you reserve for half an hour and gradually fill up with the magnesium- rich water. You can buy (but not rent) towels here; make sure you have a swimming costume to enter the public pool. There is also others like the grungier Capachos hot springs, 10km east of town.
The atmospheric Calacala makes a worthwhile trip from Oruro. The site consists of a series of rock paintings of llamas and humans in red and orange tones, presumably dating to the first millennium BC. It is located under an overhang 2.5km beyond the village of Calacala, which is 26km east of Oruro. Stop in the village to locate the guard who has the keys and collects the fee; she can often be found in the small cafe marked by a rusted Pepsi sign. The site itself is a 30-minute walk past the village, near the old brewery. The views from the site of the exceptionally beautiful valley, which provides some of water of Oruro, are spectacular.
The first national park of Bolivia occupies 1000 sq km abutting the Chilean border. It was created on November 5, 1945 for the protection of the rare wildlife that inhabits this northern extension of the Atacama Desert. Unfortunately, depredation has already eliminated several species, and only limited numbers of vicuña (whose wool is very prized, at 500 USD per kilo), condor, flamingo, rhea and armadillo survive.
The highest forest of the World covers the foothills flanking the awe-inspiring Volcán Sajama, which at 6542m is the highest peak of Bolivia. The forest consists of dwarf queñua trees, an endemic and ancient Altiplano species, but while technically a forest, it is a little underwhelming ? the trees have the size and appearance of creosote bushes!
The volcano is a popular mountain to climb, especially between May and September; there are also some hikes on its lower slopes. Although it is a relatively straightforward climb, the altitude of Sajama and icy conditions make the peak more challenging than it initially appears.
For a relaxing warm soak, there are four lovely 35°C hot springs 8km northwest of Sajama village, an easy 45-minute walk; look for the screaming orange house to the left of the road. About 7km (1½ hours) on foot due west of Sajama is an interesting spouting geyser field.
The Carnaval of Oruro has become most renowned and largest annual celebration of Bolivia. It is a great time to visit, when this somewhat unfashionable mining city becomes the focus of the attention of the nation. In a broad sense, these festivities can be described as re-enactments of the triumph of good over evil, but the festival is so interlaced with threads of both Christian and indigenous myths, fables, deities and traditions that it would be inaccurate to oversimplify it in this way.
The origins of a similar festival may be traced back to the medieval kingdom of Aragón, these days part of Spain, although orureños (Oruro locals) maintain that it commemorates an event that occurred during the early days of their own fair city. Legend has it that one night a thief called Chiruchiru was seriously wounded by a traveler he had attempted to rob. Taking pity on the wrongdoer, the Virgin of Candelaria gently helped him reach his home near the mine at the base of Cerro Pié del Gallo and succored him until he died. When the miners found him there, an image of the Virgin hung over his head. Today, the mine is known as the Socavón de la Virgen (Grotto of the Virgin), and a large church, the Santuario de la Virgen del Socavón, has been built over it to house the Virgin. The Virgen del Socavón, as she is also now known, is the patron of the city. This legend has been combined with the ancient Uru tale of Huari and the struggle of Archangel Michael (San Miguel) against the seven deadly sins into the spectacle that is presented during the Oruro Carnaval.
Ceremonies begin several weeks before Carnaval itself, with a solemn pledge of loyalty to the Virgin in the sanctuary. From this date on, there are various candlelit processions, and dance groups practice boisterously in the city?s streets.
As well as traditional Bolivian dance groups, such as the Caporales, Llameradas, Morenadas and Tinkus, the Carnaval of Oruro features La Diablada (Dance of the Devils). These demonic dancers are dressed in extravagant garb. The design and creation of Diablada costumes has become an art form in Oruro, and several Diablada clubs ? consisting of members from all levels of Oruro society ? are sponsored by local businesses. There are anywhere between 40 and 300 dancing participants, whose costumes may cost several hundred dollars each.
The main event kicks off on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday with the spectacular entrada (entrance procession) led by the brightly costumed San Miguel character. Behind him, dancing and marching, come the famous devils and a host of bears and condors. The chief devil Lucifer wears the most extravagant costume, complete with a velvet cape and an ornate mask. Faithfully at his side are two other devils, including Supay, an Andean god of evil that inhabits the hills and mineshafts. The procession is followed by other dance groups, vehicles adorned with jewels, coins and silverware (in commemoration of the achura rites in which the Inca offered their treasures to Inti (the sun) in the festival of Inti Raymi), and the miners offer the highest quality mineral of the year to El Tío, the demonic character who is owner of all underground minerals and precious metals. Behind them follow Inca characters and a group of conquistadores, including Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro.
When the archangel and the devils arrive at the soccer stadium, they engage in a series of dances that tell the story of the ultimate battle between good and evil. After it becomes apparent that good has triumphed over evil, the dancers retire to the Santuario de la Virgen del Socavón at dawn on the Sunday, and a mass is held in honor of the Virgin, who pronounces that good has prevailed.
There is another, less spectacular entrada on the Sunday afternoon, and more dance displays on the Monday. The next day, Shrove Tuesday, is marked by family reunions and challa libations, in which alcohol is sprinkled over worldly goods to invoke a blessing. The following day people make their way into the surrounding countryside where four rock formations ? the Toad, the Viper, the Condor and the Lizard ? are also subjected to cha?lla as an offering to Pachamama.
Plenty of the spirit is sprinkled down the throats of the revelers as well. Thursday is a big party day, with fairground rides and general merriment, and the Saturday sees a final performance of the dance groups in the stadium. On Sunday, the burial of Carnaval is celebrated with a procession of the childrens.
If you are in Bolivia by Carnival period, you have to go to Oruro. The Oruro Carnival lasts for 10 days each year before Lent in the Andes mountains of western Bolivia. Featuring music, dance and crafts, it is highlighted by a ceremonial parade lasting 20 hours, covering 4 kilometres and involving 20,000 dancers and 10,000 musicians. The carnival reinforces the cultural identity of the community, and attracts more than 400,000 people.
January 1: New Year 's Day.
February 10: Anniversary of Oruro.
February or March (changeable date): Carnival.
April (Changeable date): Easter.
Palm Sunday: The Saturday before Easter. People enter temples with branches which the clergy bless.
Holy Thursday: It is a tradition of the people to visit 12 temples of the city, one for each apostle, in this day.
Good Friday: Procession of the Holy Sepulchre.
June (Changeable date):
Corpus Christie: Commemoration of the Body of Christ.
July 16: Feast of Carmen.
September 21: Day of Spring. Youth and Students of Bolivia.
First Sunday in October: Feast of the Virgin of Merced.
Second Sunday in October: Feast of the Virgin of Rosario.
November 1: Todos Santos (All Saints Day).
This is a pre-columbian tradition when the people go to visit the Tombs prepared at home by the relatives of the deceased and where the friends are offered the same food and drink liked by him.
November 2: Difuntos (Day of the Deceased)
The tombs are dismantled and the people celebrate in the memory of the deceased.
November 3: Alma Cacharpaya (Soul of the Calypsobreakers)
Those in charge of dismantling the tombs show up in the home of the deceased with an orchestra so that the soul of the deceased will be happy.
December 24 and 25: Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
Charlie Tours Run by the owner, Charlie Tours (T. 5252979, León # 501) is a real specialist of the region. In addition to city tours, mine visits and excursions to nearby attractions such as Calacala and Obrajes, they offer trips to places further afield, such as the Chipaya, Salar de Coipasa and Sajama.
Govinda (Junín, closed Sun) Forget you are in Bolivia at this Hare Krishnadevoted restaurant behind a modern glass front where vegetarian meals are fresh, cheap and creative, the decor blue and light, and the music ambient.
El Huerto (Bolívar near Pagador, closed Sat) Tasty cakes, snacks and cookedtoorder vegetarian lunches are served at this friendly hole-in-the-wall place.
Café Sur (Arce, between Velasco Galvarro and 6 de Agosto) The most bohemian place in town, with live music on weekends and occasional poetry readings.
Club Social Arabe (Junín # 729, closed Sun) A slice of old-fashioned Oruro, this 2nd-floor spot hosts occasional live music on weekends.
Air No commercial flights from/to Oruro.
Bus All long-distance buses use the bus terminal (T. 527-9535), a 15-minute walk or short cab ride northeast of the center. There is a casa de cambio (money-changing office) on the upper level, luggage storage on the ground floor and a sporadically open tourist info kiosk, which provides maps.
Train Thanks to its mines, Oruro has one of most organized train stations of Bolivia, but only with southbound services to Uyuni and beyond. Since 1996, the railway has been run by the Empresa Ferroviaria Andina (FCA), which operates a relatively tight ship timetable-wise. Buy tickets at least a day ahead from the station (T. 5274605; 8:15-11:30 and 14:30-18:00 Mon & Thu, 8:15-18:00 Tue & Fri, 8:15-12:00 and 14:30-19:00 Wed, 8:15-11 and 15:00-19:00 Sun); do not forget your passport. On train days, there is a left-luggage kiosk here.
The principal service runs south to Uyuni and on to Tupiza and Villazón on the Argentine border. It is the most popular way of reaching Uyuni, as it avoids the cold, bumpy journey on the night bus. From Uyuni, there are slow rail services to Chile.
The Expreso del Sur and Wara Wara del Sur offers reclining seats with plenty of leg room, heaters, videos, a dining car and a choice of salón and ejecutivo classes. It departs Oruro to Uyuni, Tupiza and Villazón and viceversa.
This dance shows a deep Cosmo vision stemmed in the Andean cult of the mean
'supay' of 'huari', god of the mountains and of the devil of the catholic
The catholic religion implanted by the Spanish Crown in its colonies was designed by an educational system for the conversion of adult indians, 'purifying' their 'pagan'customs through, for instance auto sacramental and processions or commencement offering dances.
The conquistadores wanted to christianize the indians; they practiced the cathechesis of Christianism against the 'paganism'. However, the mutual religion influence caused the peculiar syncretism in our society.
Whom to ask for help?
Uprooted of their ayllus (communities), the mitayos (pawns) for the service of
the conquistadores, would invoke their legendary god of the profundities Huari in
the galleries, exuded in the owner of the spots or El Tio (the Uncle).
It so happened that Tio was converted into a benefactor deity of the Mitayo, who would beg him for protection and wealth, offering in exchange, chicha (a drink), alcohol and coca leaf.
With the passing of the years, the Andean man adopted the catholic faith as a strategy of survival rejoining native festivities, as the 'jatun poccoy' blooming) with the European carnival brought by the conquistadores.
The dramatized fight between San Miguel Arch Angel and Candelaria Virgin in front of the devils and satans has a double interpretation.
In the christian sense, it would result being the exponent of the seven capital sins of the court of 'Luzbel rebel Prince'.
However, as a 'satire' to the conquistadors the devil dancing groups implicates a rebellion of the miner mitayo that disguised as a devil to act against his oppressors, he would use the religions dance for expressing his anxiety of freedom and the struggle for acquiring it.
The Mitayo had scarce licenses and one of the exceptions was to get out of his underground work in carnival, while the orgies tolerated by the church, would prosper in the city.
This would reach a wantonness of his repressed inhibitions by the mita (forceful duty), and the vindication of his lost dignity.
A prehistory with Horns:
Since prehistorically days, as per a legendary thought and uru zootist, the
demonological phenomenon takes us to the ancient 'chullpas jakes', whose
descendants are our urus fore parents.
The footprint should be looked for with the aid of archeology. Within the 'zoolatric' cult of the ancient Orureños (native from Oruro city) stone-sculpted heads of pumas (kind of Andean tiger), deers, and mainly llamas (kind of Andean ruminants typical to these regions) with hornet shapes are to be found.
It also corresponds to this period the legend of the strength, fire, and the mountains god Huari who wanted to destroy the Urus for their virtual degeneration. Therefore, the hell supporters of Huari, had to be defeated by the ñusta; the toad the viper, the lizard, turned into stone and the army of ants condemned into simple sand dunes.
According to legend, the defeated Huari took refuge for good in the inside of the mountains where there are rich minerals, for not ever going out again.
In the historical period of the devil dancing groups, there is a stage of
transculturization that initiates with the foundation in Villa de San Felipe de
Austria in 1.606, when the shock of two cultures was the norm, although the
ancestral remains turned out to survive.
Another stage, that of religious dualism (1.789 - 1.900) is explained when the transfiguration of the Andean Pachamama into the Virgin of Socavon widens the religious syncretism while the third powerful ingredient germinates: the replying fact of relieving of the profound psychic repressions.
Out of this situation, it crops up the tradition of the famous bandit Anselmo Belarmino, the Chiru-Chiru or Nina-Nina that in spite of his misdeeds helped poor people and revered the Virgin of Candelaria in his shelter in the Pie of the Gallo mountain.
During the stage of the social diffusion of this dance (1.900 - 1.950), the tradition of the devil dancing groups followed its way together with other kinds of dances in the festivity of Virgin of Socavon. It is the period of the highest prosperity for the appearance of other kinds of dances in a process of disappearance and the creation of Institutions like the Gran Traditional and Authentical Devil Dance Group of Oruro that was born in 1.904.
After the Chaco War, there spurted up other groups : The Traditional Folkloric Devil Dancing: Group of Oruro (1.943), Círculo de Artes y Letras Devil Dancing Group (1.943), Artistic and Cultural Fraternity Devil Dancing Group (1.944).
Its members belonged to the well-doing middle class, called the 'pijes' or 'Kharas'it is the beginning of the incursion of the decent strata in the mineworkers dancing to turn it into a brilliant folkloric ballet. The indian began losing his performing role; the 'khara' took his place.
The origin of the morenada goes back to the employment of black slaves in
colonial Potosi, where the miners to replace the indigenous mitayos (pawns)
The Negroes had already disembarked in America together with the conquistadores (conquerors) and the indians were impressed by the color of their skin. On founding Paria 1n 1.535, Diego de Almagro carried along with him at least 100 Negroes on his journey to Chile.
The slave trade toward Charcas, through Panama and then Buenos Aires, was a monopoly of the European companies.
According to the registers of Liverpool, it was calculated that in only a period of ten years (1.783 - 1793), 878 ships carried 300 thousand Negroes to America, which were sold for 15 million pounds.
From Potosi to Yungas:
The money value of the Negro in Charcas was measured by the age and his level of
adaptation. Men and women in their fitness age would be more valuable. The creole
morenos (black people) that had some kind of trade would cost more than the
semi-wild untamed animals.
After their public auction the 'black pieces' would initiate long expeditions from Lima or Buenos Aires towards Potosi where they were to replace the mitayo indians.
However, hunger, thirsty, cold weather, high blood pressure, the scarcity of oxygen, the rigor of the cudgel and the forced marches would foreshadow a sure death.
The compulsory work in the potosean 'huayrachinas' in the Royal Mint House twisted strengths and compelled the rich quicksilver traders to get rid of them.
For their adaptation in Yungas, they were specially required for the cultivation of Coripata, Chulumani, Irupana and Chicaloma, which were the towns with most presence of Negroes.
The Murrurata farmhouse was outstanding for its ethnic lineage where the original customs were kept for a long time. It is even told of the existence of a 'micro lordship' like the royalty of the dynasty of Bonifacio Kings.
Skirtishes and Rattles
It was in this way that bolivian 'angolas and congos' were seen with surprise and
commiseration by the quechuas and aymaras, which gave way to the dance of
'Morenada' (negro dancing group).
In this context, the heavy skirtish silver of the moreno (the dancer) has diverse interpretations; it would for example, represent the opulence of the master and it would also mean that he would be wearing a wealthy garment of pearls because of the high price the quicksilver traders would pay for them.
While the classical sound of the rattles would remind the crucial marches of the internation of the 'black pieces' towards Charcas, Potosi and the Yungas accompanied by a continuous squeaking of the ancient carriages and the heavy chains.
It is still a question of getting to the bottom of the problem in a precise way,
when, where and how the rutilant dance of fervors and enthusiasm of the indians
and mestizos of the bolivian plateau crops up and not anymore by their own
exponents, the negroes.
One hypothesis inspired on the rebellion against the caporal (the foreman for the slaves) in a vineyard; a negro girl distracted the caporal with her beauty carrying him to a heady feeling flood. It was there where they got to ridicule him, forcing him to step on grapes and move the wineries wheel turning hate into an ironic, happy and burlesque power full dance. However, Yungas does not have viticulture and viniculture tradition.
Another legend narrates as follows:
During the crossing of the trunks, the master would mark the beat in the slow walking of the negroes. The tiring was expressed by the flipping out and down of their tongue. Together with them was the caporal and behind was the shine of the armature of the masters.
In a historical background that integrates different ancient festivities, the
carnival in tarabuco known as 'pujllay' yampara, keeps its folkloric essence
almost without any change expressed in its heavy dancing, its melancholic tone of
music and the solitary singing of the peasant who tries to express his love for a
He recalls at the same time the circles or rounds of peasants and mongrels (mestizos) of Chuquisaca, who go over the towns on foot or on horseback visiting houses where there is chicha and pukaras and their respective party sponsors.
In Phujllay, the pukaras or pre-inkan forts are converted into silver arches adorned with white flags, foliages and crops of maize, flowers, potatoes, produce, beehives, meat, drinks and so on.
In this carnival there coincide the prehispanic festivity of 'Jatun Pocoy' (grat growth) and Pauker Waray (Sacrifice to Sun Afterwards; it was united to the commemoration of the victory of the yamparaes over the Spaniards in the Jumbate Battle on March 12th. 1816.
One has to buy 'gallos' (cocks) or spurs from the blacksmith; that they make up
out of percussion musical instruments fit to the big ojotas (kind of sandals) of
the dancers. The higher the ojota, the more dexterous the dancer will be that is
the one who wears them.
The leggings of abundant colors and figures that cover only the heel as high as the shinbone the tight-fitting jacket is a kind of blouse made of black cloth and fit with wide sleeves.
The pants are two kinds, one is short made of black wool cloth and another long made of white woolen cloth they are quite wide from the legs down to the shin bones.
The leather worker makes the belly- band pierced with hundreds of ringlets and repousée leather with figures of the zone, which serves as a purse. From the pita, threading hundreds of bronze little bells hang tied up with woolen string braids of bright colors.
A conical hat
The yampara makers of conical hats similar to the masks of the conquistadores,
are richly adorned with flowers. The tailors make the coifs embroidered with
thread of woolen strings and allegories of the peasant carnival, which hang from
the head of the phujllay down shis back.
The uncku pallado is a small poncho (picked up at the collar) with figures and allegories of the region; under are others of red, black, yellow horizontal stripings, besides short multicolor flounces.
The chuspas (coca leaf containers) made by women, constitute the pride of the family. To complete this luxurious finery they carry on two fine silken handkerchiefs: one in the hand to keep the rhythm and /or the other fixed behind down the back with the corner downwards.
The Musicians and Singers
Other peasants of humble costumes play the pentatonic melody of pujllay, besides
the new huayños composed. The 'sencka' tanch'ana, a big flute whose holes are
quite below relative of the mouthpiece waits for them which makes the musician
to adopt a unique and an uncomfortable position. The presence of 'machu tockoro'
or idiophone is noted, whose mouthpiece recovers a leather flower ornaments and a
great condor feather.
At their turn, the singers sing a melody of love for a maid and coplas (popular songs) of gratefulness to everything that surrounds them, animals, fruit, and so on.
Nubile and eminent weavers able to offer the most ostentation loom to cause admiration and love women also show dark costumes with indiscriptible lijllas (large square bundlers) and a'pus phallados and thick'anchados (adorned) with big topos (pins), phaca monteras (small masks), multicolor ribbons and chaskas (coins) adorning her headfront, and in her hand, a white wiphala (banner).
Burial of Phujllay
It was a custom to pretend this burial of the yampara carnival on temptation
Sunday (last day of Carnival) of a poorly dressed peasant, whom the groups would
chase throwing on him phullas (ash and flour and cattle shed). After leaving the
young man abandoned, who would take the pretension of death of carnival, they
would go back home with unnatural laments for the burial.
Llamerada is one of the oldest dances of the bolivian folklore; it belongs to the
Aymara nation in its origins. Its original name is 'karuwani'.
Its link with the llama and the auchenics in general dates back to the pre-agriculture epoch, over forty centuries ago. Since those times, the llama gives food, transport and cover. That is why it appears painted in caves and ceramics and sculpted in stone.
For many pre-colombian cultures, dance was art and magic, for the dancing to be produced in reality; is why the llama herder dancers would imitate the scenes of herding in order to keep around the herd.
The llama herder dancing has changed in its magic sense and innovations were imposed in the choreography, costumes, participants and music. However, it has not stopped representing the relationship between the Andean man and the auchenids.
The Andean round - Up According to tradition, this dance goes back to a human fence around the auchenid herds people would push the animals to press together into a ring until they would reach them with their hands. The llamas, alpacas, vicuñas caught were sheared; the old or injured animals would become food stuff. The round up finished, the 'huilancha'or the sacrifice of the propitiatory llama was made, whose blood was offered to gods.
Postilions and herders
According to another tradition, it recalls the Incan postilions in charge of
herding the auchenids. It also rememorates the herders of colonial Potosi.
Under the current interpretation, it is a mimicking dance, because it tries to imitate the daily life of the herders and those of the shepherds; but it also represents the virtual linking with the llama, that is why the costume of the dancers is elegant and it recovers old signs of power.
Women and Costume
In most of our dances, women partaking just since three decades ago, but in the
llama herder dance a woman are in since ancient times, because the position tasks
or that of the herders to Potosi was family activities.
The attire is a mixture of ancient elements, worn by the Aymara since pre-colombian and colonial times until the XIX century, with parts of the current Aymara clothes.
The hat is the most typical; it is square and embroidered with teaseling made of woolen cloth; it recalls the hat that the Aymara authorities would wear.
The man wears a woolen shirt, woolen cloth or silken cloth; the short woolen cloth pants a bit down under the knees; woolen string socks; typical sandals; a colorful bundling square piece tied up on his chest; a chumpi or a multicolor sash that surrounds his waist; a rope hopped in a counter sense of that of the bundling piece. In the most traditional llameradas, men also wear a plaster mask with the lips gathered in a whistling attitude.
Men and women hold a sling or korawa in their right hand, a symbol of the shepherds and llama drivers, the main part of the choreography and of the clothing. Most of the 'steps' include the movement of the sling pretending the driving or the throwing of stones.
The women wear one or more wide long polleras (typical kinds of skirts); under the polleras are one or more underskirts or mancanchas made of white fabric; a blouse, and on it a crossed bundling piece.
Colors have changed. The traditional black color is worn by the tatalas (head drivers); the group, and this is one of the innovations wears differing colors according to the fraternity and according to the festivity.
In the Oruro Carnival there would not be missing aboriginal dances of the plateau
region and that is the case of the two groups of zampoñeros.
The panpipe it is a wind musical instrument typical of the bolivian plateau, the coffers are compound by twelve pipes and the iras by eleven pipes; both are complemented for any musical interpretation; a single one doesn't have all the complete notes, they being tuned up to the piano. They also carry on sets of taicas, maltas, licus and chuchullis complementing them with percussions instruments as the drums, saucers and bass drums.
The customary of this dance is proper to the peasant of the bolivian plateau.
The dance original from the towns of Potolo and Potobamba, the first one located
in Chuquisaca and the second in Potosi.
The rhythmic, regular movements and with graceful movements of the hips, put in a sympathetic note to this dance, it is likewise characteristic the sheep hide hat which has a semi-round shape and a very narrow fly and the customary in general is at the fashion of the said region.
Kantus is one of the most important dances of the Kantus Sartañanis, being performed in most of the cantons such as Niño Corin, Curva, Charazañi, Chajaya, Amarete, Mataru, Iscanuwaya, Kata and others.
Music and Dance The music and the dance of the K'antu for the region that performs and by the type of the melody that characterizes it, it can be deduced that it has a ceremonial ostrich fledgling that is to say, that it is quite linked to the rites and ceremonies of different kinds, and reasons why they performed the Kallawayas, and therefore the customs and cultural manifestations of these towns. The instruments that are played are The Sicus group, Putu Wankaras, Chimisco and the Pututu.
By Couples The dance of Kántu basically by couples, for the conception of the complementary duality of gender existing in our communities, not preventing that single person to participate in the dance. All movements and steps that characterize this dance are similar to the movements taken by Katari (Viper).
An ancient story says that the Tobas would have arrived at Collasuyu with the
Inka Tupac Yupanqui, but it is believed that they came wearing their typical
costumes attracted by the fame of the Virgin of Candelaria.
Afterwards, a dancing group was formed which would take part in the religious parties with a disguise of wilderness costume.
Costume and Steps
The tobas wear a skirt a small poncho a long turban with feathers at cuffs and
ankles covering. The cambas that would parade almost naked now wear pants and a
poncho with tassels on both costumes.
And the chipayas wear ponchos and pants slightly modified from the ones they wear daily.
The most expensive item of the get - up is the turban the cuffs and ankle covering items.
The feathers, if they are of parihuanas (water birds); they will cost bolivians 120 and those of an ostrich, a bit more. A turban is made up with the feather of twenty parihuanas, and an ankle covering item or cuff item, with ten feathers each, which adds up to the price of the costume to over Bolivians Five Thousand.
The changes of steps are: those of 'Bolivar' (quick with regular jumps); cambas (quite agile, with jumps of over a meter high); the chucu-chucu, the merriest rhythm that the public likes much; it is danced on the foot toes and almost on the knees which produces cramps to the dancer, The 'cullahui'jump-very scarcely danced nowadays-would match the pinchullos (a flute kind of musical instruments) very well.
The Inca dance has been asserted itself with originality, despite the
incongruencies applied to the costumes, such as the mixing of Tihuanacu culture
icons with the classical terraced sign of the Inca nobility.
However it is interesting to observe closely the old 'wanka' (tragedy - telling) of this dance, told in Quechua and Spanish and possibly presented since 1871.
On Sunday Carnival, under a splendid Inti (Sun) the sons of the sun do a recall of the 'Tragedy of the end of Atahuallpa'.
As Jesus Lara stated, this expression does not show 'any interest in adjusting to the historic reality'.
On his turn, the ethno-historian watched states that with this dance it is looked for a return of a happy scatological Pachacuti.
The Trauma of the Conquest
The dance, in fact, describes the trauma of the conquest; previous encounters, an
intelligible dialog, death of Atahuallpa and victory of Pizarro and then an
unexpected end sentence of Pizarro in Spain, a malediction of the Europeans and a
messianic. And rebellic message of the defeated people.
After the conquest, for the indigenousness, the Spaniards are the ones who caused the rupture of the economical and cosmological equilibrium of the Inca State. The idea that the arrival of the 'auqasunk'akuna' (atrange foreign people) would also mean the destructuration an 'Upside down World', it would promote in the multitude unconscious mind and the myth of the hope of a new age in which the times of the Inca would regenerate. The destructuration had happened but not the total destruction.
It is interesting to see the coexistence of two ways of thinking, that of the Spaniard and of the indigenous, in which two ways of understanding vis a vis history are held.
Myth is the first try that people do to explain the world and his place in it. The people create it and speak it out.
In the case of the telling of the Incas, the acted 'Wuanca' and the myth have founded on the speech to subside up to this day.
Without a writing of their own:
The Incas did not have a writing system of their own and this is the reason why
the sources were written by priests, Spanish colonists and Conquistadors. The
voice and speech were the only means by which this vision would pass from
generation to generation.
According to the myth of Inkarri, after the conquest, the Inca turns into an under ground being and he prevails in the 'uk'u'Pacha (the world below). The millennium will arrive when he will have left his kingdom to assert his power in 'kay pacha' (the world over here).
The Catholic Church be settled in the power said that the virtual practices were 'idolatries' and it organized a religious repression. Watched suggests that the conquest was an aggression and that it caused a trauma in the multitude mentality, which survives in the dance of the Incas, because it is re-performed as a way of violent aculturization or the struggle against oppression from the indigenous side.
The progressive actualization of the myth of the 'Return of the Inca's associated in the Andean towns, to other triumphant phenomena of the peasant movement. Therefore, there survives the looking forward to another Pachacuti, of turning this world to another reality, to a Pachacuti that, according to the myth, suggests a transformation and not a mere change. May be the fiction is finished, the rest is history.
Build groupings of llama drivers or callawayas are an important source of the
great variety of the Andean culture. One of the dances that express the linking
of an economical and a social activity is the Kullawa, who represents the ancient
Aymara spinners and weavers.
In general, textiles had a great importance in the social relations and the reciprocity of the pre - Hispanic peoples, especially those of the kollas. The origin of this dance is linked for instance, the mythical story of the 'ayllu kyllawa, out landed by the mallku Inti Willka'.
The traditional costumary includes a hard hat (Kh'ara) with embroidery in
semi-precious stones, little tassels of fancy pearls, both for men and women; a
small poncho embroidered with the same elements of the hard hats adorned with
round plates representing the ancient silverware.
The pants in the shape of swear pants have a slash of silver coins.
Men also wear woolen gloves, a spinning wheel (k'apu), llech'u (a kind of cap), polq'os (socks) and sandals. Women wear a pollera (a kind of shirt) an embroidered chest cover and on her shoulders, a small piece of bundler (lliclla) embroidered in the same fashion as the small ponchos: from the waist, bags with coins are hanging. She covers her face with a circling mask, and wears earring and rings on all fingers.
Two characters accompany the troop: the 'waphuri'or master and the guide of the
spinners with an ostentious costume and a big spin, and the burlesque 'awita'
carrying a rag doll on his back. This character can only be performed by a man
dressed as a woman, which doesn't necessarily mean that he may be a homosexual.
After the prosperity of the 70's the Kullawa dance almost disappeared in La Paz City, but as all the communities of the country side and nowadays it is returning to the great centers of cultural wealth such as the Gran poder festivity , Oruro and University dancing parades (a kind of devotional opening dancing).
This dance is original of the subtropical high valleys of our country and mainly
of the Yungas region, with a strong influence of native, popular elements.
The Negritos, which is a derivate of the ancient 'Tundiqui' dance, constitutes another of the attractions of the dancing parades, because with their contorsions, large hats and huge pipes, they cause the onlooker public to applaud cheerfully, enthralled by the noise of the timbres, round bones and roguish popular songs.
Despite their foreing condition among the Incas, their fame as the holders of
science, allowed the kallawayas to enjoy a high rank due to their command of the
vegetal animal and mineral pharmacy knowledge and the treatment of multiple
Their long treks through the Andean world and its surrounding taking health to the ayllus, they are recalled by the kallawaya dance that is present in the carnival in Oruro and they characterize for their agility for traversing the mountains.
These herbolary physicians of the region of Charazani, Curva, Niño Korin, K'anlaya, Chajaya, and so on, northwest of La Paz, they all belong to the so-called Mollo Culture, a direct descendant of Tihuanacu culture.
For that reason, even today, despite the mutations and mixture of races, the children of the Mollo Culture or Kallawaya keep their distinctive traits: for instance, whether they speak quechua (runa simi = people's tongue) or aymara (jake-aru), they descend from a noble lineage and they hold a higher status.
A secret language:
Many ethno linguists state that the language that the kallawaya uses is but the
secret language of the Incas (machay jucay) that the 'earful' royal Inca would
speak among them, using the common quechua for the rest of the people: hatum
runas (a big wings) and llajta runas (town people) of middle class; yanaconas for
the servitude and mitamaes or pawns.
The Kallawayas learnt that the privileged language due to the deep confidence that the Incas bestowed their 'kamilis' or healers. After the conquest, the native physicians returned to the kollasuyo, taking along the secret language, which, they now use in their pray and ritual practices.
In the 'khatus'of the present kallawas, all sorts of charms, talismans and
offerings are sold for mythical characters of the Andean cosmogony.
The vast variety of medical plants used in aromatic smokings and curative poultice come from the different ecological 'niches': the plains, the valleys, yungas, plateau, mountain ranges and even the coats: leeches, seashells and guano (dung).
All this 'khapakcacherio' (stand) has a full acceptation as popular medicine. The kallawayas are famous as naturist physicians 'yatiris'and 'chamakanis'or malign beings and the 'sajras'of demoniacal character.
This entire world has been transported to the dance of the kallawayas, whose rich
dance and costumary is the expression of the 'yatiri' (healer) with his relevant
status inside the community and of profound respect in the Andean world.
The choreography is notable for the 'llantucha' of 'suri' that is the awning made of ostrich feathers that the itinerant physician uses for covering himself against sunburn or the raindrop in his long treks carrying spiritual and material health to the ayllus.
His long treks stretch along and over the seas, where, loaded with his 'khapchos' or 'male' bags full of herbs, mixtures, and talismans charges against sicknesses considered incurable.
The agile and synchronized jumps express the physical display of the itinerant physician, overcoming, in his trekking over brooks, mountains and gullies.
In the Aymara people of Bolivia, the main festivity of the work concluded and the
blooming of the potato fields sown in Anata (Amusement) or in the Andean carnival
and the main musical instrument is tarqa.
The tarqa is built out of a wood called Largo, in three measurements, the licu or tayca, which is the longest or the biggest; the mala or malta is of medium size; the ch'ili is the smallest; the percussion instrument are the bass drum and the drums.
The tarqa is an instrument that they begin to play on November 2, after rendering homage to the dead and ancestors, in the event that is called deburying of the t arqa; its playing as a musical instrument usually ends on the Temptation Sunday in some places, but in very few places, its playing continues until Easter or the beginning of harvest time.
The tarqa is an instrument in which its melodies it receives from nature, to beg for clemency from this same nature vis-à-vis the droughts, the excessive rain drops or any other climate phenomenon that may affect the crops. Finally, it is with this instrument that they celebrate the Anata or the amusement of the promise of a good harvest that is announced by the blooming of the sown fields of potato.
The dancers after pijchar (chewing coca leaf) a little of coca leaf and chállar (dropping alcohol down for benediction) his house, his crops, and animals with alcohol, capture euphoria and in a common way in a single and amorphous group of men and women the fiesta (party) starts where nobody stands out neither more nor less, where at the rhythm of the tarqa that Andean fiesta is made so different in its motivations and beliefs.
'In this carnival my tarqa says to the nature, thanks for giving food, garment and the happiness of living'.
The tarqa is played in the celebration of Marka Qullo, to ask the nature the drops of rain vis-à-vis the drought or any other climate phenomenon that affects the crops. Then in the occasion of the investiture of the authorities as it is played and danced at the delivery of the authority baton to the jilacata, recognizing the merits of the cycle of command that finishes. It is also played on Christmas, New Year, family feast, the co- mothers and co-fathers day, reaching in this way the feast of Candelaria on February 2, where, in some of the places, this feast means a feast of the new potato breeding, when the aymaras would dig out the potato sown fields to see how the produce is developing and thus present offerings to Pachamama and the spirits.
The dance of this instrument is the 'tarqueada' it is danced in the main feast when the blooming of the sown fields is celebrated which is in Anata or Andean Carnival, when the happiness enjoyment and games are manifest, a real manifestation of a celebration and the beginning of the period of harvest. During the festivity of carnival a ceremony that is of the Challaku is performed, a custom of spilling Llumpaga or Chicha with a Ch'rea (a half an orange shaped mungler) to the four cardinal points as an offering or invitation to Pachamama, linked to the celebration with a cult to fertility.
For the Anata, the community prepares a 'tarqueada', a new melody is inspired in the wrinchaya, and diacahcu with the ceremony of the 'sereno' man receives from nature that new melody with which he will beg for good crops, settling a close relation with the Pachamama.
On carnival day, after chewing the coca leaf and throwing benediction with alcohol on houses, crop fields, and on animals, the feast continues with the participation of all communities ayllus. The dancers and the musicians accompany the pasantes (the feast offers) at the tune of the tarqas with the groups of men and women with whom the temptation days were passed and the cacharpaya (leave-taking); the playing of the music by tarqa may last, in some communities, until Saturday day before Easter or the beginning of harvest time.
This dance similarly to other dances, is a satire to the law profession in the
colony and their secretaries that, in one way or another, they were ridiculed by
the society of that time. Then, they were called wayra levas (wind flowing coats)
for their garments.
The costume of the man consists of a top hat, a black suit with a kind of tuxedo, a bow tie on the neck of the shirt and in their hands; they hold their traditional walking stick.
The young ladies wear a dark colored skirt that press on the waists with a waistcoat and in their hands, a small rod will go.
We are in the new time of Pachakuti: the everlasting return. From the return to
the origins of the mythical word, this is warded off every time the feast is
carried out. It is a return to the origins of humanity, where nature, heavens and
earth co-inhabit: the alaxpacha and the Manqhapacha (above and below).
Part of this new time is the chaos, the lack of acknowledgement of things and their surroundings. This is what happens with a culture translated to the Andes, as it is the Negro or afroyungueña (african-Yungas) culture.
This is the source of the dances of Tundiqui or Negritos (Negroes) from which the Caporales (Foremen) dance originated. However, the Saya of the Negroes, the Tundiquis or Negritos of the Aymara and mestizos should not be confused, with the Caporales of the urban and middle class sector.
They were foreigners and deinhabited, but the Divine Infinite, father of the
have-nots and the humble offered them in heritance the territory of the Yungas,
to share with the Aymara and mongrels. The populations of Coroico, Mururata,
Chicaloma, Calacala - Coscoma, Irupana are now enclaves of the afroyungueña
cultural production. Their original costume would start to cover with Aymara
Since their social rent, they had strongly to fight against the colonial aggression and the exclusion. For this reason its cultural practices began to disappear, including its feasts, language, spiritual sense, ways of wedding, and so on.
However, the resistance was a fact in the stronghold of dance and music. And one of these dances is Saya together with Condombe.
The dance and the music of saya are the most original expression that they keep
from their cultural origin: it is their cultural synthesis. Maybe that is why
nobody can interpret it, except the afroyungueños themselves.
The musical instruments that accompany saya have been reconstructed or re-interpreted: bigger bass drum, over bass drum fife, over fife and gangingo, as an accompaniment is the Coancha.
The rhythm and the way of interpretation is quite peculiar, the beginning of every rhythm of Saya is beaten by the jingle bell of the foreman or caporal who guides the dance of the saya.
The costume is simple. The women dress like the Aymara 'warmis' (women): a bright-colorful blouse adorned with ribbons. The colorful pollera (a kind of skirt), the manta (back cover) in their hand and a bore-slain hat.
Men wear a hat, a feast shirt, an Aymara slash around the waist, a bayeta (a woolen thick cloth) pants and sandals.
The troop of dancers has a guide the caporal or capataz (foreman) with a cudgel or whip in his hand, pants decorated and jingle bells at his ankles; it represents the hierarchy and order; he is not the naughty and bossy one as among the Negroes.
The role of the woman in the dance is as important as is in the community. Among them, there is the guide that orders the saya and directs the group of women.
The men simultaneously touch the bass drum and one of them strums the coancha (req'e). The women sing and dance, moving their hips, shoulders and shaking their hands, in counter pointing or dialoguing with the men.
The choreography does not seem at all the rhythm of the caporals. Those who confuse these rhythms unfortunately have never seen or heard the dance and music of saya. There are no shades or similitudes, saya is saya, and caporal is just caporal.
The Tundiqui or Negritos
When in the beginning the Negroes shared their territory, the culture and the
historical time with the Aymara, both unknown, acknowledged they as part of the
But it was the fight for liberty that united the have-nots. At the same time, history and geography give away to a dialog among cultures.
The Aymara, a free man from his origins, always admired the Negroes for their patience and rebelliousness. The Aymara excellent hosts, acknowledged a Negro, as a struggle brother for liberty. As a sample, we can mention the legend of Samba Salvito who had among his friends, many indigenous Aymara from Yungas.
Bolivia Independence Day
Urkupiña Festival in Cochabamba