Tag Archives: festival

A TRADITIONAL INCA MAIZE HARVEST FESTIVAL, AND FLUTE PLAYING IN BOLIVIA.

It was my first trip to South America. I had already spent some time in Central America (Costa Rica and Guatemala) so I had a reasonable knowledge of Spanish. I first went to Chile, where I had a friend. From Chile I flew to La Paz. After a few days getting used to the altitude, I spent a another few days on an island of Lake Titicaca. From there I took a ride to the East (I think it was a random choice, the first vehicle that came along) in the back of a truck, on top of various kinds of merchandise, together with Indians, on a narrow dirt road bordered by precipices. Once in a while the truck would stop, and an Indian sitting right behind the cabin gave his bottle of aguardiente to the driver, who said “Solo manejo bien quando estoy borracho.” (I only drive well when I am drunk). Afters hours in a freezing night we arrived in Ayata, (Departamento La Paz, Provincia Muñecas) where the local owner of a plantation – the strong man of the town – who had been traveling in the same truck, offered me his hospitality. It happened to be Corpus Christi festival days, during which the waka waka dance is performed. I guess my host informed me that there were other dances in a Quechua hamlet some distance from town. I went there, and had a lucky surprise: a few men, carrying large bombo drums and playing siku flutes (zampoñas, the generic name in Bolivia for pan flutes) where dancing around a small mount of maize. Doing a Google search I found that it corresponded to the sixth month of the Inca solar calendar (coincidentally or by religious syncretism the two celebrations – Corpus Christi and maize harvest were performed simultaneously, the first in town, the latter in a hamlet).

Text in italics below  Copyright © 2007-2009 Machupicchu-inca.com

“… the calendar Inca invented and used were close to our current calendar. They used an approximately 365 days solar calendar or days, though the months started in December. Then they had also a lunar calendar, which was a 328 days year.”

Two Calendars
…  Inca had two calendars. One was a solar calendar or day time calendar, and the other one was lunar calendar or night time calendar.”

Sixth Month
Present day calendar : May
Inca Lunar Month : Ayruhua
Inca solar month : Corn harvested
They enjoyed the celebration of corn harvested. Feast of Aymara was enjoyed with singing, drinking and dancing.”

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Quecha Indian woman and baby in a hamlet of Ayata.

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Hamlet of Ayata: house of Quechua Indians, with goats and sheep.

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Quechua Indian man harvesting maize.

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Maize harvest festival in a hamlet of Ayata, running parallel to the Corpus Christi celebrations in the town. Men playing siku (zampoña) flute and bombo drum.

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Maize harvest festival in a hamlet of Ayata, running parallel to the Corpus Christi celebrations in the town. Men playing siku (zampoña) flute and bombo drum.

Music link of the “bombo sikuri”:
Sicuris de Ayata
en la casa del preste 2010   (YouTube – uploaded by therealrhino21 on Aug 2, 2010): an example of the sound of siku and bombo (drum), “commonly known as “bombo sikuri” (see link on membranophones below)

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Quechua Indian playing the siku (zampona, panflute) flute at a festival in Ayata a village in the Andes, Bolivia, South America

Quechua Indians playing flute at village festival in the Andes in Bolivia.

Quechua Indians playing transverse flute at Ayata village festival in the Andes in Bolivia.

Quechua Indians playing flute at village festival in Ayata, Andes, Bolivia.

Quechua Indians playing transverse flute at village festival in Ayata, Andes, Bolivia.

 Flute: aerophone

The top photographs show men playing the siku (zampoña or panflute). The two photographs above are of  side-blown (or transverse flutes); more typical of the Andes region are end-blown flutes (quena), so I am including below a picture of quena players at the waka waka dance performed at the Corpus Christi festival held on the same day (I don’t have good pictures of it; there are several videos of the waka waka dance, of which there seems to be variations, and other dances in Ayata on YouTube).

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South America, Bolivia. Corpus Christi festival in Ayata. Quena flute and bombo drum players accompanying the waka waka dance.Additional Links

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Additional links

LAND OF WINDS – Great blog on Andean music  © “Land of winds”, 2010.
Edited in Madrid (Spain) by Edgardo Civallero and Sara Plaza Moreno. ISSN 2173-8696

Andean instruments
Andean aerophones: History
 Andean aerophones: the siku  (zampoña) (1)
Andean aerophones: the siku  (zampoña) (2)
The Quena (Notched flute)
Andean membranophones