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Carnaval de Oruro

The Carnaval de Oruro (or Carnival of Oruro) is the biggest annual cultural event in Bolivia. It was declared one of Mankind's Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO in 2001.

Celebrated in Oruro, the folklore capital of Bolivia, the carnival marks the Ito festival for the Uru people. Its ceremonies stem from Andean customs, the ancient invocations centreing around Pachamama and Tio Supay . The native Ito ceremonies were stopped in the 17th century by the Spanish, who were ruling the territory of Upper Peru at the time. However, the Uru continued to observe the festival in the form of a Catholic ritual on Candlemas, in the first week of each February. Christian icons were used to conceal portrayals of Andean gods, and the Christian saints represented other Andean minor divinities. The ceremony begins forty days before Easter.

Legend also has it that in 1789, a mural of the Virgin Mary miraculously appeared in a mineshaft of the richest silver mine in Oruro. Ever since, the Carnival has been observed in honour of the Virgen de la Candelaria (Virgin of the Candle Mass) or Virgen del Socavon (Virgin of the Mineshaft). The most important elements of the Carnival now occur in and around the Sanctuaria del Socavon (The Church of the Mineshaft).

The carnival starts with a ceremony dedicated to the Virgen del Socavon. Marching bands compete simultaneously in the grotto of Pie de Gallo on Sunday, which is the greeting to the Virgin.

The highlight of the Carnival is conducted over three days and nights, with fifty groups parading through the city over a route of four kilometres. The groups represent various indigenous dance forms, and are accompanied by several bands. Over 28000 dancers and 10000 musicians participate in the procession that lasts 20 hours. The dances include Caporales, Diablada, Kantus, Kullawada, Llamerada, Morenada, Potolo, Pujllay, Suri Sikuris, Tinku, Tobas and Waca Waca.

The procession culminates in the enactment of two plays, reminiscent of medieval mystery plays. One is about the Spanish conquest. The other revolves around the classical battle between good and evil, with the Archangel Michael ultimately triumphing over the Devil and the Seven Deadly Sins. The enactment of the latter was introduced by Catholic clergy in 1818.

External References

Carnaval de Oruro Information about Carnival de Oruro in Bolivia, calendar and travelguide.

A detailed description of the Carnival by photos and external links

A detailed description of the Carnival and the Dance Forms

Lots of photos of the Oruro Carnaval, also including the Anata Andina, the indigenous part of the Carnaval

Cynthia Lecount. 1999. Carnival in Bolivia: Devils dancing for the virgin. Western Folklore 58(3/4):231-252.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Carnaval de Oruro

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