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Culture of Bolivia

Bolivia is a country in South America located at the Andes mountains. It has a Native American population which mixed Spanish and West and Central African cultural elements with their s' traditions. The Spanish-speaking population mainly follows the Western customs.

The cultural development of what is present-day Bolivia is divided into three distinct periods: pre-Columbian, colonial, and republican. Important archaeological ruins, gold and silver ornaments, stone monuments, ceramics, and weavings remain from several important pre-Columbian cultures. Major ruins include Tiwanaku, Samaipata, Incallajta, and Iskanwaya. The country abounds in other sites that are difficult to reach and hardly explored by archaeologists.

The Spanish brought their own tradition of religious art which, in the hands of local indigenous and mestizo builders and artisans, developed into a rich and distinctive style of architecture, painting, and sculpture known as "Mestizo Baroque." The colonial period produced not only the paintings of Perez de Holguin, Flores, Bitti, and others but also the works of skilled, but unknown, stonecutters, woodcarvers, goldsmiths, and silversmiths. An important body of native baroque religious music of the colonial period was recovered in recent years and has been performed internationally to wide acclaim since 1994. Bolivian artists of stature in the 20th century include, among others, Guzman de Rojas, Arturo Borda, Maria Luisa Pacheco, Master William Vega, and Marina Nunez del Prado.


Pagan rites from the pre-Columbian era are still common during the religious festivals of the Indians.

The clothing used during the festivals reminds the visitor of the pre-Columbian Indians and the 16th century Spaniards. The devil dances at the annual carnival of Oruro are amongst the great folkloric events of South America, as are the lesser known indigenous Anata Andina and the "carnival" at Tarabuco (Pujllay) or the Tinku-fertility rites held at Macha every 3rd of May.


Many dances and songs contain elements from both the native and the European cultures. Caporales seems to be the most popular Bolivian dance of present times – in a few decades it developed into an enormous popular dance, not only in the Highlands, where it comes from, but also in the Lowlands and in the Bolivian communities outside the country. In the Highlands other traditional and still very popular dances are





Waca Waca


Suri Sicuri




Auqui Auqui




Afro-Bolivian Saya

In the Lowlands there are





It is fashionable among Bolivian Andean women of indigenous descent to wear a skirt called a pollera. It was originally a Spanish peasant skirt that the colonial authorities forced the indigenous women to wear. Now it is also a symbol of pride in being indigenous and is also considered a status symbol.

Another fashion is the bowler hat, which was adopted from the British. The position of the hat can indicate a woman's marital status and aspirations


Bolivia's regional folk music is distinctive and varied. In the Andean regions music is played during the festivals and the dances. Some tunes contain strong Spanish influences.

The most common musical instruments are:

sicu (also "sicus")


tarka or tharqa


skin drums

bronze gongs

copper bells

charango: Has five pairs of strings and looks like a small guitar. Traditionally it was made from the shells of armadillos, but today it is mostly made of wood.






ISBN 1-55868-640-1

See also

Latin American culture

Hispanic culture

External links

Culture of Bolivia (languagecrossing.com)

Languages spoken in Bolivia

Culture of the Andes

Fotos of the indigenous people, traditional dances etc

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Culture of Bolivia

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