Tag Archives: Bolivia

Wrapping llamas in song


The women herders of ayllu Qaqachaka in highland Bolivia sing to their llamas in various ceremonial occasions during the year, and also on a more pragmatic daily basis to accompany their herding activities.

But their songs have other, more magical functions, involving the increase of the flocks, when they become a part of the body-centered knowledge and practices that comprise a female aesthetics and poetics of creation that parallels men’s more destructive activities in war.

Many of the principal singers are elderly midwives, and in a lifetime of learning they practice the art of wrapping their animals in song. This wrapping in song also serves to transform and domesticate the spirits of dead enemies, embodied in the animals, and to rebirth them into human society.

Key concepts such as jawi, that glosses as both fleece and river, are ontological expressions of flowing musical sound in woven substance. A mating song for the female llamas, a marking song for the ewes, and a song of blessing for the female llamas reveal how specific musical and lyrical structures express the women’s preoccupations with the generation of beautiful fleece and its weaving into sung wrappings.

This according to “Midwife singers: Llama-human obstetrics in some songs to the animals by Andean women” by Denise Y. Arnold, an essay included in Quechua verbal artistry: The inscription of Andean voices/Arte expresivo Quechua: La inscripción de voces andinas (Aachen: Shaker media, 2004, pp. 145–179).

Below, a visiting delegation passes through Chucura.

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Corelli in the wilderness


On 26 April 1706, in a solemn ceremony in Rome, Arcangelo Corelli was accepted as a member of the Accademia dell’Arcadia; as customary, he assumed a shepherd’s name: Arcomelo.

Forty years later, the Swiss Jesuit Martin Schmid copied several of Corelli’s works into his draft-book of music for the Indian community in Bolivia that he was fostering and overseeing—a community that was sometimes known as New Arcadia.

In Bolivia, Corelli’s Arcadian music was subjected to a radical metamorphosis by those who understood Indian performers and audiences. His works were thereby consigned to a museum of cultural symbols as objects of a revered past.

This according to “Arcadia meets Utopia: Corelli in the South American wildnerness” by Leonardo J. Waisman, an essay included in Arcangelo Corelli: Fra mito e realtà storica–Nuove prospettive d’indagine musicologica e interdisciplinare nel 350° anniversario dalla nascita (Firenze: Leo S. Olschki, 2007, pp. 651–85).

Today is Corelli’s 360th birthday! Below, the original version of one of the works that was subjected to a Bolivian metamorphosis.

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Filed under Baroque era, Curiosities