The Yawar Fiesta

Yawar Fiesta is a Quechua name that in Spanish means “The blood feast”. It is a cultural tradition that has been celebrated since colonial times in different parts of the Peruvian highland, although it is now practiced in very few places, such is the case of the town of Ccoyllurqui, province of Cotabambas, Apurimac Region. They celebrate it the last days of the month of July of each year.

It is said that this fiesta began as a result of the oppression that the comuneros (indigenous community members) felt from the gamonales (owners of large plots of land). The festival represents this oppression in a symbolic way using two animals, the condor and the bull.

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The condor has been considered a sacred animal since the Inca era. It is a messenger of the gods and represents the Andean world. The Bull is an animal brought by the Spanish represents the oppression of the Spaniards as well as the power of the earth.

To start this fiesta, you have to first catch the condor. For this, people use a unique strategy.
They form a group of people who are in charge of making a large hole in the earth where they hide. This hole is covered with branches and thin sticks. They place a dead animal on top of it while another group of people settle in the surroundings with ponchos and nets.

When the condor sees its prey and verifies that there is no danger, it descends to eat. The villagers who enter the hole grab the condor’s legs with their hands. It begins to flap its wings furiously. At that moment the inhabitants leave quickly from his hiding place and with his ponchos and nets cover the condor and capture him.

Having the condor, the capture of a strong and brave bull must be done.

To celebrate this fiesta, the condor is tied on the back of the bull. The bull tries to free itself by jumping into the air again and again. Enraged, the condor wounds it with its beak and claws on its back. In all this process the condor is also in danger of dying.

If the condor dies it is interpreted as a sign that a misfortune will befall the community but if the bird emerges victorious according to this ceremony, the condor will avenge the villagers of the oppressive symbol and the bull will end up dying. The condor will be released.

This cultural tradition was written down by Jose Maria Arguedas, an anthropologist and indigenist writer in his literary work YAWAR FIESTA and through it the victory of indigenous culture and people.

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