“Diablada”

Bolivia was under Spain’s rule for hundreds of years, so, like the majority of Latin American countries, Bolivian culture has obvious Spanish influence. However, after the revolution of 1952 that gained Bolivia its independence, nationalistic reforms led to a cultural reawakening of the folklore and traditions of the native peoples. Because of this, Bolivia’s music is culturally linked to its indigenous peoples but also blends in Spanish influence.

The “Diablada,” which has a specific type of dance to accompany it, is a good example of this fusion. This type of song and dance is a mixture of religious theater brought from Spain and traditional Andean religious ceremonies. “Diablo” means devil in Spanish. The “devil dancers” dance with symbols of Bolivian mythology as the whistle blower, dressed as Archangel Michael, leads them. In the dance, the seven deadly sins are personified along with angels and demons, but traditional Bolivian mythology is also represented in animal representations.

The “Diablada”  uses traditional Bolivian folk instruments like the quena, a vertical flute, and the zampoña, a pan flute made from reeds. The music has two parts: the first of which is know as the March and the second part is the Devil’s Mecapaqueña.

The origin of the Diablada is Oruro, the third smallest state in Bolivia. Oruro is famous for the Carnaval de Oruro and, because of this huge event, is called the Folklore Capital of Bolivia.

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