One World, Many Voices

Language Communities

Kallawayas: Seeking Harmony and Spreading Good Wishes

The preparation of the ceremonial offering is a moment of happiness because it connects the participants with the blessed land, with the spirits of the mountains, and with the messengers of the wind.
— Patricio Crooker, photographer

The Kallawaya are renowned for their traditional medicinal practices and their distinctive textile weavings. High in the Bolivian Andes, the ancient Kallawaya tongue has survived the millennia by being passed down within families and kept mostly secret, known only to the initiated few. Quechua, the dominant indigenous language of the Andes, is used by the community for everyday talk. Kallawaya serves as a vessel carrying something of value to all of humanity: knowledge of how plants can heal us, and of how to maintain balance, harmony, and well-being. The entire Kallawaya community relies on their rituals to sustain their environment, social relations, subsistence, and good health.

This presentation was made possible by the U.S. State Department Fund for Innovation in Public Diplomacy and the United State Embassy in Bolivia, with additional support from the Inter-American Foundation.


Festival Participants:

Walter Alvarez Quispe, medicinal practitioner
Max Chura Mamani, medicinal practitioner
Lucio Cuba Quispe, medicinal practitioner
Fernando Huanca Mamani, medicinal practitioner
Lola Palluca Nina de Quispe, weaver, ritualist
Yola Martina Quispe de López, weaver, ritualist

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