Thursday, January 2, 8200

Kallawaya People of Bolivia (c. 1200)

The Kallawaya people are an itinerant group of healers living in

the Andes of


South America.

They live in the Bautista Saavedra region,

a mountainous area north of La Paz.

They are members of the Mollo Culture and are direct descendants of Tihuanacu culture.

According to the UNESCO Safeguarding Project, the Kallawaya can be traced to the pre-Inca period.


The Inca civilization began as a tribe in the Cusco area, where the legendary first Sapa Inca, Manco Capac founded the Kingdom of Cusco around 1200.

Under the leadership of the descendants of Manco Capac, the state grew as it absorbed other Andean communities at that time. It was in 1442, when the Incas began a far reaching expansion under the command of Pachacutec, whose name literally meant earth-shaker. He formed the Inca empire (Tawantinsuyu), that would become the largest empire in pre-Columbian America.


Kallawaya doctors ("médicos Kallawaya"), are known as the naturopathic healers of Inca kings,[ and as keepers of science knowledge, principally the pharmaceutical properties of vegetables, animals and minerals.

Most Kallawaya healers understand how to use 300 herbs, while specialists are familiar with 600 herbs. Kallawaya women are often midwives, treat gynecological disorders, and pediatric patients.

Kallawaya healers travel through northwestern Bolivia and parts of Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Panama, and Peru. Often they are on foot, walking ancient Inca trails, through the tropics, mountain valleys and highland plateaus, while looking for traditional herbs.

Prior to leaving their homes to heal the sick, the Kallawayas perform a ceremonial dance. The dance and costumary are expressed as the "yatiri," or healer. The choreography is noted for the "llantucha" of "suri,",clothing made of ostrich feathers and used as protection against the elements while they travel to their patients, carrying "khapchos" or "male" bags that contain herbs, mixes, and talismans.

Groups of musicians, "kantus" play drums and

pan flutes during the ritual ceremonies to establish contact with the spirit world before the healer visits patients.

The language of their trade is the Kallawaya language, a language encoded with medicinal knowledge, a secret language of the Incas (machay jucay).

For general conversation, they speak the more common Quechua language.

Bolivia - K'antu - Kutirimunapaq (So That We Can Return)

strong rhythms reinforced by drum
melodies are based on five-note (pentatonic) scales
hocketing distributes parts of a melody to different players
k’antu, the melody is “shared” between two groups of panpipes players
bamboo panpipes (phukuna, or zampoña in Spanish)
large double-headed drums (wankara)
triangle (ch’inisku)

K’antu music is a type of ceremonial panpipe music from the altiplano (high plateau of the southern Andes mountains), in this case of the Kallawaya . The strong rhythmic character of the music is shaped by its dance function. The panpipes and their rhythmic, but simple, melodies performed at different pitch levels in parallel fashion, in a hocketing performance practice, characterize the selection and give the music its unique sound.

Kutirimunapaq features accelerados and beat cycles reminiscent of Japanese and Indonesian music.

[8200 Fulani Nigeria / 8200 Kallaway Boliva / 8182 Thibaut de Blason]