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El Condor Pasa


Yawar Fiesta

A Tale

Fiesta Yawar

    In the last week of July (between 27th and 30th) some remote villages of Qosqo and Apurimac peasants carry out the celebration known as "Yawar Fiesta", "Blood Celebration" or "Toro Pucllay", for which it is indispensable to capture an alive Condor. In the year 1560 at July the 15th. (Fiesta del Patrón Santiago) the first fiesta brava was held in Qosqo. Soon its popularity spread into northern regions and throughout the Sierra. In the 18th century an water-color by the bishop Martínez de Compañón proves the spread of this rite to the north. Various painters in the 19th century prove the further populacy of this new kind of bullfight, especially the pictures of Pancho Fierro.

     There are two systems used to catch a condor, a dead mule or horse is needed for the first one. At a place frequented by Condors the dead animals body is opened and then left at a visible spot. After a certain time some Condor descend to devour the remains of the animal, but the Condor eats too much that finally it is too heavy to fly away. The catchers take advantage of that and run protected with "ponchos" to catch it. Another way of apprehension is digging a large hole in the ground that is covered with sticks and over which remains of a dead animal are put. When a Condor shows up and lands over the hole, someone brave in the hole ties its feet and thus making it possible to catch the Condor.

     The Condor is then driven towards the village and the peasants perform various ceremonies in its honor. It will be very adorned and they will offer wine or rum to it. The Condor propably gets drunk after a time. At the principal day the people build an improvised circle in the village´s main square to which the whole village attends. For the spectacle the feet of the Condor are sewn onto the loin of a bull and the two animals, tied together, are left free in the ring. The Condor uses its beak against the bull´s back in order to regain its freedom. The bull tries to get rid of the Condor. It is obvious that there is a lot of blood coming out from the bull´s neck. After 15 minutes the fight is being stopped. The death of the bull is not allowed.

     The people believe on this way the Condor, which is the connection between the sky and the earth will remain satisfied having eaten fresh blood and meat. Next day (as far as I know in Paruro at the same evening), another ceremony is held in order to release the Condor. The Yawar Fiesta is held not only in order to honor Apu Kuntur, but also as a form of revenge, that today andean people represented by the Condor have against the humiliating conquest and hispanics represented by the bull that was imported from spain.

     In the province Paruro the yawar-fiesta has become a tourist attraction and many hundreds of people come there to watch the spectacle.

    In the arts the yawar fiesta inspired José Maria Arguedas to write his book "Yawar Fiesta" (translated by Frances H. Barraclough). At last the film by Gianfranco Norelli "Yawar Fiesta of Apu Condor" provides detailed informations on the Fiesta as well as an insight in Peruvian splintered culture.

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