Arts & Entertainment

Alasitas: Bolivia’s festival of miniatures and dreams

La Paz, Jan 16 (EFE).- Casa de Murillo museum in Bolivia’s capital is hosting a show about the origin of Alasitas, a curious heritage festival of miniatures and dreams which has been linked to the indigenous insurrection of 1781.

The exhibition features a huge old painting of the uprising depicting Hispanic governor Sebastián de Segurola and his fiancée María Josefa Ursula de Rojas, as well as an exhibition of silver miniatures.

Alasitas, which means ‘buy me’ in Aymara, is one of the oldest traditions in Andean culture and starts on January 24.

A buying frenzy grips residents of La Paz who scour a market of miniature objects to find the one that represents their dreams and aspirations.

The festival originally marked the southern summer solstice on 21 December.

Ekeko, the god of abundance — a plump doll with a fair complexion and rosy cheeks, loaded with various goods on his back — is the patron of festivities.

Several researchers agree that the date of the event was moved to January 24 to mark La Paz’s victory over the months-long 1781 siege led by indigenous leader Julián Apaza, historian Jhosmane Rojas told Efe.

Under the siege, La Paz residents suffered from food shortages that forced some to feed on pets and even rats.

Legend has it that the fiancée of the Spanish governor received a steady flow of food during the siege thanks to an indigenous maid, Paulita Tintaya.

Tintaya’s fiancé, who joined the indigenous’ uprising, used to secretly send her food from outside La Paz, according to the narrative of historian Antonio Díaz Villamil.

Tintaya saved de Rojas from starvation by sharing her food rations, and when asked where she got her food, she attributed it to an image of the Ekeko that her fiancé had given her.

“Sebastian de Segurola realized that it was thanks to this character that his fiancée had been saved,” historian Jhosmane Rojas told Efe.

“Years later, he decided to recognize this and (arranged) that it be celebrated on January 24 as a party within Our Lady of La Paz celebrations,” the historian added.EFE


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