Tinku

September 25, 2009

100_0592I have always loved Andean music for its impromptu cheerfulness and poignant melodies. Today’s song is a particular favorite for me as it exudes warmth, humor, and zest for life in a very – for lack of better words – natural way.
Sung in Quechua (or is it Aymara?) by the nueva canción group Inti-Illimani whose name means “Sun of the Illimani” (Illimani being a mountain in the Bolivian Andes), little did I know that this bright, cheery tune is a representation of a form of ritual conflict practiced by locals in the Potosí region of Bolivia known as Tinku (meaning “encounter”). My brother-in-law, who is Bolivian, explained this to me and proceeded to show me a youtube video of a Tinku festival, which is laden with all sorts of pre-Columbian traditions, symbolism, and superstitions. The shedding of blood being highly important, I was amazed at how incredibly violent it is, and how odd it was that the music was so jovial, thus highlighting the festive nature of the ritual.
This site is a great resource, has some excellent vids, and makes me want to learn more about Afro-Bolivian music, which I know nothing about!
This song can be found on the superb compilation Music of the Andes.

Tinku – Inti-Illimani

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3 Responses to “Tinku”


  1. […] trova in the 60s, at the same time that nueva canción was budding in South America (hear some here). Silvio Rodriguez and Pablo Milanes were the chief exponents of this style, but of particular […]


  2. […] of the mixes are 8-10 minutes long and if you know how to do the chacarera, caporales, tinku (see previous post), saya, cueca, or other dance styles, you’ll have sore feet by the end of this compilation! […]


  3. […] centuries that engaged in ritualized warfare amongst one another (which brings to mind the Bolivian Tinku post I did), and how all this has now evolved into the ritualized dances, elaborate costumes (that […]


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