Bolivian Potosi region is famous for its Tinku (in Quechua “encounter”, in Aymara “physical attack”) festival. This harvest festival is held in May. The most spectacular Tinku events are those in towns of Macha and Pocoata. The event lasts 2 or 3 days. It combines the Christianity and ancient pagan worshipping of the Pachamama or Mother Nature.

Everything starts with the blessing of crosses. The Tinku festival is treated as chance for the locals to settle all previous hostilities or misunderstandings. There are ritual fights. The fighters sometimes hold stones to achieve stronger punches. They usually wear traditional clothes and leather hats similar to helmets worn centuries ago by the Spanish Conquistadors. The helmets are decorated with feathers.

Tinku festival
Tinku festival

The fights during the festival have symbolic meaning. It is believed that blood appearing in those fights ensures fertility and rich crops on local fields.

Apart of this violent side the festival has its other, more peaceful, side. It is known for its traditional dance. The music for this dance is performed with drum, charango (Andean lute-style type of instrument), guitars and panpipes (in Quecuha “antara”). It is interesting to add that local men and women perform this dance in a crouching stance.