Colonial churches continue to be the center of Bolivian festivities

Carla Hannover writes for Pagina Siete:


Colonial churches continue to be the center of the festivities

2013-09-26 11.04.02 amHeritage. Despite their social and heritage value of these buildings, they are in a serious state of deterioration and in recent months they have become the target for robberies.

A study by historians and anthropologists from abroad points out that, with the passage of the centuries, the colonial temples in rural areas of the Highlands remain, with some differences, the center of festivities and celebrations of those places.

Despite its social importance, and its historical and patrimonial value, these temples are still the target of theft, because in the past 15 months were recorded 19 cases of thefts to churches of the altiplano, mainly of La Paz, Oruro and Potosi.

In the research, titled Churches and Festivals, in the Highlands of La Paz and Oruro, historians point out that “the Church is currently the ayllu”. “There are some temples which reach community members from all sides as it is the case of the fiesta grande of Sabaya,” said Ximena Medinacelli historian.
These celebrations were already made since colonial times, because according to the researchers, “these churches were built in reference of the Prehispanic ritual sites. They worshipped both the Andean and Christian deities”, she explained.

With the passage of time, these cults were transformed. “There is now a more popular appropriation of the party. These celebrations were previously governed by the Church. There was an established order,”explained the historian.

The research, which was presented on Friday and with it an exhibition of photographs of the temples at the National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore (MUSEF), also revealed that rural parties now have the penetration of urban dances.

“Before these parties had traditional dances, now have caporales and morenadas tinku, which mark the status of residents,” explained the researcher Cárdenas Clevert.

In a serious state of deterioration

In the book, researchers also play other axes such as the state of conservation of the temples. According to the architect Silvia Bustos, these churches are in the custody of the Archbishopric and this has made villagers to stop worrying about their protection. “It was observed that many of the priests have responsibility over more than one temple.”

About 40 churches of La Paz and Oruro were visited for this research. “Most are in a serious state of deterioration due to lack of policies that allow its restoration and conservation”, said the architect.

There are temples as the Belén de Andamarca and Copacabana de Andamarca, both located in Oruro, and Church Sora, in La Paz, which have been restored without the supervision of specialists. “In these three cases, they have been changed the roofs which were of straw or replace others with corrugated tin roofs, damaging the architecture”.

While others suffer abandonment as it is the case of the orurenos temples of Pampa Aullagas, Sepulturas and Challapata. In the latter, for example, “its doors are cracked.”

In La Paz, churches that have a significant deterioration are the Jesus de Machaca and Andrés de Machaca.

The loss is not only reflected in architecture, because due to its bad state they’re also missing its murals. “There is a mural painting that is pulling away from the walls by moisture and that is something irretrievable,” said historian Silvia Arce.

While this ochlocratic government pushes to forget our colonial heritage and mestizo condition, they are neglecting to preserve WHO WE ARE!

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