The second day of February was the great day of the festival. At daybreak hosts of dancers poured into the square, and the fifes, kenas, zamponas, and drums made a deafening noise ... Add to these groups a great number of independent performers, male and female, in festive Indian dress, and hosts of spectators, hundreds of big and little drums, hundreds of flutes, from the tiniest to the biggest, and perhaps more fifes yet, the instruments rumbling, thundering, rattling, screeching, howling, and screaming, without any regard to rhythm or harmony; hundreds of ugly voices singing monotonous melodies; now and then, here or there, a yell or a whoop; all the perfomers more or less intoxicated and drinking harder and harder towards nightfall - the scene is indeed very picturesque, very strange and brilliant in hues; but at the same time the din and uproar is so deafening, so utterly devoid of the slightest redeeming feature, that it forms one of the weirdest and, at the same time, most sickening displays imaginable. Once started, this moving crowd, ever changing like a kaleidoscope, keeps on the distressing roar, night and day without intermission, for never less than two days and nights, sometimes as long as a whole week! ... The Aymara dances which we have seen lack, as stated, the decorum of pueblo dances. Hence, much of their symbolic character appears to be lost. They all degenerate into an orgy, drunkenness prevailing among both sexes after the first afternoon. Once at this stage, the naturally quarrelsome character of the Aymara crops out and most Indian festivals in Bolivia end in bloodshed. It may even be said, that no Indian festivity is satisfactory without one or more homicides. Feuds between neighbouring haciendas are often fought out on such occasions, for the Indian often carries, besides his sling (for which the women provide round pebbles in their skirts), a dangerous weapon, in the shape of a whip terminating at the upper end of the handle in a small tomahawk of steel. Whenever such fights take place it is not rare to see men swallowing the brains oozing out of the fractured skulls of the wounded, and women dipping chuna in the pools of blood, and eating it, when well soaked, with loathsome ferocity.

Adolph F. Bandelier, The Islands of Titicaca and Koati, Hispanic Society of America, 1910, p. 47-48.

TIME: early 20th c.

PLACE: the island of Titicaca in Bolivia

CIRCUMSTANCE: violent music among violent people