Fiesta de la Chakana in Santiago de Chile.

In Photos: Fiesta de la Chakana in Santiago de Chile

If you ever find yourself wandering around the streets in downtown Santiago in Chile in early May and you hear some loud live music and vibrant singing, do yourself a favor and go check it out. Chances are you are about to get your first glimpse of tinku, an upbeat festive dance that originated in Bolivia.

The Origins of Tinku

This Aymara tradition started as a way to honor Pachamama (Mother Nature). Ceremonial tinkus take place in different towns in the Bolivian high plains in early May. So during two to three days peasants flock into town to fight each other. Any blood shed (or fatalities in some cases) is considered a sacrifice to Mother Nature in the hopes of getting a fruitful harvest.

Dancing at Fiesta de la Chakana in Santiago de Chile.

Fortunately, the festive tinku is a much more cheerful (and non-violent) affair, so you don’t have much to worry about. Tinku music is loud, upbeat, and features plenty of drums. Dancers dress in very colourful outfits and wear some extravagant hats. Their dancing moves draw from the tinku fighting tradition, so there are some kicks and fists flying around as well.

Fiesta de la Chakana in Santiago de Chile

The festive tinku has not only spread all over Bolivia, but it has also expanded beyond the country’s borders to some of its neighbours. In Chile, it has become an integral part of the Fiesta de la Chakana, a celebration to honour the Cruz del Sur — one of the most important symbols of the old civilizations of the Andes. So every year on the first week of May, different tinku groups congregate in Santiago’s downtown core to dance and be merry. It is a really uplifting show and it’s hard not to join them in their dance.

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Fiesta de la Chakana in Chile

Have you ever seen a festive tinku during your travels? Which other folk dances have you enjoyed when visiting South America? Leave us a comment, we’d love to know!

1600 1063 Bianca Bauza

Bianca Bauza

Bianca Bauza is a world citizen who spent almost four years traveling around South America and Europe. Her passions include photography, street art, outdoor sports, and cooking exotic dishes. She's now based in the Netherlands where she lives with her partner and young daughter. She still enjoys traveling, on her own or with her family, and is always looking for an opportunity to see new places.

All stories by : Bianca Bauza
  • Wow I love their outfits – so colourful! What a cool festival, it must have been so much fun :D

  • love this post! i learned more about a country that i always wanted to visit. thank you for sharing!

  • What lovely colours!! I wish I could dress like that and not get funny looks. The origins of this festival are fascinating, although I don’t love the idea of people dying in the hope of a good harvest!

  • This is so interesting to learn about! I had no idea Chile celebrated this as well. What a lovely experience!

  • I was actually in Santiago in early May, so sad I missed this! I love all the bright fabrics and accents they wear!

  • These photos are stunning. What a festive celebration – thanks for sharing!

  • Erika @LatinAtlas

    Your photos are breathtaking and those costumes are stunning. Btw I like the layout of your website. Thanks for this post!

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