Las principales formas y expresiones en las que se manifiesta el arte indígena en la actualidad son la textilería, la cerámica, cestería y orfebrería.

Los conocimientos ancestrales sobre su realización son traspasados de generación en generación, estando además directamente asociados a actividades económicas desempeñadas por cada uno de los integrantes del grupo familiar, es así como, por ejemplo, es la mujer quien principalmente confecciona los tejidos y la cerámica.

Por otra parte la recolección de los materiales se caracteriza por ir acompañada de ritos y ceremonias en agradecimiento a la madre tierra por las materias naturales y los dones entregados.

La música y las danzas son manifestaciones que surgen de la necesidad del hombre de expresarse a través del movimiento y una experiencia espiritual y ritual. Se habla de los motivos espirituales caracterizados por el temor, peticiones o agradecimientos a la divinidad; de motivos afectivos o eróticos; del motivo guerrero para asustar al enemigo y autoexitarse para acometer la lucha, o del motivo ligado al festejo de la cosecha, nacimiento, muerte. Todo esto explica por qué la danza implica un mensaje, es significativa y tiene un contenido espiritual, además del estético.

Aymara Textiles

In the Aymaras textiles, the complexity and sophistication are amazing if you consider that it were of common knowledge. The knitted fabric are the feminine universe and the braided the masculine one. The technical details and symbolical richness that the fabrics and braides contain were a consecuence from the cattle-Andean thousand year experience and the use given to wool.

Textile elaboration technics are transmited from fathers to sons through generations.

The animal shaped figures and geometrical signs are used by Aymara women in their dresses.

Their are plenty of camelidos, vizcachas, suris and taguas, vegetable and geometrical motives, like the spiral or the double spiral that refers to their mysthical being and the world vision of their culture.

Their textiles do not only play a useful function but also for monetary exchange.

In the coloring predominate their animal natural colours: brown, grey, white and black. To obtain a variety of colours, they used, since antiquity, plants and minerals to dye their wool. The dying technics are natural, allowing firmness in its colours. Nowdays these technics are almost obsolete, being replazed by industrial anilines from Bolivia.

The confection of textiles works with tedious and complex technics. The elaboration process begins obtaining the animal´s hair (Tarwa) by shearing animals (Alpacas, Llamas and sheep) that is maked with knifes or tinplate pieces. Finnally they select the fiber according to its type, quality and colours.

Aymara Metal Work

They used silver objets like personal ornaments. Standing out:


These were used to tie up the traditional dress (asku) in both sholders. The tupus have been replaced for simple pins and the small times that girls dress with the traditional custom, the "p'ichi" are esteemed ornaments. The tupus are formed by two spoons that end in a point, sharpenned like a big pin, joined by a chain. The hollow part of each spoon, has pictures carved that represent hearts, birds or vegetables. Bracelets (Pulsira) very limited, where used only in relevant social matters.

Earings or Sarcillu:

These earings were engraved with flowers or leaves. Sometimes pieces of glass or flagstone were added, that seem to be the fruits of the vegetable motives. The smaller earings were use daily and the bigger ones in special ocassions.

The Walcas, beed necklaces were an obligatory complement in the feminine ornament; made in glass or flagstone beeds of diverse colours, although in the past they were prefered in red beeds. Its length is variable. These were used wrapped around the neck.

Andean music

Almost all these ways of Aymara music and dance no longer exist today.

According to different archaeological findings, one of the ancient musical instruments has been the phunkhullu. It had an evolution in their making materials from the clay, bony materials, until at the present vegetable canes, specially the Andean bamboo ones(suqusa, siqusa) of the zone of the Yungas and low valleys.

The bamboo cane, allows the invention of siku (siqus) and the sikuri (siqus phusiri).

Between the descendants of phunkhullu are the pinkillos, chacallos, quena-quenas, moseños, lawa k'umus and tarqas.

After the Spanish guitar influence was invented the charango (khirkhinchu), in some place of the north of the Potosí.

Musical Instruments

Pincullo o Pinquillo (Aerophone)

Vertical cane flute that measures 50 cetimeters, with an extreme superior mouthpiece. It gives a sharoer sound than the Quena.

Pusa o Sicura (Aerophone)

It is known by its european name Zampoña. It is formed by 12 hollow canes placed in two rows from minor to mayor, tied up in scale, when blowed give of certain musical notes. The opposite end of the canes is closed. A Zampoña cannot give a complete melody given the small number of notes it has. To accomplish it various musicians get together, were each one carries out a different Zampoña, building like that complete melodys, of beautifull sounds. It is a custom that the players get together with percussion accompaniment. It is common in Bolivia, Peru and the north of Chile. It is also called Laca, in Aymara it is Siku o Sikuri.

Charango (cordófono):

Foto: Ocarina en cerámica

Charango (Cordophone)

A Guitar, indigenous replica of the spanish guitar, that its approximate total length is about seventy centimeters. It has a wooden neck, similar to the european instruments, the front part or the top has and 8 shape, like the guitar. The resonance box is of the shell of a quirquincho. It´s formed by ten strings, tuned in five double orders, mainly metallic.

Ocarina (Aerophone)

The use of the Ocarina has been lost in the Chilean North; but is kept in Putre, on the zone of Belen in Aiquina and in the Bolivian highlands.

Its length variates from 15 to 28 centimeters and its diameter goes from 5 to 10 cms. It is hard to make and to play, that´s why it´s been lost.


It seems that the pottery art had its origin on the idea conceived by a inhabitant, to cover his basket with clay, to warm it up, besides the fire. Little by little, in this industries evolution the esthetic and adornments have developed.

Orfebreria was the metal work. The silver was the main material used in the zone.

The objects could have had different functions. One of them was the ritual function in which the objects were used in the religious ceremonies. The other was the esthetic function, constituted mainly by jewels. Between the existing pieces, worked tediously, there are ring or surtijas that were used by both sexes ; pins or topus ; bracelets or pulsira that were used sometimes special, and hoops or sarcillu.

The jewelry had a symbol of status and were used by people to fancy themselves and look better.


Inside the Aymara and Quechua comunities, parties have kept their ritual meaning. Music and dancing do not only represent the solidarity of the Indigenous Cultures with its land, but also express the union of the community. Particularly you could see that in the Sikuris groups, complemented by instruments of different sizes. The interpretation requires a perfect coordination.

The native dances are a very important part in the ceremonies in which, even nowdays, the mother earth is worshiped. In all the Andean zone, although in diverse formes, you find various rituals; however, the meaning is the same: Fertility rituals and gratitude sacrifices (Ch´alla) to the Pachamama. These dances are: the Mollos, Inca Dance, Mokolulu, Monseñada, Chiriwana, Thanthas, Waka-waka, Kena-kena and Auki-auki.

Dance is an activity practiced by man, that was born by the necesity that this one had, of expressing through movement.

It is being spoken like spiritual motives characterizad by fear, petitions or gratitudes to the divinity; of erotic or afective reason; of the warrior reason to scare the enemy and self excite himself to attack in battle, or the reason leagued to the crop celebration, etc.

All this explains why dancing involves a message, it´s significant and has a spìritual content besides the esthetic.