Juliaca – Qashwa: The big War/Party

Young happiness

The Qashwa is an old festivity, it’s the bond with the mythology thousand of years ago. It survived the Spanish invasion disguised with the Catholic carnival.

It celebrates the first siege of the year (remember that summer in the southern hemisphere occurs since the end of December) and has a warrior nature. Two sides, always every native city has two sides, dance to win. In this case it’s the Machuaychas versus the Chiñipilcos, the winner gets the Tokoro of Gold, and it’s celebrated in the most sacred place in Juliaca, our Apu Huaynarroque (the Apu is a hill believed as an ancestor, there aren’t equivalents of creators Gods) and in the streets.

It’s not a touristic celebration, the dancers dance to win, not to get money from foreigners, the people drink seas of beer and everything is a mess and chaos. It’s not understood by foreigners and if you want a similar but more touristic experience you could go to Oruro carnival or other cities where the party is part of a calendar to get every dollar you’ve in your pocket, and if it’s possible even your pocket XP

(The photographs were shot in the Qashwa of 2014)

The place

Party in the Apu

The Apu Huaynarroque is a hill with two peaks, in the photograph you can see the bigger, with a white Christ (Spaniards couldn’t destroy the Apus so they put crosses in their peaks) and the platform between the two peaks where the dances are executed. The platform has thousand of years of use, of course today it was modernized with concrete because our culture is not dead, it’s alive and evolves.

Old ages in modern times

Bellow you can see a view of the other peak, needed to show the duality masculine/feminine, up/down, left/right, etcetera.

I’d make shine your boots

Your time to shine

I’ve always seen that the oldest sponsor is Coca Cola. It’s curious, they are very integrated to our celebrations; now there are other brands, usually beers and Peruvian sodas as Kola Real. They also represent the continuity of the tradition because before the contact with Europe the chicha (our drink) was also in the core of the party.

One in the crowd

Usually the assistants are from the countryside. There are no much people from the cities because a long story that would require another post. The problem is that they have no use of the city, although the city hall cleans the Apu the next morning I think the ideal would be don’t let garbage. Fortunately every year is less worse than the previous one.

Seeing to other side

The Apu Huaynarroque is one sacred place, so it has a lot of crosses, usually rich people build them, I think I would prefer that they could build, besides, museums or libraries.

The Dance

Dance in orange

Basically the dance is running in circles with complicated movements, at least so complicated that I couldn’t dance it XP


Is there a problem, officer?

Master leading the orange army

That was the last dance in the hill. I can’t have time, but at least I could go a bit. But the party last days, and the people still is drinking and celebrating.

Serenade for the lady in black

Dull and colorful

Didyaseedat hat?!

Party time in the sky

The streets

As I wrote the party is not touristic, so it’s not organized. The streets are blocked and the traffic is a mess, but anyway there is party.


Time to dance

I’m not nervous

Pristine melody

Well, it’s also carnival so people uses to spray with foam.



A smile in the night

At the end of the long route

Happy light


And that would be a little glimpse about a celebration that last days and have ceremonies to pay to the Earth and involucre hundreds of thousands of people drinking and dancing.

Musicians playing a joyful good bye


4 thoughts on “Juliaca – Qashwa: The big War/Party

    1. The best, for visitors, are the carnivals of Virgen de la Candelaria in Puno (Peru) or even better, Oruro in Bolivia.
      I’d love to invite you to our local qashwa (also called the little carnival) but I’m afraid it could be a bit gross to see (garbage, people drinking in excess in the streets with the consequent violence and uncleanliness) So I’ll just say a thanks for appreciate the beauty in it :-)

    1. Thanks ^_^!, although a photographer in ninja mode :P, for the same reason because it’s not a touristic city, people can be a bit tough when they feel that they’re been photographed. I was very discrete.
      I’m glad you liked them, I’d love to see how it’s celebrated in your country :-)

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