Thursday, November 22, 2012


Bolivia, like most other countries colonized by the Europeans, had a great cultural fusion between the two peoples. Many genres of art, such as painting and sculpture may be European in style and technique, but native in style and substance. Materials and mediums have been modified and adapted to be able to utilize what is available. Traditional arts are still ever popular and are continued in order to preserve the ancient cultures they were created from.

Jewelry making is really popular in Bolivia. Most jewelry uses silver or gold, and many use ancient and traditional symbols and styles. Wood and other gem stones are also found in pieces of Bolivian jewelry.

Wood carving is also a popular traditional art in Bolivia. Many of these carvings are made with different kinds of wood to add variations of color. Bolivia had a problem with deforestation and the effects of it, but it was one of the first countries to enact forest conservation efforts.

Archaeologists have discovered ancient rock carvings in several areas in Bolivia. These intricate ancient rock carvings are found alongside rivers, in mountains, and in the caves in the Andes and eastern lowlands regions.

Almost half of the indigenous peoples of Bolivia speak either Aymara, Guarani, or Quechua. Similar to many other cultures, there is a strong tradition of storytelling, including myths and legends. These stories have been passed down from generation to generation by mouth, and unfortunately many of these stories have not been written down. 

Because of Bolivia’s political upheaval through the years, many writers found it difficult to publish their works, and it was especially true if the work was anything contrary to the ruling government at that time. Newer writers have emerged on the scene, but the older writers still dominate Bolivia literature.

Adela Zamudio has long been considered one of Bolivia’s most famous poets. Her other claim to fame is helping to found the country’s feminist movement. Born in Cochabamba, she started out as a teacher and then moved up to being the director of an all-girls high school. Her work was often highly intellectual and non-religious, often writing under the pseudonym Soledad. Towards the end, she even stopped teaching religion at the school where she was director, receiving criticism from the League of Catholic Women. Her birthday, October 11, is celebrated as the Day of Bolivian Women.

Franz Tamayo is a renowned writer and politician, as well as poet, philosopher and intellectual, being the namesake of Franz Tamayo Province. Tamayo had both Aymara and Spanish ancestry, and his ideologies and concepts on race were quite influential to the new Bolivian identity after the 1952 Revolution. His basic idea was that those who were of mixed race were actually superior in comparison to those who were primarily of one race because mixed-race people took what was good in each race and made them stronger (more or less).  He was originally part of the Liberal Party but later switched to the Republican Party. President Salamanca had appointed him the Minister of Foreign Relations and had actually won presidential elections in 1934. However, a military coup right afterward nulled the win.

Oscar Alfaro is another Bolivian writer who is famous for writing children’s literature. He had studied law, but he had never finished his degree. He did go on to teach Castilian language and literature at a school in his hometown of San Lorenzo. Alfaro also produced a radio program called “The Republic of Children” and had wrote several columns in different newspapers published in the area. Several of his poems were put to music by various composers, and many others had been translated into several different languages.

Up next: music and dance

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