We are in the new time of Pachakuti: the everlasting return. From the return to
the origins of the mythical word, this is warded off every time the feast is
carried out. It is a return to the origins of humanity, where nature, heavens and
earth co-inhabit: the alaxpacha and the Manqhapacha (above and below).
Part of this new time is the chaos, the lack of acknowledgement of things and
their surroundings. This is what happens with a culture translated to the Andes,
as it is the Negro or afroyungueña (african-Yungas) culture.
This is the source of the dances of Tundiqui or Negritos (Negroes) from which the
Caporales (Foremen) dance originated. However, the Saya of the Negroes, the
Tundiquis or Negritos of the Aymara and mestizos should not be confused, with the
Caporales of the urban and middle class sector.
They were foreigners and deinhabited, but the Divine Infinite, father of the
have-nots and the humble offered them in heritance the territory of the Yungas,
to share with the Aymara and mongrels. The populations of Coroico, Mururata,
Chicaloma, Calacala - Coscoma, Irupana are now enclaves of the afroyungueña
cultural production. Their original costume would start to cover with Aymara
Since their social rent, they had strongly to fight against the colonial
aggression and the exclusion. For this reason its cultural practices began to
disappear, including its feasts, language, spiritual sense, ways of wedding, and
However, the resistance was a fact in the stronghold of dance and music. And one
of these dances is Saya together with Condombe.
The dance and the music of saya are the most original expression that they keep
from their cultural origin: it is their cultural synthesis. Maybe that is why
nobody can interpret it, except the afroyungueños themselves.
The musical instruments that accompany saya have been reconstructed or
re-interpreted: bigger bass drum, over bass drum fife, over fife and gangingo,
as an accompaniment is the Coancha.
The rhythm and the way of interpretation is quite peculiar, the beginning of
every rhythm of Saya is beaten by the jingle bell of the foreman or caporal who
guides the dance of the saya.
The costume is simple. The women dress like the Aymara "warmis" (women): a
bright-colorful blouse adorned with ribbons. The colorful pollera (a kind of
skirt), the manta (back cover) in their hand and a bore-slain hat.
Men wear a hat, a feast shirt, an Aymara slash around the waist, a bayeta (a
woolen thick cloth) pants and sandals.
The troop of dancers has a guide the caporal or capataz (foreman) with a cudgel
or whip in his hand, pants decorated and jingle bells at his ankles; it
represents the hierarchy and order; he is not the naughty and bossy one as among
The role of the woman in the dance is as important as is in the community. Among
them, there is the guide that orders the saya and directs the group of women.
The men simultaneously touch the bass drum and one of them strums the coancha
(req'e). The women sing and dance, moving their hips, shoulders and shaking their
hands, in counter pointing or dialoguing with the men.
The choreography does not seem at all the rhythm of the caporals. Those who
confuse these rhythms unfortunately have never seen or heard the dance and music
of saya. There are no shades or similitudes, saya is saya, and caporal is just
The Tundiqui or Negritos
When in the beginning the Negroes shared their territory, the culture and the
historical time with the Aymara, both unknown, acknowledged they as part of the
But it was the fight for liberty that united the have-nots. At the same time,
history and geography give away to a dialog among cultures.
The Aymara, a free man from his origins, always admired the Negroes for their
patience and rebelliousness. The Aymara excellent hosts, acknowledged a Negro, as
a struggle brother for liberty. As a sample, we can mention the legend of Samba
Salvito who had among his friends, many indigenous Aymara from Yungas.