sicus, bajones, Bolivian women, Native American customs, derby hats
In dress, language, architecture, and lifestyle, the large Native American population follows the ways of its ancestors with a mixture of modified Spanish traditions. Clothing is colorful and suited to life in high altitudes. For example, many Bolivian women wear brightly colored Native American clothing and stovepipe or derby hats. Holidays and religious festivals are celebrated by dancing and festivities. The Spanish-speaking population, which is largely European in ancestry, has adopted some of the Native American customs but generally follows Western traditions.
Indigenous and Spanish colonial influences have fused to produce the culture of modern Bolivia. Native American traditions are strong in painting, literature, music, dancing, and folklore. Many contemporary painters have been inspired by indigenous art. Spanish influence prevails in music and folk dances of the valleys, while the austere and plaintive native tradition predominates in the highlands. Pre-Columbian and Spanish-colonial instruments are widely used, among them the gigantic panpipes, called sicus or bajones; the native flute, or quena; and the armadillo-shell guitar, or charango.
La Paz is home to the Archaeological Society; the National Museum; the National Academy of Fine Arts; the Tiahuanaco Institute of Anthropology, Ethnology, and Prehistory; and the Atheneum. Important libraries are the National Library and Archives in Sucre, the Santa Cruz Municipal Library in La Paz, and the libraries of the University of San Andres in La Paz and the University of San Francisco Xavier in Sucre.
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