Ichapekene Piesta, the biggest festival of San Ignacio de Moxos
Inscribed in 2012 (7.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Country(ies): Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
Every year, the inhabitants, both young and old, of San Ignacio de Moxos in Bolivia celebrate Ichapekene Piesta, a syncretic festival that reinterprets the Moxeño founder myth of the Jesuit victory of Ignacio de Loyola and melds it with indigenous beliefs and traditions. The festivities begin in May with firework displays, singing and praises, and continue in July with daily and nightly celebrations of masses, funeral wakes, alms-giving and feasts. The main representation of the victory of Saint Ignatius involves twelve sun warriors, wearing spectacular feathers, who battle the guardians of the holy flag – the original ‘owners’ of the forest and water – before converting them finally to Christianity. These rites are an act of faith and constant rebirth, allowing the Moxeños to be reborn into the Christian tradition in the presence of the spirits of their ancestors. The main procession involves 48 groups of participants disguised as masked ancestors and animals, reinforcing the importance of respect for nature. They play tricks and dance to the accompaniment of the Baroque-era music of the Jesuit missions, then around midnight fireworks pop from the top of their wide-brimmed hats, symbolizing the gift of light and vision to live respectfully.
Decision 7.COM 11.7
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: Involving all the inhabitants of San Ignacio de Moxos, the Ichapekene Piesta allows elders to pass on their knowledge and skills to younger generations, while providing its multi-ethnic community with a sense of its syncretic identity and of respect for the environment;
- R.2: As a celebration of the multi-ethnic character of San Ignacio de Moxos, the fiesta could contribute through its inscription on the Representative List to raising awareness of the significance of similar rituals and festive events in other parts of the world while encouraging intercultural dialogue and promoting respect for cultural and biological diversity;
- R.3: Both the Indigenous Council and the State have been ensuring the viability of the Ichapekene Piesta in recent decades, and safeguarding measures are planned from inventory-making to workshops on occupations and tasks associated with the festival;
- R.4: Through a series of meetings and field work, the Indigenous Council of San Ignacio de Moxos participated in the preparation of the nomination with about ten researchers, and it received the free, prior and informed consent of the community of San Ignacio de Moxos represented by its Indigenous Council;
- R.5: By the initiative of the Moxeños, the element was registered in the national inventory of tangible and intangible heritage and certified by the Ministry of Cultures in 2010.
Inscribes the Ichapekene Piesta, the biggest festival of San Ignacio de Moxos on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
© 2010 by Fama Producciones
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