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Published on Dec 11, 2008
The Morenada is one of Bolivia's most popular Highland dances. There are several theories about its origins which are fiercely debated among the specialists in this topic. Basically there are three hypothesis: The most commonly distributed one says that the dance was inspired in the sufferings of the African slaves brought to Bolivia in order to work in the Silver Mines of Potosí. The enormous tongue of the dark masks is ment to represent the physical state of these mines workers and the rattling of the Matracas are frequently associated with the rattling of the slaves´ chains. However, there is no evidence that these African slaves really worked IN the mines. There is quite a lot of evidence that they did work in the Casa de la Moneda in the production of the coins and in domestic service, but not as miners themselves. A second theory relates the Morenada to the afro-Bolivians living in the Yungas region and the stamping of wine/the wine production. According to this, the barril-like Moreno-costumes would represent the barril containing the wine. However, in the Yungas region there has never been any wine cultivation. At first sight this makes the theory seem extremely unprobable, but the texts sung in the Morenada contain hints to wine cultivation for a long time. In addition, if one goes back in history sufficiently, one can discover that there were afro-Bolivians working in wineyards - in other regions, such as Chuquisaca. Nowadays there might not be any Afro-Bolivians left where there are wineyards, but when the dance was created, there might have been. The third theory relates the Morenada to the Aymara Culture of the Lake Titicaca. Places like Achacachi claim to be the place of origin of the "Fish Dance" as the Morenada in this region also is referred to. There were some murals of about 200-300 years of age found in the region, showing Morenada dancers and there still is a strong tradition of making elaborately embroidered Morenada costumes. --------- Wikipedia ---------