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    Land of winds > Instruments > Instruments | Issue 09 (Mar.-Apr.2012)
    By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

Andean aerophones (03): small pinkillos


The pinkillos are regarded as "female" instruments according to Andean view of the world, and are played during the jallu pacha, the rain season. Besides the tropas of large pinkillos, this family of aerophones also comprises tropas and smaller ensembles of "small pinkillos", which are flutes less than half a metre long.

Pinkillo, in Wikipedia.
Instruments native to Bolivia, in Walata Grande [es].

The pinkillo tarakha is a flute made of sokhosa cane, 30 to 35 cm in length, with six round finger-holes at the front and one square finger-hole at the back. It is played between thee All Saints Day and the Temptation Sunday in the region of Tacobamba (province of Cornelio Saavedra, department of Potosí, Bolivia).

The pinkillo k'achuiri (kachuiri, kashuiri, qhaswiri, qachuhiri, khachwiri) has five finger-holes at the front and comes in two different sizes. Accompanied by wank'ara little drums, these flutes set the musical frame for the dance known as kashua (q'ashwa, qhaswa). They are played in both the department of La Paz (Bolivia) and in the department of Puno (Peru), usually at Carnival.

Pictures of pinkillo kachuiri, in Pacoweb.
Pictures of pinkillo kachuiri quinta, in Pacoweb.

The pinkillo koiko (quyqu) is a thick flute, made of sokhosa cane, with six finger-holes that comes in two sizes: jach'a (60 cm long) and mala (40 cm long). As the previous one, it is played at Carnival in the departments of La Paz and Puno.

The pinkillo of the pacochis (pakochis, p'aquchis), alongside huge wank'ara drums, is used to accompany the dance of the same name. It has three finger holes (two at the front and one at the back, allowing it to be played with a single hand) and, like the dance, is native to Achacachi (province of Omasuyos, department of La Paz, Bolivia). The dance is one of the so called "rebellious dances", which portrays the Spanish invaders (fair-haired and wearing swords) and the priests who came with them, and make fun of them both.

Pacochis dance of Achacachi [es].

Video 01. Pacochis.
Video 02. Pacochis of Achacachi at the Festival Compi Tauca 2008 01.
Video 03. Pacochis of Achacachi at the Festival Compi Tauca 2008 02.

The pinkillo karhuani (kharwani, qarwani) is used to accompany the llama shepherds dance or llamerada (hence its name, qarwani in Aymara meaning "llama herder"). This is an Aymara traditional dance native to Bolivia which has become more widespread thanks to the Carnival of Oruro and nowadays is performed in several celebrations throughout the country. Usually accompanied by wank'ara little drums, this flute comes in a single size (about 30 cm long), has three finger-holes (two at the front and one at the back) and is found in the Bolivian altiplano (high plateau).

Origins of the dance performed by the qarwanis, in Magui [es].
Article. Llamerada dance - Oruro Carnival Dance, in Bolivia Travel Site.

Picture 01. Qarwani or llamerada dancers.

Video 04. Qarwani rhythm.
Video 05. Qarwani at the Festival Compi Tauca 2008.


Like the former flute, the waka pinkillo (waca pinquillo) also has three finger-holes. It accompanies the dance known as waka waka (waca waca), waka thoqori (waca tokori) or waka tintis (waca tinkis), a parody of colonial bullfighting (hence its name, "cow pinkillo"). It can be played alone (the same player blowing the flute and beating the wank'ara little drums) or in tropas, which include two different sizes of waka pinkillo tuned in parallel fifths to the accompaniment of little drums. It is native to the Bolivian altiplano.

Waca tokori dance [es].

Video 06. Waka pinkillo.

The phuna is a flute native to the town of Tiwanaku/Tiahuanaco (department of La Paz, Bolivia), used to perform the music style of the same name, similar to the huayno. It is about 40 cm long, has six finger-holes at the front and is made of sokhosa cane with hide ties. A group of phunas comprises between 5 and 10 players, who sometimes are accompanied by other performers playing "bastos" or "guías" (quena-quenas tuned in parallel fifths).

Video 07. "Mamá pastorita", by Uyari. Phuna style (performed on quenachos instead of phunas).

The pinkillo chatre or chatripuli is found in the departments of La Paz (Bolivia) and Puno (Peru). It is about 45 cm in length, has five finger-holes at the front and one at the back and is played to the accompaniment of wank'ara little drums. It usually accompanies the chatripulis dance, which mocks Archangel Saint Gabriel.

Chatripuli, in ReboCultura [es].


The marimacho is a Bolivian double pinkillo: a common pinkillo joined to another without holes, which usually produces a single note. It is used to support either the tropas of mohoseños or the tropas of waka pinkillos. The alma pinkillo and the pinkillo wayru are also very popular in Bolivia, especially in the Aymara communities of the altiplano.

It is almost needless to say that the list might be much longer were we to include the pinkillos usually found in the north of Chile, ranging from the straight small flutes with five and six finger-holes used in the Norte Grande (Big North), to the curved ones played in the quebradas of San Pedro de Atacama (narrow mountain valleys in the province of El Loa, region of Antofagasta) and to the large flutes performed in Livílcar and La Tirana (region of Tarapacá).

In Argentina, where this type of aerophones where brought in through the northern provinces of Salta and Jujuy, they are hardly ever heard in traditional context.

In northern Peru, these flutes are part of famous roncadoras tradition, pinkillos with three finger-holes to the accompaniment of huge bombos. In neighbouring Ecuador such tradition is being upheld by the pingulleros (pingullo players, e.g. those of Alangasí, province of Pichincha), who play a pinkillo (known as "mama", "pingullo" or "pinguyo") with three finger-holes, 30-80 cm long, made of zada cane and accompanied by tambor or tamboril (drum or little drum).

Pictures of Ecuadorian pingullo, in Pacoweb.

Video 08. Pingulleros (pingullo players) of Alangasí.
Video 09. Julián Tucumbi playing Ecuadorian tradicional instruments (including pinkillos).
Video 10. Pingullo, in Música viva.

Pictures A, B and C: Edgardo Civallero

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