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    Land of winds > Traditions > Clothing | Issue 13 (Jan.-Feb. 2013)
    By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

The feathers of the suri-sikuris


The feathers of the suri-sikuris

The headdress made of feathers is a male's common costume feature in the Andean highlands, especially amongst dancers and music bands. The headdresses worn by suri-siku, suri siku, surisicu, sicura or sikura players are among the most eye-catching ones. These instruments are played in Aymara-speaking communities in the department of La Paz (Bolivia). They have a single row of pipes (with optional resonators) and the tropa (ensemble) includes three different sizes: liku, tarka and ch'illi. The suri-sikus are played during the performance of a ritual dance that symbolizes the hunting of the suri or Andean ostrich. When it lost its original purpose, it was performed at wedding ceremonies and when a new home was built. Today it is part of religious and Carnival celebrations.

Each suri-sikuri (suri-siku player, who plays both the panpipe and a wank'ara drum simultaneously) usually wears a headdress of feathers and a cuirass or protection resembling a feline skin. The headdress consists of a round frame of reeds (which can measure more than 2 mt. in diameter) and on top of it a round crown of feathers (in the old times of suri) bound with multicolour wool cords.

Other sikuris that wear headdresses of feathers are the siku mimula, the misti siku, the lakita and the chiriwano players (in the case of the siku mimula players, theirs are very similar to the ones used by the suri-sikuris). And they also appear in several wind bands like those including quena quenas, pinkillos chatripulis and pinkillos karhuanis.

Headdresses and other accessories that were originally made of animal skin, feathers, bones, hoofs and so on are nowadays made of artificial materials, partly due to laws that protect endangered species.


Article. "Arte plumario", in MUSEF [es].


Picture 01. Suri-sikuri 01.
Picture 02. Suri-sikuri 02.
Picture 03. Suri-sikuri 03.
Picture 04. Suri-sikuri 04.
Picture 05. Suri-sikuri 05.
Picture 06. Detail of suri-sikuris head-dress 01.
Picture 07. Detail of suri-sikuris head-dress 02.


Video 01. Suri-sikuris 01 (modern arrangement).
Video 02. Suri-sikuris 02 (modern arrangement).
Video 03. Suri-sikuris 03 (modern arrangement).


Picture A.


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