Originating in the Colca Canyon, Wititi dancing is important and unique enough to be included in UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Most visitors to the Colca Canyon see touristic Wititi dancing in town squares or at folkloric evenings but at Arequipa’s Yanahuara Plaza I was lucky enough to watch an informal performance.
A woman in Collagua dress dances with a Wititi
Performed by the pre-Inca Collagua of eastern Colca and Cabana of western Colca, the dance involves the Wititi (male) serenading with the female. Why Wititis wore hats covering their faces and dresses is unknown but two theories are:
- a military strategy to confuse enemies
- allowing Wititis to approach maidens without arousing suspicion
A woman in Cabana dress (note rounder hat) and a Wititi
Two Wititis spinning around next to a large ceramic pot at Yanahuara Plaza
Video of the Wititi dancing at Yanahuara Plaza
Also at the plaza was a wedding party taking photos. The party members were alternative in their appearance and contrasted distinctly from the Wititi dancers.
Wedding party members at Yanahuara Plaza, Arequipa
Of course the bride and groom wanted a photo with the dancers.
The alternative bride and groom with the traditional Wititi dancers
More photos of the Wititi dancers and their colourful costumes and unique hats: