Tinku Festival, Bolivia

Tinku_EvaBartlema

Does club kicking-out time on a Saturday night send you scuttling for the nearest taxi? Then don’t mess with the Bolivians – they’ve turned drunken brawling it into an art and they’ve been practising for six centuries.

Tinku Fighting is held during May in the inhospitable Potosí region high on the Bolivian altiplano. The festival begins innocently enough with some harmless stomping and stiff-armed, rhythmical whacking. However, fuelled by copious quantities of 90% rubbing alcohol (the tipple of choice for Bolivia’s poor), it quickly descends into a grisly display of bare-knuckle fighting and ritual bloodshed, often pursued to the death.

This ritual exists as a means of dispelling tensions between rival indigenous clans and promoting a prosperous harvest through the sacrifice of human blood. Quirky or disturbing? You decide.

Written by - Photo by Eva Bartlema

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