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Textile art is something we come into contact with every day, from the clothes we wear to the objects that decorate our home. It is an art that can be beautiful and useful at the same time; one of the oldest forms of art in human civilization.  more>>

Bolivian Traditional Dance Costumes


The Caporales dance originated in La Paz by the Estrada Pacheco brothers in 1969.  It was presented  to the public for the first time at the Fiesta del Gran Poder. The brothers were inspired by the character Caporal  from the Afro-Bolivian inspired Saya dance from Los Yungas region of La Paz. The Caporal of the Saya dance represents a foreman of the black slaves, who usually was a mestizo and wore bells on his knees and a whip in his hands. The dance, however, has a prominent religious aspect; participants supposedly dance for La Virgen del Socavon (patron saint of miners) and promise to dance for three years of their lives. 

The Caporales dance is a folkloric manifestation that represents the mulatto, who considers himself the bosse's favorite, denies his race as foreman and controls the production of citrus fruit and coca in Los Yungas area.  The original clothing of the men consisted of whips, baggy shirt, girdle or belt, military-cut pants and boots, while the woman wore a blouse with wide sleeves, long skirt that has now been shortened to be a mini skirt, shoes and the characteristic borsalino bowler type hat or commonly known in Bolivia as the 'cholita' hat.  At present, clothing has been developed incorporating designs and colors that identify the different fraternities or sets of Caporales.

Caporales Centralistas San Miguel London

Masks and costumes exhibited on a cultural event ‘Light of Hope’ held in Nov 2021 at Lambeth Assembly Hall in London,  supported by Lambeth Council and Berkeley Homes.  Copyright/Credits for all photographs and videos:  San Miguel TV Team.

Caporales Centralistas San Miguel London is a dance company in London, one of the over 50 subsidiaries around the world of the Fraternity Caporales Centralistas San Miguel created in La Paz, Bolivia in 1975. The motivation of most participants is devotion to the Virgen del Socavón and promoting Bolivian culture abroad. Its main annual event is the Carnaval de Oruro (Oruro's Carnival) declared “Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible World Heritage” by UNESCO in 2001.

Costume-making for the various Bolivian dances at Oruro Carnival employs a huge number of people and this skilled work is passed down from generation to generation in the family tailor businesses.  Due to COVID-19, the costume Amaru designed for 2020 will remain the official one in use across three seasons until 2023, when a new design will come out again. A new costume, made to measure, costs between $320-360 and represents a significant financial burden for the majority of their dancers. 

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As an example of Fashion as Art in Bolivia, CBAT celebrates the magnificent national costume created for the Bolivia's Miss Universe contestant.  

The National Costume competition is a huge part of the Miss Universe competition where the delegates wear their traditional attires reflecting the culture of their countries. Miss Bolivia’s (Lenka Nemer) national costume is titled ‘La Fuerza de Los Andes’, designed and manufactured by Jhesmani Fernandez with the support from the Qhapac Ñan Art company in the city of La Paz with original fabrics, more than eight meters of Kaito weaving, made by the weavers of the town of Huari.

Photo by Promociones Gloria' from Lost Tiempos online newspaper.

Bolivian Textile Artists

Aida Sanchez: Bolivian Designer, an expert on contemporary fashion with detailed experience in creative direction. She holds a degree from FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in Pattern-making Technology and she is traditionally trained in the fashion industry. Sanchez began her career in New York City. Her creative collaborations are within the fashion industry in New York, Paris, London, and Rome. She is an industry insider and a strong advocate of mentoring students and aspiring designers in Fashion Education focusing on the business of fashion. 

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Her German-based brand, AIDA SANCHEZ ACCESSORIES has been recognized for creating beautifully crafted and innovative soft accessories since 2000. Her creations have been presented for the past 20 years during the official calendar of Paris fashion weeks and have been available through luxury retail locations such as Neiman Marcus, Lodenfrey, Holt Renfrew, Isetan, and historic department stores across Europe, North America, and South America. 

Bringing a unique understanding of the creative and commercial sides of fashion, Sanchez has emerged as one of the leaders of the global fashion industry. 

For more information about Aida Sanchez, please visit Aida-Sanchez-webpage

Sandra de Berducci:  New media artist, weaver, specialist in Andean Textile Techniques and researcher from Bolivia.   For more information about her and her work, please visit our New Media Art page - Sandra Berduccy

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