Design Catwalk
Witch is not a Four Letter Word: Costumes and Rituals in Bolivia


“Is Fashion Art?” is the name of this column here at Design Catwalk; for some, fashion is almost a religion (that leaves a lot of so called “fashion victims” on the field), but it is for sure a big part in religious rituals of faiths and creeds.

Thomas Rousset and Raphael Verona’s series Waska Tatay depicts the fascinating costumes of the bolivian religious scenery and its traditional costumes and rituals; the two photographers went to the Altoplano to collect images to tell the story of these believes.

The use of the word “witch” derives from the Spanish colonisation, and from the Catholic Church in which men communicate with the divine through intermediates: With God, through a Priest and the Church, and with the Devil through witches and witchcraft. However the Altiplanic belief system is much more complex, not conforming to such a black/white dichotomy. For them the mortal world is porous, the men approach deities, sometimes they are benevolent, sometimes evil, depending on the homage’s that they have been given. Anyone can address Pachamama, achachilas, Tio de la mine (or Supay) etc. but this requires following certain rituals.

As Huffington Post‘s article Many of the images are staged, populated by merchants and makers of ritual objects in places like La Paz, Oruro, and Potosi. This includes a plethora of indigenous peoples, such as the Aymara, a politically active group descended from pre-Inca ancestors.
The photos, collected together in a book titled Waska Tatay, are marked by their merging of yesterday and today. Traditional costumes, rites and totems exist in the same frames as cell phones, electrical cords and plastic trash bags. The juxtaposition of then and now seems to effortlessly mimic a tension between good and evil, illuminating the real complexity of an aging culture.

Head over to IDPURE‘s website to learn more about the original book.

Check here for a complete interview.

juliana de nicola. Senior Fashion and Art Editor
Juliana is an italian-austrian artist and designer. After academical art-studies and fashion Ba she started working as a free-lance in fashion business covering different roles to feed her curiosity, while her personal projects are growing out of her mouth and ears restless. She was born in Vienna in the past century, loves her savage dogs, lives now in Florence, and travels every time she can.


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