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Bolivia's Fiesta de las Ñatitas

October 04, 2016

Praying to a shrine featuring a real human skull may seem macabre to some. But since pre-Columbian times, inhabitants of what is now the Bolivian Altiplano have made the veneration of human skulls a central element of their spiritual life. The tradition continues to this day with an annual celebration on November 8 called Fiesta de las Ñatitas (“the little pug-nosed ones”).

The Aymara people of Bolivia add a contemporary twist. The skulls, often adorned with hats and sunglasses, are taken from the home shrines of their living owners and carried to...

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