By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza
Andean aerophones (06): tropas of sikus
According to archaeological evidence, the present day sikus (term of Aymara origin, which usually refers to the double row Andean Pan flute) suggests they originated in the Meseta del Collao (Peruvian-Bolivian Altiplano), in the area surrounding Lake Titicaca, today's Aymara people land. Although the panpipe has significantly extended its presence beyond the Andean region into the rest of Latin America, its most original and traditional expressions are found in this region within the cultural area known as Southern Andes.
On many occasions, this area's single-row panpipes are also referred to as "sikus", for reasons whose explanation falls outside the scope of this article. Among these single-row aerophones we find the ayarichis of the departments of Chuquisaca and Potosí (7-13 pipes), the ayrachis of Cotagaita, department of Potosí (four sizes, 5 pipes), the mimulas of the Aroma province, department of La Paz (12 pipes) and the mimulas of the Suriqui island (11 pipes with resonators), the suri sikus or sicuras of the department of Cochabamba (18 pipes, three sizes liku, tarka y ch'ili, sometimes with resonators), the sulka sikus, the tutiriwailis, the sikus of Venta y Media (department of Oruro), the kallamachu of the Mollos (Muñecas province, department of La Paz) and the siku-kunturis.
Nonetheless, the geographical distribution of the double row Andean Pan flutes is much wider than the single row, and they have been the distinctive feature of the "Andean music" groups that have gained considerable popularity abroad playing different music genres from the Andes.
In southern Peru (department of Puno) there are three groups of traditional native flutes. The ayarachis are played in the Lampa province; the "tropa" (group) includes three different sizes of flutes or phukus (mama, lama and suli) tuned in parallel octaves, accompanied by cajas (drums). The most renowned ones are those of Paratía. The chiriguanos are played in the Huancané province during the Cross Festival (on the third of May); they come in three sizes tuned in parallel octaves (tayka, ankuta y suli/chili), without percussion accompaniment; the most famous are the ones from the localities of Yunguyo and Huancané. Finally, the sikuris can be found throughout the entire department; special mention deserve those from the Taquile island, in the Titicaca Lake, which include four sizes (mama, maltona, liku and auka), and the ones from the village of Conima, which can have nine different sizes.
Another group of mestizo origin are the sikumorenos, pusamorenos or mistisikus (department of Puno, Chucuito and Tacna), which can include two or three different sizes tuned in parallel octaves called tablasikus (board-shaped, similar to the old Greek syrinx), snare drums, cymbals and band drum.
Ayarachi, in Wikipedia [es].
Article. "Los ayarachis", by Vientos Molineros [es].
Article. "El ayarachi", by Sirley Ríos Acuña. In Arte y Antropología [es].
Article. "Los chiriguanos de Huancané", in Sikuris.com [es].
Article. "Los sikuris Quechuas de la isla de Taquile", in Sikuris.com [es].
Article. "Los sikuris Aymaras", in Sikuris.com [es].
Video 01. Ayarachis from Paratia 01.
Video 02. Ayarachis from Paratia 02.
Video 03. Ayarachis from Paratia 03.
Video 04. Chiriguanos from Huancané 01.
Video 05. Chiriguanos from Huancané 02.
Video 06. Chiriguanos from Huancané 03.
Video 07. Sikuri from Taquile.
Video 08. Sikuri from Conima.
Video 09. Sikumoreno.
The most important "tropas" of Bolivian sikus have already been described in previous issues of "Land of winds". The jula julas (departments of Potosí and Oruro) have 3/4 pipes and five sizes tuned in parallel octaves (orkho, mali, liku, tijli and ch'ili). With the same number of pipes, the chiriwanos (different from the Peruvian chiriguanos) include three sizes in the department of La Paz (tayka, malta and ch'uli) and four in the department of Cochabamba (sanja, orqo, liku and jilawiri). Similar characteristics are shared by another group known as the julu julus of Irpa Grande (department of La Paz).
In Charazani (Bautista Saavedra province, department of La Paz) the sikus k'antus, consist of 6/7 pipes and six different sizes (contra zanka, zanka, contra malta, malta, contra chuli and chuli). This is one of Bolivia's most traditional groups of Andean panpipes, which is linked to the ancient Kallawaya culture. They are accompanied by huge "bombos k'antu" (double-headed drums), and the particular sound of the triangle ch'iñisku.
From the locality of Taypi Ayca (Italaque, Camacho province, departament of La Paz) come the famous sikus de Italaque, with 7/8 pipes and resonator. They include three different sizes tuned in parallel octaves (sanka, malta y chuli) and are accompanied by the so-called "bombos of Italaque".
The lakitas or laquitas (from Aymara laka, "mouth") are located in different parts of Bolivia. Those in the department of La Paz have 6/7 pipes and four sizes (tayka, mala, liku and ch'ili), though they can also have one single row of 13 pipes with resonators. The ones that can be found in the department of Chuquisaca have the same number of pipes and two sizes (juch'uychaj and parejantin).
Finally, the jach'a sikus of Ilabaya, (Larecaja province, department of La Paz) have 6/7 pipes and come in a very large size (therefore its Aymara name, meaning "big siku"), sometimes referred to as "toyo".
In the Chilean Big North (Spanish, Norte Grande de Chile) single-row lakitas or laquitas that consist of 14 pipes with resonators, and the double-row ones with 7/8 pipes, while in northwestern Argentina the most common "tropa" is that of standard ch'alla sikus with 6/7 pipes. Cultural exchanges between different regions of the southern Andes, largely through Bolivian Aymara migrants, have introduced and spread Aymara's aerophones (as well as their dances and music genres) in neighbouring countries where they have achieved great popularity.