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Las Natitas

Cecilia Fernandez | La Paz-Bolivia, Bolivia


The festivity of the Ñatitas in La Paz- Bolivia, is a traditional andean rite that mixes indigenous and Catholic traditions. It is celebrated every November 8th in gratitude to the deceased for the favors and care that people receive from them. It consists of venerating one or several human skulls.

Currently, the skulls are celebrated with music, sweets, alcohol, coca leaves and cigarettes. Thousands of people come to the chapel of the cemetery accompanied by human skulls decorated with flowers, caps, glasses or hats, these skulls are known as "The Ñatitas" or flat noses and have been objects of devotion for a long time, people believe they are protectors of their houses and, even, architects of many miracles.

How does a human skull reach the hands of these devotees? In different ways, some are exhumed remains of relatives, others are the gift of a friend. In most cases, the skulls are stolen from clandestine cemeteries and pass from hand to hand for generations.

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