The T’anta wawas: children for meal!

©Museum Tales

On the left of the image above, you can admire an adorable brioche-marmot and in the center, a bread-pig, but it is on what is on the right that I draw your attention: the kind of “embrioched” child !

Also spelled Tantawawa, it can literally be translated by « child of bread », since « t’anta » in the Quechua language means bread, and, you guessed it, « wawa » is child. 

The Andeans of Aymara and Quechua origin prepare these brioche buns themselves in honor of their dead.

Then, they place them in front of the graves during the days dedicated to the memory of the deceased: November the 1st for deceased children, and November the 2nd for adults. 

But why in the form of a child? 

Examples of figurines of children’s heads to embed in the brioche © bhclaveria / periodicobolivia

These brioches are not reserved for the young deceased, no! If they are so it is because it is believed that the soul, or « ajayu », returns in the form of a child. The T’anta Wawa is therefore dedicated to the soul to whom we show our esteem and to whom we provide a receptacle during its travels with the living.

Banquet and drinks!

The tradition also wants that during these days of homage to the ancestors, one enjoys a good banquet in the cemetery itself, and that one consumes the favorite dishes of the deceased.

His share of the meal is left in front of his grave until the following year!

And, because the dead come back thirsty, you have to make sure to drop them a glass of water (or liquor, it doesn’t hurt either!).

Example of a cemetery in Bolivia (Sucre) – 2020 © Museum Tales.

Giant wawa

There are T’anta wawas of all sizes. Andeans are not afraid of “life-size”. In the city of El Alto, neighbor of La Paz and capital of the Bolivian Aymaras and Quechuas, a competition is held every year to elect the largest specimen of T’anta wawa!


Cheers to our deceased!

2020 © Museum Tales

Publié par Museum Tales

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