The Threshing Song

Yesterday evening, I visited a small town outside of Huancayo called San Pedro de Saño. As a build-up to the town’s 56th anniversary, they hosted an informal competition of traditional Peruvian dances in their main plaza (that they had just finished constructing this year) of exclusively participants local to the area.

One of my favourite traditional dances is called the “Trilla” – the verb “trillar” means “to thresh” in English. In the dance, there is typically a group of men who go to work in the field, they thresh barley with their V-shaped threshing sticks, the women arrive and give them water for their hard work, and they dance together.

The story of yesterday’s “Trilla” was very different from what I was used to seeing. In the background, a friend of mine sings in Quechua to tell the story. The lyrics told a more serious tale, but there was an air of joy and fun in its presentation and within the crowd.

Below are the parts of the story I was able to extract (because some parts are in Spanish; modern Quechua includes Spanish words and phrases). See if you can pick out when they act/dance each part of the threshing song:

Making a baby
Lift up your child
Give him to his father
Give him to his grandmother
Caring for her grandson
Wash diapers
Smelling, smelling
Kill your child
Stepping, stepping
Now cry for your son
Hit his father
Pull your hair
Bury your son
Crying, crying

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