Page 1

University of Texas Press

The Charango and the "Sirena": Music, Magic, and the Power of Love Author(s): Thomas Turino Reviewed work(s): Source: Latin American Music Review / Revista de MĂşsica Latinoamericana, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Spring - Summer, 1983), pp. 81-119 Published by: University of Texas Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 30/12/2011 20:52 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

University of Texas Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Latin American Music Review / Revista de MĂşsica Latinoamericana.



The Charango and the Sirena: Music, Magic, and the Power of Love

In southern Peru, the charango1 is used both campesino(traditional Quechua- and Aymara-speaking peasants) by and mestizo (used here to denote mixed indigenous and Spanish cultural heritage) musicians in what may be regarded as two basically distinct musical traditions. Although the charango is used in a variety of contexts, ranging from the papa tarpuy (potato-planting ceremony) among campesinosto mestizo concert stage performance, there is a predominant cultural association of the instrument with the power to attract and seduce women and with matters of courting and love. In such activities, the instrument is used in both culturally sanctioned and unsanctioned ways. Here, I shall focus my attention on the charango and its actual and symbolic functions in the courting cycle in the province of Canas, Cusco. In Canas the charango is used almost exclusively by young, single men in courting activities, and the instrument is viewed as an essential tool for winning a girl.2 In this region, courting takes place in a sequence of formalized activities in which the charango serves a well-defined, central role. This topic is illuminated further by the description and analysis of a body of folklore that is an intimate part of the charango tradition and involves, of all things, the figure of a mermaid, la sirena. Throughout the southern Peruvian sierra, young charanguistas(charango players) turn to the sirena for supernatural aid in their musical endeavors to capture the hearts of ladies. Specific magical rites are performed to this end, and legends abound of the sirena's intervention in the activities of the string musician (see Appendix 1). The sirena is so important to these musicians that she serves as their own special muse. It will become apparent that this very strange association-of the highland charango with the mermaid-may be explained in regard to a common underlying significance; that is, like the sirena, who for good or ill uses the power of music to seduce, we find the charango vested with a similar ambiguous power.

82 : Thomas Turino

Part 1 Courtingin Canas Among campesinosin Canas, charango performance is viewed as an essential activity for winning the heart of a chola (peasant girl). The instrument is central to a series of courting activities that take place throughout the year and that culminate in marriage or sirvinakuy(a socially sanctioned period of trial marriage). For this reason, the charango is not an instrument for specialists. Rather, every young man develops some performance ability, which allows him to participate in the courting cycle. The first stage of courting takes place at the weekly markets in the larger villages in Canas. The young single men who live in the surrounding communities come to these markets by foot or on horseback and usually play their charangos as they travel. The young men who are actively involved in courting not only dress themselves in their finest clothes, but they may also decorate their charangos elaborately (see photo 1). Both aspects outwardly signify the kind of activity transpiring, as well as support it, since the desired intent is to impress the young ladies. The musicians decorate their instruments with ribbons and mirrors, and each has its own significance. Although not to be taken literally, boastful Caneino youths state that each of the colored ribbons hung from the instrument's peg head (and often they are abundant) represents a girl who has been conquered. Hence, numerous ribbons are a sign of machismo(manliness) and prowess in love. The mirrors, also hung from the peg head, are said to represent eyes, which attract the chola. In legends and festival dances throughout Cusco, mirrors are supposed to have the special power to attract individuals by capturing their images in the glass.3 A number of these young musicians confided that they decorate their instruments precisely to attract girls' attention. Furthermore, although not directly stated, the conspicuous decorations may also be used as a demonstration of wealth meant to impress the girls (One campesinoproudly volunteered the information that his charango cost 5,000 soles 1$12.50[ and that the ribbons and mirrors cost nearly the same). The young charanguistasat these markets stated consistently that they carried their charangos to "sacar chicas" (to get girls or to attract girls). They also indicated that one could not expect any real success with the ladies unless one was playing the charango. It is often at the village markets where a young man first makes his intentions known to the girl(s) of his choice. Courting begins in a very subtle, nonverbal, but persistent, manner. The young charanguista,having identified his heart's desire, passes by her frequently, or hovers around her and strums his

Photo 1 Young CAMPESINOdressedfor courting, Descanso, Canas 1981 (Photo: Elisabeth Barnett Turino).




Photo 2 CHARANGUISTAstrolling the marketin Descanso, Canas

(Photo: author).

The Charangoand the Sirena : 85 charango until he is noticed. He does not sing in this context and he rarely makes eye contact or speaks to the girl directly. This may continue over a series of weeks, until the girl outwardly recognizes his presence with a glance or a smile (to encourage him) or continues to ignore the suitor, thereby defeating him. During the markets all of the charanguistasplay one particular tune repeatedly: the tuta kashwa (night kashwa, or night dance), and in fact it is generally the only piece heard in this context. The tuta kashwa represents the culmination of the courting process, and hence the repeated performance of this piece has a heightened significance, which will be discussed below. Note here, however, that the performance of the tuta kashwa and the playing of the charango itself function for these young men as a nonverbal means of communicating their interest to their ladies during the village markets. Moreover, charango performance is the essential means by which the courting process is initiated. The courting activities at the markets, described above, intensify at various times of the year, as certain festivals approach. In the village of Descanso, Canas, for example, two public festivals, San Andres (December 3) and Santa Cruz (May 3), are special events for the young people of the area and are described locally as "cholo fiestas" (fiestas particularly for young campesinos). Although the names of these fiestas clearly indicate a Catholic basis, the main activities revolve around courting and the punchay kashwa (day kashwa, or day dance). In the weeks before these fiestas, the young men make a major effort to secure a partner for the punchaykashwa. When young people pair off for the public punchaykashwa, it is an important step beyond the market courting activities, since it is a public demonstration of a couple being together. This is all the more curious, since, in actuality, the punchay kashwa is not a "couples dance."

The Punchay Kashwa The term kashwa (Qashwa or Cachua) refers generically to a circle dance of pre-Columbian origin. In a description of Inca music and dance, the Andean chronicler Guaman Poma de Ayala (writing between 1587 and 1615) describes the kaswha song as a "canci6n alegre" (lively or happy song) (1956, 1:233). The seventeenth-century chronicler Bernabe Cobo describes the Inca kashwa as "muy principal . . . es una rueda o corro de hombres y mujeres asidos de las manos, los cuales bailan andando al rededor" (very important . . . it is a circle of men and women holding hands who dance moving around) (1893, 4:231). In contemporary Canas, the term kashwa still refers generically to a circle dance that is

86 : Thomas Turino done in a variety of contexts and choreographic styles but that is clearly related to the pre-Columbian dance. The dance specifically termed punchay kashwa in Canas is a courting dance done at public fiestas in the plazas or streets of a village. The young men who participate always perform the musical accompaniment for the dance on their charangos in unison in a strumming style as they dance: ,\


- 1':.







The dance itself may take several choreographic forms, as the following illustrations show. The basic dance step comprises two taps of one foot, out to the side (while remaining stationary [1-2 in fig. 2]), a change over step on the same foot (forward motion [3]), then two taps with the opposite foot (stationary [4-5], another change over step (forward motion [6]), and then the cycle repeats. Note that the musical phrase of the melody, which is six beats in duration, corresponds with the six-beat dance cycle. It is clear from the diagrams of the choreography (fig. 1) that the young people participate as a group and that the male/female dichotomy is emphasized. In figure la, the circular form of the dance is divided into distinct male and female semicircles. In figure lb the men are enveloped by the circle of dancing women, and thus once again the distinction between the male and female spheres is stressed in the choreography. Although the kashwa is not a couples dance per se, the dancers identify themselves as couples. This is evidenced in the feverish activity to secure

-c 04

\q ((








O C 1c1 C) a/tO

88 : Thomas Turino







Figure 2 (1-2)= (3) = (4-5)= (6) =

two taps out change over two taps out change over

to the side, right foot (weight on left foot) step on right foot (weight on left foot) to the left, left foot (weight on right foot) step on left foot (weight on right foot)

one dance cycle-six

1'J (

J --


J 3J





Figure3 a "partner" in the weeks leading up to these events. I observed in the market courting activities that intraction between the boys and girls was subtle, indirect, and nonverbal, thus emphasizing the social separation of males and females. In the market context, communication between the two spheres takes place primarily through musical means, (i.e., charango performance) as well as through gestures and glances. So too, in the punchay kashwa, the male and female spheres remain separate, as demon-

The Charangoand the Sirena : 89 strated in the choreography, and the pairing off of couples remains subtle and implicit, although the participants know who the couples are. In the punchay kashwa music is again the major communicatory medium between the separate male and female worlds (and between partners), as is evident in the songs and the way they are performed. The musical performance may take a variety of forms. First, the boys may simply play the musical accompaniment to the dance on their charangos. Second, the girls may sing in unison to the boys' charango accompaniment. In a third form, the girls and boys perform the songs in a call-and-response (antiphonal) fashion. Sometimes the male and female dancers sing in unison, but what happens more frequently is that the boys and girls sing different verses at each other simultaneously, each trying to out-shout the other. Thus in the musical performance the male/female dichotomy is expressed, but it is equally clear that music and singing serve as the communicatory medium between the sexes. The punchay kashwa song is strophic. Verses may be improvised on the spot, or the singer may draw from a large repertoire of stock verses. Since the music performance so often takes the form of a "song duel" between the sexes, verses are improvised or chosen to offer whatever challenge, comment, insult, or comeback the situation requires. When singing as a group, they follow a leader's choice in regard to the stanza to be sung. The intensity of the musical activity builds as the performance progresses, until the dancers finally wear themselves out in the climatic singing/shouting matches. The songs most often begin with either invitations to dance or comments on the dancing activity:4 boys:

Hakuchu hakuchu Qhaswarakamusun Hakuchu Mamachay Qhaswarakamusun

Let's go, let's go Dancing the kashwa Let's go little mama Dancing the kashwa

Subtle challenges are introduced into the invitations and are aimed at the opposite sex (and usually at a specific partner): boys or girls:

Mana sayaqtiyki Noqa sayakusaq Mana qhaswaqtiyki Noqa qhaswakusaq

If you won't dance I am going to dance (anyway) If you won't dance the kashwa I am going to dance the kashwa (anyway, i.e., with someone else)

And the banter between the sexes intensifies as they wind into the performance:

90 : Thomas Turino



Hakuchu hakuchu Puriramusiasun Hakuchu hakuchu Kay ura kallinta

Mana risaymanchu Kay ura kallinta Supay masiykipas Selosakuwanman

Let's go, let's go Walking Let's go, let's go To this street below (i.e., away from the crowd-let's off alone)


I can't go To this street below A devil like you Makes me suspicious (jealous)

Then the insults begin, and both one's partner and one's rivals in love are fair game: boys or


Wasiyki qhepapi kinsa loqlo runtu Kinsantin inkayki noqa contrakasqa

In back of your house there are three rotten eggs Your three friends are against me (i.e., are my rivals)

Pin manayachanchu Khuchikasaqaykita Pin manayachanchu Khuchikasaqaykita

Who That Who That

does not know you are filthy does not know you are filthy

The wealth and ingenuity of these song texts and the way that they are manipulated in performance deserve to be the topic of a separate article. Let it suffice to say here that jokes, jabs, insults, challenges (are you going to dance well?/are you going to dance like a man?), as well as praise for oneself (I am well-known throughout this region / all the cholas like to look at me) are themes included in these songs and are a part of the beginning of courtship and sexual play. The song of the punchay kashwa is a particulary good example of how one can sing things that one cannot say, or that are socially unacceptable to say. I have implied above that during the early stages of courtship the young people of Canas are bound, either by social norms or by shyness, not to speak to each other. And yet in the performance of the punchay kashwa song, they sing to, and at, each other with an absolute boldness, because the situation is framed in a way that allows for this type of activity. Clearly, the dance, the music performance in general, and charango performance in particular are essential features for keying this particular frame, which makes communication between the sexes, and courtship, possible. At a more concrete level, the charango provides the instrumental accompaniment for the dance and song. Furthermore, for a

The Charangoand the Sirena : 91 young man, the ability to perform charango is essential to his participation in this important courting activity.

The Tuta Kashwa Kashwanapatata Hakuchu rirusun Sayana lomata Hakuchu rirusun

In the place of the kashwa Let's go walking To dance in the hills Let's go walking

This verse, sung during a punchay kashwa, is a very special type of invitation to dance. The reference to the kashwapata(place of the kashwa), and dancing in the hills indicates that the singer is referring to the tuta kashwa (night kashwa). Unlike the public punchay kashwa, the tuta kashwa is a private young people's dance that takes place in a special place, the kashwapata, in the hills near the community during the nights of April to July. In many instances the tuta kashwa is the culmination of courting, since it is in this context that the young couples often make love for the first time, which leads to marriage or sirvinakuy(trial marriage). Hence, the reference to the tuta kashwa sung in a verse during the punchay kashwa is an invitation to the next and often last stage of the courting process and has the implied reference to sexual activity. I noted above that, during the village markets, the charanguistasplay only the melody of the tuta kashwa during their initial courting activities.


J= oo

Example 2. TUTA KASHWA

The repeated performance of the tuta kashwa melody as the charanguista buzzes around his prospective sweetheart serves as an implied nonverbal invitation to consummate the courting process. The message is delivered through purely musical means and, in this case, the tuta kashwa melody serves as a musical index for both the tuta kashwa dance context, and lovemaking, which is commonly a part of this context.5 Thus in Canas, the simple tuta kashwa melody must be understood as having a particu-

92 : Thomas Turino larly provocative meaning, and it is for this reason that the young campesinos strum it continually as they stroll the marketplace. According to Canefios, the cholos invite the cholas to the tuta kashwa by standing near their houses in the evening and playing a llamada (call or signal) on their charangos. Significantly, the tune of the tuta kashwa is used as the signal. The melody of the tuta kashwa is also played as the group, now assembled, walks to the traditional kashwapata. Once the group arrives at the kashwapatathe dance begins. The step is the same as that described for the punchay kashwa, as are the style of vocal performance and the type of texts used. Note also that, as in the song for the punchay kashwa, the complete melodic phrase of the tuta kashwa is six beats long and corresponds with one cycle of the dance step. In contrast with the punchay kashwa, however, here the women form a circle while holding hands, and the charango-playing men dance around the outside of the circle and tease and flirt with their "partners." Then, as if wishing to elude the men, the circle of dancing females breaks into a line, and they move off to another place to re-form the circle, and the process begins again.6 As the party progresses, some of the couples may slip away into the night to make love. Like the aggressive style of verbal love-making reflected in the kashwa texts, actual lovemaking (as it was described to me) among campesinosis a rough and tumble affair in which the man is the aggressor who battles to have his way with the girl.7 The rough nature of campesinoromance is widely spoken of, and it is referred to in popular sayings such as, "The more he hits me, the more he loves me." After the couples rejoin the party, toward dawn, as the kashwa comes to an end, a despedida(farewell) is sung, again accompanied by charango: Hakuna hakuna ripukapusunchis Tayta mamanchismewatukuwasunchis Aman taytaymanwillaykunkichis Aman mamaymanwillaykunkichis Maypitaq waway nispa niqtinqa Una kanchapinvelasian ninkin Arariwan velasian ninki

We go, we go, now we are going. Our mothers and fathers are going to ask where we are. Do not tell my father! Do not tell my mother! If they ask, Where is my daughter? Tell them I am taking care of the sheep. Tell them that the keeper of the fields is out caring for the crops.



0/ 0^ro





rma le -




female 0 Tancers




Figure 4

94 : Thomas Turino This text is particularly interesting. First, it gives us a clue into the general societal attitudes regarding the tuta kashwa activity, society being represented here by the parents. The chola's almost comically feeble explanation of where she has been all night indicates that there is a general, unspoken acceptance of that which is going on, although some type of pretense may still be required. The song also marks, or keys, the end of the tuta kashwa frame. From the text itself we can see that the song serves as a transition out of the very special situation of the night dance back to the mundane world of parents and chores. The tuta kashwa is a special type of event that allows for certain types of behavior, including sexual activity. It is the culmination of the courting process, which, as I have tried to show here, has a definite structure that, like the tuta kashwa itself, is socially sanctioned, since it leads to marriage or sirvinakuy. It is fitting that music (the despedida)should key the end of the tuta kashwa, since it was the performance of the tuta kashwa melody on charango that marked the beginning of the event, in the llamada, and keyed the whole courting process in the first place during the village markets. As a special type of structured activity, the courting events must somehow be framed, that is, set apart from everyday activity, and be identified publicly as the "courting frame," in which a specific set of rules is in operation (see Abrahams 1977; Bauman 1977; Bateson 1972; Goffman 1974; Turino 1982). Special clothing and charango decorations are used to key the courting activity during the village markets and fiestas. More importantly, however, through an indexical relationship (consistent cultural association), charango playing, and specifically the performance of the tuta kashwa melody, signal that the courting process is indeed under way. Thus at all stages of the courting cycle, charango performance plays a central role in establishing and maintaining the special frame that makes the amorous activities possible. I have already noted that charango playing also serves as an important mode of non-verbal communication between the separate male and female spheres. The charango performance of the tuta kashwa melody during the markets, in the llamada, as well as during the dance itself serves as an index that has as its referent courting and consummation. That is, the performance of the tuta kashwa melody foreshadows the culmination of the courting process by calling to mind the activities that are associated with the night dance. Furthermore, since the sight of a young campesinowith a charango in his hands is so strongly associated with courting, the very act of carrying the instrument signals that the boy has entered the sexual arena. In this case, the physical presence of the charango serves as an index for courtship. So pervasive are the asso-

The Charangoand the Sirena : 95 ciations of the charango with courting and amorous activities that, on several occasions, when walking about a village with my wife and my charango in my hand, people would laugh and say to my wife: "Be careful, you are going to lose him!" The fact that I was with my wife but carrying my charango sent out a mixed cultural signal: that I was married but "still looking." It is precisely because of the charango's strong association with youth and courtship that, generally among campesinos,once a man has his wife and family he will put away his charango, its purpose having been served. Rather than being regarded neutrally, however, a strong negative judgment is leveled against married campesinoswho continue to play charango. It is considered frivolous at best, but more frequently, it is regarded as a sign of irresponsibility to one's duty and family, because the main uses of charango among adult campesinosare in drinking bouts with friends, or woman-chasing (i.e., a continuation of the courting process past the point [marriage] that society deems fit). Thus a married campesinocharango player is labeled a bohemio,a term that carries negative social connotations such as drunkard, woman-chaser, ne'er-do-well, as well as the more romantic notions of the rake and Don Juan. The bohemiois seen as a threat to the fabric of the family and society, and therefore, when used in this context, the charango takes on negative social associations. What needs to be stressed here, however, is that, regardless of the negative connotations of charango use among bohemiosor its positive social significance in the courting cycle, the charango itself is viewed as having a potent power to attract and seduce women. From an analytical point of view, this power might be explained in regard to its indexical and keying functions, as I have tried to do, but this is only part of the story. The instrument's seductive quality is considered magical and, as noted in the introduction, is analogous to the image of the sirena. Like the ambiguous power of the charango, which can be used for good (leading to marriage) or ill (extramarital affairs), the sirena is also a powerful but ambiguous figure that can be dangerous as well as helpful. An analysis of the sirena lore in the following section will aid in arriving at a deeper level of understanding in regard to the role of the charango as an instrument of love.

96 : Thomas Turino

Part 2 La Sirena The wealth of legends and magical practices surrounding the charango reflect the dominant cultural attitudes toward this instrument. Magical rites are performed mainly to enhance the charango's power over women. For example, the campesinosin Chumbivilcus (the province next to Canas) cut off the head and tail of a snake and place them inside the sound box of their charangos. They believe this heightens the instrument's power to captivate or enchant women (E. Saldivar, Chumbivilcus, personal communication, 23 August 1981). In Acora, Puno, campesinostake a hair of their lady love and twist it with a piece of their own hair, after which they tie three knots in the twisted hair and place it in the sound box of the charango. The campesinosbelieve that, if you then play the instrument at midnight, "it will make the girl cry out for the love of you" (J. Catacora, Acora, Puno, personal communication, 4 February 1982). In both of these cases, the charango is the physical medium through which the magical power is created and operates. The vast majority of magic performed and legends told regarding the charango, however, involve the figure of the sirena (see sample in Appendix 1). Almost every town I visited has its own sirena living in a nearby spring, river, lake, or waterfall. Typically, she was described as being a beautiful woman with a fish tail, who is associated with music and seduction. The sirena is so important to string musicians that one man noted: "Some people believe that sirenas are the source of all music and that, if a certain town does not have a sirena, then there will be no music in that town" (see Appendix 1, no. 4). This comment is particularly curious, because the sirena is never associated with wind or percussion instruments native to preconquest Peru, but rather, only with stringed instruments of European or colonial origin (see Appendix 2 for historical information on the Andean sirena). The strict association of the sirena with stringed instruments appears to be original for Latin America, from the colonial period, since there has never been such a consistent association of strings with the European mermaid, nor did stringed instruments exist in Peru before the Spanish conquest. When the indigenous Peruvians first encountered stringed instruments, certain aspects must have seemed truly wondrous, such as the instruments' power to sustain a sound for a relatively long time after being plucked or strummed. Other elements, such as the instruments' need for constant tuning, must have posed certain problems. It is interesting that in contemporary sirena stories and rites, musicians turn to the sirena as a supernatural aid in tuning their instruments (see Appendix 1, nos.

The Charangoand the Sirena : 97 2, 4, 10, 11, 15, 16). Furthermore, a supernatural explanation, the sirena, may have been sought in the colonial period to help explain the long, sustaining quality of strings, as is suggested by comments made by a contemporary charango player (see Appendix 1, no. 4). Since the innovation of stringed instruments and the Greco-Roman mermaid were introduced into the Andes simultaneously during the colonial period, the two may have become associated in the minds of the indigenous people. This process would have been facilitated by the preassociation of mermaids with music, and a syncretization of pre-Columbian water spirits with the sirena (see Appendix 2). Among contemporary campesinomusicians, the sirena is seen as a source of supernatural power who can aid them in their musical and courting endeavors. The musician can partake of the sirena's power to seduce with music by several diverse means. Particularly interesting is a rite that is commonly performed when a boy buys a new charango. This activity takes place at night, and some say that a full moon is necessary. The young campesino, in the company of his friends, takes his new acquisition to the place of the sirena. Frequently the instrument is placed in a manta (a square piece of woven cloth) with gifts for the sirena such as coca, chunu (a type of dried potato), little ornamental figures, coins, alcohol, and the like.8 The boys leave the charango and the gifts with the sirena overnight and then go away so that they will not come in contact with her. They return in the morning to fetch the instrument, which, during the night, is supposed to have been tuned and played by the sirena. The most commonly cited results of this ritual are that (1) the instrument will be perfectly tuned, (2) it will have a more beautiful voice, and (3) the instrument will have more power to conquer the cholas (see Appendix 1, nos. 2, 4, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16). Since, in Canas, the charango is so closely associated with the courting cycle, the purchasing of a charango and the performance of this rite must be interpreted as a preparation for courting activity. The nature of this ritual and its position at the beginning of the courting cycle indicates its significance as a kind of sanctification or initiation rite in which the charango itself is readied for its task. This is particularly evident, since the instrument is taken to the sirena precisely to improve its "voice" and to increase its power to attract girls. This activity parallels other sanctification rituals in which musical instruments are prepared for their roles in sacred or special activity. Another such example is the sanctification of the drums used in Candomble cult centers in Brazil (Herskovits 1944; Behague 1975). The musician can partake of the sirena's power only through the medium of his charango, for if during this ritual, or at any other time, the musician comes into direct contact with the sirena, madness, his own

98 : Thomas Turino seduction and ruin, or some physical harm will befall him (see Appendix 1, nos. 3, 8, 9, 12, 14, 15). For example, Julio Catacora notes: Once I went with a group of boys to the home of a sirenanear Acora to perform a ceremony for a new charango. They put the charango, with coca and alcohol near the spring, then we walked off some distance. We were all drinking. It was about midnight with a full moon. My friends began to say that they were hearing the sirenatuning the charango. I myself did not hear it. Then they all began shouting and screaming to cover up the sirena'smusic, for if we had heard it we would all have gone mad. (Appendix 1, no. 14) Thus, although the sirena is viewed as a source of aid in musical activity during courtship, she herself is considered dangerous. In other instances, the sirena is actually associated with the devil (see Appendix 1, nos. 5, 9). She is therefore an ambiguous figure who can vacillate between her positive and negative aspects, and a positive relationship can be established with her only indirectly, through the medium of one's charango. Another means of partaking of the sirena's positive power, that is, the power to attract with music, is the use of a "charango en sirena" (see Appendix 3 for information about this charango variant). This is a type of charango in which the instrument's sound box is constructed to resemble the mermaid's form, including a female head and a fish tail (see photo 3). As Benavente notes (Appendix 1, no. 1), using the actual form of the sirena for the instrument's sound box is believed to invest the instrument with a "supernatural voice, which is better for winning the cholas." In addition to the personification of the charango built in sirena form, we may also interpret the constant use of the term voz (voice) to refer to the instrument's sound as a type of personification. The term voz may be significant in that the sirena is associated with singing, and interestingly enough, the term voz is used only in reference to stringed instruments (just as the sirena is associated only with strings) but never in relation to the sound of winds or percussion. Another identification of the sound of the charango with the sirena is suggested by the fact that in certain regions of Cusco and Puno the E minor tuning is referred to as the tuning of the sirena.9 The relationship between the charanguistaand the sirena, and the way in which the musician partakes of the mermaid's power through the medium of his charango is based on processes that S. J. Tambiah (1979: 356) has called "persuasive" or "evocative" analogy. Stated briefly, Tambiah distinguishes between science and magic (ritual) in the types of analogy used. In science, analogy is predictive and based on causal relationships and actual similarities between the entities compared. In magic

The Charangoand the Sirena : 99




Photo 3. Instrumentmakerwith his "charangoen sirena," Sicuani, Canchis (Cusco) (Photo: author). and ritual, analogy is used to evoke (rather than predict) a desired end, and relationships of co-occurrence or association replace the causal basis. For example, the sirena through the power of music, has the ability to attract or seduce. The ypung musician (or the bohemio)embarking on his courtship career also wants to gain a similar ability through the power of music. Thus by associating himself with the sirena through the charango initiation (sanctification) ritual, and through the medium of the charango itself, the musician becomeslike the sirena in his power to attract and seduce. In this ritual the analogy is particularly direct (resembling Frazer's contagious magic, 1944:12) in that the charango is believed to be perfectly tuned and to have a better voice because the sirena actually tunes and plays it.


100 : Thomas Turino

Charango Ritual Sirena has

Campesinowith charango (gains)

Ritual that establishes the analogy by using the medium of the charango The power of music (to)

The Power of music (to)



Attract or seduce

Attract or seduce

Other means of establishing the relationship with the sirena and partaking of her powers through evocative analogy are found in the use of the "charango en sirena." Unlike the typical case of homeopathic or imitative magic (Frazer 1944:12), which results in "the influencing [of] certain objects by manipulating other objects which resemble them" (Tambiah 1979:356), however, here the musician wishes to affect the secondary entity (the charango) by imitating the visual image of the primary entity (the sirena). Contrasting with voodoo practices, for example, in which a doll is created as an imitation of a person and then manipulated to affect the real person, the charango en sirena uses the imitation of a visual image to evoke an analogy that affects the charango itself. Interestingly enough, in Southern Peru, a visual representation is used to create an auditory similarity by means of the power of analogy. Sirena

(looks like) -Thus

Beautiful voicc

-(sounds -Thus

Power to attract-

-Charango en sirena


oBeautiful voice


(acts like)

-Power to attract

The Charangoand the Sirena : 101 That is, the charango is made to look like the sirena so that it will sound like the sirena, and her power is thus placed at the disposal of the musician.

Conclusion In the previous discussion of the uses and functions of charango and the societal attitudes regarding these, I noted that charango performance is viewed positively in the courting context among young campesinos, and negatively in regard to bohemioactivities. These attitudes are clearly reflected and reinforced in the sirena stories discussed above (and found in Appendix 1). First, the sirena's role in the charango initiation ritual is clearly positive and hence supports the societal attitudes in sanctioning the use of charango for legitimate courting activities. In the story of the "Saqra charango" (devil charango, Appendix 1, no. 3), the sirena's role once again reflects cultural values in regard to charango use: she puts an end to a bohemio'swicked ways by destroying his tool of seduction, the charango. Note the inversion present here: in the charango rituals, the sirena prepares the instrument for courting by putting it in perfect tune, whereas, in the Saqra charango story, she ruins it by making it untunable. In most cases, however, the sirena herself has an ambiguous identity, which includes her potential for positive aid, her own beauty, and the beauty of her music. At the same time, she is viewed as a dangerous power, a force for destructive seduction, and sometimes she is associated directly with evil. Finally, then, the dualistic nature of the sirena becomes an analogy for the charango itself in its positive (courting) and negative (bohemio)contexts of use. The charango's potent power in courtship and amorous activities has been explained in regard to the instrument's keying functions and indexical significance in these contexts. At another level, the charango is vested with magical power through the process of evocative analogy with the sirena. There is an interesting parallel in the musician's use of the charango in his relationship with the sirena, and in his relationship with the chola during courtship. The female world of the sirena remains separate from that of the musician, and the charango is the only safe medium by which he can contact her. Likewise, in campesinocourtship the charango (and the performance of music) is the only safe, nonverbal, nondirect, hence nonthreatening, bridge by which the campesino can contact the chola. The separation of the male and female spheres is apparent throughout the courting cycle, and is dramatized by the choreography of the punchay and tuta kashwas. In these dances, vocal performance is used by the sexes to communicate, and the music performed

102 : Thomas Turino on charango serves as the essential medium for interaction (song and dance) between them. The performance of the tuta kashwa melody during the village markets and for the llamada serves as an index and directly communicates the intentions and desires of the musician. Finally, the very act of carrying a charango serves as an index for courtship. Hence, the charango is used as both an intermediary and as the means of communication between the separate male and female spheres, and therefore is essential in uniting them. Perhaps the best summary of these multileveled relationships is to be found in the song "Serenitay" (Appendix 1, no. 17), in which the singer himself makes the final important analogy: that between the sirena and his own beloved. In this song his fear ( - ) of her is juxtaposed with his desire ( + ) to participate in the tuta kashwa with her (i.e., make love: "Let us go walking / Let us go strolling / Behind that hill, sister"). Also, the image of the "portrait of the devil" ( -) is juxtaposed with that of the delicate, nocturnal butterfly ( +). This song, then, is filled with ambiguities and the dualities of fear and attraction, danger (evil) and beauty (good). These same dualities characterize the image of the sirena, the cultural attitudes regarding the charango, and finally, young love itself. Just as the sirena is beautiful, seductive, and dangerous, so is the chola, and the young campesinouses music and his charango as a means of communication and as a mediator in the anxiety-provoking experience of courtship and lovemaking.

Appendix 1: Interviews, Stories, and Songs about the Sirena The following statements came forth during informal conversations and formal interviews (in Spanish) with the author, who is responsible for their translation. No. 1. Julio Benavente Diaz, Huarocondo, Cusco, 7/9/81, age 69, mestizo charanguista. Q: Why are charangos made in the shape of sirenas? A: This type of charango is used by campesinosand is associated with a series of legends. The added section on the sound box is believed to give supernatural power to the instrument, the power of the sirena. The added sound hole on the sirena's tail gives the instrument a supernatural voice, which is better for winning the cholas.

The Charangoand the Sirena : 103 No. 2. Eighty-year-old campesinobandurria player, Huarocondo, Cusco, 7/19/81. Near the village [Huarocondo] there is a spring. People say that a sirena lives in this spring. Musicians used to leave their bandurrias, charangos, and mandolins by the spring overnight with the belief that, when they came back for them in the morning, they would be perfectly tuned and that they would have a better, purer voice. No. 3. Ernesto Valdez, Tinta, Cusco, 7/28/81, late thirties, mestizo charanguista. "El Saqra Charango" (The Devil Charango) (story from Sicuani, Cusco). Some time ago there was a charanguistawho was married, but his main reason for playing the charango was to seduce campesinas. He used to take his charango out each night to seduce the girls. One night as he was about to cross a bridge over the Vilcanota River he was stricken by fear, so he started to play his charango. He was walking across the bridge, playing as he went, when, all of a sudden, incredibly beautiful sounds started coming out of his charango, as if he himself were not playing it. At that moment he became dizzy and passed out. Some hours later he woke up, picked up his charango, and went off to the cantina where his friends were to tell them what had happened. They asked him to play his charango-to demonstrate the beautiful sound he had described. But when he tried to tune the instrument before starting, he found that, no matter how he tried, he could not tune it. He became so angry that he threw the charango on the floor in an effort to smash it, but it would not break. After this, he just hung up his charango on the wall and was never able to tune it or play it again. After this, the man was nicknamed "Saqra charango" throughout the region. No. 4. Julio Benavente, 8/1/81. Sirena instruments were used in Huarocondo [in the 1920s] but only "bandurrias en sirena;" "charangos en sirena" came later. When I was a boy, my friend Manuel used to say that all you had to do was put the charango near the spring where the sirena lived and it would be perfectly tuned and capable of creating beautiful music. After a stringed instrument is affected by a sirena all you have to do is strike the strings once and it produces beautiful music almost by itself. Some people believe that sirenas are the source of all music and that if a certain town doesn't have a sirena then there will be no music in that town. [Tapping my

104 : Thomas Turino charango en sirena and then setting it on a table to let it ring, Julio said jokingly] Ah, you see? She is there [inside the sound box]. You see how long it sounds? If a campesinowere here he would say that there is definitely a sirena here! No. 5. J. Tapara Champi, from Yanoaca, Canas, 93-year-old campesino charanguista.Interview took place outside the city of Cusco, where he now lives, 8/14/81. Q: Is there a sirena near here [the ruins of K'enko above the city of Cusco]? A: Yes, there is one living in a river near here. It is the devil. No. 6. An interview with two teenage boys in the city of Cusco 8/22/81. Q: Does a sirena live around here [near K'enko]? A: [The two boys denied any such knowledge for some time. Later in the conversation one of them said] A sirena lives in a hole below Saqsahuaman, which is called saqrachayoc(place of the devil). She is heard singing only on nights of the full moon. Q: Have you heard her sing? A: [One of the boys who lived near the sirena's home answered] Yes. Many of the people in my neighborhood have heard her. Q: Does she play an instrument? A: I have heard her play charango. Q: How did you know it was a charango? A: It sounded like a charango; I recognized its sound. No. 7. David Villasante, Paucartambo, Cusco, 10/15/81, mestizo accordion player in his mid-eighties. When I was about twenty-four, people in the town [of Paucartambo] began telling stories about a sirena who lived beneath the famous colonial bridge Carlos III. People told these stories about the sirena singing beneath the bridge for about thirty years. It was the townspeople, not the campesinos,who told these stories. The people in Paucartambo made up a song about the sirena, but I don't remember it. It was called "Canto de la sirena." The people thought that the sirena was a temptress. Later there was a young bohemionamed Luis Valencia who lived at the foot of the bridge and was known for his singing and his parties. After some time, someone in Paucartambo made up a last verse to the "canto de la sirena," which said [translating from Quechua]:

The Charangoand the Sirena : 105 The sirenawas a beautiful woman With a wonderful voice. She was an enchantress. But it wasn't the sirena, Oh no! it was that youth, Luis Valencia! No. 8. A middle-aged mestiza shopkeeper, Combapata, Cusco, 10/20/81. No, the sirena [of Combapata] does not live in the Vilcanota River. She lives in the springs that feed the chacras(agricultural fields). The musicians from here take their instruments to her overnight between 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. to improve the voice of the instrument. Once there was a girl here, known for her singing. The musicians of the town were always telling her to visit the sirena, for it would improve her singing voice. One night, following the advice of the musicians, she went off to visit the sirena. When she came back the next morning, she had lost her mind, she was crazy, and she is still like that. Now she cannot work or study or do anything. No. 9. F. Paniagua, Pomata, Puno, 11/15/81, mestizo charanguista. Sirenas live in the lake [Titicaca] and they come out at certain times to entice the young men. Once, a young man from Pomata met a beautiful girl in the plaza. He was very drunk at the time. She led him to a beautiful salon, it was like a palace. When they arrived she told him that she wanted to change her clothes but that she would return quickly. He fell asleep in her absence. When he awoke he found himself in the water on the shore of the lake being beaten by the waves. The sirena had taken him to an enchanted place. No. 10. Paniagua, 11/15/81. When a mozo [a young peasant boy] buys a charango he will perform a certain ceremony for it. He takes the charango and places it in a manta (a square piece of cloth) called inkuia. Then he puts coca, sweets, the fetus of animals, and small figurines on the manta with his charango, which, being new, is of course totally out of tune. He sets off with this bundle and a bottle of alcohol. When he has reached a solitary place he leaves the bundle for several hours. Upon return, the mozo finds that his charango is perfectly tuned and that it has a magnificent voice. [Paniagua implies that the boy takes the ritual bundle off to a solitary place and drinks the alcohol while waiting for the transformation to take

106 : Thomas Turino place, some distance from the spot. Furthermore, although he does not mention the sirena in this story, he told it to me in response to a question about the sirena.] No. 11. Luis Quispe, Yanaoca, Canas, Cusco, 12/6/81, campesino charanguista, 82 years old. Near Yanaoca, sirenas do not live in the lake, they live in rivers where the water runs fast. There is an old custom: people take a new charango, with a new sol [coin] of silver, and the tongue of a snake to a place where the sirena is believed to live. Then these things are hung over the place in the river where the sirena lives. And when one retrieves the charango it is supposed to be exactly in tune. But I do not believe these stories. I think that when the charango is retrieved, it is tuned exactly as the owner left it. No. 12. Luis Quispe 12/8/81. Once when I was at home, and I was a little drunk, I went outside to urinate. While outside, I had a vision. I saw a beautiful, green, wide pampa [plain] and two men walking across it toward me. I knew the two men, and it all seemed real. I did not understand what I had seen, but I connected this experience with stories I have heard about the sirena coming to take away musicians who play particularly beautifully. But I do not think that this is the answer, because the sirena usually comes to musicians in dreams, and I was awake [he did not elaborate on the connection between the men whom he saw and the sirena]. No. 13. Thomas Turino, 2/3/82, (the following experience took place on the shores of Lake Titicaca near the city of Puno). I was sitting by Lake Titicaca composing a new wayno. When I finished the song I played it over and over for quite some time so that I would not forget it. After I had finished playing, I held my charango on my lap looking out over the water. Just then, I began to hear a very beautiful sound coming from my charango. It was soft but very clear, thick with overtones, like a celestial tonic, which gradually shifted to the fifth and then back again. I listened to the charango for some time, occasionally bringing it close to my ear to hear it better. The wind was blowing very hard off the lake, and I immediately assumed that the wind in the strings was creating the sound. On the way back to town I began thinking that this must be an explanation for all of the sirena stories in which stringed instruments are said to play by themselves. Once back at

The Charangoand the Sirena : 107 the hotel (which was on the lake) I began writing the experience down in my journal. Then, because of a sudden thought, I decided to go up to the roof to test the charango again in the wind. The wind was blowing with the same velocity off the lake, and I held the instrument in all possible directions and at all conceivable angles. The charango did not make a sound. Over the next several weeks I tested the charango again and again but always without success. Later, I described my experience to a campesinowho lived near the spot and he said: "Of course, what do you expect, a sirena lives right there!" No. 14. Julio Catacora, Acora, Puno, 2/4/82, 30-year-old mestizo charanguista. Sirenas don't live in the lake [Titicaca], rather, they live in the pure mountain springs. Once I went with a group of boys to the home of a sirena near Acora to perform a ceremony for a new charango. They put the charango, with coca and alcohol, near the spring, then we walked off some distance. We were all drinking. It was about midnight with a full moon. My friends began to say that they were hearing the sirena tuning the charango. I myself did not hear it. Then they all began shouting and screaming to cover up the sirena's music, for if we had heard it we would all have gone mad. No. 15. Pancho Huatta, Taquile, Puno, 2/5/82, campesinomusician. [Warning me, Pancho said] It is dangerous to walk around Taquile at night with a charango, because there are beautiful women who appear and try to lure men. These women are supernatural, like sirenas. You do not have to worry too much, just don't fall for them or go with them. No. 16. R. Quispe, Descanso, Canas, 2/20/182, teenage charanguista. When we get a new charango we [the cholos] take it to the place by the river where the sirenalives. We leave it there overnight, and in the morning the charango is perfectly tuned and has a better voice. Once the sirena has played the charango, it has greater power for conquering the cholas. No. 17. "Serenitay" (the performance of this song by a young campesinocharanguistawas recorded in Descanso, Canas, Cusco, 3/20/82)

108 : Thomas Turino Serenitayserenitay serenitayserenitay tuta purikuqtiy mancharichiwan nisiawanki tuta purikuqtiy nisiawanki

My sirena, my sirena My sirena, my sirena, When I walk out in the night, You make me afraid, You are speaking to me, When I walk out in the night, You are speaking to me.

Tuta purikuqtiy

When I walk out in the nightButterfly nocturnal, When I walk out in the nightButterfly nocturnal. Be careful, you cause fearPortrait of the devil, Be careful, you cause terrorPortrait of the devil.

yana taparaku tuta purikuqtiy yana taparaku mancharichiwankimantaq supaypa retraton mancharichiwankimantaq supaypa retraton hakuchopuriramusiasun hakuchopasearamusiasun Haqay lomaq qhepachantapanachay

Let us go walking, Let us go strolling, Behind that hill, sister.

Mancharichiwankimantaq serenitay mancharichiwankimantaq serenitay tuta purikuq taparakito supaypa retraton tuta purikuq taparakito supaypa retraton supaypa retraton

Be careful, you cause My sirena, Be careful, you cause My sirena, Butterfly that goes by Portrait of the devil, Butterfly that goes by Portrait of the devil, Portrait of the devil.

fearterrornight, night,

Appendix 2: Background Information about the Andean Sirena In addition to the prominence of the sirena in legends and magical practices connected with the southern Peruvian string traditions, she is featured as an important motif in decorative colonial church art throughout southern Peru and in Bolivia (a region that has as its center Lake Titicaca: see photo 4). It is in the latter context that the motif has received the most attention from scholars. For our present purposes, however (i.e., to explain the wide diffusion and importance of the sirena among string musicians), we must consider the sirena as a motif in colonial art

The Charangoand the Sirena : 109

Photo 4. Sirena with charango. On thefacade of the Puno Cathedral,completed 1755 (Photo. author).

as well as in the musical lore for several reasons. First, the Greco-Roman image of the mermaid was obviously introduced into the Andes as an art motif. Second, and more significant, the importance of the sirena both as a motif in colonial art and in musical lore probably has a similar underlying syncretistic basis. The well-known ancient European mermaid figure in the typical GrecoRoman form that she assumes in Andean art (see photo 4) has led scholars to assume a purely European origin for this motif in the Andes

110 : Thomas Turino (Luks 1979:109-114; Rowe 1961:317). There are a number of problems with this conclusion. Consider, for example, that sirenas are much more abundant in Andean colonial church art than in the European art of the same period and function. This indicates that the Andean artists opted for this motif more often than did their European counterparts. Note also that the sirena appears in Andean church art in the same locations (for example, on the facade above the cathedral door) where angels would typically be featured in Europe. Furthermore, 50 percent of the thirty-two sirena pairs that I surveyed in Andean church art held stringed instruments, and those that did not most frequently were shield bearers. Therefore, we find the Andean sirena in roles usually filled by angels in European church art of the same period (i.e., as shield bearers or musicians in the "angel band"). This suggests that the sirena was being used as a substitute for the angel motif by a number of Andean artists. We cannot look to a European source to explain this phenomenon, since nothing similar occurred there. Rather, we must look to traditional Andean culture to explain why Andean artists would prefer the figure of the mermaid to the more dominant European angel motif. Harold Wethey (1971) moves in the right direction when he classifies the motif of the Andean sirena as typical of "mestizo art" and thus suggests, at least, that the motif is a product of syncretism on some level. He is inaccurate, however, in indicating that all of the musical sirenas are playing charangos. Rather, the majority of them play vihuela or guitarsized instruments, and therefore the presence of a "charango" cannot be used to strengthen the claim that the sirena is a mestizo motif, as Wethey intimates. Taking a view more radical than those mentioned above, Gisbert (1980:46-48) argues for the existence of a pre-Hispanic Andean mermaid tradition in the Lake Titicaca region. She reasons that certain European artistic motifs, including the sirena, flowered in the Andes precisely because there was a preconquest myth, legend, or idea that matched the European motif-thus aiding the process of syncretism. Although I agree with her basic premise, I find her documentation lacking. Using the early Andean lexicographer Bertonio as her main source, Gisbert cites the following evidence: (1) Bertonio writes that "Quesintuu and Umantuu are two sisters with whom Tunupa [a pre-Columbian diety] sinned"; (2) Umantuu and Quesintuu are the names of fish in Lake Titicaca; (3) therefore (she concludes) the two sisters were women-fish (or sirenas) that were temptresses causing Tunupa to sin and thus closely resembled the European mermaid. Unfortunately, in his brief description of Umantuu and Quesintuu, Bertonio mentions nothing about Lake Titicaca, mermaids, fish tails, or even fish. Thus her evidence, although suggestive, is far from conclusive.

The Charangoand the Sirena : 111 Although they do not resemble the Greco-Roman mermaid in form, we do find anthropomorphized fish in the textiles of the early coastal culture of Paracas (Sawyer 1961:296-297; Baumann 1963:123). Whereas their existence proves nothing in regard to the later Inca sierra culture, these figures indicate that the idea of a being-part human and part fish -did exist in pre-Columbian Peru. Such an idea could, obviously, be amalgated easily with the image of the European sirena. Regarding the sierra culture of the Inca period specifically, we know that there were a number of pre-Columbian water spirits associated with specific lakes, springs, and rivers (Guaman Poma 1956,1:188); and Guaman Poma de Ayala specifically mentions the great huaca (spirits or dieties associated with places or objects of nature) of Lake Titicaca. It is easy to understand how the Andean people might have adopted the European representation of the mermaid as a logical physical representation for their traditional water spirits. Interestingly enough, in an indigenous community in Pisac, Cusco (about 80 percent monolingual Quechua speakers), the people still speak of a sirena (using the Spanish word) who is a female consort to the local Apu (mountain spirit or diety). It is said that the Apu calls on the sirena to entertain him with her singing (she plays no instrument). Why the people should use the Spanish term sirena for what appears to be basically an indigenous water spirit in a religious context that is primarily Quechua remains a mystery. The use of the Spanish term indicates that syncretism on some level has occurred. The fact that she is consort to the Apu indicates an indigenous base; her musical role remains open to question. A hint about water spirits and music, however, may be found in a particularly intriguing drawing by Guaman Poma (writing between 1587 and 1615; 1956,1:234; also see fig. 5) entitled [Inca] "canciones y musica" (songs and music). Here we have a picture of two male flute players overlooking a river. In the river, in a waterfall, sit two enigmatic women who are naked and clearly depicted as singing. Throughout Guaman Poma's work very little occurs pictorially without intended significance. The prominence of the river, the waterfall, and the singing female figures may indicate a pre-Columbian myth or legend associating water spirits (the two women) with singing and music. Significantly, contemporary sirenas are often said to live in waterfalls or in the fast-moving parts of rivers. This interpretation would help us explain the contemporary case in Pisac mentioned above. In the European tradition, the figure of the mermaid, which originally was nonmusical, was blended with the image of the very seductive, and very musical siren (originally depicted as a huge bird with a human head-Pollard 1965:137-144). Baring-Gould (1901:494) concludes that the pre-Homeric mermaids (mermen) were often solar cult dieties. The





Canciones populares Pingollo Ba le de las chacras

Cinca urco queancalla Pingollonapata corro

Uiroy paccha Ca;da de agua

Nombru de lugares

Col,que machaCuay P'atJ serpen. tear,rtt Cantoc uno. O-ilia del rio

Uaca punco

Uatanay mayoRio de Huatanay

Puerta de Ia Huaca Canciones y musica.

Figure 5. "Cancionesy Misica" (Guaman Poma 1956,1.234)

The Charangoand the Sirena : 113 merman in the Greek pantheon was Triton. These figures were not originally associated with music, whereas the pre-Homeric sirens (bird-human) were depicted in sculptures from the sixth century B.C. with musical instruments and in musical contexts (Pollard 1965:137). The Homeric sirens were strongly associated with the seductive power of song, and their power was considered particularly dangerous much like the contemporary Andean sirena. Mermaids feature largely in European folklore (see Thompson 1955,1: 370-372; Baring-Gould 1901:504-523; Carrington 1957: chap. 1), and by the frequent sightings of them by mariners during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries spurred the actual belief in these beings. In many of the folklore legends and stories of "actual" sightings, the association of the mermaid and music is practically nonexistent (more common is the mermaid with her mirror and comb). Of central importance to the present paper, however, is the European folkloric tradition, which fused the physical image of the mermaid with the musical and seductive qualities of the siren. This process had taken place by the Peruvian colonial period, and in the Spanish language there is only the is translated as both siren, woman who sings single term-sirena-which charmingly; and mermaid, sea-nymph (Velazquez de la Cadena 1973: 588; Navarro 1965:142). Because of this synthesis, the Spanish mermaid became closely associated with music. If I am correct in my interpretation of Guaman Poma's drawing, then there also may have been an association of pre-Columbian Peruvian water spirits with music. Thus in addition to the natural synthesis of two supernatural figures, both associated with water, the possibility that both also had a preassociation with music would have greatly influenced syncretism. Furthermore, the latter fact would adequately explain the sirena's appeal to Andean musicians. The predominant association of the Andean sirena with stringed instruments specfically (and thus, with string musicians) is discussed on pages 94 and 95 of this paper. The blending of the European "angel band" motif and the Andean sirena, already discussed, may have been another source for the sirena/strings association. The predominance of the sirena motif both in Andean colonial art and in the musical lore suggests that a pre-Columbian mythical or religious figure predisposed the indigenous people to the rapid and widespread acceptance of the Greco-Roman mermaid. I have suggested several possibilities for how the syncretism between the mermaid and an indigenous water spirit might have occurred following Gisbert's basic premise, although I have rejected the specificity of her case. Further research is needed before a more definite explanation can be proposed.

114 : Thomas Turino

Appendix 3: Notes on the "Charango en Sirena" In the charango en sirena variant of the instrument, the sound box is constructed in the shape of a mermaid with a female human head and a fish tail (see photo 3). The sound box has a flat, wooden back and resembles typical charangos in all other respects. To my knowledge, charangos en sirena have not been mentioned previously in the literature. For example, even the recent Mapa de los instrumentosmusicalesde uso popular en el Pert, which has seventeen separate listings for charango-chillador types (Instituto Nacional de Cultura 1978:136-141), neglects to mention this interesting variant. The reason is not clear, nor is the history of the charango en sirena itself. Rather than offering any definitive conclusions about the origin and background of this charango type, I shall merely summarize my findings, arrived at through observation and interviews in southern Peru, with the understanding that further research is necessary. The charango en sirena (as well as guitars and bandurrias in sirena form) are said to have existed at least by the beginning of this century. Several residents from the central part of the Department of Cusco claimed that instruments in sirena form (including charangos, bandurrias, and guitars) were built by a maker in Urubamba beginning in the first decade of the 1900s. Makers and musicians in the southern provinces of Cusco (Canas, Espinar, Canchis) stated that instruments in sirena form were made in their region around the same time. The contemporary diffusion-area of the charango en sirena seems to be centered in the Department of Cusco, and particularly in the southern provinces. The instrument was and is produced predominantly by rural instrument-makers for campesinomusicians, although in recent years urban instrument-makers in the cities of Cusco and Ayacucho have begun to build instruments in sirena form for the tourist market. It should be stressed, however, that the playing of charangos en sirena is not particularly common in normal contexts of charango use. During a year of research in southern Peru, I saw the sirena variant used twice by campesinosduring a weekly market in Espinar, and by one campesino musician from Canas who now lives in Cusco. This fact seems inconsistent with the relatively large number of sirena charangos that I witnessed in the shops of instrument makers who I know sell to a campesinoclientele. Instrument builders tailor what they make to their markets. Clearly, if there were not a demand for these instruments they would not keep making them. Therefore, this inconsistency raises interesting questions for future research; that is, where do these instruments go and what are they used for after they leave the maker's shop? In a number of interviews with instrument builders who produce the charangos en sirena, I was told that they make this variant because their

The Charangoand the Sirena : 115 (campesino)customers simply "like the shape." When asked why certain people prefer the sirena shape, some builders replied that it was purely for ornamental reasons and others confirmed the idea that people "think" that the sirena variant has a better or more powerful voice. In this context, powerful often refers to the instrument's potential for attracting women. In regard to the makers themselves, I could discover no special magical practices or beliefs that accompany the construction of charangos en sirena, but this point should be pursued further. Although not an adequate explanation in and of itself, the ornamental or decorative function of the sirena design should not be dismissed lightly. In the southern Peruvian sierra, the charango, other necked lutes, and harps are decorated frequently with inlays or carvings utilizing various motifs, including birds, fish, flowers, women, and the sirena. Note, for example, a photograph on the record jacket of The Inca Harp (Lyrichord LLST 7359), which features a diatonic harp from Ayacucho decorated with an elaborately carved sirena. Whether instruments constructed in the form of a sirena are to be judged as having a magical, or merely a decorative, significance (or both), must rely on the beliefs and interpretation of the owner/musician himself. A whole range of meaning, suggested in the present article, is possible.

Notes 1. It is a well-accepted fact that before the arrival of the Spanish, only winds and percussion instruments were used by the indigenous people of the Peruvian sierra. After the conquest, a variety of European stringed instruments were diffused throughout the Andes, and the charango, the only hybrid stringed instrument of the central Andean region, was born. The charango was created as an imitation of the Spanish guitar, but its small size and unique, high-pitched sound quality resulted from the demands of the indigenous aesthetic that has favored high pitch from the pre-Columbian period through the present and to considerations of easy transport. My research on the charango was conducted in southern Peru, June 1981 to May 1982. The fieldwork was supported by a fellowship from the Inter-American Foundation, which I gratefully acknowledge. 2. The age of campesinosinvolved in courtship may range from fifteen to the early twenties. The number participating on any given market day may vary from about two to fifteen. 3. Another common version holds that, when one holds a mirror up to someone's face, their reflection in the glass strikes them as handsome or friendly, and they are thereby attracted to the mirror.

116 : Thomas Turino 4. Saturnino Mamani Pillco transcribed and translated the song texts from Quechua to Spanish. His notation of the Quechua is retained. I am responsible for the English translations, for which I used both the original Quechua and Saturnino's Spanish translations. The texts provided here were recorded in Descanso, Canas, 20 March 1982. 5. In Peircian terms, an index may be defined as a type of sign that comes to represent a particular idea or object through the process of association or co-occurence. Hence, the wedding march might be considered a musical index for marriage or the marriage ceremony. For a discussion of musical symbols, indexes, and icons, see Turino 1982. 6. I have witnessed this same type of choreography being used in a noncourting context in the neighboring province of Canchis. 7. In his discussion of the uses of music in various courtship and marriage rituals, Boiles discusses examples of song duels between the sexes and musical taunting, which is used to lead to premarital sexual relations. These examples parallel the song duels of the punchay and tuta kashwa, which also may lead to premarital sexual relations (see Boiles 1978:120-121). 8. The reciprocal relationship between humans and the supernatural is an important feature of Andean religion, in which the worshiper gives the deity gifts in return for the supernatural aid received. The most common cases are a series of rituals performed for Pachamama (earth mother) in which she is fed coca, chunu, corn chicha (corn beer) in return for her gift of earth and animal fertility (one campesinoremarked, "If we do not feed the earth, our crops and our animals will die"). The offerings made to the sirena during the charango initiation ceremony closely resemble those given to Pachamama, and, indeed, this aspect of the ceremony seems to be part of this larger indigenous tradition. 9. E minor tuning, or the sirena tuning (also sometimes called the Diablo [devil] tuning):

The Charangoand the Sirena : 117

Bibliography Abrahams, Roger D. 1977 "Towards an Enactment-Centered Theory of Folklore." In Frontiersof Folklore, edited by William R. Bascom, pp. 79-120. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press. Baring-Gould, S. 1901 CuriousMyths of the Middle Ages. New York: Longmans, Green and Co. Bateson, Gregory "A Theory of Play and Fantasy." In Steps to an Ecology of 1972 Mind, pp. 177-193. San Francisco: Chandler. Bauman, Richard 1977 VerbalArt as Performance.Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House. Baumann, Hans Gold and Gods of Peru. Oxford: Oxford University Press 1963 and Random House. Behague, Gerard 1975 "Notes on Regional and National Trends in Afro-Brazilian Cult Music." In Tradition and Renewal, edited by Merlin H. Forster, p. 68-80. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Boiles, Charles 1978 Man, Magic, and Musical Occasions. Columbus, Ohio: Collegiate Publishing. Carrington, Richard Mermaids and Mastodons. London: Chatto and Windus. 1957 Cobo, Bernabe 1893 Historia del Nuevo Mundo. Seville: Imp. de E. Rasco, Bustos Tavera. Frazer, Sir James G. 1944 The GoldenBough: A Study in Magic and Religion. New York: Macmillan.

118 : Thomas Turino Gisbert, Teresa 1980 Iconografiay mitos ind'genasen el arte. La Paz: Gisbert y Cia. Goffman, Erving 1974 FrameAnalysis: An Essay on the Organizationof Experience. New York: Harper & Row. Guaman Poma de Ayala, Felipe 1956 La Nueva Crdnicay Buen Gobierno.Lima: Editorial Cultural. Herskovits, Melville J. 1944 "Drums and Drummers in Afro-Brazilian Cult Life." The Musical Quarterly30, no. 4:477-492. Instituto Nacional de Cultura 1978 Mapa de los instrumentosmusicalesde uso popular en el Peru. Lima: Oficina de Musica y Danza. Luks, Ilmar 1979

"Algunas consideraciones sobre la 'sirena india'." Bolet'n del Centrode InvestigacionesHistdricasy Esteticas 24: 109-114.

Navarro Hinojosa, Ida 1965 Follett Vest-PocketSpanish Dictionary. Chicago: Follett. Pollard, John 1965 Seers, Shrines and Sirens. London: George Allan and Unwin. Rowe, John Howland 1961 "The Chronology of Inca Wooden Cups." In Essays in Pre-ColumbianArt and Archaeologyby Samuel K. Lothrop et al. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Sawyer, Alan R. 1961 "Paracas and Nazca Iconography." In Essays in PreColumbianArt and Archaeologyby Samuel K. Lothrop et al. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Tambiah, S. J. 1979 "The Form and Meaning of Magical Acts: A Point of View." In Reader in ComparativeReligion (4th ed.), edited by William A. Lessa and Evon Z. Vogt. New York: Harper & Row.

The Charangoand the Sirena : 119 Thompson, Stith 1955 Motif-Index of Folk Literature.Copenhagen: Rosenkilde and Bagger. Turino, Thomas "Communication in Performance: The Fiesta of the Vir1982 gen del Carmen, Paucartambo, Peru." Master's thesis, University of Texas at Austin. Velazquez de la Cadena, Mariano A New PronouncingDictionary of the Spanish and English Lan1973 guages. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. Wethey, Harold E. 1971 Colonial Architectureand Sculpturein Peru. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.

The charango and the "sirena": Music, Magic, and the power of love. By Thomas Turino  

Estudio etnomusicológico del charango en la provincia de Canas, Cusco, en sus distintos contextos de uso.

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you