Takanakuy Fighting Festival

Takanakuy (v.): "To hit each other" (Quechua)

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Every Christmas morning, people of the Chumbivilcas all gather together to sing and dance in preparation for Takanakuy - the region's annual fighting festival. Indigenous Peruvians of the Chumbivilcas province challenge each other to fight in a supervised setting and resolve personal grievances. Located high in remote Peruvian Andes, people from all around the Chumbivilcas region gather in the town of Santo Tomas and the nearby village of Llique. During Takanakuy, the population increases from 300 to approximately 3000.

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Men conceal their identities from challengers with Peruvian ski masks and dress in male-specific costumes depicting intimidating traditional characters such as "Majeno", "Quaranwatanna", "Negro", and "Langos". Women do not partake in the intimidating costume but rather wear traditional dress specific to the Chumbivilcas region as they are typically not permitted to fight.

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Top fighters from all around the Chumbivilcas region gather during Takanakuy seeking to settle scores with rivals or for glory. A great victory in the fighting pit before thousands could mean a great deal of respect and status the coming year.

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A display of dominance, fighters dance around the fighting pit challenging any onlookers or calling out specific individuals to fight and settle personal grievances.

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Referees wielding whips for crowd control are often overrun as spectators jump into the fighting pit to help a friend. Volunteer participants also help break up fighters once a clear winner is apparent.

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Each fight ends with a handshake or hug.