Bolivians celebrate colorful 'Great Power' festival in La Paz

STORY: After a two-year absence due to COVID-19 restrictions, the folkloric festival made its comeback to worship the Lord of the Great Power, whose image is removed from a local church to head the procession.

Wearing shiny white costumes and masks, dancers represent African slaves who worked in Bolivian silver mines.

While the brightness of the men's costumes symbolizes the beads of sweat from hard work, the rhythm of the traditional matraca percussion instrument symbolizes the sound of slaves' chains.

The costumes are funded by rich patrons who support the fraternities to which the dancers belong.

The dancers' shoes, colorful enough to match the dresses and flexible enough to withstand hours of dancing, are cut and sewn by hand.

The festival began in the early 20th century to venerate an image that was first made popular in 1663.

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