Posted on January 25, 2014
This South American fair is a celebration of the miniature. It is a festival of prosperity and abundance.
And it is a very, very old tradition!
Before Bolivia was an independent nation, before it was a Spanish colony, before it was part of the Incan Empire, it was the Tiwanakan Empire of the Aymara people. And one of the gods was Ekeko, a little man with a big belly and a pack on his back. During this festival, figures of Ekeko are on sale—statues showing the god with his mouth open and his arms spread wide, ready to spread good luck.
Also on sale are miniatures of all sorts – teeny houses and baby dolls, little replicas of clothing and food, tiny pots and pans, itsy-bitsy cars and university diplomas, and miniature replicas of almost anything you could think of!
Especially popular: mini-money! Of course there are a lot of tiny replicas of dollar bills and Bolivianos (the currency of the nation).
People buy miniatures of the real items that they want in the coming year, and they put them into Ekeko's pack! (A variation involves a statue wearing a handwoven poncho; the miniature items are pinned to the poncho.)
By the way, the name of the fair, Alasitas, is the Aymaran word for “buy from me.” It is what merchants call out to attract people to buy their miniatures, their Ekeko figurines, or their full-sized food or handicrafts. There are also lots of carnival games and rides to enjoy at the fair!
I love miniatures!
If I were ever to travel to Bolivia, I would love to go during the Alasitas Fair. It would be so fun to buy handcrafted items in miniature, don't you think? Easier to display than full-sized items, too!
Here in the U.S., most people who are into miniatures often either build and furnish dollhouses or play war games.
I have been to at least two miniature museums—a FANTASTIC one in Los Angeles that is, sadly, no longer in existence, and the amazing Old West Miniature Village and Museum in Cody, Wyoming. I make a few miniature scenes with small-scale Christmas decorations every year. So much fun!
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