Mamani: An Andean pre-Hispanic surname that’s gaining ground in Bolivia


Participants at an international meeting in La Paz discussed the history of - and the accomplishments of people bearing - the pre-Hispanic surname Mamani, which in the Aymara language means “falcon (or hawk)” and is one of the most common in Bolivia, as well as being typical in other Andean countries such as Ecuador, Peru and in northern Argentina and Chile.

The Jacha Mamani (Great Falcons) convention on the weekend included discussions and talks on linguistic, geographical, literary and astrological subjects related to the ancestral line.

The conference was kicked off with a symbolic offering to Pachamama (Mother Earth) by “amautas” or Andean ancestral guides who presided at a ceremony of typical indigenous rituals.

In comments to EFE, sociologist Pablo Mamani said that his research shows that the surname is one of the “most prevalent in Bolivia,” belonging to more than 734,000 people nationwide, or one out of every 10 or 11 Bolivians.

The expert was one of those tasked with opening the conference and explaining the genealogical and linguistic history of the Mamani clan.

Also participating in the discussion was author Alejandro Mamani, who wrote the first novel in Aymara, as well as other noteworthy experts in various fields.

The subjects discussed at Jacha Mamani included the name’s relationship to the Inca empire, as well as astrological efforts by current members of the line.

Participants enjoyed assorted talks and discussions, all focused on the cultural appreciation of the name and the accomplishments of those bearing it, many of whom have been socially stigmatized and discriminated against for their ancient indigenous name, although some converted their name into the Spanish surname Alcon or Aguilar, both of which suggest falcons or hawks.

Data presented at the event show that people bearing the Mamani surname have migrated abroad in a type of diaspora and have settled in certain countries in Europe and Asia.