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   Information Center Paraguay
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Culture in Paraguay


Paraguayans' cultural ancestry can be traced to the extensive intermarriage the original male Spanish settlers and female indigenous Guaraní brides. Paraguayan culture therefore is a fusion of two things cultures and traditions: one European, the other Southern Guaraní.


The internal market for literature was constrained until recently by the poverty and the limited education of the majority of the population, and by repression and censorship under Stroessner's dictatorship. Nonetheless, there is an active literary tradition. Most literature is in Spanish, although contemporary authors may include Guarani phrases and dialogue in their works.

The 1950s and 1960s saw the flowering of a new generation of Paraguayan novelists and poets such as José Ricardo Mazó, Roque Vallejos, and Nobel Prize nominee Augusto Roa Bastos.

Visual Arts

Traditional folk arts include ñanduti (a spider web-like lace made in the town of Itaugua), ao poí (embroidered cloth), several kinds of ceramic and clay work (especially in the towns of Aregua and Tobatí), and silver filigree jewellery (centred in the town of Luque). Paintings by contemporary artists are displayed in a number of galleries in Asunción.

Performance Arts

Performances of traditional dance, including the bottle dance (so called because the performers balance bottles on their heads) and polkas are popular. The Paraguayan polka combines ternary and binary rhythms, where as the European only uses binary.

Theatre was introduced by Francisco Solano López, and in 1863 the first Italian opera by a touring company was performed in Asunción's National Theatre. Theatre today is centred in Asunción, and works occasionally are performed in Guarani as well as Spanish.


The country is known for slow and often melancholy harp and guitar music. Although European in origin, that music usually is performed in Guarani and reflects national themes. Music is performed by ordinary people for entertainment at social gatherings and celebrations as well as by professional musicians.

The most famous style of music is the Guarania, created by the Paraguayan musician José Asunción Flores in 1925. The Guarania accomplishes this by using a combination of slow rhythms and melodies of melancholia character. Other popular genres of traditional music in Paraguay are the zarzuela and the "Paraguayan Songs", which are derived from the Paraguayan polka.

The main exponents of classical music are Agustín Barrios Mangoré, José Asunción Flores and Juan Carlos Moreno. Moreno composed works inspired on popular themes in a romantic classical path.





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