The Condor flies in Istanbul


I heard El Condor Pasa today.

In 1970, Paul Simon included the song, originally an Andean folk melody, then adapted by Peruvian composer and ethnomusicologist Daniel Alomia Robles, in Bridge Over Troubled Waters. That may partly explain how these Latin American musicians ended up performing the song in Istanbul. It doesn’t begin to explain what they’re wearing. Don’t traditional Quechua clothes look Indian enough?  It is true that feathered headdresses from the Great Plains leave no doubt.

By the time Evliya Çelebi began his travels in the mid 1600s, Western Europe had conquered much of the Americas and it’s possible that he knew about the widespread annihilation of Native lives on both hemispheres. Evliya claims to have spoken with two Native Americans while visiting a Dutch port city. He described them as short, hairy men, who were being held as prisoners on a ship. They told him, “Our world used to be peaceful, but it has been filled with the greedy people, men of this world who make war every year and shorten our lives.”  While it’s true that he considered Western Europeans his enemies and might have taken any opportunity to criticize them, his compassion for those two men and their shattered world is genuine.

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