Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Three Canyons Suykutambo: The other marvel of Cusco

by the Colca Specialist

Many friends of mine in Colca Valley and Colca Canyon are wondering Why the Colca Specialist is writing about the K´ana people and about Three Canyons Suykutambo from Cusco?

Simple.The K´ana people were one of the first inhabitants that occupied Colca Valley and Colca Canyon. The K´ana people has a cultural link with our people in Colca Valley and Colca Canyon and that can be appreciated in a direct way through the pallayes or weavings symbols and through specific rituals and festivals where we can easily realise about this situation. The Cabana people are descendants of the ancient K´ana people.

The townhall of Suykutambo district directed by its major Pedro Pablo Rojas Figueroa organized the I festival of traditional carnival dances which had as scenario nothing less than the three canyons of Suykutambo. Suykutambo is one of the districts of Espinar province located in Cusco.

Cusco is a box of surprises for the tourists who are seeking new touristic attractions in the land of the Incas.

Three canyons of Suykutambo are one of the new attractions recently discovered and they are located in what it was the K´ana realm in the high provinces of Cusco.

According to the Spanish chronicle writer Pedro Cieza de León,one of the most important shrines of the inca empire was the shrine called Aconcagua which was considered as a powerful oracle and shrine now called María Fortaleza in Tajrachullo, place closed to Suykutambo area.

The three canyons of Suykutambo area where considered as a shrine by the Incas too, so definitively there is much to see in this place. The landscape is simply amazing.

The area is crowded with archaeological sites, rupestrian paintings that belong to different periods and even paleontological findings like the ones that where found in Pichigua district in Espinar, Cusco.

The culture is one of the most important attractions this place has to offer, and this is the right place for those that are seeking to see traditions that are literally lost because of the influence of modern society.

In this place, the K´anas continue performing the ancient ceremonials and keeping traditions that literally have disappeared in other areas of Cusco. If you love culture this is the perfect place for you. Far away off the beaten touristic track.

The festival was really amazing. I was invited by the major of Suykutambo Pedro Pablo Rojas Figueroa and by Iván Escalante Vargas to take part in this festival in order to film the festival for the Peruvian TV program Pureq Runa (The walker in quechua),a program which covers culture and adventure in Perú.

My main interest was to see the dance called TUPAY ,a dance that is associated to fertility. The male dancer is called CHUKO and the female partner is the SOLTERA (soltera means single-girl).

The dance is associated with fertility and procreation and it is associated to the reproduction of alpacas and the llamas.
The big flute called Pinkullo is used by the male dancer and it has a phallic symbolism associated to fertility. In some rituals it is used as a weapon too.

The Pinkullo is not just another musical instrument and there are many ceremonials in which this instrument is used for specific purposes. The instrument was declared recently as a cultural patrimony of the nation (resolution Nro.-2081) and it was declared as part of the cultural inheritage of the high provinces of Cusco.

Back to the TUPAY dance again,we say that the CHUKO or male dancer represents the alpacas and the llamas, that through the colourful wool ornaments he wears on. Through the music and the dancing he flirts the SOLTERA or not married girl and at the same time she is his inspiration. The dance can be performed with or without horses too.

The llamas and the alpacas played an important role during the Inca Empire. The llamas were used as way of transportation, not for humans but for cargo. In fact the Incas couldn´t organize any kind of military campaign without having the right quantity of llamas for equipment transportation.

The alpacas situation was different in those times. The alpacas were associated with water specially the white ones.
The alpacas are white, like the ice and the snow of the mountains, like the sperm, like the foamy white water that comes rolling down the mountain and fecundates Mother Earth or Pachamama, like the white man with white hair called Illa Tecsi Wiraqochan ,the Creator of this world, divinity worshipped by the K´ana people in their shrines of Suykutambo area.

The alpacas are offered in special ceremonials performed in February-March done to the Apus or spirits of the mountains. The alpacas are considered female in ceremonials, all of them, and they are associated to rituals of water and fertility. The mother of the alpacas lives inside the fountains of water or lakes according to our traditions.

If the llamas were used for cargo, alpacas were bred in order to have meat and wool. There are two different types of alpacas: one is called HUACAYA (curled hair alpaca) which is very common in the highlands of Perú and the other type is called SURI or NAPA (long hair alpaca).

The SURI alpaca hair is valuable and the animals are expensive. This type of alpaca is not so resistant against the cold weather and extreme altitudes so they are kept in places with the adequate weather conditions.

Alpacas are considered as children of the lakes because they spend much time in the mountain bogs or close to lakes grazing in the pastures in the highlands.

February and March are the months of reproduction of alpacas. Many new born alpacas can be seen in these months and of course this is the rainy season in the highlands too.

Mama qocha or mother sea is the wife of the mountains: the one that sends water to the husband (the mountains) so this can provide water to the runakuna or people.

That is why water is very important for people in Suykutambo of Espinar province and for other native communes of Cusco too.

These points of view that are not respected by the occidental way of thinking which considers water as a simple resource that can be used and manipulated according to man´s desire and caprice, are the main reason of conflicts in the highlands of Peru.

The festival in Suykutambo is a way to create a consciousness in the local people about our traditions and about the importance of the proper use of our natural resources which should be preserved and protected. Now more than ever, specially in these moments when the authorities of Arequipa are trying to alterate the ecosystem through an irrigation project whose is not being done in a sustanaible and responsible way and whose main benefits are not for Peruvian people but for Chilean businessmen.

A project that without being done in a very careful way would provoke a severe damage to the ecosystem of the affected areas.

The festivals and the different cultural activities are a way to make others understand about the real situation of the natives in the Peruvian highlands and a way to show our traditions and touristic attractions to the visitors.

Nobody loves what is unknown and I would like to congratulate the major of Suykutambo district,Pedro Pablo Rojas Figueroa for the organization of this festival, Iván Escalante Vargas for the coordinations done and the facilities provided during our presentation, Mr. Yulder Prieto Barrionuevo for the wonderful book given as a gift with all the information about our K´ana ancestors and Mr Walter Ccamaque Huamaní for having helped us with the interview and information about the TUPAY dance.

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