Thursday, January 03, 2008

Peru - A Peek through Eternity (III)

Ancient Traditions

Peruvian agriculture is based on terraced horticulture. A great part of the country is dominated by arid areas, thus every square centimetre of fertile land will be used.
The old Inca irrigation systems are still in place and used by the locals.

Weaving is the main occupation throughout the country and the Inca traditions are kept alive.

Children learn from an early age the art of weaving, knitting and combining the colours.

Incas believed that Pachamama, (a local version of Mother Earth) looked after the crops and caused the earthquakes.
Today, the Quechua populations still venerate the “good mother” by small toasts before festivities and family gatherings. The first sip of chicha (drink made out of maize), is spilled on the floor as a sign of honour. Representations of Pachamama are seen in every traditional house.

Ceramic arts are also a secular tradition which now brings substantial revenue. Tourists are taking home souvenirs, sustaining small communities.

Children are taught to respect their historical heritage by taking an active part in community Festivals & Fairs.

A villager near Cuzco, offering weaving lessons.

The wool is dyed with various natural pigments; the colourful Peruvian textiles are famous world wide.

Every village has its own patterns, shapes and stories.

The Animals

Peru raises various species of the Camelidae family: Vicuñas, Llamas and Alpaca.

Vicuñas are protected by law and they can only be sheared in government-authorised “chacus” (communal efforts). Extremely hard to tame, they can only be shorn every 3 years. Their wool is used for the finest textiles Peru offers.

Llamas and alpacas are the most common animals on the Andean regions. From the times of the Incas, llamas and alpacas have been used as pack animals, as well as for more domestic purposes: garments, fertilizer, fuel, hides and meat.

Corridas (Bull fights) are one of the most enjoyed entertainments. Special breeds of bulls are being raised and it is not unusual to see occasional fights on the road.

Peruvians are proud of their unique, ancient breed of dog, Viringo. These dogs have no fur, only a patch of hair on the top of their head. Their body temperature is quite high and it is believed that the old Incas were using Viringos to cure asthma, by placing the dog on the patient’s chest. As a symbol of the Inca inheritance, every historical site has to own at least one Viringo dog.

In the mountains, the villagers are aware that their survival is conditioned by their animals and they celebrate this bond in a distinct way. In Chivay, a yearly ritual includes honouring the hawks and the bulls.

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