A little of history
What is nowadays the northwest was part of what is known as the Andean World (South Andean Area) composed by three regions: the Puna, the Ravine and the Calchaquies Valleys.
The Tahuantisuyo comprised the current territories of south Colombia, going through Ecuador, mainly Peru and Bolivia, a wide area of Chile and the northwest of Argentina. The Empire was divided into four suyas: Chinchaysuyo (Chinchay Suyu) in the north, Collasuyo (Qulla Suyu) in the south, Antisuyo (Anti Suyu) in the east and Contisuyo (Kunti Suyu) to the west. The capital city of the Empire was Cuzco, in Peru.
The suyus (from the Quechua suyu which means “partially, province”) were the big territories into which several provinces (wamanikuna) were grouped within the Inca Empire. The four suyus together formed was known as Tahuantisuyo.
In the northwest of our country live Argentines who are theirs to the “ancient peoples of the Andean south”, known as kollas. They are the inhabitants of those forsaken places in the Puna, of the northern ravines and of the valleys.
Until 1573, the vast Inca Empire called Tahuantinsuyo was composed by four kingdoms, each carrying the name of the geographical area they comprised: the Chinchay-Suya to the west, the Colla-Suya to the south of the Empire in what nowadays is the northwest of Argentina, Anti-Suyo to the east and Conti-Suyo to the north.
The word suyo means “kingdom”. In the southern area of the south kingdom is the Colla-Suyo, hence the name kollas with which the inhabitants of the Puna are reffered to. The kollas come from series of preexisting peoples among which are the Diaguitas, the Omaguacas and the Atacamas and immigrants from the high Bolivian Plateu or altiplano who spoke Quechua and Aymara. All these peoples are known as natives, since they were the first inhabitants of the region.
What will we know in this trip
In this journey you will visit the Puna, the Puna Jujeña more precisely.
This region is set deep at over 3,000 m. above sea level and reaches one of its highest points in the Santa Catalina department, at about 3900 m. its extended plateau Colorful mountain ranges run by this plateau. The colors in the mountains correspond to the colors of the mineral present in the area. The following are the ones that stand out.
- Salmon: due to red clay, lodolites, cryolites dating from three or four million years ago.
- Whitish: calcareous stone from about 400 million years ago.
- Brown-greys, brown and purples: composed by lead.
- Red: clay (iron) and clay from the upper Tertiary Period.
- Green: copper oxide slate phyllite.
- Earth brownish-grey: rocks with manganese from the Quaternary Period.
- Mustard: calcareous. Sandstone with sulfur of about 80 to 90 millions years ago.
Due to the arid climate and the altitude, the vegetation is mainly hard grass and bushes. The annual rainfall in the area is very low, and most of it takes place in summer, between December and March. Temperatures go from 0 C at nith to 35 C during the day and, there is something peculiar: humidity ranges from 5 to 15% so you do not feel the intense cold at night or the heat during the day.
These natives peoples are pastors and cultivate corn, quinoa and new potatoes. The animals they tend are llamas, alpacas and vicuñas, all of which belong to the Camelidae family. They require little water and little green grass to grow. In addition, they can endure the heights of the Puna. The Llama is the result of the genetic crossing between the tamest guanacos and those with the most wool carried out by the native inhabitants of the Andean World 5000 years ago. The alpaca is the result of a similar process having the vicuña as its protagonist.
From the wool fibers (which after processing become threads) the peoples from the Puna have developed an amazing textile industry while providing something to keep themselves to keep themselves warm during the harsh winters.
In terms of religiousness, the native peoples had a comsogonic view on “the deification of nature” and were attached to the land, which could no the sold.
The Kollas perceive man as part of a holy world and believe in a land without owners or masters. When the conquistadores (Spanish conquerors) and then the independentists arrived, they introduced the concept of ownership and the possibility of selling land.
The most important female deity in the Puna is known as Pachamama, the mother of the land (in Quechua Pacha means “land-world”). Every year the most amazing celebrations for Pachamama´s sake take place. Pachamama is usually connected to the god of heavens, Pachacamac. Myth has it that they had two children: the Sun and the Moon.
Ceremony where food offerings are made by burying them in a hole. The food remains there to feed the land during the whole year until the next celebration. It takes place every August 1st.
It is the “annual rebirth of nature”. The inhabitants strengthen their ties with friends, are grateful for their harvests, ask for a year of prosperity and get together with their children, who return for the festivities. The celebration lasts for two weeks and entails chants, dances and regional foods.
It is the Sun Festivity. It takes place in the village of Huacalera, in front of the Ttropic of Capricorn. The celebration consists of lighting four bonfires and keeping them burning burning during 12 straight hours. It takes place on June 21st.
Toreo Vincha de Casabindo
This celebration pays homage to Our Lady Asuncion, Patroness of Casabindo. It consists of a bullfight where participants have to take a vincha (headband) from the bull´s horns and offer it to the Virgin. Bulls are not at all harmed.