Today is International Women’s Day. For more than a century this day has honored women in their struggle for equality. This year, the United Nations set the theme as “Empower Women – End Hunger and Poverty.” Cuzco Eats joins the celebration by publishing a photo essay of the women of Cuzco.
We also celebrate the Andean tradition of strong women who fight for a future. This image is represented strongly in the story of Mama Huaco, one of the founders of the Incas. She was a warrior celebrated in battle and became associated with corn which every year fights from the earth to the sky to produce the rich ears which are in abundance right now.
This image of the woman as warrior may have joined with Spanish iconography to make the image of the Angels, which carry a suggestive androgeny even if called by male names, who fight with sword and shield the serpents that would pull life back to earth. As Teresa Gisbert notes these angels proved very popular in Catholic art in Peru and neighboring countries for their depiction of this cosmic struggle.
The woman as nurturer and the woman as warrior join in Andean tradition where Micaela Bastidas fought side by side with her companion known as Tupac Amaru for the liberty of her people. Though both were executed by the Spanish, both live on in the hearts of Peruvian women and men. Both Mama Huaco and Micaela Bastidas provide hope for women around the world in their daily struggle to gain power, and to do battle with reptilian poverty and hunger.