Customs, Food Culture

Signs and Hopes for Abundance, Cuzco’s Taq’i

Taq'es Hanging in the Kitchen with Garlic and Rocotos (Photo: Wayra)

The taq’i, known as a blessing from the Pachamama, are much valued forms of potatoes and corn in which the ear or tuber is multiple. In Cuzco people think of it as a sign of good luck and abundance. Though people look for them constantly, they seldom appear during the harvests. As a result they are even more sought after.

During the harvests of potatoes and corn, as well as other food products, people pour through the produce carefully. If they have the luck of finding a taq’i, they are excited because it means to them that they may have very good luck in next year’s harvest. They will use them in the k’intus, combinations of coca leaves, to carry out offerings to the holy Pachamama. With them they ask for good production in the upcoming year.

People will hang taq’is above their doors and on the walls of their homes or graneries. They represent a prayer for abundance and a reworking of luck to make abundance come to them.

There are taq’s that are two, three, four, or even five units combined. They are easily recognized in corn where the grains grow on top of one another and the rows are irregular.

The altomisayoq, the native priests, use taq’is in the offerings and ceremonies to the apus.

Corn and Potato Taq'is
Corn and Potato Taq’is

You will often find taq’is in kitchens, especially int he more traditional and rustic ones, since this is where food is cooked in traditional stoves (fogoes) and ovens (hornos). Besides it important set of meanings, the taq’i is a fascinating decoration and is part of a traditional style of decoration and an aesthetic in Cuzco.

Note on spelling:  In Quechua orthography there are only three vowels, however the vowel following a q sounds to the ears of  the people of Cuzco like a Spanish e, and so they will spell taq’i as taq’e.

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