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The inspiring stones of Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu

By Janet Ramirez Kcana

Visiting Machu Picchu is one of the goals of almost all visitors to the city of Cusco. To get there we generally have to stay one night in Aguas Calientes, a small town full of tourist services everywhere including restaurants, hotels, hostels, handicraft shops and stands, etc. It is a town in the middle of great mountains and is adorned by the Urubamba or Wilkamayu river, translated as Sacred River.

This small town did not have much to offer for recreation since it only has the hot springs, located 10 minutes from the center. Nowadays, it has something more to offer to the visitors.

You will now find an exhibition of works of art, a group of sculptures made of mother stone that reflect our Andean worldview.

Walking from the station towards the Wiñayhuayna neighborhood, observing the river and the majesty of the mountains so close, one finds this series of sculptures carved in the same granitic rock in which the hot springs appear.

At first you can not make sense of the sculpture’s shapes, but when you look closely it seems that they have more to tell. The genius and skill with which they were carved helps you grasp the vision of contemporary Andean man towards the worldview of ancient men who made Machu Picchu. You notice that the lineage has not been lost since both the past and the present focus on a single point: their love and the skill in the work of stone and the knowledge of mythical beings related to Nature .

Of the series of 13 sculptures, some speak about the Pachamama or Mother Earth, the one that gives us its fruits to be able to feed us, the one that gives life, that feminine entity reflected in a woman with long hair with features of Andean woman. In the sculptures she is represented in all her naked splendor, sometimes pregnant as a symbol of fertility or adorned with large ears of corn as a symbol of abundance.

Pachamama, a woman with long hair with features of Andean woman (Photo: Janet Ramirez Kcana)
Pachamama, a woman with long hair with features of Andean woman (Photo: Janet Ramirez Kcana)

There are others that speak to us about Andean Duality, the complementary opposites represented in two silhouettes of men and women. In between them you see a baby that is waltado, wrapped in a woven belt, a tradition in the Andes to protect babies from the cold as a result of the parent’s love.

Andean Duality(Photo Janet Ramirez Kcana)
Andean Duality, In between them you see a baby that is waltado (Photo Janet Ramirez Kcana)

One of the sculptures and perhaps the most touching is that which reflects the protection of the Apus or mountain gods holding a baby in their hands. This baby wears the typical Andean chullo, knit cap, and represents the love of the gods. According to the story of this sculpture, it represents the protection of the Apus given to the children from Aguas Calientes many years ago from a flood and mudslide we call a Huayco.

The protection of the Apus or mountain gods holding a baby in their hands (Photo: Janet Ramirez Kcana)
The protection of the Apus or mountain gods holding a baby in their hands (Photo: Janet Ramirez Kcana)

There is another that is entitled forbidden love. It is a beautiful sculpture of an Inca embracing a woman. Both are semi nudes and reflect erotic love. According to the history of this sculpture, the author tells us that Pachamama must always be with the Apus, the masculine energy of Andean man and is that both the earth and the mountains represent Andean duality. In this case, however. the god of wind, Wayra, is the one who falls in love with Pachamama. The artist wanted to represent in this moment the hidden love of two beings that can never be together.

the god of wind, Wayra and the Pachamama, a beautiful sculpture of an Inca embracing a woman (Janet Ramirez Kcana)
the god of wind, Wayra and the Pachamama, a beautiful sculpture of an Inca embracing a woman (Photo: Janet Ramirez Kcana)

As part of its decoration, the sculpture has the Andean cross inspired by the constellation called the Southern Cross. This is a symbol that represents the three worlds of the Andean worldview. In the lower part, you see three sculpted coca leaves known also as “Coca Kintu”. These are three sacred leaves that, according to the Andean tradition, thank the Apus or gods of the mountains.

All these sculptures were made by renowned Cuzco artists and artisans from Aguas calientes. They were part of the “Pachamama Rimac” contest organized by the municipality of Aguas Calientes in September 2017. If you have the opportunity to visit Aguas Calientes, do not forget to visit and observe this exhibition of the stone sculptures inspired by the Andean worldview and let yourself be enveloped by what goes beyond our eyes.

a obra 'Machu Picchu' trabajada por los artistas Willy Sama, Rubén Mamani, Edwin Huamán y Efraín
La obra ‘Machu Picchu’ trabajada por los artistas Willy Sama, Rubén Mamani, Edwin Huamán y Efraín (Photo: diariocorreo)
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