Peruvian Cuisine, Traditional Food

The Sacred Vessel, Qero, Still Lives in Cuzco

An Undecorated Qero (Photo: Walter Coraza Morvelia)

The qero is a sacred vessel.  Shaped like a large drinking glass and was a very valuable and sacred in the times of the Incas. It was used for ceremonies, such as in the Inti Raymi where it still finds use.  Chicha, a holy drink made of fermented corn was poured into it and then the Inca raised in his hands the qero to the sun.

In Inca times this object was the most sacred possession a person could have.  It symbolized the presence of the Inca in a person´s home.  It signaled a connection between the culture, tradition, and the ancestral past.  For that reason the Spanish invaders decided to destroy them.

Nevertheless, the Andean Man who would not forget his culture, decided to inscribe his traditions in this man made object in clandestine form during colonial times.  Inca qeros held geometric designs that were incised or they took the form of a human head or of a jaguar.  In colonial times they were decorated with figurative, painted scenes in brilliant colors.  Red predominated along with a creamy white and black lines.

Caporal a New Type of Qero in Cuzco (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)
Caporal a New Type of Qero in Cuzco (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

It is not known exactly where in Tawantinsuyo, the inca Empire, this sacred object originated, though many possible histories have been created.  Nevertheless some people think that it may have come from a community in Cuzco that is important today. Q’eros.  That may be where the first ceremonial vessels were made.

There are many people who continue to make qeros today.  They innovate and make them for new purposes and in different colors, with different figures and designs, and they make them in diverse shapes.

The qero was and continues to be a significant means of communication through which Andean Man establishes a connection among his culture, his tradition, and his past.

 

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