Customs, Cuzco Neighborhoods

The Symbol and Memory of the Inca Empire Flies Freely in June

Cuzco's Flag Flying Boldly in the Sun

June is the jubilee month of Cuzco. The people of Cuzco make preparations for it as a month of celebration of their city and region. At this time when the rains have finally ended and the dry season begun, the god of the rainbow smiles on this beautiful place.

With great joy each association of Cuzco’s neighborhoods organizes its members to make sure that its parks and gardens are renewed and gorgeous, that all homes and buildings are freshly painted, and that each home the flag of Tawantinsuyo on high. If for some reason a home does not show the flag then its owners face a fine.

The flag of Tawantinsuyo is a rainbow of colors that the city fathers chose early in the twentieth century to represent contemporary Cuzco and the pride of its connection to the Inca Empire and as the first Capital of Spanish Peru.

To the frustration of many people in Cuzco, if not most, the rainbow flag became associated internationally with the Gay movement and the freedom of sexual minorities. Though the colors are different and though the Tawantinsuyo flag antedates the Gay rainbow the flag of cascading bands of colors is mostly known internationally as Gay. Nevertheless, the people of Cuzco hold strongly to their flag with its relationship to the Inca rainbow.

Tawantinsuyo Flag Flying above Cuzco's Plaza de Armas (Photo: Wayra)
Tawantinsuyo Flag Flying above Cuzco’s Plaza de Armas (Photo: Wayra)

The flag was chosen to represent the ethnic and social diversity of contemporary Cuzco, as well as the union of distinct parts that was the Inca Empire. Known as Tawantinsuyo, the union of four parts, it extended over most of Western South America and its memory is still strong and has a power to organize people in many different countries, not just Cuzco.

Furthermore, the rainbow as divine means much more than simply diversity here. It stands for a bridge across major cosmic boundaries, such as sky and land as well as night and day. It can be considered dangerous or the bringer of fertility and abundance.

Cuzco’s rainbow flag is filled with meaning and is very important this month when Cuzco is celebrated.

Not only do the neighborhood associations perform these activities in preparation for the month, markets, stores and other businesses also freshen themselves up and decorate for the season. They put up colored chains on their displays and show off traditional costumes.

Children also get involved. They hurry home from school to make small, hand painted flags to later parade around the Plaza de Armas, head up in pride, while greeting their Cuzco

Monument in Limacpampa Grande with Flag of Tawantinsuyo (Photo: Wayra)
Monument in Limacpampa Grande with Flag of Tawantinsuyo (Photo: Wayra)

They also prepare for the events during the Day of Cuzco, June 24, carried out by all the city’s institutions together. Besides just the school children, market vendors, and other businesses and civic organizations parade en masse while showing the flag of Tawantinsuyo, carrying papers on which the hymn to Cuzco is printed and more.

Throughout the month of June, every Sunday, a military escort will raise Cuzco’s flag along with the Peruvian national flag to the sound of a Trumpet. On the Day of Cuzco, the mayof of the city will be present for the flag raising.

Every Sunday of the year the Peruvian flag is raised in a ceremony on the main square, although it is only in June that Tawantinsuyo’s flag accompanies it.

For many this ceremony is very important. My grandfather, Don Pedro Coraza told me that he goes every Sunday to be present for the flag raising. At the same time he relaxes and meets up with his friends during the ceremony, while also taking in some sunshine.

He said that when June arrives he and his friends put on special lapel pins carrying the rainbow flag of Cuzco. After the flag is raised he and his friends share memories and experiences they have lived in a way that connects the flag and the ceremony directly with the events of their lives.

To the people of Cuzco, the month of June is very important. It helps us remember who we are and celebrate our past and our present. The flag of Tawantinsuyo flies freely everywhere during this time, even though the Inca Empire has long been gone. It lives in our hearts and in this month it’s symbol openly flies on high.

Flag of Tawantinsuyo on Cuzco's Municipal Building (Photo: Wayra)
Flag of Tawantinsuyo on Cuzco’s Municipal Building (Photo: Wayra)
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