Customs, fiestas

The Three Kings’ Race, A Tradicion from Canchis

The inhabitants of San Pablo district in Canchis Province hold a race every year on January 6 that is a symbol of their district. The three horseman are dressed as the The Three Kings, the Magi. In the race the district’s people divine what the upcoming year will be like. These horsemen carry gold, incense, and myrrh for Jesus since, according to religious traditions, these represent the three aspects of the divine of of the All Powerful. In this race, the Three Kings are named Inkarri, Mistirri, and Negrorri (The Inca King, the Mestizo King, and the Black King).

The future of the region depends on which king wins the race. If the Inkarri, who represents the valleys of Cusco, wins then people say it will be a good year for harvests. If the Mistirri wins—he represents the high plateau, the altiplano—then the year will cause animals to reproduce well, the llamas and alpacas specifically. If the Negrorri wins then it will not be a good year in either of those two regions. The year will suffer from scarcity, though people curiously say that they will have money. This religious race begins with lighting candles and sitting with the faces, or masks that the Magi Kings will use. The people spread a covering of egg whites on the masks so that when exposed to the candles they take on a more noticeable shine.

The central race of the Three Kings begins in the afternoon in front of a crowd of people from Canchis. The winner of the race among the Kings will have the honor of carrying the recently born child Manuelito at the front of a procession for the feast. The child is followed by the authorities of the district and by the Virgins of Bethlehem. This king also has the responsibility of taking charge of the child for a whole year until the next year’s race. The rule of the conquistadors over the Indians caused a mixing of their culture and the indigenous one of Peru. The mixture appears now inside the culture of the descendants of the natives.

In San Pablo district these descendants mix tradition and history with their indigenous religious rites which is why the Three King’s race means, for them, that the region will prosper of decline in the future. San Pablo’s municipality also organizes a fair of the Three Kings during this event. Its object is to help the residents of the region to sell their handicrafts, cuisine, and agricultural products. It is a region characterized by farming and by gold and silver handicrafts which have become known around the world. According to this traditions, last year was a good one for harvests since the Magi King Inkarri won. Now we are at the gates of another year’s race along with the population of Canchis. We will soon know who is this year’s winner and will be able to enjoy a great fiesta.

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