The Wasichacuy, An Ancestral Tradition in The Andean World

One of the most important tasks for a family is the construction of their house. For this necessity the Wasichacuy tradition is born, an ancestral ceremony that has been practiced from generation to generation and continues in our days in many peasant communities.

Wasichacuy in the Quechua language means “make the roof of the house”, in some places as is the case of Apurímac it is called “wasi qatar” which means to cover the house.

The roof of the house, as well as the different activities developed by different cultures, activities that were vital and that were essential for community life, were always related to the ceremonial, ritual and festive.

The wasichacuy is a ceremony that takes place after completing the construction of the walls, where the owners invite neighbors, family and friends to roof the house through the Ayni. Also known as reciprocal or mutual aid, this form of work inherited from the time of the Incas is part of our ancestral culture that means “work is paid with work” or, as we know it, “today for you, tomorrow for me “. This type of mutual aid does not involve any type of money, but on the contrary it is a sign of solidarity towards the neighbor.

For the houses roof, which is made using the Ichu or wild straw and llama or alpaca leather in the manner of ropes to make the moorings of the roof, males perform the strongest tasks while women are responsible for preparing the snacks or typical foods of high nutritional value. The women also prepare the inevitable drink, the chicha de jora, which, because it is made from corn, provides a lot of energy to those who drink it. Today, people also expect aguardiente. The smallest people play different musical instruments to accompany the roofing ceremony.

At the end of the roof, on the ground, a blanket is spread and all the dishes prepared by the women are placed on it for people to recover their strength after work.

On a special lliclla of colors, to finish the roofing, are placed different foods such as potatoes, corn, beans, beans, etc. Also placed on this lliclla are the inevitable leaves of coca and some illas, small stone amulets, such as representations of llamas and alpacas. Then this tied and closed completely and placed on the inside of the roof as a symbol of good fortune so that the house never lacks food. It is also an augury of happiness for the family. Nowadays the elements have been changed and on many houses at the top of the roof they place a cross and two bulls as a symbol of protection and good omen for the family.

Currently the Ministry of Culture declared the wasichacuy as National Cultural Heritage. They recognized especially practices and rituals associated with the communal or “Wasichacuy” work of the Church of San Francisco de Marcapata – Quispicanchi (Cusco), Where the straw cover of the roof is renewed every four years through a communal work party during a week where the communities of Marcapata Collana, Sahuancay, Puyca, Ccollasuyo, Incacancha, Yanacocha, Union Araza, Huaracconi, Socapata and Yanacancha all come together.

It is important to keep alive these traditions that are part of our ancestral culture and above all that show us the important value of solidarity and mutual work.

Photo reference (Ministerio de Cultura)

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