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CHINCHEROS

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Chincheros Introduction
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It is located at 30 km from the city of Cusco by asphalted road.
It is a town of Incan origin located at 28 km, 45 minutes approximately, to the north of Cusco by an asphalted road that ascends at 3,762 m.a.s.l. It is guarded by the Chicón snow-capped mountain and its name would derive from the Quechua word sinchi that means "brave man".

The town of Chinchero, in where the stone is the main protagonist, is strategically located at the intersection of three roads that connect Cusco, Yucay and Pumamarca. At the time of Tahuantinsuyo, it was located on the road that led directly to Machu Picchu. This route started on the Carminca block (current block of Santa Ana), continued through the side of Senca hill, passed near the Piuray lagoon and nearby Chinchero it continued up to Maras.


Historical account
Chinchero was a setting of Inca Túpac Yupanqui, that is, a court residence in the middle of a rural environment. The Inca ordered the construction of Indian temples, baths, cultivation terraces and the great royal palace in 1480. Chronicles state that the governor died under dark circumstances. Some believe that he was poisoned by his favorite princess, Chiqui Ocllo, although the author could have been the coya Mama Ocllo herself, who resented the preference of the Inca for the son of his concubine. All the supporters of Chiqui Ocllo, including the princess, were executed during the struggle for power. The son of the Inca, Cápac Huari, was confined in the prison of Chinchero for life.

Towards 1540, the rebel Manco Inca fired Chinchero during his escape to Vilcabamba so as to prevent their enemies from supplying themselves.

Chinchero has a rich monumental and cultural heritage. It is one of the few places in Cusco that visibly maintains the Incan urban design. The remains of the Incan palace, the colonial church erected on stone foundations, its impeccable cultivation terraces and a colorful Sunday fair constitute their main attractions.

Its main square has a huge Incan wall decorated with ten large trapezoidal niches, perfectly maintained, and it is also the place in where we can find one of the most significant colonial churches of Cusco with baroque altars and profuse wall paintings. The house that belonged to Mateo García Pumacahua, caudillo of an anticolonialist rebellion in 1814, also faces the main square.

Even though it is located at almost 4,000 m.a.s.l., the landscape of Chinchero does not expressly correspond to the cold puna. Chinchero was founded in the middle of the most beautiful cultivated lands in order to be used as a resting place by Inca Túpac Yupanqui. On its wide plateau, decorated by Piuray and Huaypo lagoons, we can find the imposing snow-capped mountains of Salcantay, Verónica and Soray, in whose sides there are several communities devoted to the cultivation of potatoes.

According to one of the local legends, the god Sun asked Manco Cápac to let his twin children accompany it during its setting. When they went to look for them, they discovered that the son that walked farther had turned into the Huaypo lagoon and the daughter into the Piuray lagoon.


The Incan city of Chinchero
The current town of Chinchero, just like Ollantaytambo, had been entirely constructed on an extremely wide Incan setting. According to the investigations carried out by José Alcina Franch, the urban complex of Chinchero is made up by a series of edifications, generally with rectangular floors. Said constructions lean against the sides of a hill, on platforms almost always much enlarged and scarcely deep, especially towards the north. The group of platforms with edifications is arranged around two squares: the main square or grand square, current Capellanpampa esplanade; and the town square, located at the foot of the church. Franch states, hypothetically, that perhaps the town square had a civic-military character. In the Main Square (60 meters wide and 114 meters long) there are three buildings aligned on the south side and several finely-carved stones of ceremonial character. They are Indian tombs that would represent the mythical ancestors of the ayllus.

The square town has two levels: the highest level corresponds to the church atrium and the lowest one corresponds to the proper square. The slope presents a retaining wall decorated by twelve large niches. In the eastern sector of this town there is a large extension of cultivation terraces.

Since the urban center is located on platforms, the builders of Chinchero used ladders and ramps in order to access from one platform to the other. The traffic flowed through streets and passages, with stone-tamped soil and drainage channels. Probably, both squares communicated through the point in where there is currently a great front that enables the access to the town square.


Drainage system
The evacuation system of rain and residual water reached, according to Alcina Franch, a high level that couldn't be easily equaled in Chinchero. The design perfection as well as the solidity and the thorough adjustment of its channels give account of the elevated knowledge of the architects and town planners that were entrusted by Túpac Yupanqui with the construction of his resting residence.


The niches
In the sector in where the church is currently located, it is possible to see formidable walls of polyhedrons perfectly adjusted that made up retaining walls that form the cultivation terraces. Besides, large rooms with windows still subsist. In the town square you will be able to appreciate an Incan wall made up by twelve niches (2.1 meters high with a 1.1-meter base, 0.9 m in the upper part and 0.7 m deep). Niches have modern lithic eaves that cover them and give them protection from above. Most of the structures built on these terraces had disappeared, but part of the walls still makes up the broad church.


Present time
Chinchero has a population that surpasses the 15 thousand inhabitants. Said population is composed of twelve indigenous communities that maintain the ayllu system, even though it does not correspond anymore to the organization system in force before the Spanish conquest. These communities, following Tahuantinsuyo's organization system, appoint directly their maximum authority: the varayoc. Chinchero is one of the few places that still keep the traditional commercialization mode called trueque.

The main economic activity in Chinchero is agriculture. 55% of the farmers are engaged in the cultivation of potatoes, 15% is dedicated to cereals, another 15% to minor tubers, 10% to leguminous plants and between 2 and 3% to other crops. Currently, as in the past, Chinchero is considered Cusco's barn. The production of sheep and cattle stand out in these lands, even though it is worth mentioning the llamas brought from the punas. Their bulls are very much in demand to plough the soil. The area has very significant hydric resources such as the Huaypo and Piuray lagoons.


The clothes
Many of the inhabitants of Chinchero dress like their ancestors. Not only during Sunday fair to attract the attention of tourists, but everyday, preserving their tradition fervently. Adult men wear the typical cloth cap, especially on Sundays and festive days. They also use the walnut poncho made of sheep wool, flannel vests and pants as well as colorful chullos. They wear the ancient sandals (ojotas) on their foot, either made of leather or rubber.

The women of Chinchero, on their part, had inherited the spinning and wool weaving art generation after generation. For this reason, they wear their traditional clothes with pride. They wear llicllas (a sort of dark blanket decorated with red and green filigrees and a brooch near the chest), vests and black flannel skirts fastened to their bodies with girdles or chumpis. On their heads, decorated with fine plaits, they use colorful cloth caps.



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