Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Amantani Pays the Pacha Mama

Annual Harvest Ceremony January 18 on the Island of Amantani, sister island to Taquile

The day starts with heavy rain, so we delay our departure in Santiago´s small fishing boat for the hour and a half ride to Isla Amantani. Sam and I had seen publicity about this annual ceremony, a pagado la Pacha Mama and wanted to participate. In our section of Lake Titicaca are three high ceremonial sites: Mulcina on Taquile, Auki Karu on the Capachica Penninsula near Lachon, and Pacha Tata with Pacha Mama on Amantani. We have particpated in Taquile´s Pagado la Pacha Mama which takes place every Easter Sunday, and in 2015 we were welcomed at a festival of first fruits, the deeply moving harvest festival on the heights above Lachon. See this LINK: Blessing-of-first-fruits for that story. Many folk tales associate the three sites, so we were pleased to be able to celebrate on Amantani.

The rain slowed and we left Taquile a bit late, enjoyed a beautiful adventurous ride across the lake with Santiago and Silvano. When we passed closely to the rock seagull roost between the two islands, the annoyed birds flew with hints of the of Alfred Hitchcock movie:
Our rain-delayed start had us arriving at the ceremonial site on the Pacha Mama heights just as the sacred ceremony ended. We will have to come again some other year for the full experience. Particpants in the ritual were now eating lunch and preparing to dance. The four of us found a quiet spot behind the rock-walled ceremonial enclosure and did our own ceremony. We had brought a despacho, a prayer bundle from our family on Taquile, and we made our own coca ceremony. Silvano took the role of shaman and buried the bundles on the heights. 

We ate our picnic in time to follow the dancers in procession to the saddle between the two Pacha high points. 
There the 10 communities of Amantani performed a dance competition. Each group had a band and dancers with flags to represent the potato flowers. The following is a video. I was not able to run it from Peruvian computers; hope you can, to see some of the energy of the dance.
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 Amanani clothing is richly embroidered. The women wear the same sort of head covering as on Taquile, the chuco, but with embroidery which is done by the men on treadle sewing machines.

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