Tuesday, 14 July 2009

A new future for Lima´s huacas

In the districts of Ventanilla, San Juan de Lurigancho and Pueblo Libre pre-Hispanic monuments, some more than 4,000 years old, have been saved by local initiatives. Especially the initiative in San Juan de Lurigancho is a very interesting one, as a huaca has been adopted by a local school. Lima has so many huacas, that the state does not have enough money and manpower to take care of all of them. In wealthy districts as La Molina, Miraflores and San Isidro these huacas are now preserved and turned into museums, but in the other parts they are very often neglected and turned into garbage dumps.

On June 28th students from local school Daniel Alcides Carrión in San Juan de Lurigancho organized a traditional festival called Inti Raymi in the huaca Campoy. The huaca is surrounded by slums, constructed by migrants from other parts of Peru in the last 10 years. Organizer Arturo Vasques, professor sociology, explains that he wants this children to understand what their history is and keep them away from delinquency. Last year they organized for the first time an Inti Raymi and in the process the children cleaned the huaca. They now work together with the Instituto Nacional de la Cultura (INC) and maintain the huaca. The children are proud of their work and heritage and the huaca is safe.

El Paraíso in Ventanilla is taken care of by the local community and has a residing shaman, a woman originally from Ancash. She performs pre-Hispanic rituals in this huaca. For instance the spring equinox ritual on September 20th . The celebration is called Qapaq Warmi Kuraq Raymi or Qoya Raymi Killa. The rituals focus on spiritual cleansing, a ´fresh´ start of the new year and personal renovation.

The huaca Mateo Salado near Plaza de la Bandera is at the moment closed for visitors, but it is a good example of an Ichma pyramid, built with big blocks of adobe. To the south of the complex there are various smaller huacas, all part of the same complex. One of them has been adopted by the neighborhood and is well looked after. In stead of a barren sandy terrain, the huaca now lies in a lush green park.

Lima has a fascinating history of more than 3,000 years of continuous habitation. Although structures from recent times dominate, you can find buildings from colonial times and the early years of the republic in Lima Center, Rimac and Surco Viejo, and structures from pre Hispanic times all over the metropolitan area. The oldest ones El Paraíso in Ventanilla, Huacoy in Carabayllo and Garagay in San Martín de Porres date as far back as 2,000 till 1,000 years BC. The Lima culture from the period AD 150-650 left many remains as well, as did the Ichma culture from the period AD 1100-1450.

Many huacas are just barren terrains. Some not even protected by fences, causing them to be used as playgrounds and garbage dumps. There is still fear of invasions and being sold for construction, as is happening with the huaca Huacoy in Carabayllo.

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