Thousands of peasants flocked to the Andean village of Raqchi last week to witness and take part in an annual folk dancing festival regarded as Peru's finest.
Thousands of peasants flocked to the Andean village of Raqchi last week to witness and take part in an annual folk dancing festival regarded as Peru's finest. Aside from the spectators -- the festival is fast becoming a powerful tourist attraction -- peasants from more than 200 Andean village were there, each dressed in the distinctive costume of their own communities.
Raqchi itself is in the southern Peruvian province of Cuzco, situated 75 miles (120 kms.) south-east of Cuzco City, and was formerly the capital of the 800 year-old Inca civilization. Historically the Incas boasted a line of thirteen emperors, from Manco Capac in 1200 A.D. to Atahualpa, who in 1533 was executed by the Spanish conqueror Pizarro. In legend, the Inca Empire was founded by the creator-god Viracocha, who gave his name to Prince Ripac, first of the Incas.
This founding of the Inca Empire in the main theme of the Raqchi festival, and is celebrated by a folk-drama in which Viracocha appears in a dream to Prince Ripac and urges him to lead an army to retake the city of Cuzco, which had been invaded and pillaged by enemy Chanka warriors. If he can succeed, he is told, he will become founder and head of the Inca Empire.
The play shows how four generals arrive and offer Riquc their services. An argument over leadership of the army ensues, is finally settled, and Ripac is crowned as Viracocha, Emperor of the Incas.
The Raqchi festival heralds "Cuzco Week", when each year some of the best of Indian workmanship goes on display in this capital of Indian art. At a time when experts are criticising the increasing superficiality of exhibitions of Indian culture, Raqchi is picked out as being the best example of continuing Indian folklore traditions.