Knowledge, skills and rituals related to the annual renewal of the Q’eswachaka bridge
Inscribed in 2013 (8.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Knowledge, skills and rituals related to the annual renewal of the Q’eswachaka bridge
The Q’eswachaka bridge is a rope suspension bridge over a gorge of the Apurimac River in the southern Andes. It is renewed every year, using traditional Inca techniques and raw materials. The Quechua-speaking peasant communities of Huinchiri, Chaupibanda, Choccayhua and Ccollana Quehue see it as a means of strengthening their social links and not simply as a transport route. The bridge is considered a sacred expression of the communities’ bond with nature, tradition and history, and the annual renewal is accompanied by ritual ceremonies. Although the renewal lasts only three days, it structures the life of the participating communities all year round, establishing communication, strengthening centuries-old bonds and reaffirming their cultural identity. The process begins with families cutting and twisting straw to form thin ropes about 70 m long. Two bridge-builders then guide the process of twisting them together to form medium-sized ropes, which are then braided to form six great ropes. When these are ready, men from the community tie the ropes tightly to ancient stone bases. The craftspeople then lead the weaving of the bridge, each starting from opposite ends. Once finished, the communities hold a celebratory festival. The techniques of bridge weaving are taught and learned within the family circle.
- Nomination form: English|French
- Consent of communities: Spanish/English
- Consent of communities: Quechua (subtitles in English) - Quechua (subtitles in Spanish)
Decision 8.COM 8.22
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: Transmitted from generation to generation within rural Quechua families of Quehue and recognized by them as part of their cultural heritage that privileges harmonious relationships between humans and nature, the practices surrounding the renewal of the Q’eswachaka bridge permit them to maintain social ties and renew their connection to nature and history;
- R.2: Inscription of the element on the Representative List could illustrate community-based cooperation and contribute to raising awareness of its significance and its contribution to dialogue between communities; the dexterous use of natural resources testifies to human creativity;
- R.3: Aimed at preserving both traditional knowledge and skills and their required natural resources and associated spaces, safeguarding measures were elaborated with the active involvement of the Quechua rural families and demonstrate the support and commitment of relevant government institutions;
- R.4: The nomination results from extensive consultations with local communities, the District Municipality of Quehue and the Ministry of Culture, following which communities provided their free, prior and informed consent in writing and audiovisual form;
- R.5: The ritual of the annual renewal of the Q’eswachaka bridge and associated knowledge and skills were declared Cultural Heritage of the Nation by the Vice-Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Cultural Industries in 2009, in response to a dossier prepared by the communities concerned.
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