ALBORADA - SAYRI ÑAN

3.23.2011

YAWAR MAYU - THE CROSSING OF THE DEATH



In the Andes, the concept of death is not defined as the moment in which the body stops breathing. It's a long, long process that includes the approach of the act itself and continues after the expiration, when the dead continue to dwell in the living world.
Thus, the andean dead are, more properly, defined in Quechua word "huañuc"(mortal). Quechua word huañuy (die) was used to mean "completely and perfectly" and does not mean the absolute end of human existence, but rather a new stage). Death is a gradual process and does not end when the body ends. This long process can be identified in a number of conditions that are considered temporary death or near-death, deep sleep or coma, unconsciousness, binge drinking, or near-death. Huañuc is an intermittent process that marks the passage of vital and fresh (but also formless and mutable) for the immutable kind-of-existence characteristic of too old beings - an analogy with plants, animals and people who pass from states of tender life, juicy and rapidly changing, as is the case of babies and tender plants, to heavy states, of very long-term, as dried bark, trees, old people and ancestors mummified .
The state of Huañuc ends with the final rituals of mourning that turn a person into a permanent or consacrated ancestor. During transforming, the non-corporeal aspect of the deceased is prepared to embark on a journey that ends in reunion with the ancestors in their ancestral home.
On the other hand, the concept of the vital principle or animating force that is known in Quechua by camaquen or Upani terms. During the colonial period we also find the terms "anima" and "soul", as in animacunata (spirits of the dead).




Guaman Poma described the spirits of the persons of Collasuyu and Cuntisuyu who left to Puquina Pampa and Coropuna, where they would join. Even today in Cuzco, the mountain Coropuna is known as the land of the dead. It is also believed that the world of deads included farms where they continued to plow and sow the fields because they were hungry and thirsty. Thus, food and drink were periodically offered to the dead. In the seventeenth century, Cristóbal Haca Malqui, reported that increasing the number of deads had caused an excessive increase in the ancestral world, such that the fields distributed (topos) had been reduced to the size of a fingernail.


As before, today they still believe this, with some variation from region to region.
The belief in a land of the dead with fields and crops continues. In Sonqo, a community northeast of Cusco, is said that the ancestors (machukuna - ancient people) live in a parallel world of the modern community, their potato fields occupy the same place (in another dimension), of the fields of the local community.


Although inhabiting another dimension, the dead continue to exist in close association with his remains. The Incas, carefully, cared for their mummies as sacred and the contemporary people act the same way, in rural communities is common to see the skull of an ancestor, high on a shelf, watching for his descendents.
They also consider that it is very dangerous to a "soul" does not reach its destination. If something goes wrong it will go back to the community. The "anima" could cause terrible illnesses, accidents and


appear before the imminent death of a relative or friend. Thus, unhappy episodes are atributed, not the individual, but to the evil nature of his anima. Not all the "anima" reach their destination - the ancestral world.
The souls of sinners individuals can not leave the body and are doomed to wander, with the putrid flesh, rotting out of him. Such creatures are known as Kukuchi and remember, in the Western tradition, the condemned to remain in purgatory. The kukuchi are condemned to wander the glaciers, they are much feared by his desire to eat human flesh.


The main point of all I'm saying is the crucial point of this tour in the world of the dead and what determines its crossing be satisfactory or not. This is the Achachaca or Bridge of hairs. Achachaca is a narrow bridge (thin) on a wide river, made of human hair. There is who argues that there is a bunch of black dogs, there, and it is not difficult that, in some communities, they kill the dogs when they are found described this way. I must confess that I would like to have found more research material to provide a better account of this crossing.


The Crossing of the Bridge of Hairs, Achachaca, seems to be the most known and described aspect of the journey of the dead. The crossing is considered very dangerous and, the human help, needed. Offerings of human hair are burnt so the anima can cross the bridge successfully.


It is also believed in the dangerous crossing of Puka Mayu, Red River (also called Yawar Mayu, Blood River) by the spirit which, in this case, is carried by black dogs, brown or spotted.


The world of the dead is the same place of who waits to be born. During the burial rituals, they offer to the deceased, to travel, clothing, food and drink. He goes over underground rivers, and climb up three levels, inside a mountain, before reaching its pacarina in the lake of the highlands. The three levels relate to the journey of three years, hence the need for three annual rituals banquets, given by the comunity to feed their dead.
The role of dogs seem to be very relevant when dealing with Yawar Mayu, the Blood River.
More luck has with the help of the dogs, those who treats well the dogs while is alive.
Dogs can not move, only, between the domains of life and death, but are also able to see the souls of the dead. On the other hand, the unfortunate souls can take the form of black dogs and visit in the evenings their living relatives.





Finally, in an analogy between the world of the dead and the living, I would cite the ethnographer and Peruvian writer José María Arguedas, who gave his message by talking about the word INCA.


Inca does not mean merely the emperor, "INQA" (according to him, this is the true form) is the name for the original model of every being, according to Quechua mythology. Thus, the human miniatures can be more powerful than the giants because they can contain the power of all the ancestors in each individual.