Cultural Travel, Quipus and Quechua

Many cultures of the world have their own signature of cultural identity  through the objects that they make. Textiles are a portal through which one can see  the beliefs, practices and rituals of ancient cultures. For the cultural traveler, one of most interesting places for the study of cloth, string and textiles is Peru. The Incans were a very systemized group of people. From the stone walls and architecture, to the string bundles called “quipus,” the Incans revered cloth as a currency of exchange not only for other goods and services, but also in ritualistic practices such as wrapping entire buildings, and gift giving during ritualistic ceremonies. Please read my earlier post on “Quipus.”  The Incans made bridges that were constructed from fiber cables that were stronger than steel. These bridges spanned sides of sheer rock cliffs, rivers, and connected their civilization with other people through the twisting and wrapping of fiber cables. Each year, the Quechua communities collectively re-construct the fiber cable bridges.


Incan bridge re-construction - 	  CREDIT:Photo courtesy of Rutahsa Adventure

Incan bridge re-construction - CREDIT:Photo courtesy of Rutahsa Adventure


Quechua rope bridge building- CREDIT: Photo courtesy of Rutahsa Adventures

Quechua rope bridge building- CREDIT: Photo courtesy of Rutahsa Adventures-CC-BY-SA


Barbara Weibel, a cultural traveler of the world, writes about her wonderful adventures in Cusco, Peru:

Hoping to learn more I stepped inside Qorikancha, the famed Sun Temple of Cusco, and hired a guide for a 40-minute tour of what may have been the most important temple in the Inca Empire. The complex originally consisted of the Sun, Moon, Stars, Thunderbolt (Lightning), and Rainbow Temples, with the Sun Temple being the most revered. All were constructed of dense gray volcanic rock, which was painstakingly carved into blocks with internal notches that fit together so perfectly that not even a sheet of paper could be inserted between the mortarless seams.


The Incans systemized everything from the blocks that their temples were made of, to the carefully constructed fiber cable bridges. Seeing cultural history through the lens of art, architecture, stone walls, fiber cable bridges, temples and other gateways into history, gives the cultural traveler an authentic view into the past. Planning cultural travel to Peru is significant this year, as the Mayan calendar ends as of December 21st, 2012. Read more of Barbara Weibel’s rich experiences in Cusco here.


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