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Incas and Diaguitas: Abandoned Ways in Sierra de Quilmes


puma paw


Roberto Weinberg







Waves on waves

I lie under the open night sky, waiting for the moon,

the puma high in the cliff side watches me,

I watch the universe completing another cycle.

I hear the mountain river in the night,

running down to the open wide pampas,

searching for its people.


The apachetas, pyramids of rocks and offerings to the Pacha Mama,

marking mountain passes and changes in the spiritual nature of the land,

now lie abandoned in an empty space previously cared by men.

Men came from the north, occupied the inhospitable mountains,

made them home thousands of years ago.


They were overrun, displaced, killed, by invaders on horse backs.

The Inca Empire is long gone.

The Diaguita culture that enlivened these mountains,

destroyed into shards of ancient ceramics and tumbled rock walls of village huts.

A culture overrun by an invincible tide of metal, gun powder and disease.

The invaded strengthening the spanic invaders

giving them knowledge of the land and rape-children,

creating a new hybrid population.

As one tribe receded into forgotten mountain crags,

another rose to take its place and fill the valleys.


archeological wall ceramic fragment
Now the tide of time has turned again,

the vitality of the mountains and its mixed people,

fading into senility,

drained, as its young turn their backs and head towards modernity.

It is time to leave. The land is emptying.

Forsaking their past,

the once busy mountain paths, horse and donkey troups,

bringing salt and vegetables,

taking meat and wool,

now lay quiet,

stone mountain huts, abandoned,

llamas and goats cared no more.


salt from Puna on donkey hunting tool
The living pathways of the Inca Empire,

inherited and expanded by the spanic wave,

are gradually blurring into wilderness.

Knowledge of the land, its ways and paths,

going with the new generation to the cities.

Like the Chuscha mummy,

a symbol of the living culture,

now removed from its mountain abode,

where it overlooked its people,

placed into a museum corner.


ceramic fragment Chuscha
The land

recovering its untamed nature,

returning to its original owners.

Piles of ancient ceramic fragments, strewn over abandoned fields,

mixed with fragments of plastic bottles, tetrapaks, glass shards.

The pumas and condors now dominate peaks and crags,

filling the void left by men's retreat.


Who will remember the Pacha Mama?
puma paw mark