March 24, 2016

Fallen bodies and upraised weapons, horses and reins, waves and “Huaracas”, more are the furious crowds, the total lack of control that are part of a strange mysticism of the province of Canas. Stones are thrown and the Checcas Quehues, who are rivals in the fight, but fraternal neighbours.


The crash of the rocks initiates the ritual, human howls and screams of Pachamama. Each 20. January at the San Sebastian day, the effects of the “Cañazo” (cane liquor) give value to the villagers of Canas to face in the Chiaraje, an ancient ritual battle that takes place on the farm of Ccanccahua, where it is said that Tupac Amaru II trained thousands of men to face the Spaniards, a place that is at 4,000 meters above sea level and 4 km from the Capital of Canas
This fight seeks to please Mother Earth to ensure good harvests this year. Thus, the ones of Checca insult their neighbours saying “Quehueño Carmo Ollaco” (Quehueño Cold Meat) because the area abounds that product. Those of Quehue respond with “Checca laycca” which means “Checca Witch” since it exists many witches who personify the earth, call and converse with spirits. But none of this can bring, can assert that these are irreconcilable antagonists.
“Chiaraje”, apparently word of Aymara origin “Chiara aje” which in Quechua means, “Black Rock”, others argue that it is the act of the struggle itself.
Being “Chiaraje”, favorite game of the men of this part of the glorious Canas, where José Gabriel Condorcanqui land and Noguera, Tupac Amaru II was born, it serves of escape to their sorrows and pains.
Participants prepare happily for several months before, pray twisting their slings, pray preparing their clothes that look that day, and fatten their best horses because the party will be big. Preparations acquire special contours worthy of be taken into account, because in agricultural work, in the field for grazing cattle and evening, another music allusive to Chiaraje, especially among young people of both sexes is not heard.
The day of the great festival, very early, groups of men way to Chiaraje call those who are still in their homes, inviting them to begin once the trip, saying so. “Jacuna we Tupayman” already go to the fight.
All roads leading to villages Chiaraje men and women are, some on foot, others on horseback. Women carry their consistent stiffs in the exquisite “Cancacho” that is baked ram, because the party deserves the best.
Everywhere begin to resonate the pincuyllos, instruments of the area. After an hour of travel, the big stage begins receiving guests, no matter for rain or snowfall.
When both sides are already on their respective whereabouts or “sayanas”, simultaneously men go down to the battlefield and take their sites, they are facing each side forming three lines, 100 meters or so each.
Those on horses are located in the rear, whose mission is to support infants prodding to advance into blocks and push back the enemy, and can in this case carry anger and take prisoners if possible, for that carry their cowhides as a weapon. Moreover, a group of infants left behind, taking as a slogan to support the back line by pushing the contrary, assist the injured if severe and make it safe.
The distance separating each line regarding the enemy does not exceed 20 meters, and may even be surprise attack at certain times, depending on the euphoria and excitement.
The battle usually starts at nine o’clock, there are no bosses or warlords who lead, only the bravest dare to take the initiative in giving voice: “To attack” and start fighting. Both sides go into action with unusual fury as they previously had taken paths glasses of rum, all start throwing stones at their opponents, using as a weapon slingshots or waracas, moving from one place to another as the struggle acquires intensity.
The battlefield becomes a scene of breathtaking action for themselves and others, followed by shouts and reciprocal insults here and there, movements of people from both sides, the truth is a “loquerío” (madhouse), you can hear the echo of the slingshots as if they were bursts of machine guns, suddenly some injuries are, if these are serious, we help them, but if they are mild it does not matter, still in the fight even if they are bleeding from their wounds, more value, more courage, the fact it is to be present and win the fight.
While men are in the heat of the fight, women dance in a circle “Qaswan” to the tune of the pincuyllos intoned by those not participating, while harangue men win, with satirical songs against the enemy.
After three hours of fight, ended the first half, someone from either side gives the voice of “enough”, at that voice everyone stops and to their whereabouts or “Sayanas” are directed by a necessary time to recover energies, then there we are going to eat cold meat (fiambre) as already mentioned, consisting of an exquisite “Cancacho”, lamb baked with potato flour and moraya, typical dishes of “Canena” culinary art, then we’ll take chicha and some cane liquor.
Some men enter the round of the women who “Qaswan” giving more joy to the environment, as intertwined with its deep form a concentric circle around the round, give small synchronized diving.
The rest ended and the second part of the fight begins, this time under the fog and persistent “Drizzle Mountain Range”, it does not matter because the effects of alcohol tempers are running high and feel the strong desire to make any feat that can organize them as the best fighter of the year.
This time, the fight acquires dramatic contours of both sides, no matter the cold or rain, it only encourages them craving to win. For the fierceness and intensity of the combatants, either side can win pushing back the enemy until offstage, but not touching at all women and observers who are on their whereabouts or “Sayana” away from the battlefield.
And with the sun disappearing into the hills, it is the six p.m, depends on the euphoria and excitement, someone gives the voice of “enough” and all stop, it is customary to say until next fight or until next year.

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