Quechua Traditions

November 01, 2017

Guardians of the Mountains
Sacred Valley of the Incas, Peru



Respect, Reciprocity and Love are the three main guiding principles of the Quechua Tradition. They are the focus of all rituals, celebrations and are the fundamental basis of all social interaction. Respect is seen as the essence of life, and the moral code which permeates all thought and action. Reciprocity is the thread which weaves together the web of existence, providing a network of mutually beneficial interconnected support. Love is the unconditional, eternal, creative force which binds us together for the greater good, and guides the evolution of spirit.


The Andean people do not separate spirit from the physical environment. They believe that, like animals and people, all elements of nature live, feel, and breathe.

Pachamama, the Earth Mother, is the principal deity in Quechua tradition. She is the living embodiment of earth and the archetype of the primordial divine feminine, honoured as the sustainer of all life. The Apus are the spirits of the mountains which have distinct personalities and are the protectors of the land, people, animals, minerals. They are the celebrated custodians of water. Every Community has it’s sacred Apus, each held in reverence and honour.


Mama Coca has held a central role in Quechua culture for thousands of years. She is known throughout the Andes for her nourishing and restorative properties. She provides sustenance, energy and clarity for working, walking and council meetings. She is also used in ancient ceremonies for divination, diagnosis and healing. When Coca is shared, three leaves are placed together to form a Kintu, intentions of connection are blown into the leaves and offered around the circle, strengthening bonds of friendship. She functions as a conduit to hold and transmit prayers, blessings, and offerings and to connect directly with PachaMama, the Apus, the gods, and the elements.


Quechua weavings are ancestral heirlooms which embody a wealth of traditional knowledge. Each woven piece of art reflects deep reverence and devotion to Pacha Mama, the Apus, the animals, sacred plants, and places. The weavings are organic and rich, with innumerable symbols and geometric patterns telling complex stories of the interactions between the artisans and their natural environment.

The finest weavings are reserved for the ritualistic dances in traditional Andean festivals, such as Pukllay, Qoyllur Rit'i, and weddings. These intricately-adorned garments communicate the identity of each community, and preserve the essence of Quechua Legacy.

Present Day Situation

Huge portions of Quechua territory have been sold off to oil and mining corporations by the Peruvian government on concessions. Many conflicts, and social tensions have arisen due to this perceived loophole in indigenous land rights, enabling waves of neocolonialism. As a result, private industries have moved in to exploit resources, regardless of the social or environmental implications. This escalating issue poses a long-term threat to the future generations of Quechua people and to their sacred land.

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