Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Chakana, or Andean Cross

In our trip to Quenqo, an Incan ruin, we encountered a man selling Andean crosses on necklaces. Our guide took the liberty of explaining the meaning behind the symbology of the Chakana, as it is called in Quechua. This cross has four points and in between each one, three steps. The three steps represent many things sacred to the Andean people. Once thing they represent are the three realms of existence: Hanan Pacha, the realm of the sky ruled by the condor, Kay Pacha, the earthly realm represented by the puma, and Uqhu Pacha, the underworld represented by the serpent. The center of the cross mirrors the umbilicus as the center of the body,  its name in Quechua is qosqo, which when mispronounced by the Spaniards became Cusco—the center of the Incan Empire. This symbol is found all over Peru in many forms in every gift shop and marketplace.

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