Issue - February 2007

February 2007
Canarito Pampeno

For the last nine years the children of La Cancha have had an opportunity to escape from the busy streets of the market into the care of the Centro Canarito Pampeño where they are given assistance with schoolwork and have the chance to play safely in a protected more...

February 2007

The Inca trail in Arepucho and "The stone with writings"

by Walter Sánchez C.
Photos: Walter Sanchez C.
Translated by:Daniel Vanello
Text edited by:Daniela Viljoen

In August 1990, archeologists Antonio Paolillo and Ricardo Céspedes organized an expedition to the Parque Nacional Carrasco to cover the Inca trail regarding the "cocales" situated in the Yungas of Arepucho. An article published in the Ligabue Magazine tells about the discovery of this pre-Hispanic trail and the presence of a rock with petrography situated in the community of San Pedro. In 2004, I returned to cover this beautiful pre-Hispanic trail which goes through beautiful landscapes of humid forests and deep rivers full of trout in the area of Sehuencas.

The trail, described at the beginning of the colonial period as "very dry and rough", is partly covered with cobblestone. The Yungas of Arepucho was considered by the Spanish as "diseased land" and "hot", reason for which caused many deaths among the Incas who were getting ill because of the cold when going up towards the valley of Pocona carrying coca.

The rock, known by the natives as the "Stone with Writings", is found very near the pre-Hispanic trail which connects Arepucho with Icuna. It has a pyramidal shape. The iconographic representations are found on the superior surface facing North, where there is a serpent figure approximately one and a half meters long. Figures in shapes of "S", "w" and "v" along with small serpents dominate the remaining surfaces of the rock. It is possible that this rock had a ritual meaning of the Yuracare people, an indigenous group of the 16th century which inhabited this area. It can be deduced by the fact that the iconographic elements seem to originate, not from the Andean cultures, but from the Amazonian.

A myth, collected by Alcides D'Orbigny in 1845, regarding the origin of the Yuracares, speaks of the existence of a great rock called Mamoré inside the Parque Nacional Carrasco. According to Miller who lived among the Yuracares during the end of the XIX century, "the word Mamoré... originates from the Yucarare language … meaning ‘mother of the human race'". The myth also speaks of how the first people came out from a hole which was guarded by a serpent: "The point where the people came out of is found near a great rock called Mamoré, from which no one could climb out of and where no one could approach; the people were frightened by the great serpent that guarded the entrance. This place is found where the rivers Sacta and Soré merge into the river Mamoré".

Could it be possible that the rock of the river San Pedro is the iconographic representation which narrates the creation of humanity and the Yucarares? We do not know. Nevertheless, it is indubitable that the Yuracare people are closely linked to the river and animals of such ecosystem, such as snakes. In fact, in a document in National Archives of Bolivia, which tells of an excursion made by Captain Aguilera to the Yungas of Arepucho at the beginning of the XVII century, of how the Umo or Amo, a group most probably related to the Yuracare, had a settlement where there were 6 or 7 homes or ranches belonging to the "indios" and amongst them "a hut which seemed to be an altar of the devil where the Umo people had offerings of bows and arrows, bowls, flutes, querus (cups) for drinking chicha, as well as snake heads, placed upon a pulpit made of clay and painted rock, where they performed rituals and ceremonies".

Although scarce, the data mentioned gives us insights to begin understanding the importance of the cultural patrimony of pre-Hispanic groups which inhabited the Parque Nacional Carrasco - one of the most beautiful and unexplored natural landscapes of Bolivia – that nowadays are found abandoned.

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