Issue - September 2007



September 2007
Editorial

In this issue, Amy Pollock reviews the successes of Arnold Brower's school garden project, while Lucy Witter talks with the rector of an English school enrolling impoverished students; we hear form Save the Children about their reconciliation programme after the Cochabamba riots in January...read more...

September 2007

A plain of water named Cochabamba

Walter Sánchez C. from the Archaeological Museum introduces us to the history of Cochabamba’s name

by: Walter Sánchez C.
Archeological Museum, University of San Simón

Cochabamba’s valleys, according to the actual references correspond to a dry climate, with extreme temperatures ranging from 28º C. in the summer and 5º in the winter.

This climatic environment provides a kind of vegetation in which the Molle (Schinus molle), el Algarrobo (Prosopis alba) or la Jark’a (Acasia visco) are the most distinguished forms. Was this natural and bioclimatic scenery the same as the one described by the first Spaniards in the XVI and XVII centuries? Cochabamba´s name, according to several researchers, derives from the Quechua word Cochapampa or the Aymara word Qutapampa, in which the meaning in both cases is “flat flooded place” or “lake plain”.

Fray Martin de Murua in his Historia General del Perú (General History of Peru) explains that the origin of this name is taken from a local legend: “At the times of the Incas, Huayna Capac gave the name of Cochapampa when he arrived to the Cochapampa valleys. There was a very big lake that almost closed the road (they call the lake Cocha). As he did not want to change the road, he ordered to dry that lake and the captains of that infinite army heard his wish and ordered that every indio and india (Indian) help to dry it with a pitcher.

In less than 6 hours the people did it without problem. They were placed around the lake with their pitcher and dried it without leaving a drop of water. As they have the pitcher full of water, a main orejón “the nobles, also called orejones by the Spaniards (big-ears), due to the deformation of their ear lobes through carrying heavy jewelry that differentiated them in rank” went and asked the Inca what should they do with the water. He ordered to look for a rough crevice to put it. He found it nearby. All this soldiers went to poor it. It became a big lake. After some days the water evaporated and it became a dry and sandy place and the Indians turned it into a flat and big place. That is why it was named Cocha Pampa, where the Spaniards settled and made it a very rich city”.

The R.P. Fr. Diego de Mendoza in his Crónica de la provincia de San Antonio de los Charcas (1664 1976) (Province of San Antonio of the Charcas Chronicle) describes Cochabamba Valleys as the place “where the water is sufficient for the sown lands because of its plentiful streams from the region valleys” Regarding the weather, fauna and flora, he pointed out that: “in the valleys of Cochabamba the air is mild because this city is located at the foothill, which cherishes and conserves a bit of snow all year, its mild overcast top warmer than cool, the humid and muddy plot, thus it was named Cochabamba or Pampa (flat land) or just as “llanada de agua”, with a very healthy climate. The denseness of its groves, the great variety of birds, which are pleasant to sight and sound, plentiful mountains of cedars, and another kind of wood”. This landscape is different to the nearby valley of Clisa which is six leagues southeast from the city (Oropeza)” in spite of “its plentiful fruit crops, there was not much water to water the crops.”

The historian Mr. Jose Macedonio Urquidi, in his book “El Origin de la Noble Villa de Oropeza” (1949)(The origin of the noble Villa de Oropeza) transcribes a document which the Caciques of Sipe Sipe , Hachata and Consabana made (in 1552), in the grounds that they call “Canata” or “in the town of Canata” (nowadays the city of Cochabamba). This book gives precise references about the bioclimatic characteristics from the region. Andrés Berra, a witness, points out that “the lands from Canata- are swamps”. Another witness, Yucura, from Sipesipe, indicates that they do not work these lands because the Indians who tried to do it died as the land is constantly flooded”. Caulla (from Sipesipe) explains it a bit more, “ten years ago –the Indians from Canata, have not worked and they do not work these lands, and they do not think to do it because they are considered mean lands. When Indians work there, they die since this is a warm land.

Fray Martin de Murua in his Historia General del Perú (General History of Peru) explains that the origin of this name is taken from a local legend: “At the times of the Incas, Huayna Capac gave the name of Cochapampa when he arrived to the Cochapampa valleys. There was a very big lake that almost closed the road (they call the lake Cocha). As he did not want to change the road, he ordered to dry that lake and the captains of that infinite army heard his wish and ordered that every indio and india (Indian) help to dry it with a pitcher.

In less than 6 hours the people did it without problem. They were placed around the lake with their pitcher and dried it without leaving a drop of water. As they have the pitcher full of water, a main orejón “the nobles, also called orejones by the Spaniards (big-ears), due to the deformation of their ear lobes through carrying heavy jewelry that differentiated them in rank” went and asked the Inca what should they do with the water. He ordered to look for a rough crevice to put it. He found it nearby. All this soldiers went to poor it. It became a big lake. After some days the water evaporated and it became a dry and sandy place and the Indians turned it into a flat and big place. That is why it was named Cocha Pampa, where the Spaniards settled and made it a very rich city”.

The R.P. Fr. Diego de Mendoza in his Crónica de la provincia de San Antonio de los Charcas (1664 1976) (Province of San Antonio of the Charcas Chronicle) describes Cochabamba Valleys as the place “where the water is sufficient for the sown lands because of its plentiful streams from the region valleys” Regarding the weather, fauna and flora, he pointed out that: “in the valleys of Cochabamba the air is mild because this city is located at the foothill, which cherishes and conserves a bit of snow all year, its mild overcast top warmer than cool, the humid and muddy plot, thus it was named Cochabamba or Pampa (flat land) or just as “llanada de agua”, with a very healthy climate.

The denseness of its groves, the great variety of birds, which are pleasant to sight and sound, plentiful mountains of cedars, and another kind of wood”. This landscape is different to the nearby valley of Clisa which is six leagues southeast from the city (Oropeza)” in spite of “its plentiful fruit crops, there was not much water to water the crops.”

The historian Mr. Jose Macedonio Urquidi, in his book “El Origin de la Noble Villa de Oropeza” (1949) (The origin of the noble Villa de Oropeza) transcribes a document which the Caciques of Sipe Sipe , Hachata and Consabana made (in 1552), in the grounds that they call “Canata” or “in the town of Canata” (nowadays the city of Cochabamba). This book gives precise references about the bioclimatic characteristics from the region. Andrés Berra, a witness, points out that “the lands from Canata- are swamps”. Another witness, Yucura, from Sipesipe, indicates that they do not work these lands because the Indians who tried to do it died as the land is constantly flooded”. Caulla (from Sipesipe) explains it a bit more, “ten years ago –the Indians from Canata, have not worked and they do not work these lands, and they do not think to do it because they are considered mean lands. When Indians work there, they die since this is a warm land.

A plain of water named Cochabamba
The denseness of its groves, the great variety of birds, which are pleasant to sight and sound, plentiful mountains of cedars, and another kind of wood. This landscape is different to the nearby valley of Clisa which is six leagues southeast from the city (Oropeza)....
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