The bridge of Q’eswachaka: Cultural Heritage according to UNESCO

Tuesday December 10, 2013
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The skills and rituals related to the annual renewal of Peru’s famed Q’eswachaka suspension bridge were added to the intangible cultural heritage list of the UNESCO. The Q’eswachaka bridge – located over the Apurimac River about 11,811 feet above sea level in the province of Canas – is renewed annually in the month of June; it’s a rope bridge that needs to be renewed every year.

According to UNESCO, the list is composed of “intangible heritage elements”.

The renewal of the Q’eswachaka bridge over the Apurimac river is annually carried out by the families of the Quechua-speaking peasant communities of Huinchiri, Chaupibanda, Choccayhua and Ccollana Quehue in Peru’s south eastern Cusco region. “Q’eswachaka” is a native name formed by two Quechua words: “Q’eswa” which means “to braid” and “Chaka” which means “Bridge”.

Since pre-Columbian times, the task of renewing the bridge, every year in June, has been a community activity and thanks to the bridge, two local geographical spaces separated by a deep gorge in the Apurímac River, can communicate.

About 700 people from the communities come together and the techniques have passed from generation to generation since the first bridge was built by the incas out of a special woven grass, called “q’oya”.

The unifying nature of its renewal and its symbolism for the local communities have been kept in force for more than 500 years. It is a clear example of the continuity of a existing cultural tradition which represents an essential element of the cultural identity of the Quehua people in Southern Peru.

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