The Last of the Incas
I first heard of the Qeros in 1983 while researching symbolism in Peruvian textiles. When I consulted with well-known Peruvian anthropologist Oscar Nuñez de Prado, he told me that the design I was investigating was the work of the Q'eros an isolated community of indians whose Inca origins are still evident. Oscar had come across them in 1956 and the symbol in question represented the Inti the ultimate deity of the last Incas.
I vowed to learn more about this ayllu, or extended family. During the summer of 1992, after an abortive expedition a year earlier, I set off across the Peruvian Andes with an entourage of film crew, pack horses, food, cameras and equipment, and succeeded in finding and befriending the Q'eros and capturing a part of their lives on film.
The arduous expedition, which at times had taken us close to despair, took over a month. But when we returned to Cuzco we brought back with us not only the material for a documentary film but also many memories. We had crossed the lofty peaks of sacred mountains, survived icy nights at sub-zero temperatures, and heard the mystical sound of the quena (Inca flute) and the rhythmic chanting of the Q'eros women's voices echoing high above our heads, as if from another world. In the mountains, I recorded some of the Q'eros' haunting melodies at source and when I returned to Cuzco, I approached Expresion a well known group of Andean musicians who have been playing together since the 1970s and persuaded them to re-record the music, hence the concept for the first two tracks.
The resulting collection of songs celebrates the spirit of the Inca and his symbiotic relationship with nature and all that she provides. The Inca like the soul of the contemporary indian worships and reveres the world in which he lives. The Apus (mountains) and Pakarin (lakes), the Taytay Inti (sun) and Pachamama (Mother Earth) are their gods; they are sacred and to harm them is to harm ourselves.
The songs here are a tribute to the Q'eros who remain remote from our culture but from whom we have much to learn. The Inca world is made up of three worlds: Hanaqpacha (the cosmos), Kaypacha (the earth¹s surface), and Okupacha (the earth¹s interior). On leaving this earth we rise into the cosmos, then descend into the earth before Pachamama (Mother Earth) through the power of the Apus (sacred mountains) delivers us back to this world.
The Incas believe that man and nature are integral parts of one complex being and that the earth is not ours to destroy. Hanan and Hyran like the Chinese concept of Yin and Yang is the Inca system in which everything exists in complementary pairs: man and woman, day and night, heaven and earth.