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  • Writer's pictureYanapaqi SL

Significance and History of the Traditional Walka Saraguro

I want to share what I have learnt about the traditional colored walka of the women of the Saraguro people, a piece of weaving art that has accompanied us since we started the Yanapaqi project. To do this, I have spoken with two Saraguros women, Juana and Johana, who tell us first-hand about the history and significance that this piece has for them. Walka is the Kichwa word for necklace. The Saraguro people are one of the original peoples of ABYA-YALA, name of the American continent, and they are currently located in southern Ecuador. The way in which this town relates to its physical and spiritual environment is very remarkable, as its entire culture is influenced by its COSMOEXISTENCE. The traditional colored walka has been part of the Saraguro culture since ancient times. As Juana tells us, her ancestors had a habit of taking care of their appearances, especially women, which is why they made their own body adornments. With current techniques, weaving a walka takes around 30 hours. Cosmoexistence is expressed in weaving in beautiful ways. On the one hand, the different colors that make up the walka refer to the diversity of cultures of the Abya-Yala, to the harmony with all the beings of the Pachamama.On the other, its shape of circles, one inside the other up to 50 rows, indicates the notion of circular time, the PACHAKUTIK. It is a sacred term whose meaning is the eternal return of time. In Kichwa Pacha means time, space. Kutik means return, return. The colored walka, in addition to being a fantastic decorative element, is for Johana a sign of identification of the Saraguro women, one of the garments that most identifies her as warmi (woman in Kichwa). “The first time I saw a colorful walka, flowers, fields, and sky blue immediately came to mind. For me the walka represents our environment, our place in the world, the navel of the soul. " Also, this piece of woven art is part of the traditional Saraguro wedding dress. When used in these celebrations the walka can be considered as a symbol of union, not marriage, but the union of man with woman and the Pachamama that brings with it the creation of an environment, of a new ayllu (family in Kichwa) that enriches everyone as a community. "That is truly our eternal environment, our ayllu, which will always include earth green, bright yellow corn, purple and pink flower flares, chili red, and charcoal black." Many thanks to Juana and Johana for sharing their culture with me and allowing me to continue my learning about the richness of ancestral cultures and the Andean Cosmovision.

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