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Smaller peoples and their traditional and ritual combat sports

Incas descendants from Chumbivilcas and their fist fighting festival Takanakuy

Takanakuy
Posted by Danilo Parra

Русская версия


The province of Chumbivilcas is situated in the Andes in South Peru. The Inca called it "Chumpiwillka" (holy scarf). According to the Peru 2005 Census 77,721 inhabitiants live in an area of 5,371.08 m. There are about 77 rural communities. Chumbivilcas is looked upon as one of the poorest regions of the country. Half of the population is younger than 16 years. In the rural communities families with eight and more children are not unusual.The people in Chumbivilcas speak Quechua. Because of the migration of a high number of rural people to the towns the Spanish language (castellano) is getting more and more influence. School children are taught bilingually by law.

Regions across the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes have traditional fighting festivals and ceremonies as an outlet for this type of mountain-born aggression. Rules about who fights whom and what weapons you can use (if any) vary from place to place, but the general gist remains the same, as does the expected goal of social catharsis and the collective venting of pent-up steam. The festival is known as Takanakuy, everybody fights everybody, and it happens bright and early Christmas morning.

"Takanakuy", which means "when the blood is boiling" in Quechua, is an annual and ancient celebration inherited from the pre-hispanic Chanka culture. One of the source of the Takanakuy tradition is Rumi Maki, an ancient Peruvian combat technique known to the Inca people.

The tradition of gives hundreds of Andean villagers the chance to solve their love, honor and property problems through the force of blows as a way to put differences behind them before the New Year. Takanakuy is an ancient fighting festival that used to practice by the Incans. It is related with the traditional distrust the judicial system. During the festivals, the fighting is combined with folk music and dance. The festivals last for three days. On the first day, the participants settle in the place; on the second day is a fighting day individual fights are held and after that spectators and participants celebrate - eat and drink, faces all until the third day, during which they gather their wounded.

Referees shall ensure that the parties adhere to the ritual combat with pure physical effort is not seriously hurt. In fact the referees of contemporary bouts always stop the fight as soon as one of two contestants just starts getting the upper hand. The winner gets to call himself/herself Qorilaso. The festival ends with a ritual dance of all parties involved.

Takanakuy may appear like a mindless display of violence, but to the people of Chumbivilcas it’s an important part of their cultural heritage. Whatever problems they may have with each other, fighters hug before a fight, exchange a few blows and then put everything behind them and become good friends again. It’s a simple and effective way to get rid of negative energy.

A legal student from Lima said to a CNN reporter: "The average villager in this region has basically no access to lawyers or courts, and even if they travel to a place where they do, odds are the ultimate judgment will not be in their favor. Using violence as a means of solving disputes may seem barbaric to people in the cities, but as you can see, the fighting here is all carefully controlled and the people involved get an immediate and cathartic result," he told me as we watched two teenage girls pounding each other's visibly contused eye sockets with their bleeding fists.

Property disputes, stolen girlfriends, stolen boyfriends, stolen sheep, spilled beer -- all issues big and small fall within the bounds of Takanakuy's physical jurisprudence. While not everyone fights over a serious legal matter - the better part of combatants just do so for sport or because they're drunk -- those who do so are bound by the results of the match and are generally satisfied by them win or lose (although there have been occasional, impromptu "appeals").

Many of the fighters cover their faces with traditional colorful ski masks and hang different stuffed animals on them, to scare opponents. Some fighters leave the bullring with blood flowing from their mouths and noses, but none of them hold a grudge, knowing they’ll have the chance for a rematch the following year.

The Chumbivilcas police force boasts a whopping three officers, and the nearest courthouse to Santo Tomas is a nauseating, 12-hour car ride on the windiest, most rock-strewn South American road this side of William Friedkin's "Sorceror." The Peruvian legal system basically doesn't extend into the hills of this region, so instead of packing into a van every time they've got a beef with their neighbor, the residents of Chumbivilcas save up their grievances all year then take justice into their own fists at Takanakuy.

As in old Russian wall fistfights, boys come into fight first, then teenagers, then men and after them girls and women.


June 2012
Exclusive of the "Female Single Combat Club"


Sources

Takanakuy
Deborah Poole: Unruly order: violence, power, and cultural identity in the high provinces of southern Peru, Westview Press, 1994, ISBN 0813387493
Peru's Fighting Festival, where old scores are settled
Fight for Christ Sake
Takanakuy: The fighting festival of Peru
Christmas in the Andes
Takanakuy – The Fighting Festival of Peru


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