The esplanade of Chukipampa in the archaeological complex of Sacsayhuaman is the scenario not only of the Feast of the Sun (Inti Raymi) in june, but also of the depiction of the Warachicuy in september every year.
Dozens of students of one of the most renown schools in Cusco, the School of Sciences, endure some physical tests to prove their courage and stamina as the Incas did in the past.
Some XVI century chroniclers wrote about this test.
The Inca Garcilaso de la Vega gives us an in-depth account of this ceremony in his book The Royal Commentaries. Even though he does not mention the very word Warachicuy nor the month when this was held, he writes down in the chapter Armaban Caballeros a los Incas y como los Examinaban (Knight the Incas) the word huaracu which means raise to knighthood.
According to the Inca Garcilaso, every year or every other year noble Inca youngsters older than 16 years had to face some challenges which lasted from one new moon to the other.
First, they had to fast during six days eating only raw maize and water in a house located at the neighborhood of Collcampata, where the church of San Cristobal stands nowadays.
After that, they run from the hill of Huanacauri to the fortress. Even though he does not write the name of the fortress, we know that he was talking about Sacsayhuaman.
At this site, the teenagers passed through some military drills such as the attack and defense of the fortress and the throwing of stones, lances, darts, and arrows. They also had to prove they knew how to make their weapons, and shoes called usuta, as well as to eat frugally and to walk without shoes.
The very Inca congratulated the ones who passed the tests, and he also pierced their ear lobes with a pin made of gold. The youngsters also put on a usuta made of wool and a breechcloth called huara from the word huaracu comes from, according to Garcilaso.
Over their heads, they wore an arrangement of the flowers cantut and chihuayhua as well as the leaves uíñay huayna which means forever young. The Inca princess, in addition to the mention above, also wore a kind of tassel made of yellow wool and an ax called champi.
Another chronicler, Cristobal de Molina, says in his book Relación de las Fábulas y Ritos de los Incas that the Andean people of Oma (1) celebrated the feast of guarachico during september.
Bernabe Cobo writes down the word guarachicuy, adding that the age of the participants were 14 or older. In addition to giving them the guaras (or huara), the teenagers received their permanent names, according to this chronicler.
(1) Oma, Uma or Omo is nowadays a small town called San Jerónimo about 10km south of the city of Cusco. It was one of Cusco´s first parish church.
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