Aymara ethnic group
|Regions with significant populations|
| Bolivia (1,462,286)|
Catholicism adapted to traditional Andean beliefs
|Related ethnic groups|
The Aymara or Aimara are a native ethnic group in the Andes and Altiplano regions of South America; about 2 million live in Bolivia, Peru and Northern Chile. They lived in the region for many centuries before becoming a subject people of the Inca, and later of the Spanish in the 16th century.
The Aymara have existed in the Andes in what is now Western Bolivia, Southern Peru and Northern Chile for over 2,000 years, according to some estimates. The region where Tiwanaku and the modern Aymara are located, the Altiplano, was conquered by the Incas under Huayna Capac (reign 1483-1523), although the exact date of this takeover is unknown. It is most likely that the Inca had a strong influence over the Aymara region for some time. The architecture for which the Inca are now known is clearly modeled after the Tiwanaku style. Though conquered by the Inca, the Aymara retained some degree of autonomy under the empire. There were a number of ethnic groups which were later to be called Aymara by the Spanish. These were divided upon different chieftainties. These included the Charqa, Qharaqhara, Quillaca, Asanaqui, Carangas, SivTaroyos, Haracapi, Pacajes, Lupacas, Soras, among others. Upon arrival of the Spanish, all these groups were spread in what today is Bolivia. Looking at the history of the languages, however, rather than their current distribution, it is clear that Aymara was once spoken much further north, at least as far north as central Peru, where most Andean linguists feel it is most likely that Aymara originated (see 'Geography' below). In fact, the Inca nobility may themselves originally have been Aymara-speakers, who switched to Quechua only shortly before the Inca expansion. For example, the Cuzco area has many Aymara placenames, and the so-called 'secret language of the Incas' actually appears to be a form of Aymara.
Most present day Aymara-speakers live in the Lake Titicaca basin beginning in Lake Titicaca through Desaguadero River and into Lake Poopo (Oruro) also known as the Altiplano, and are concentrated south of the lake. The capital of the ancient Aymara civilization is unknown, as there were at least 7 different kingdoms (Cornell University Anthropologist John Murra). The capital of the largely populated Lupaqa Kingdom was the city of Chucuito (See also John Murra study of this Aymara Kingdom), located on the shore of Lake Titicaca. The present urban center of the Aymara region is El Alto, a 750,000-person city near the Bolivian capital La Paz. For most of the 20th century the center of Cosmopolitan Aymara Culture has been Chukiago Marka (La Paz), the only Latin American city whose indigenous name is still as commonly used as its Spanish name. During the government of General Pando (died in 1917) and during the Bolivian Civil War, Bolivia's Capital was moved from Sucre to La Paz.
The native language of the Aymara is also named Aymara; in addition, many Aymara speak Spanish, which is the dominant language of the countries in which they live, as a second language. The Aymara flag is known as the Wiphala; it consists of seven colors quilted together with diagonal stripes. Aymara have grown and chewed coca plants for centuries, and used its leaves in traditional medicine as well as in ritual offerings to the sun god Inti and the earth goddess Pachamama. Over the last century, this has brought them into conflict with state authorities who have carried out coca eradication plans in order to prevent the creation of the drug cocaine, which is created by extracting the chemical from coca leaves in a complex chemical process. Coca plays a profound role in the indigenous religions of both the Aymara and the Quechua, such as the ritual curing ceremonies of the yatiri, and in more recent times has become a symbol of cultural identity.
Most of contemporary Aymaran Urban culture was developed in the working class Aymara neighborhoods of Chukiago La Paz such as Chijini and others. Bowler hats have been worn by Quechua and Aymara women in Peru and Bolivia since the 1920s when supposedly a shipment of bowler hats was sent from Europe to Bolivia via Peru for use by Europeans who were working on the construction of the railroads. The hats were found to be too small and were distributed to locals. The luxurious, elegant and cosmopolitan Aymara Chola dress which is an icon to Bolivia (bowler hat, aguayo, heavy pollera, skirts, boots, jewelry, etc.) was born and evolved in Chukiago City and it is clearly not provincial but urban. The dress has become an ethnic symbol for the Aymara women. In addition, numerous Aymara live and work as campesinos in the surrounding Altiplano. The Aymara language does have one surviving relative, spoken by a small, isolated group of about 1000 people far to the north in the mountains inland from Lima in Central Peru (in and around the village of Tupe, Yauyos province, Lima department). This language, whose two dialects are known as Jaqaru and Kawki, is of the same family as Aymara, indeed some linguists refer to it as 'Central Aymara', alongside the main 'Southern Aymara' branch of the family spoken in the Titicaca region.
There are numerous movements for greater independence or political power for the Aymara and other indigenous groups. These include the Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army, led by Felipe Quispe, and the Movement Towards Socialism, a political party organized by the Cocalero Movement and Evo Morales. These and many other Aymara organizations have been involved in activism in Bolivia, including the 2003 Bolivian Gas War and the 2005 Bolivia protests. One of the goals of the movement, as put forth by Quispe, is the establishment of an independent indigenous state, Collasuyu, named for the eastern (and largely Aymara) region of the Inca empire which covered the southeastern corner of Peru and much of what is today Bolivia. Evo Morales is an Aymara coca grower from the Chaparé region whose Movement Toward Socialism party has forged alliances with both rural indigenous groups and urban working classes to form a broad leftist coalition in Bolivia. Morales has run for president in several recent elections with several close calls, and in 2005 he finally won a surprise victory, winning the largest majority vote since Bolivia returned to democracy and declaring himself to be the first indigenous president of Bolivia. He is also credited with the ousting of Bolivia's previous two presidents.
- Gregoria Apaza
- Bartolina Sisa
- Roberto Mamani Mamani, contemporary Aymara artist
- Socialist Aymara Group
- Been without being
- ↑ Bolivia National Census 2001, figures listed in Ramiro Molina B. and Javier Albó C., Gama étnica y lingüística de la población boliviana, La Paz, Bolivia, 2006, p 111.
- ↑ Peru National Census 1993, figures listed in Andrés Chirinos Rivera, Atlas Lingüístico del Perú, Cuzco: CBC, 2001.
- ↑ Chile National Census 2002, figures cited in Bilingüismo y el registro matemático aymara
- ↑ Martha Hardman has long argued that Jaqaru and Kawki are two separate languages, but most other linguists consider them to be two closely-related dialects.
- Adelson, Laurie, and Arthur Tracht. Aymara Weavings: Ceremonial Textiles of Colonial and 19th Century Bolivia. [Washington, D.C.]: Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, 1983. ISBN 0865280223
- Buechler, Hans C. The Masked Media: Aymara Fiestas and Social Interaction in the Bolivian Highlands. Approaches to semiotics, 59. The Hague: Mouton, 1980. ISBN 9027977771
- Buechler, Hans C., and Judith-Maria Buechler. The Bolivian Aymara. Case studies in cultural anthropology. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971. ISBN 0030813808
- Carter, William E. Aymara Communities and the Bolivian Agrarian Reform. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1964.
- Eagen, James. The Aymara of South America. First peoples. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Co, 2002. ISBN 0822541742
- Kolata, Alan L. Valley of the Spirits: A Journey into the Lost Realm of the Aymara. New York: Wiley, 1996. ISBN 0471575070
- Lewellen, Ted C. Peasants in Transition: The Changing Economy of the Peruvian Aymara : a General Systems Approach. Boulder, Colo: Westview Press, 1978. ISBN 089158076X
- Orta, Andrew. Catechizing Culture: Missionaries, Aymara, and the "New Evangelism". New York: Columbia University Press, 2004. ISBN 0231130686
- Rivera Cusicanqui, Silvia. Oppressed but Not Defeated: Peasant Struggles Among the Aymara and Qhechwa in Bolivia, 1900-1980. Geneva: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, 1987.
- Tschopik, Harry. The Aymara of Chucuito, Peru. 1951.
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