Chumpis are believed to have protective and purifying qualities. In the Cusco area, some communities place chumpis on sacred mountain tops, or apus, in order to communicate with the gods. Traditionally women give birth lying on a chumpi and the baby is wrapped in a softer version, known as a walt’ana, which ensures he or she will grow up properly. From adolescence, women wear a chumpi under their skirts to encourage a lover or deter an unwanted suitor. It is even common practice for the bridegroom to lasso his bride with one. And the age-old tradition of burying the dead with the family chumpi is still occasionally observed.
The type of chumpi worn can indicate social status or designate the wearer's community. The wide center band is a medley of figures and symbols representing religious events, agricultural cycles and other aspects of community life: a house, a bird with her offspring, flowering plants, a hexagram representing the suyus, or regions. The work involved is staggering. It can take a few months, weaving several hours a day, to make a chumpi.
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Chincheros is a small Andean Indian village located high up on the windswept plains of Anta at 3762m about 30km from Cusco. There are beautiful views overlooking the Sacred Valley of the Incas, with the Cordillera Vilcabamba and the snow-capped peak of Salkantay dominating the western horizon. Chincheros is believed to be the mythical birthplace of the rainbow. The village mainly comprises mud brick (adobe) houses, and locals still go about their business in traditional dress.
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