Chuspa is a Quechua word meaning purse or bag. Men and women have used chuspas in their different forms for more than 2,000 years. Some highly decorated chuspas are used only for special occasions, as part of the dancers' costumes during festivals. Others are simpler in style and are used primarily by men to carry coca leaves. Both men and women use a smaller chuspa to carry money. Men are rarely without their chuspas, which are finely woven and often have a separate supplemental pocket for llipta, the lime ash catalyst that activates the alkaloids in coca. Quechua clothing lacks pockets and not all chuspas have these special small pockets.
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Q'ero Nation of Peru
The Q'ero Nation is located a one day ride on horseback from the road to Paucartambo in Cusco and is the oldest in the Inca Tradition. They live 4,300 meters high in the Peruvian Andes. They grow and eat potatoes, such as olluco and oca. Children between the ages of 7-14 attend school. Medical assistance is scarce. They work and live as a community of 800 or so people. They marry among themselves and have kept their customs alive since Incan times.
The main activity of the Q'ero, besides agriculture, is weaving. They use natural dyes for their wool. Their techniques and designs are considered to be the closest to those of their ancestors. Their weavings have been displayed at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC.
The Q'erobelieve they are the last descendants of the Inca. According to tradition, their ancestors defended themselves from invading Spanish conquistadores with the aid of the local mountain deities (los Apus) which devastated the Spanish Army near Wiraquchapampa.
The religion of the Q'ero is syncretic, consisting of a mixture of European Christianity with elements of the traditional religion of the Andes. Shamans of different levels (e.g., Altumisayuq, Pampamisayuq) still have a high reputation. They worship Mother Nature (Pachamama) as well as other mountain spirits like Apu Ausangate (Apu Ausangate) and other regional deities.
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