Solar cult in the Andes: “The Intialabado”

22 Junio 2019 / By admin

Thanks to a valuable ethnography by magister José Canal Ccarhuarupay1, we can get to know one of the last solar cults, through which we can experience a unique independence of the religious catholic system. It shows the real Andean rituals filled with particular characteristics through an epilogue of the pilgrimage to Qoylorit´I, which takes place between the end of May and the beginning of June, it is a flexible date that coincides with the week of Corpus Christi in Cusco.

“The festival takes place over a period of 21 days, during the time the inhabitants of the area and the pilgrims attend novena masses and seven processions that take place in different parts of the sanctuary’s territory. The most important procession and the most sacred one is the fifth procession, it is the denominated procession of height or procession of 24 hours in which the rite of the Intialabado is realized. This procession begins on Tuesday between ten and eleven o’clock in the morning, right after mass. Ch’unchus or wayri ch’unchus or puka pakoris dancers are the ones who carry the Apuyaya, an image of Christ on a plate placed inside a small showcase in the shape of a cross. It is decorated with red, green and yellow bird feathers. The first stop or resting place after climbing a steep hill is called Machucruz. The image also gets its rests, so it gets placed on the walls of some sort of a hermitage without a ceiling. His devotees, following the guard’s instructions, pray to him and sing songs in Quechua. After the ritual the pilgrims get some refreshments for quarter of an hour, then they continue walking in separate groups or accompany the procession until they reach a place called Yanakancha. There the people rest for about three hours. They take the opportunity to eat and sleep outdoors at least until 10 o’clock at night. Other prayers and prayers ceremonies are taking place there that will be extended in Chapter 9. Around six o’clock in the afternoon, taking advantage of the light of the full moon, the pilgrims continue the walk towards a hill called Intiqlluqsimunan. They pass through Qespecruz and Tablacruz, the walk lasts all night covering a distance of 25 kilometers.2

Getting to Intilloqsina, also known as the natural scenario where the sunrise is expected, a ritual bringing together the main nations of the regions takes place. Various theories have been formed, for example, one stating it is an astronomical representation or others that consider it to be the affirmation of the pan-Andean confederation that allowed the conformation of the Tahuantinsuyo. Our goal with this short chronicle, is to invite you to get to know this living culture and at the same time preserve it as a faithful testimony that in the 21st century, there is a native solar cult besides Inti Raymi, which is a spectacle constituted in 1944 by enthusiastic artists and intellectuals. So try to get to know Intialabado.


[1] Canal Ccarhuarupay, Feliciano José. Cambios y continuidades en el sistema religioso del Sr. de Qoyllorit’i, Patrimonio Cultural Inmaterial de la Humanidad. Ministerio de Cultura, DDCC. Pp. 82. Lima, 2013. 

2 Ibid. Pp. 83.

By Pavel Ugarte Céspedes.

Translation: Maria Magdalena Mailhamer

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