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Indians of the Collao

These are pre-Incan people who relate their cultural beginnings from mythology and folklore. There are several versions including those who say their ancestors originated from a rock, a fountain, or a lake so historical fact is practically uncertain. Before subjected to Inca rule the people lived barbarously in mountain high strongholds from which anarchy reigned. Their warring life ended with the arrival of Incan rule and they adopted a village life which they now live.

During this pre-Inca reign the Indians of the Collao tell of the exploits of two leaders named Zapana and Cari. The natives of the Collao tell the same legend as do the highland people of Ticci Viracocha, the Creator of all things. Many of the natives keep such myths or stories in romances or songs to preserve their memory as they do not have writing skills. However, some natives display good intelligence when questioned displaying they count time and have some knowledge of the movement of both the sun and moon.

When further asked the Indians give more descriptive detail of early pre-Incan life. Once again people were described as living in a state of disarray; some went naked, living in caves and whatever they might find as there were no man made dwellings; food was scavenged from every area and part of the countryside. In the highlands fortresses were established from which men fought one another. Many were killed; spoils were carried off along with women of conquest. Anarchy existed, no political cohesion had been achieved, meaning no tribal chiefs yet existed, and only petty chiefs led small war parties. Even though their clothes were primitive headbands were worn for the same purpose as today to distinguish one group or tribe from another.

At this time Zapana, a powerful chief, brought many within the Collao region under his command. During this period Hatun Colla, a great captain, appeared in the district of the Canas, between the Canchas and Collao, near the village of Chugara. Also there were brave and strong women who lived without husbands similar to the Amazons who took up arms and became masters of the district. Eventually they built a fortress, which still stands, to defend themselves against Hatun Colla, but eventually they were defeated and vanished. A.G.H.


Osborne, Harold. South American Mythology. "Library of the World's Myths and Legends." New York. Peter Bedrick Books. 1968, 1985. pp. 68-69

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