Quechuan Modernity and the Literature of Kilku Warak’a

Katarzyna Górska, Jagiellonian University, Poland

In Peru Kilku Warak’a is often regarded as one of the greatest Quechuan poets. He represents the indigenous movement in the Peruvian literature of 20th century. Bearing in mind the specifics of Quechua language the following article analyzes how traditional Quechuan folklore changed with coming into modern age and transformed into literature based tradition. There are several differences between Quechuan oral culture that was practiced for centuries by anonymous authors and written literature tradition that was codified in form of scripture that was unfamiliar and atypical for both Quechua language and culture.

[Keywords: Peruvian literature, Quechuan poetry, indigenismo, modernity, KilkuWarak’a]

Despedazando el mío?
Would you cut your heart
Tearing mine?

Qonqawankimanchu ¿Me olvidarías? Would you forget me?

In the Andean region of South America, Quechua or quichua is a language family spoken by the tribes of people referred to with the same name. It is a common knowledge that Quechua is the primary indigenous language of Peru and the language that was expanded and used predominantly during the Inca Empire in Pre-Columbian era. In fact the origins of this Andean language can be traced back to centuries before the Inca Empire was settled. The proto-quechua, as linguists call this former idiom, formed a root that later developed into several regional dialects. The history of this language as vernacular in the area that today constitutes the Peruvian territory is relatively short. It was diffused for nearly 100 years with the conquest under the rule of Inca Pachacútec, HuaynaCápac and TúpacYupanqui . Then, its own development was suddenly disturbed with the arrival of the Spaniards to the continent during the 16th century. And only recently in the 20th century Quechua has begun to decline with the compulsory education in Spanish on the

territory of its traditional exclusiveness and domination – Peruvian highlands countryside. There are many different, more or less linguistically discerned, divisions of Quechua, though today we identify four major Quechua branches in Peru. They vary in many aspects, speakers of different variants can comprehend them. Therefore, we distinguish runasimi (region of Cuzco), chanka/wanka (region of Ayacucho), huayla (region of Huancayo) and ancash (as can be supposed – region of Ancash).

The idiom of Quechua is characterized by various features of traditional and indigenous languages. What is special in the native language is the absence of written tradition. Quechua was restricted only to oral tradition in the time of its development and diffusion and apart of a very simple recording technique known as quipu, it did not have any scripting system. Unlike other major indigenous language families of Latin America as Mayan or Náhuatl that unfolded a specific codification, Quechua was spoken only. The initial condition and the forthcoming cultural and linguistic progress of Spanish left severe marks on the modern Quechua language. In this article I want to show that modern Quechua illustrates varied view of human beings and the world than its traditional Pre-Colombian predecessor. A fact of representing only verbal tradition and becoming a codified language with script and formalized grammar, only after the conquest and colonization prosecuted under different language, left strict marks on language and therefore on Andean folklore. Analyzing contemporary works of Quechuan writer Kilku Warak’a, I aim to prove that modernity affected Quechua culture and language with so far unknown components and characteristics. The literary works of an outstanding Quechua writer prove the alteration of idiom itself and therefore the linguistic model of the world…Access Full Text of the Article