VIRGIN OF CARMEN

In Paucartambo, a celebration is held every year in honor of the Virgen del Carmen, patron saint of the mestizos. Thousands of devotees gather to participate in festivities full of music, dances and colorful...

In Paucartambo, a celebration is held every year in honor of the Virgen del Carmen, patron saint of the mestizos. Thousands of devotees gather to participate in festivities full of music, dances and colorful costumes. For five days, groups of dancers walk the cobblestone streets of the town, followed by bands and orchestras. On the central day, the Virgin is carried in procession to bless the attendees and ward off demons. At the end of the procession, a symbolic war is waged against the demons. The celebration concludes with a farewell party called “kacharpari”. This festivity takes place in Paucartambo, at an altitude of 3,017 m.a.s.l., approximately 110 km from the city of Cusco.

History of the Virgin of Carmen

According to the story, during a trip, the Count of Lemos discovered the image of the Virgin in Pucará and ordered replicas for Pucará and Puno. However, the Puno image was never collected and remained in Pucará. Then, a wealthy person named Doña Maria Campos moved the image to Paucartambo, where since then the festivity of the Virgin of Carmen is celebrated with great solemnity. The Virgin was recognized as the patron saint of folkloric dances in 1972 and received honors from Pope John Paul II in Cuzco in 1985. The festivity is held annually between July 15 and 18, attracting thousands of devotees and visitors.

In short, the Count of Lemos discovered the image of the Virgin in Pucará, but the replica destined for Puno was never collected. The image was transferred to Paucartambo by Doña María Campos, giving origin to the festivity of the Virgen del Carmen in that place. The Virgin was recognized as the patron saint of folkloric dances and received papal honors. The festivity is celebrated annually in July and attracts numerous devotees and visitors.

MAIN DANCES THAT ACCOMPANY THE VIRGIN OF CARMEN

DANZAQ

The dance known as Danzaq or “Tusuq” is recognized for its elegance and color. They are attributed with the ability to seduce young quinceañera girls, conquer married women and console widows. This group is distinguished by its elaborate costumes, which include chucos on the head, short ponchos with ornaments and blue pants. This dance is considered one of the most representative of the province of Paucartambo.

CHUNCHACHAS

This dance is a representation of the jungle women of Kosñipata, but shows a clear mestizo influence in its costumes and music. The costumes include an amazon crown with hair, a breastplate symbolizing the Virgin, two “ch’uspas” to carry their wayruros, and a dress adorned with a chonta and the sinehon.

QHAPAQ NEGRO

This dance, known as “Negro Rico”, evokes the era of servitude and slavery of the Afro-descendant population, represented by the use of chains as a symbol of submission. Today, the Negros of Paucartambo consider themselves slaves devoted to the Virgen del Carmen, to whom they offer their beautiful and moving dance, accompanied by songs full of sentiment towards the Virgen del Carmen.

QHAPAQ QOLLA

It is a traditional dance that represents the inhabitants of Qollasuyu and has its roots in colonial times, when the Qollavian traders came to Paucartambo. The dance is rooted in the devotion to the “Mamacha del Carmen”, to whom they sing and dance. The dancers wear impressive ornate monteras, as well as waq’ollos and llicllas made from luxurious vicuña. In addition, they wear a q’epi containing a stuffed vicuña as part of their attire.

QHAPAQ CH’UNCHO

This dance is a representation of the jungle warriors of Qósñipata, in the district of the province of Paucartambo. In their clothing, they wear multicolored feathers known as “ch’ucu”, long hair, mesh masks and a skirt called “unku”. They also carry a spear made of chonta. The music that accompanies them is played and dedicated to the Mamacha del Carmen by a typical band composed of two whistles, a drum and a bass drum.

YOU CAN ALSO VISIT THREE CROSSES

Forty-five kilometers from Paucartambo is Tres Cruces, also known as Balcón del Oriente, an impressive natural viewpoint that offers views of the Amazon rainforest and the Kosñipata Valley. It is especially famous for offering one of the most spectacular sunrises in the world, with a variety of colors and shapes that are generated when the sun rises over the horizon. The phenomenon of the “white ray” stands out, where the sunlight is distorted as if passing through a prism, creating an effect of three suns moving from one side to the other. This natural phenomenon can be observed between the months of June and July.

Excursions to the lookout depart at 1:00 a.m. and travel time is approximately 2 hours. The sunrise show starts around 4:30 am and lasts until 6:00 am.

HOW TO GET THERE?

On Avenida Diagonal Angamos there are vehicles that go to Paucartambo. The approximate cost of the ticket is S/. 15.00. In addition, you will also find cabs in the area, and you can negotiate the fare with them. The travel time from Cusco to Paucartambo is approximately 3 hours.

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