The cosmovision of Kallawaya, Bolivia

Bolivia . on the Altiplano Catholicism coexists with the cosmovision of the Andean Indians.

The language of the Maha Huay evolved over many centuries, is a “secret language” which is spoken today only a few families of traditional doctors, herbalists, calavia . living in the Andes of Bolivia. Language Kallawaya is a means of transmission of ancient knowledge . are now under threat of extinction.

Calavia, herbalists Wanderers from the province of Bautista Saavedra, Department of La Paz, over many centuries have developed a “family language” of the tribes (ayllu), within which from generation to generation, passed on holistic healing knowledge. This language received the name mahah Huai or “language people”. Today, it is spoken of calavia eight families in the province, where the language of everyday communication is Quechua.

For the first time this language became interested in the colonies, administrators, and chroniclers, as mestizos, and Spaniards, testified to his “rarity”. Starting from the XVII century, it was widely distributed information about the existence of a special language healers-herbalists, who prepare medicine for the Inca kings and their entourage.

The researchers of the XIX century could not understand the language, familiar only calavia, but widely was interested in their knowledge in the homeopathic Pharmacopeia. The exchange between them occurred in the Aymara language, common in the highlands. Calavia mastered this language, so rasshiritel their patients and the perimeter of its activities.

In order to publish a list of medicinal herbs and present it at the world exhibition of 1889, on the occasion in which Paris was built in Eiffel tower, Bolivian scientists and officials appealed to calavia with a request to describe in the language of Aymara properties of hundreds of plants brought to France for so-called “celebration of civilization”. From that moment the fixed idea that calavia are representatives of the Aymara people.

It took more than half a century to calavia been recognized by the society as a separate group with their own language and their forms of expression. Ritual ceremonies or during Kallawaya medicine researchers the existence of the language the Huay Maha. Will also proved that it is widely used for the communication within the group.

Thus, by the middle of the twentieth century there is an interest in language calavia, as a means of transmission of traditional knowledge. Many believe that the Mahi Huai – calavia is the secret language of the Inca kings and their entourage. Other experts have unsuccessfully tried to establish Parallels between the Huay Maha and ancient language pukina or ur spoken in the Andean highlands. Other have suggested a possible link with the languages of the Amazon jungle, which calavia explored in search of herbs, animals or minerals that can then be used for the prevention and treatment of diseases. It is possible that their role of intermediaries between the Inca and the population of the Amazon was reflected in the language.

It is obvious that the language has undergone calavia the influence of Quechua, which was the instrument of their forced conversion to the Catholic faith. In the XVII century, during the “eradication of idolatry”, held by the Catholic Church, the elite of Kallawaya were persecuted. Children were separated from adults and gave the education is either Spanish or Quechua Catholic priests. The Quechua language has again influenced calavia in the nineteenth century, when many began to migrate to Peru, where he soon acquired a wide circle of patients, and in the early twentieth century, when President Augusto Legia Bernardino, even achieved official recognition from the authorities of the country. In their native territory calavia also experiencing demographic pressure from neighboring tribes, who spoke Quechua. That is why today the language of the Maha Huay – Kallawaya has absorbed nearly all the phonology and grammar of Quechua.

Closer to our time the Mahi Huai – calavia were influenced by two historical events. The first is the Chaco war (1932-1935 biennium) between Bolivia and Paraguay. Kallawaya were mobilized as assistants of doctors to service the numerous contingent of Bolivian Indians, formed of Aymara and Quechua. The nation of calavia suffered serious losses that had a severe impact on subsequent demographic development.

The second event is the revolution of 1952, headed by the National revolutionary movement (MNR). It has led to structural changes in society: it introduced universal suffrage, carried out the nationalization of the largest mining companies and land redistribution. The traditional nomadic way of life of calavia came to settled life in cities, where they became herbalists or jewelers.

It is in this urban environment was born the idea to send young people calavia to study in medical institutions, so that they can avoid accusations of using Indian healing art that was pursued by Bolivian laws. Such changes in the consciousness of calavia was the beginning of the struggle for the abolition of criminal prosecution for the practice of Indian medicine in Bolivia. In order to obtain legal recognition of calavia become professionals in the field of Western academic knowledge, what was the main cultural features – language-Mahi Huai – calavia. Currently most of calavia trilingual (Spanish, Aymara, Quechua) and only a few of them still speak their native language.

In the census of population conducted in Bolivia in 2001, the existence of ethnic groups kaluvaya and its language was not recognized. The fact that UNESCO has included system CombiLine calavia in the list of world intangible heritage, also gives calavia no legal recognition. Today, Kallawaya nominate to the Parliament of Bolivia requirements on the legal recognition of the nation and its language. It is expected that the new draft Constitution, which is currently under development, will not pass them by.

In preparing the articles used materials:

Carmen Beatriz Loza, researcher of the Bolivian Institute of traditional medicine, calavia (El Alto, La Paz, Bolivia) .

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