The Quechua

Indigenous cultures of Peru developed for thousands of years before the arrival of the Spanish in 1532 and comprised a large number of ethnic groups who live in present-day Peru. At the time of the Spanish arrival, people living in the Andes and to the west were dominated by the Inca Empire, which had a complex, hierarchical civilization. Q’ero is a Quechua-speaking ethnic group living in recluse and isolation in the high Andes region of Peru. 

Quechua was not only spoken by the Incas but also by their long-term enemies of the Inca Empire- the Quechua people. The Quechua had formed an essential part of the agricultural backbone of Andean civilization since the early 15th century when they were conquered by the Chancas, who the Incas subjugated later in that century. In the 16th century, when the Spanish conquered the Inca empire, the Quechua communities came under Spanish rule. 

Spanish rule drastically altered Quechua society as the new tribute system required the Quechua to produce new crops for the Spanish at the expense of their food supply. Through centuries Quechua’s political and social institutions were strained by Spanish rule and Catholic Church, further alienating the Quechua from the roots of their society. By the early 21st century, the Quechua led very isolated lives as marginal farmers in the high Andes moving into higher altitudes and away from modern civilization. 

Q’eros Nation | Last of the Incas

At 14,000 feet, the snowcapped Andies are home to the Q’eros Nation people, who are known as the last direct descendants of the Inca. Q’eres survived the Spanish conquest by receding high into the mountains. According to the Vanishing Cultures Foundation Inc., six major Q’ero villages are home to about 600 people and 6,000 llamas & alpacas. 

Q’ero people live in an Earth-centric way, farming potatoes and mazes, rearing alpacas, and weaving wool. The unique Inca-like patterns characterize their master weaving style. Grass-thatched roofs cover the huts built with stone and earth, preserving the traditional way of life of the Q’eres people.

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reFocus Awards | 2023 Black & White Contest Nominee

Lens Magazine | January 2022

Lens Magazine | October 2022

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Carrousel du Louvre | October, Paris France

Publications and Exhibitions