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Land of winds > The people > Culture | Issue 03. Jan.-Feb.2011
By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

The Caranqui or Karanki

The Caranqui or Karanki
The Caranqui (or Karanki, according to present-day Quichua orthography) are an indigenous Andean people located in the northern Sierra of Ecuador, province of Imbabura. Theoretically, they would be descendents from the pre-Hispanic Caranqui, those who joined forces with the Otavalo and the Cayambe peoples to form the Karanki Confederation and were finally defeated by the Inca troops led by Inqa Wayna Qhapaq.
Their number reaches over 6400 people distributed in around fifty communities spread across several cantons: Ibarra (parishes of La Esperanza, Angochagua, Caranqui and San Antonio), Antonio Ante (parish of Andrade Martín), Otavalo (parish of San Juan de Ilumán) and Pimampiro (parishes of Mariano Acosta and San Francisco de Sigsipamba).
Originally they would have spoken a language of the Barbacoan family, which would have been replaced by Quichua after it disappeared around XVIII century. Despite this fact, ancient Karanki language left deep marks in the Quichua spoken in the province of Imbabura nowadays.
Karanki people live on agriculture. They grow wheat, barley, maize, potato and oca. The cultivated crops are mostly for own consumption and the surplus vegetables are sold in the local and regional markets alongside ceramic and textile production.
Karanki men usually wear white trousers and white shirt, a red wool poncho, white espadrilles and a short brim hat. Women, for their part, wear a multicolour embroidered white blouse, a deep colour skirt or “pollera” (or dark “anacos”, part of the distinctive Otavalo women’s attire), “huallcas” or gold-coloured necklaces, “manilas” or bracelets (originally made of red coral), a black hat, black espadrilles and a bright-coloured “chalina” or shawl.
Since Karanki women are their people’s wisdom takers, they are responsible for verbally passing it down through chants, riddles, songs, stories and practical directives.
Self-organized Karanki communities are under the authority of the Community Council and the Community Assembly. These communities are part of different regional and national indigenous organizations and home to local association and cooperatives. These organizational structures allow their inhabitants to channel social and political claims and demands, mainly related to preserving their culture, historical sites, land and water).


Karanki, in Secretaría de Pueblos, Movimientos Sociales y Participación Ciudadana, Gobierno del Ecuador (Office of Peoples, Social Movements and Public Participation, Government of Ecuador) [es].
Pueblo Karanki, in CODENPE (Consejo de Desarrollo de las Nacionalidades y Pueblos de Ecuador, Council for Development of Peoples and Nationalities of Ecuador) [es].
Karanki legends, in Universidad Técnica del Norte [es].
Pueblo Karanki, con una mujer al mando (Karanqui people, having a woman in charge). In “Runakuna” magazine [es].

[Picture 01] [Picture 02]

Video 01. Inti Raymi feast in Caranqui.
Video 02. Karanki claims for water.
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