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Land of winds > Traditions > Festival | Issue 05. May.-Jun.2011
By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

The Andean “herranza”

The Andean “herranza”
The so called Andean “herranza” (livestock branding) is a ritual held during the Carnival period in rural communities of both the Simón Bolívar district (Pasco department, Peru) and several parts of the Junín department (such as the valley of the River Canipaco). The ritual honours the Pachamama (usually translated as “Mother Earth”, the fertility goddess who presides over planting and harvesting) and the Apus (spiritual entities associated with geographical features, in this case the mountains or Tayta Jirkas that protect the local people in the highlands) and also the tradition of cattle branding (each animal is marked with the owner’s brand using different techniques).
This celebration begins on Carnival Saturday (“vespers” or visperashun). Starting at midday and lasting till early the following day, there are offerings “tables” (mesa mastay) to “pay” the Apus. This “payment” includes offerings such as lliqta (a grey chalky material which is made of quinoa or other plants ashes, bicarbonate, lime, etc. to chew coca leaves), coca leaves, cigarrettes, liquor, chicha of jora (alcoholic beverage made from jora, a type of dried corn), cakes, fruit, candies and biscuits... This is also the time for carrying out the shactucuy or shactamicuy (llaqtamikhuy, in quechua “food for the land”), an event where participants thank and feed the Pachamama. During the night people stay awake (velacuy tuta) and the ritual of the “chacchapda” takes place, which consists of reading the coca leaves in search of good predictions for the year ahead.
The following day there are different competitions such as those involving honderos or “huaraqueros” (sling shooters, from Quechua waraka, “sling”) and after them the cattle branding starts. The atmosphere gets more and more festive as women sing popular songs in Quechua accompanied by tinya drums (what is known as the “tinyada”, a sort of collective performance), and also thanks to the wonderful smell given off by large cauldron used for preparing prepare stews and casseroles: alpaca with potatoes, trout ceviche, soups, churpucuy (fried cavy or guinea pig)... At the same time people play with flour, water and streamers, chew coca leaves, smoke and drink, all of which bring the community together.
During the livestock branding ritual, the animals are marked by their owners using different techniques depending on the type of animal and its sex.
The “puyada” is the paint marking used to identify sheep. The best ewe is mated to the best ram available after the former has been painted in red and the latter in pink. After the “marriage” both animals are given wine, biscuits, coca leaves and candies and embellished with streamers and the “gualapo” (a fruit necklace for the ewe and a fruit crown for the ram). Finally, they are carried on their owner’s shoulders.
All the remaining sheep and goats in the flock are marked with a cut on the ear, what is known as the “señalada” or señalacuy, and each cut identifies a certain owner. In addition, each animal’s head and back is painted in distinctive colours and shapes.
The “cintada” or cintacuy consists of marking llamas, alpacas and bovines with distinctive coloured ribbons (usually plaited strips following a certain pattern). Those ribbons hang from females’ pierced ears while males wear them on different parts of their body: bulls on their backs and tails and llamas around their necks.
For their part bovines and equines are marked with a burning stick (hot brand) on their hides what is know in Spanish as “herrar” (therefore “herranza”, the name of the ritual in Spanish).
In the valley of Canipaco, livestock branding is called “diachacuy” or “Tayta Shanty” and originally took place on the 24 of July, St. James Day (therefore the name “Tayta Shanty”, Father Santiago, James in Spanish), patron saint of agricultural workers. At present this ceremony is carried out during the “octava” period (from the first week of August until September). This process is used all around Peru in order to determine the ownership of a herd or farm animal, and receives different names in different regions. For example, in Ayacucho it is called uywakunapaq raymi (in Quechua, “festival for the animals”), though in many places it is usually referred to as “toril” and also includes other celebrations such as bullfights. As with the names there are different dates for cattle branding according to different places: on St. John Day in Chupaca, Junín department; in August in Ayacucho; and in March in Cajatambo, Lima department.
All of this celebrations not only have in common the process of marking animals but also the offerings and the playing of tinyas and huajras or waqras (trumpets made of cachos or cattle horns) accompanied by women singing, though nowadays typical local bands (harp, violin and saxophone) are much more popular.


La fiesta de la herranza andina (The Andean livestock branding ritual), in La Primera [es].
X Festival de la Herranza Andina (X Festival of the Andean livestock branding), in Cerro de Pasco [es].
La herranza andina: la fiesta costumbrista de más arraigo (The Andean livestock branding: the most deeply rooted festival), in La Primicia [es].
Chupaca revive hoy la fiesta del Toril y la Chacchapada (Chupaca welcomes today the Toril Fiesta and the Chacchapada), in Cusco Web [es].
Las estrellas no mienten: agricultura y ecología subjetiva andina en Jauja (Stars do not lie: Andean subjetive agriculture and ecology in Jauja), in GoogleBooks [es].

Video 01. Andean livestock branding festival in the Simón Bolívar district (Pasco).
Video 02. Livestock branding, Pasco 2011.
Video 03. Toril.
Video 04. Toril grauino.
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