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The Kallawaya are an itinerant group of traditional healers living in the Andes of Bolivia . They live in the Bautista Saavedra region , a mountainous area north of La Paz .  They are members of the Mollo culture and are direct descendants of Tiwanaku culture.  According to the UNESCO Safeguarding Project, the Kallawaya can be traced to the pre- Inca period.  The Kallawaya performed brain surgery as early as 700 CE  and knew how to effectively prevent and treat malaria with quinine before the Europeans.  They also helped to save thousands of lives during the construction of the Panama Canal . 
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Healers
- 3 Language
- 4 References
- 5 Further reading
- 6 External links
Etymology[ edit ]
According to Enrique Oblitas Poblete , a Bolivian ethnobotanical specialist,  Kallawaya may be a corruption of khalla-wayai (“beginning of a drink offering”) or k’alla or k’alli wayai (“entrance into priesthood”). 
Healers[ edit ]
Kallawaya doctors (médicos Kallawaya), are known as the naturopathic healers of Inca kings,  and as keepers of science knowledge, principally the pharmaceutical properties of vegetables , animals and minerals .  Most Kallawaya healers understand how to use 300 herbs, while specialists are familiar with 600 herbs. Kallawaya women are often midwives, treat gynecological disorders, and pediatric patients.  Kallawaya healers travel through northwestern Bolivia and parts of Argentina , Chile , Ecuador , Panama , and Peru . Often they are on foot, walking ancient Inca trails, through the tropics, mountain valleys and highland plateaus, while looking for traditional herbs. 
Prior to leaving their homes to heal the sick, the Kallawayas perform a ceremonial dance. The dance and regalia are expressed as the yatiri (“healer”). The choreography is noted for the llantucha of suri, clothing made of rhea feathers and used as protection against the elements while they travel to their patients, carrying khapchos (“male bags”) that contain herbs, mixes, and talismans.  Groups of musicians perform Kantu , playing drums and pan flutes during the ritual ceremonies to establish contact with the spirit world before the healer visits patients. 
Language[ edit ]
The language of their trade is the Kallawaya language , a language based on Quechua grammar but retaining an esoteric vocabulary for terms reflecting medicinal knowledge, which appears to be a remnant of the vocabulary of the now extinct Puquina language.   For general conversation, they speak the more common Quechua language . 
References[ edit ]
- ^ a b c “Proclamation 2003: “The Andean Cosmovision of the Kallawaya“” . UNESCO. Archived from the original on September 5, 2012. Retrieved September 19, 2007.
- ^ a b c d “Wisdom of Mollo Culture Kallawaya” . boliviacontact.com. Archived from the original on September 5, 2012. Retrieved September 19, 2007.
- ^ Preedy, Victor R. (2008). Botanical medicine in clinical practice . CABI. pp. 41–. ISBN 978-1-84593-413-2 . Archived from the original on November 26, 2017. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
- ^ “Archived copy” . Archived from the original on May 9, 2015. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
- ^ Howley, Andrew. “Ancient Traditions, Modern Celebration – National Geographic Society (blogs)” . newswatch.nationalgeographic.com. Archived from the original on October 23, 2014. Retrieved November 26, 2017.
- ^ Browman, David L.; Schwarz, Ronald A. (1979). Spirits, shamans, and stars: perspectives from South America . Mouton. p. 59. ISBN 978-90-279-7890-5 . Archived from the original on March 5, 2017. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
- ^ International Folk Music Council ; Queen’s University (Kingston, Ont.). Dept. of Music (1985). Yearbook of the International Folk Music Council . Published for the International Folk Music Council by the University of Illinois Press. p. 162. Archived from the original on March 5, 2017. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
- ^ “Kallawaya Healers” . sacredheritage.com. Archived from the original on March 6, 2008. Retrieved September 19, 2007.
- ^ Lougheed, Vivien; Harris, John (March 1, 2006). Bolivia . Hunter Publishing, Inc. pp. 121–. ISBN 978-1-58843-565-1 . Archived from the original on June 28, 2014. Retrieved September 19, 2007.
- ^ Peterson, Michele (October 30, 2004). “Bewitched in Bolivia” . The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on November 10, 2016. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
- ^ Harrison, K. David. “Kallawaya: A Secret language for medicinal knowledge” . Swarthmore College Linguistics. Archived from the original on September 5, 2012. Retrieved September 19, 2007.
- ^ Lovgren, Stefan (September 18, 2007). “Languages Racing to Extinction in 5 Global “Hotspots“” . National Geographic. Archived from the original on September 5, 2012. Retrieved September 19, 2007.
Further reading[ edit ]
- Abdel-Malek, S, et al. 1995. Drug Leads from the Kallawaya Herbalists of Bolivia. 1. Background, Rationale, Protocol and Anti-HIV Activity. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 50, no. 3: 157.
- Bastien, Joseph William. Healers of the Andes: Kallawaya Herbalists and Their Medicinal Plants. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1987. ISBN 0-87480-278-4
- Janni, Kevin D, and Joseph W Bastien. 2004. Special Section on Medicinal Plants – Exotic Botanicals in the Kallawaya Pharmacopoeia. Economic Botany. 58: S274.
- Krippner, S., and E. S. Glenney. 1997. The Kallawaya Healers of the Andes. The Humanistic Psychologist : Bulletin of the Division of Humanistic Psychology, Division 32 of the American Psychological Association. 25, no. 2: 212.
External links[ edit ]
- Articles list, various authors, prepared by Dr. K. David Harrison, Swarthmore University
- Encyclopædia Britannica on Kallawaya people
- Encyclopædia Britannica Photo of Kallawaya near Charazani, Bolivia
- Kallawaya by Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages
- Andean civilizations
- Bolivian culture
- Indigenous culture of the Andes
- Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
- Traditional healthcare occupations
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The Kallawaya Language Project began in 2007 in Bolivia, and scenes from fieldwork among the Kallawaya were featured in the film The Linguists .
Bolivia is one of the most endangered and diverse language areas in the world.
Two different Language Hotspots are found in this area. Kallawaya is a secret mixed language spoken by a group of traditional itinerant healers that date back at least to the private retinue of the Inka in the early fifteenth century, and is one of the southernmost remaining languages of this Hotspot.
How is Kallawaya a mixed language?
Kallawaya [caw] is an unusual language in many respects. It is a mixed language with a Quechua grammatical base and a varied lexical base, a large portion of which derives from an otherwise unrecorded language that appears to have been a sister language to the now extinct Puquina language.
It is also a ‘secret’ language, being the exclusive domain of a group of itinerant male ritual healers. The language is an initiate language, and is always learned as a second language, being no speaker’s first language. However, its users will use it in daily conversation when possible, so it has further functions than a memorized ritual, as has sometimes been claimed. Its speakers also use Quechua and Bolivian Spanish.
In 2007, during the filming of The Linguists , Living Tongues made recordings of basic Kallaway vocabulary and expressions. It is not known how many speakers of Kallawaya there are, but it is not likely to exceed 100, certainly no more than 200. Don Max Chura, Don Antonio, Don Illarion Ramos, Don Francisco and Don Ariel Ninacondis are our primary consultants for this language.
How is Kallawaya a secret language?
Kallawaya is a secret language in the sense that it is passed only from father to son or grandfather to grandson (perhaps rarely to daughters if a practitioner is without sons), but not transmitted in normal family situations. It is therefore a language only for the initiated (men) and thus secret. Although used in a ritual context primarily, Kallawaya also serves the purpose of everyday conversation between users.
Snapshots from Fieldwork among the Kallawaya
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