The Inca Ayllu

The term

The quechua word ayllu is no easy concept to translate in modern languages. In this blog we will accept the definition of ''enlarged community'' proposed by many Native scholars.
This notion gained salience during the Tawantisuyu (the Inca Empire) to design a very peculiar unit of space. In fact, an ayllu encompassed all the living and non-living organisms located in a given territory
Each individual living in an ayllu experienced a very symbiotic connection with the Earth and with the other members the ayllu, as both Nature and Society were key elements of the community.

On one hand, the community as a whole owned all the lands (uraqpacha) of an ayllu; on the other hand the family units ran the qallpas, or small plots of land to cultivate. The families were the main cells of the ayllus, being entitled by the community to the rights and the responsabilities that steamed from the use of the resources
Some families created bonds which overtook the family connections and reunited in looser groups called ali. An ayllu was then ruled by many ali who shared the uraqpacha and recognised the highest legal and symbolic authorities (jilaqata).

Why did we choose this name for the blog?

Many reasons have led us to elect "Ayllu" as the name for this blog:

- A historical reason. The social and economic division created by the ayllus is an autochthonous feature of the pre-Colombian civilizations in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, the countries where we will travel to. 

- An ideological reason. Social life in the ayllus was characterised by practices of reciprocity. It was the community, here understood as a symbolic supreme body, which entrusted the lands and the resources to families and ali. Each member of an ayllu owed his life and his survival to the community, and this awareness created a very strong bond between an individual, the others and the Pacha Mama (Mother Earth). For this reason, economic and social inequalities were limited by the collective identity of the community.

Peruvian farmers or campesinas (picture from

- A political reason. The philosophy behind the notion of ayllu didn't vanish with the decline of the Incas. On the contrary, it has been recently discovered in several southern American countries as a tool of opposition to neo-liberal politics. New social movements have been adopting the ayllu as their path of action, reuniting in loose networks and targeting common goals.
Especially in Bolivia, Natives are framing the notion of ayllu as a useful base for their ethnic and identitarian claims
The 2009 Constitution of Bolivia, while not expressly referring to the ayllus, calls for the creation of autonomous campesinos communities with their own rules and exclusive right to exploit natural resources whithin the boards of the communities. The land of the country is again considered as a collective and indivisible property.

- A personal reason. The journey we are about to engage in harbours the ambition to turns in a genuine discovery of the Inca and Native culture in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. We believe that no authentic discover is possible unless a true contact is established with locals. That is why we don't consider ourselves as western tourists seeking for thrills, but rather as travellers eager to become part of an "enlarged community" of human beings, beyond all distinctions of culture and backgrounds... 

South American Ayllu, here we come ! 

2 commenti:

  1. graziella palleschi18 gennaio 2013 02:00

    è molto interessante venire a conoscere una realtà quasi completamente sconosciuta per tutti noi,ma tommi. la traduzione è in tutte le lingue eccetto l'italiano, l'hai fatto apposta o è un svista dovuta allo stress prima del viaggio?

  2. When Peruvian locals led Hiram Bingham to Machu Picchu in 1911, it was a discovery which would make the Yale professor famous, highly respected and richer.
    Bingham went on to become a governor of Connecticut and member of the US senate, and his book on Machu Picchu became a bestseller. Such was his prominence in early 20th century archaeology, that some have speculated that Bingham was the inspiration for the character of Indiana Jones.
    But Bingham’s claim to be the first to discover Peru’s lost city of the Incas is looking more than a little doubtful. Detailed investigations by a US historian have revealed that Machu Picchu was, in fact, discovered over 40 years earlier by a German businessman.
    Little is known about Augusto R Berns, an obscure entrepreneur now largely lost to history, but documents unearthed in US and Peruvian archives by the American historian Paolo Greer, reveal that Berns discovered Peru’s most famous archaeological site in the late 1860s before setting up a company specifically to loot Machu Picchu and its immediate surroundings. I liked your blog, Take the time to visit the me and say that the change in design and meniu?