Callahuaya - Economy



Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Callahuaya are horticulturists and herders. Within each ayllu, the people in the lower communities farm maize, wheat, barley, peas, and beans on the lower slopes (3,200 to 3,500 meters); those in mid to high communities cultivate oca ( Oxalis crassicaulis ) and potatoes on rotated fields of the central slopes (3,500 to 4,300 meters); and those of highland communities herd alpacas, llamas, and sheep on the highlands (4,300 to 5,000 meters) of the ayllu. The people from the three levels traditionally exchanged produce and provided each other the necessary carbohydrates, minerals, and proteins for a balanced subsistence diet. Herbalists serve community members by bringing them medicines and produce from other places. Many herbalists now live in cities. Reliance on the exchange of goods between urban herbalists and rural peasants is important as insurance in a region of unpredictable weather and frequent crop failure.

Industrial Arts. Aboriginal crafts include carving soapstone amulets, weaving elaborate textiles with elegant motifs, and forging ornate jewelry. Certain villages specialize in these activities.

Trade. The Callahuaya traditionally traded crafts among themselves and other Andean groups. Various villages had assigned trade routes for their herbalists. Those from Curva traveled to Cochabamba, Oruro, Potosí, and Sucre in Bolivia, Arequipa, Peru, and northern Argentina. Herbalists from Chajaya and Kanlaya traveled through the Central Highlands of Peru to Lima and up the coast to Ecuador, at times reaching the Panama Canal. Ayllu Calaya harvested coca in the Yungas and marketed it in the densely populated areas of the Puna. This international trade has diminished because of difficulties involved in crossing borders, settlement in urban centers, and changing markets.

Division of Labor. Only 25 percent of the adult male population in Chajaya and Curva are herbalists. The others provide them with a support system: gathering herbs, repairing roads, providing food, and maintaining their animals, land, and households. Women take care of the farm and the animals while men are traveling on herbal trips, usually during the nonproductive part of the agricultural year. Children herd sheep and work in the fields soon after they begin to walk.

Land Tenure. Aboriginally, individuals had access to plots of land in large rotative fields with plot size determined by the needs of their respective families. Individuals owned house and garden plots. After the Bolivian agrarian reform, members of the community were granted title to land, which, being inherited, is subject to fractionalization. This has resulted in minifundismo (excessive fragmentation of plots) and absentee ownership. Some communities still hold land in common. The criteria of the agrarian reform for setting community boundaries have led to feuding between people living in the high, middle, and low levels of the ayllu.


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