Chipaya - Settlements

Present-day Chipaya remember only three ayllus, although they recognize that at one time there must have been four because of the physical evidence (e.g., lines of altars). The four were Tuwanta ("of the east"), Ushata ("of the north"), Tajata ("of the west"), and Waruta ("of the south"), each with its corresponding temple, altars, and geographical area —but all parts of a single Chipaya village. Today there are two main Chipaya villages, Chipaya and Ayparavi (23 kilometers east of the main village). All Chipaya households are located in one or the other of these two villages. Prior to 1965 Ayparavi was just one of the agricultural areas where some Chipaya had built homes, but in 1965 the town council decided they must occupy Ayparavi on a more permanent and formal basis in order to keep the land from being lost to the Collana Aymara. At that time there was a formal separation of some Chipaya households from legal residence in the main Chipaya village. Although everyone has a house in a village, many live most of the time in the agricultural areas outside of the two villages. These areas are still largely divided according to extended families.

A traditional Chipaya village house is round, constructed of sod blocks, with the door facing east. The roof is made by first forming a framework of intersecting hoops made from tola, a short, cedarlike shrub, tied together with straw rope. Pieces of matting made from fine straw and mud are laid over the framework. Then the house is roofed with handfuls of stiff straw and ichu grass dipped in a runny clay-mud mixture. The roof is sewed on around the bottom with straw rope and then further secured with a network of straw ropes to hold it when there are strong winds. A second type of house, found in the agricultural areas, is cone shaped and made entirely of sod blocks. Recently adobes have sometimes been used for housing blocks after an initial four or five courses of sod blocks are laid. The doors were traditionally of cactus wood from nearby mountains, laced together with leather thongs, but in recent years, the use of wood and/or metal has increased.

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