Cotopaxi Quichua - Settlements

The settlement pattern is extremely dispersed: houses are scattered among fields in Zumbagua, and in Tigua, where elevations are higher and pastoralism predominates, houses are associated with scattered corrals. The older house form is the chaquiwasi, or "foot-house," so called because the adobe walls are only a few bricks high, most of the house consisting of the enormous thatched roof, giving the structure the appearance of a gigantic, smoke-breathing haystack. These houses are large and oval in form. They are being rapidly replaced by smaller, rectangular houses with tin roofs and concrete-block walls; an intermediate form has adobe walls and straw roof, but is of the same shape and size as the modern bloque houses. Standard domestic architecture utilizes single-room, freestanding structures clustered together, so that one larger building houses the kitchen and is the center of family life, and surrounding buildings serve as dormitories and for storage; also of great importance in family life is the courtyard or patio defined by this cluster, where many domestic activities take place.

Farmsteads are grouped together into comunas, which in turn form the much larger parroquias (parishes); these divisions are political and conform to national governmental structures but also to local social groupings. Comuna boundaries usually coincide with either watercourses at the bottom of slopes, or watersheds at the top of hills.

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