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Discovering INCA and the Rich Tapestry of Peru

Maria Bonilla, Librarian, InfoNow,
Los Libros performers Peruvian Ensemble INCA

Close your eyes and listen to the percussion. Let it take you back to an ancient time when the great Inca empire ruled. La imaginación or imagination (nisqa) makes it easy to see the people with their ritual dances and textiles. Latin America is unique because it begins with the merging of three races: the Native or the original inhabitants of South America, the Spanish & the Africans. Although these three distinct races began the rich history of Latin America, it is the acceptance of the different cultures that have impacted its long history. This is all embodied by the Peruvian Ensemble INCA. Their artistic and cultural display evokes the mystery that is quintessential Peru.

Peru’s historical journey mirrors that of its Latin American counterparts. Numerous civilizations flourished across South America, but it was the Inca civilization that emerged around 1200 CE, akin to the rise of the Aztecs in Mexico. These civilizations shared common traits such as a formidable military, sedentary lifestyles, and advanced agricultural practices. However, the Incas innovatively relocated conquered people to new territories, expanding their empire across what is now Ecuador, Chile, and Peru, naming their realm as Tawantinsuyu or Land of the Four Quarters.

This incredible nation was able to develop world monuments such as Machu Picchu as well as its capital of Cusco. Their mastery of agriculture included an intricate irrigation system that triumphed over the harshest of conditions. Agricultural terraces, ingeniously cultivated with the Incan irrigation system, extended into the coastal deserts. Canals and cisterns sustained stone terrace agriculture, yielding crops such as potatoes, tomatoes, chili peppers, and quinoa. They also participated in animal husbandry with llamas, alpacas & guinea pigs, ensuring that they had plentiful food and supplies for the entire empire.

The arrival of Spain as a conquering nation reshaped Peruvian culture and its society. The African slaves who accompanied the Spanish settlers kindled a vibrant fusion of music, dance, and culture. The melting pot of these diverse influences, along with the enduring Incan legacy, symbolized the transition from native indigenous culture to the beautiful mestizaje of Latin America.

Embark on a captivating journey into Incan culture through the mesmerizing art of dance and music brought to life by the Peruvian ensemble INCA. Their performances start with the ethereal Quena, an Andean version of the flute. INCA weaves a spellbinding tapestry of time, seamlessly blending various musical instruments. From Incan flutes to Spanish guitars and African drums, INCA guides us through the musical odyssey of Peru. Their performances not only traverse time but also take us across the diverse geographical landscapes of Peru.

INCA: The Peruvian Ensemble stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of Peru and its rich cultural heritage. Their music resonates with the heartbeats of Peru's past and present, reminding us of the power of art to transcend boundaries and unite people across diverse landscapes.

INCA: The Peruvian Ensemble will be one of the featured authors at the Los Angeles Libros Festival, a free bilingual book festival for the whole family celebrating stories and music from Latin America and the United States. L.A. Libros Fest will be streamed live on YouTube on Friday, September 29, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. The Festival will be in-person at Central Library in Downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, September 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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