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Las Huaringas Lagoons

Date of Submission: 05/08/2019
Criteria: (v)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Culture
State, Province or Region:
Piura Region
Coordinates: S05 00 14 W79 27 38
Ref.: 6415

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The Cultural Landscape of the Complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons, is located in the highlands of the department of Piura, in the provinces of Huancabamba and Ayabaca, above the 1750 and 3650 m.a.s.l., it develops in a close physiographic space, wide towards the south and constrained in the far north; its relief was modelled due to the union of the eastern mountain range with the western mountain range. The western mountain range extends from north to south in a straight and continuous form, while the western mountain range rises from the massif of San Miguel del Faique gorge, making the way of Zurupite in Canchaque and it extends from east to west to the end of La Mina hill. Then, it turns and extends to the northeast until it meets at the highest point of the Chikwate hill, which has an altitude of 3700 m.a.s.l. approximately (Source: Digital Globe Image, 2013 of the online image server).

Therefore, this is the mountain range where a system that pours waters into the Pacific originates; the waters from the highlands and the Amazon basin come together and divide around. It turns into a space where they merge, interchange and synthesize the various natural phenomena, making a primordial space for the fusion and transformation of the great mass of clouds in water. For this reason, the Huamani mountain range, where presumably Chikwate hill would be located, becoming a sacred space or geographic landmark, for being the center of vital origin for rainwater, rivers, springs and the complex of lagoons called Las Huaringas.

In the area, a paramo ecosystem is produced as a result of the rise and cooling of humid air, this is the reason why Chikwate and its surroundings, understood as the Complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons, it is regularly covered with haze, seasonal rains and persistent drizzles throughout the year, being these the main collectors of the waters of the paramo.

Likewise, this area is considered a water regulator ecosystem due to several processes that together allow a higher water yield. These processes are: the infiltration and storage of water, due to the high infiltration capacity of the soils, which are generally volcanic. They have a high content of organic matter and have a large water storage capacity due to the association of clay and organic matter that is called peatlands. It allows the retention of water from the haze due to the existing vegetation, adding water to the system, and the low evapotranspiration of the vegetation, which together produces considerable surplus of water that comes out in shape of flow.

Moreover, these conditions have made possible the proliferation of diverse endemic species of both flora and fauna, in addition to their natural value in a biodiversity typical of the highlands area of ​​the north of the country. It has an inherent cultural value due to their curative properties, qualities given over time by the populations that use them.

The Andean paramo is made up of the countries of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, which gives a regional value to this ecosystem. This particularity is a consequence of the traditional cultural corridors; this panorama is feasible to be found in the Piura-Loja border, which share not only the ecosystem, but also the traditional and social value that maintains a validity at present.

The Cultural Landscape of the Complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons includes a territory, whose total extension covers 15,859.9677 hectares.

Interaction between men and nature:

The functioning of the physical and ecological system has conditioned many aspects of the populations settled in this place, extending itself to the national level, as it is a scenario with a high endemic biological diversity, converted into a sacred space and contemplation by the Piura men. The one who since pre-Hispanic times attributed it "magical powers", incorporating it in the collective imaginary and associating it with "curatives" and "spiritual purification" qualities, the same ones that are maintained until today through the healer’s pilgrimages of different parts of Peru and "patients" due to the prestige of the curative dynamic.

The dynamic or curative practice, also known as "shamanic" or "witchcraft” is an extensive cultural dynamic throughout Peru. It is manifested especially in the Andean area, as a result of the intensive religious practice that has originated since pre-Hispanic times and adopting syncretic forms has transcended to these days, managing to replicate singular social characteristics, the same that collect the way of life of the man throughout thousands of years.

The climatic conditions, in the complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons is located in the equatorial hemisphere, zone of Andean paramo that generates a singularity and variety of unique plants and animals throughout the country. This diversity is culturally linked to the ancestral practice of quackery, which use plants and animals for its paraphernalia in the mesada (T.N.1) and in the same healing process.

This cultural landscape is visited throughout the year by national and foreign tourits usually accompanied by a " healer", who come to perform flowering baths with the purpose of discharging negative energies and charge of 'good vibes'; similarly, other visitors make the trip in order to cure their illnesses or obtain some benefit/favor or prosperity in business. The people who attend to the lagoons usually wash some personal garment in the waters of the lagoon, and leave money or jewelry as a form of payment for the blessings received.

Therefore, the complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons becomes a cultural landscape of associative type, since it expresses the development of the cognitive perception of this territory, built and complexed since pre-Hispanic times, under a close relationship "man - nature" (lagoons, sacred mountains, flora and fauna of the Andean paramos); where there was already a level of social organization linked to the sacred nature of these lagoons. Exemplifying a millennial cultural dynamics linked to curative practices and that currently transcend the limits of regional and national administrative political jurisdiction, as their influence reaches Ecuadorian and Colombian territories.

Patrimonial elements associated with the cultural landscape:

It is constituted by all those elements both of nature and of those that are the product of processes of understanding, perception and adaptation to the territory and have allowed cultural practices, up to the present day. These elements are the following:

Geographical landmarks or sacred spaces: 

The physical-geographical elements present in the cultural landscape are considered. The ones that have some type of symbolic and/or cultural association, which has generated associated human practices in one or more societies over time, in this meaning, we have this cultural landscape:

  • Apu Cerro Chikwate: itis identified as part of the mountain chain of the Huamani mountain range; it is conceived as the great chamber of enchantment, understood as the major tutelary divinity for this region. As a result, Chikwate Grande becomes the most influential body in the life system for the Huancabamba Region and other basins around it (ARROYO, Sabino, 2004; p. 197). The enchantment of Chikwate Grande is identified as the foundation of life and protector of men, is the provider of wealth, fertilizer of agricultural parcels, fertilizer of livestock and who controls or produces thunder, rain and other atmospheric phenomena that they directly affect the life of man and nature. Due to these reasons, in order to have good harvests, many livestocks and good health, they always give offerings to heal through the bathing in Huaringas (ARROYO, Sabino, 2004, p. 198). 
  • Complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons, it is constituted by a group of lagoons, which are located in the Andean paramos and which are recognized for their curative properties. Among the main lagoons, we can highlight the following:

a.  La Negra Lagoons: it is located in the district of Carmen de la Frontera, province of Huancabamba, close to the populated areas of El Porvenir and Selva Andina. It has an altitude of 3,957 m.a.s.l. The temperature of the waters of this lagoon ranges from 5 to 7 ° C.  It has a maximum depth of 3.50 m, although on its banks the depth does not exceed 1.50 m. This lagoon is credited with powers to cure physical illnesses such as headaches, vision problems, among others. However, it is also often used to induce "damage" or hex.

b.  Shimbe or Blanca Lagoons: it is located in the district of El Carmen de la Frontera, province of Huancabamba. It is the largest and most  extensive lagoon of the Huaringas that is extended by the gorges flanked by the surrounding hills. It has clear turquoise coloration by the reflection of the jarava ichu, the grasses and the medicinal herbs that abound; it is from this central point that originates to the Rio Grande or Huancabamba (ARROYO, Sabino, 2004, p. 125). According to the healers, this lagoon serves to "unleash all sickness" and for "good livestock", for luck and to clear the mind of the person.

c.  Del Carmen Lagoons: it is a river that runs through the San Antonio de Sitán gorge, named like this because of the healers of San Antonio and Salalá prepared a small grotto for the Virgen del Carmen (they also call it the "grotto who cries"); when the flow of the river increases, it swept it with all. However, they continue to carry sick patients or patients, who because of their advanced age, cannot reach to the Huaringas or Chikuate grande. Likewise, it cures several types of diseases, for example; mental illnesses and heart problems” (ARROYO, Sabino, 2004; p. 128).

d.  Del Toro Lagoon: it is located to the east of the Huamani mountain range, which is observable from the top part, where the road to the Corona del Cerro Negro or to Palanganas is. They know it as Del Toro Lagoons, because they say that on certain nights a bull roars out or its bellows are heard; In this lagoon farmers usually make their payments, it also serves to "disenchant" or "remove" the witchcraft (ARROYO, Sabino, 2004, p. 127).

e.  Las Palanganas Lagoon: it is located at the highest point of Cerro Negro and has the shape of a small rectangular pool like a water mirror. It is characterized by exposing numerous and multicolored inner garments around it, especially female ones, for being considered a specialist in matters of love and fertility. In addition, young couples arrive to "bloom" and swear eternal fidelity; also, infertile women or without a partner go here (ARROYO, Sabino, 2004; p. 126).

f.  Las Arrebiatadas Lagoons: they form several successive lagoons joined by drains; with an east-west orientation and then form the channel of Quiroz river, a tributary of the Sullana river (*). The configuration of lagoons is associated to "bind" couples, promote faithfulness of husbands or the unity of families and communities (ARROYO, Sabino, 2004, p. 127). (*) Río Chira.

g.  Other lagoons such as:  Baño del Inca Lagoon, De la Puerta Lagoon, La Serpiente Lagoon, Millonaria Lagoon, Del Rey Lagoon, Del Amor Lagoon, Del Quinde Lagoon, Cóndor Huaca Lagoon, Colorada Lagoon, Los Patos Lagoons, De la Lima Lagoon, Del Lagarto Lagoon, De la Señorita Lagoon: Del Gallo Lagoons, Mellicera Lagoon, De los Remedios Lagoons, Del Guayanche Lagoon, Del Paramo Lagoon, among others.

Pre-Hispanic road infrastructure: 

The complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons had an associative character since pre-Inca times; this manifestation has configured the space of the villages that interrelate directly with the Huancabamba basin and the northeastern Andean paramo. The complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons had diverse pre-Hispanic data, which interconnected with the different slopes of both the Pacific and the Atlantic (ASTUHUAMAN, César, 2009). However, it is only in the Inca period when these roads are articulated in a continental network called Qhapaq Ñan; this network made it possible to accelerate socio-cultural relations with the equatorial north and the Piura coast. Thus, Las Huaringas - Huancabamba - Mandorcillo longitudinal road is available, whose main characteristic is that it follows the way of the Huancabamba river and links large and small settlements. This route was mainly registered by Humboldt ([1802] 1991) and Espinosa (2002) (taken from ASTUHUAMAN, César, 2009; p. 34).

Collective imaginary:

It is present under the figure of beliefs, myths or legends whose protagonists are the hills, the huacas and all the lagoons of the complex. The collective memory records that Chikwate Grande and Las Huaringas Lagoons are divinities or sacred places, around which a series of legends and myths are said.

Traditional or associative rituals: 

The following practices are manifested: 

  • Quackery:The healer is an expert of the ancestral mythical universes, is a specialist in the control and manipulation of the magical forces (spirits or powers) to which he can talk to obtain the results they desire (POLIA, Mario; 1988; P. 20). Likewise, it is the holder of the traditional knowledge of phytotherapy, inheritors of the sacred tradition and recognize the complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons as sacred with curatives properties, also, considered important in relation to other lagoons of the mountain range. Concerning to that Sabino Arroyo mentions that the sacred lagoons are those that are around the Chikwate Grande hill (recognized as sacred mountain).

    In the rural indigenous culture of the mountain of Piura, the difference between the magical healer and the author of spells and enchantments called malero (hex practitioner) is strongly felt and underlined, also designated as wizard, sorcerer, spiritualist or rancher, this is because he ask for rewards, sometimes unbearable, for its benefits. Both orientations: healer (positive magic) and malero (negative magic) are present in the cultural panorama of the indigenous (POLIA, Mario, 1988, p. 19).

  • Witchcraft or sorcery: In the Huancabamba paramo there is a difference between Huancabamba alta and Huancabamba baja, it divides the territory into diarchies, it represents the dialectical unity that reproduces the characteristics of symbolic and social dualism (ARROYO, Sabino, 2004, p. 82). Ethnic and culturally, the Andean region of Huancabamba expresses in the activity and representation of two types of quackery, led by the "waringueño" of Huancabamba Alta and by "maleros sorcerer" of Huancabamba baja.

  • The mesada: It is the nocturnal rite where a ritual and curative function is performed, in which various objects are used: rods, steels or swords, images, archaeological material, stones, chunganas (maracas) and whistles, fruits, grains of corn, snails, San Pedro (sacred plant of Peru), magnets, snails, perfumes, deer paw, tobacco, cane liquor and white flowers.

    During the mesada the healer and his assistants make a diagnosis visualizing and determining the origin and type of illness and the way to cure it. One of the most used botanical species is the hallucinogenic cactus "San Pedro", which is ingested in a drink, sharpens the senses of the participants and helps to identify the origin of the patient's illness. In addition, it provides to the healer the means to cure in a particular state that allows approaching the patient as an object of observation (PORTA, Nina Della, 2011).

  • The extraction of the Mamayacu from the Sacred Lagoons: it means water for purification, fertilizer, therapeutic; the Negra lagoon is the one that contains the most powerful Mamayacu. The table of the healer contains a number of smaller animals, medicinal plants and objects of wood and diverse metals. The objective is to extract from the magical lagoon the Mamayacu, with the aim of bathing the tools of the healers (the arts) and initiate the healing ritual of the patient, during the whole process continuous payments are made to the lagoon so that it is not "enraged" and does not attack the foreigners (POLIA, Mario, 1988).

  • Procession of "San Pedro Chikwatero": this rite of propitiation is carried out when the drought of the year threatens, this causes disturbance and a collective response in part of the population, according to the worldview of the places, the drought is produced as a form of punishments to the actions of locals or foreigners (ARROYO, Sabino, 2004, p. 151). The first attitude of the locals is to organize the rite of pilgrimage to "San Pedro Chikwatero", on the areas most sensitive to drought or to the route of "Chikwate Grande", each village transport the saint, they celebrate and give him the best fruits of their land (ARROYO, Sabino, 2004). 

  • Pilgrimage of the Mallkis: when the rite of San Pedro Chikwatero has not had an effect, the population decide to remember the "pagans" with the ceremonies of the rain or with the "rite of the winter pagan" (ARROYO, Sabino, 2004; 154). It is based on the magical use of ancient skulls belonging to the pagan ancestors, this rite is considered difficult to healer, and is part of the same period of seasonal crisis. A yellow skull is chosen, taken from the Jalqueño hill and a petition-threat is evoked where the return of the rains is requested with the condition of not allowing the soul to return to its habitual rest if it does not comply with the request; the skull is exhibited, in the mountains, big bonfires are lit and fed with Achupalla of Inca in order to get rain, once the rain is obtained the healer returns to the hill and puts the skull back inside (POLIA, Mario, 1988; P. 95-96).

Flora and fauna of the paramo linked to quackery:

The flora and fauna that is part of the cultural landscape, besides to its natural value in a biodiversity typical of the highlands area of ​​the north of the country. It has an inherent cultural value due to its curative properties the same ones that are used in the healing sessions that the healer develops, qualities given over the years by the populations that use them.

On the other hand, the fauna is also present among the instruments and inputs of the mesadas of the healing process. Diverse and unique in almost all levels of organization, the wildlife of the paramos and Andean forests represent a unique component of native ecosystems, which are the highly evolved.

The amazing ability to adapt in extreme and adverse weather conditions are the main characteristics of the Andean fauna; represented by unknown animals in other regions of the world such as: song thrush, hummingbirds, black flowerpiercer, opossums (or "bareback fox") , armadillos, caviomorphs rodents (guinea pig, agouti, coendous, southern viscacha), tapirs, bears, etc. This fauna of the tropical Andes, usually is of Amazonian origin, with some species of wide distribution, which are isolated by the complex orography and relief of the mountains that originated a big amount of endemism that integrates a high diversity of wild fauna including taxonomic groups such as: mammals, amphibians, birds, reptiles, insects, etc.

The Andean fauna of the paramo is intimately linked to the healing process; various animals are used during the healing process and are part of the paraphernalia of healer’s art of the Complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons. 

History and Evolution:

The anthropic presence in the Huamani mountain range and the use of this lagoon complex, it has a long human occupation that goes back to the middle Formative period (Herrera and Astuhuaman, 2014). Also, Chikwuate Grande also raises as the most important pacarina (T.N.2) in that space (Arroyo, 2004: 99). This deity continues to be present in the territorial dynamics of that space, since it delimits the ethnic and cultural frontier that is found in relation to the mixed race healers of the upper part (complex of las Huaringas). In addition, is a fundamental part of the collective memory and daily routine of the current healers (Arroyo, 2004: 242). We also appreciate that throughout the pre-Hispanic period there is a relationship of exchange and filiation with the jivaros, which is lost from the colony (Hocquenghem, 1989), but remains in the shamanistic practice of the current healers of las Huaringas (Polia, 1996). 

The Pre-Inca period: The earliest registered occupation is found in the surroundings of Huancabamba, basically in the Ligan Hill, Portachuelos de Culucan, Loma de los Barriales, Chala, Huambachaque, Andurco, La Huaca (Herrera and Astuhuaman, 2014: 134-143), these authors consider this occupation goes in the medium formative (1550 - 1000 BC).

Later, in the late intermediate, this space was the territory of various groups with little consolidated sociopolitical structures, also related to Amazonian groups near Jaén and Bagua (Hocquenghem, 1989: 156). Immediately was occupied by Ethnic groups of diverse origin, both the Andean and the Amazonian, these groups had different types of cultural affiliations; the Tallanes came from the Andean sons of the Yungas, while the Guayacundos and Huancapampas (Tabaconas and Penachis) have an Amazonian filiation with the Jibara (Hocquenghem, 1989: 154). These ethnic groups were never confederated in a larger state, but they were interconnected with military defense purposes, therefore this heterogeneity of cultures and ethnic groups did not have a centralist or moderator state, but they were interconnected for their defense as the Tabaconas, Penachis and Huancabamba did it (Arroyo, 2004, p. 61). The Amazonian affiliation with the Jivaros influenced in their mentality and culture. It was decisive for the strong support shamanic linked to witchcraft (CFR Karsten, cited by Espinoza, 2006, p.36), together with the preferential exchanges with jivaros affiliation groups of the Amazonian slope (Hocquenghem, 1989: 157) consolidated that particularity in the Huaringueño population. Such jivara influence according to (Astuhuaman, 1998) would come from the seventh century as analyzing the ceramic material collected by Ruth Shady who argues that, "The Bagua formative culture was located in an area of ​​cultural frontier between the societies of central and northern Andean and of the northern Andes. This border that extended westward through the Huancabamba valley and incorporated to Piura...” (Shady 1987; Astuhuaman, 1998). There is also some evidence for the wankas with Chavinoid designs that according to (Polia, 1995) correspond to the formative period; the jivara influence was between the seventh and the beginning of the tenth centuries (Guffroy, 2006).

Many cultural uses of the territory come from pre-Inca times, as well as the religious and ancestral use of the lagoons since pre-Hispanic times (Gonzales Viaña cited by Cristobal, 1991: 569),

The Inca period: The Inca Empire found the Guayacundos confederation as the main ethnic group of the area (Del Busto, 2004: 64), it was formed by the ethnic groups Calvas (South of Ecuador), Caxas (Huancabambas) and Ayahuacas (current Ayabaca besides that, it was absorbed by the Inca administration and constituted one of the 82 provinces that divided the Inca Peru (Astuhuaman, 1999). This can exemplify its economic, political and sociocultural importance, the Incas built an administrative center in Huancabamba (Del Busto, 2004: 77) in order to facilitate its organization and annexation to the empire.

The Inca conquest represented for the territory a radical change in the production system (Cieza de León cited by Hocquenghem, 1990: 91), since the livestock production was integrated with the agriculture and also the instruments and techniques that allowed the optimization of the agriculture were introduced. For this reason, it is noticeable to see andenes with stone walls near the settlements and Inca roads (Hocquenghem, 1990: 95). This conquest weakened the exchange relations between the Jibara, Guayacundos and Bracamoros affiliation groups, but make strong exchanges with people from the coast (Hocquenghem, 1989: 157).

Since that time, the cult and devotion to the Las Huaringas Lagoons has been mentioned (Espinoza, 2006: 22), the Incas were considered as the first mythical shamans of other societies (Cristóbal, 1991: 575), likewise, the current healers evoke the power of the Incas for their shamanistic practice (Cristóbal, 1991).

The complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons had diverse pre-Hispanic era roads, which interconnected with the different slopes of both the Pacific and the Atlantic (ASTUHUAMAN, César, 2009). However, it is only in the Inca period that these roads are articulated in a Continental network called Qhapaq Ñan, said network allowed to accelerate socio-cultural relations with the equatorial north and the coast of Piura.

In the ethnographies of Mario Polia, we appreciate that the testimonies associate the beginning of the wisdom and powers of the healers with the Incas, to the detriment of their ancestors who are called Pagans and would become the sorcerers of the present day (Polia, 1996: 185). 

Colonial Period: The quick Hispanic occupation in the area was due to the political-administrative importance represented by said cultural space. In the current province of Huancabamba, the Guayacundos ethnic group came together, and Huancapampas further south, reflecting the socio-cultural complexity of this space. The logic of the distribution and assignments system was installed in the area regarding the territorial and ethnic unit of the Inca provinces (Hocquenghem, 1990: 75), due to that it was convenient for them at the administrative political level, because they would have more districts and habitants to distribute in assignments and distributions conditions (Espinoza, 2006: 104)

Huancabamba was built as an administrative center of importance for the village of San Miguel de Piura; it was also considered as head of reduction and was divided into approximately 60 partitions. On the other hand, 15 reductions were settled in the Huancabambino territory, but this logic of the partialities and reductions did not work because of the population decrease and the flight of the settlers to avoid paying excessive taxes (Del Busto, 2004, 144). This logic of distribution and ordering of the territory was superimposed on that imposition of the Catholic Church, the religious orders and members of the secular clergy grouped the population by doctrines. In 1597 in Piura the following doctrines were found: Piura; Vicaria and Yanacona; Sechura Catacaos; Olmos; Motupe; Jayanca; Pacora; Guancabamba; Salas and Penachi; Moscalaque; Estancias del valle del Piura; Doctrina de Frías. Likewise, other territorial divisions may be the confraternity that were also established in Huancabamba, which represents the strong presence of the Catholic Church in the area due to the cults and rituals that represented at a regional level the Las Huaringas Lagoons. A structural complexity in the pattern of settlement and heterogeneous political-administrative organization due to the strategic importance of this cultural territory. Finally, the Spanish conquest broke the border established by the Incas between the Guayacundos and the Bracamoros, imposing western customs and beliefs (Hocquenghem, 1989: 158), but this Amazonian legacy continued to be present in the mystical customs and practices of the shamans of the complex of the Las Huaringas Lagoons.

The Region of Piura was well integrated into the Colony (Diez, Alejandro, 1998: 27), Ayabaca and Huancabamba represented the center of husk and important point of trade, for being on the access route from the coast to the jungle (Diez, Alejandro, 1998: 27). This author mentions that in the seventieth century Ayabaca was the most important Andean area of ​​the Piura Highlands (due to its relations with Ecuador), later in the eighteenth century Huancabamba became into the most important Andean area, because of its relation with the Amazon and the boom of the husk.

By the middle of the eighteenth century, Piura belonged to the intendancy of Trujillo and was henceforth called the party of Piura, which was divided into twelve doctrines and fourteen annexes, there were also 23 towns and 58 rustic properties, and its population in 1793 reached 44, 497 people. The cultural and mystical support towards the Las Huaringas Lagoons are strengthened in the colonial period. This space constituted an ancestral god who order the Cosmo and generator of an ancestral religious practice that continued and increased during the colony. Therefore, it is not strange that some of the old centers of pre-Columbian religiosity regain their importance throughout the colony. Such is the case of Northern Peru (...) the healers of Piura (...) returned to resurface with rituals that, being different from those of the highlands (from the Center or the South) infiltrated in cities such as Trujillo or Lima, increasing the magical religious universe (Millones, 2002: 21).

Republican Period: The Republic supposed the partial rupture of the territorial organization disposed in the colony (indigenous state). In the republic (19th century) the process of haciendas was overcrowded, this system in the Piura highlands supposed a series of economic obligations and a mechanism that allowed to the hacienda’s owner to secure the production and the Indians in order to pay the tribute and have land. Because of Piura had a protruding agricultural production, the ranches flooded various parts of the valley. This density caused community relations to develop among the social community directly involved in the hacienda (DIEZ, Alejandro, 1998, p. 61). The big dynamics in density and production of ranches in Piura Highlands made Ayabaca and especially Huancabamba main axes of regional production. The haciendas had big dynamism in these territories; also generated community relations among the population directly involved (DIEZ, Alejandro, 1998) and revitalized the flow of trade in Piura Highlands. However, the large ranches were combined with the small plots. For the second half of the 19th century, the formation of groups of co-owners and the establishment of territorial limits would end up producing social spaces and community territories. In short, the peasant communities of today are the demarcations that the haciendas had in the past centuries, and it is the most solid reference of the peasant groups, regardless of its origin (Diez, Alejandro, 1998: 228).

In the maps elaborated by (Raimondi, A., 1900), and Humboldt, it is possible to appreciate the location of the complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons las a singular element in the zone.

Nowadays: The traces of a jivaro origin of the population of the Huamani mountain range are not distinguished (Hocquenghem, 1989: 159), but it is notorious that the shamanic practices of healers are associated with the Andes, Amazon and western cultural syncretism. All of this in relation to the large Chikwate pacarina that is the beginning of the chain of mountains that becomes into the Andean paramo, which associates and particularizes the cultural territory of the complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons.

Finally, it can be seen that in the Huaringas area, the 65% of people accept the curative practice, while only 3% do not approve it (Rojas et al., cited by Diez, 1999: 46). In addition, the curative custom is firmly secured and crosses all the social classes (Diez, 1999: 46) of the complex of Laguna las Huaringas.

(T.N.1) Mesada: the mesadas are rituals that are performed with one or two objectives: bewitching someone or taking an enchantment from a person.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The Las Huaringas Lagoons Cultural Landscape is developed in an ecosystem of Andean paramo, where cultural practices related to physical and/or spiritual healing are carried out with the use of endemic species, both flora and fauna. This ecosystem of paramos is developed continuously in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, whose morphology has allowed the generation of numerous lagoons and the occupation of the area by ethnic groups for several centuries.

Regarding the associative value of the lagoons, it can be seen that there is a curative dynamic in the paramos of Ecuador and Colombia, but none of them has the importance, transcendence or representativeness of the Complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons; which can be perceived by the foreign visitors that they receive annually; where the majority comes from Ecuador and Colombia. In this sense, the universal value of the Complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons can be recognized from three key aspects: 

a.   Anthropological: for being an ancestral cultural space, whose healing practice has been carried out since pre-Hispanic times and which continues to be present, generating a singular territorial dynamic in the area that is claimed by the population located around it and that would have a diverse origin with jivara influence (Amazonian), Andean and Yunga. 

At present, the healing practice in the Complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons is part of the identity of the Piura settler. This manifestation is rooted and is known not only at the national level, but also internationally (Ecuador and Colombia).

b.  Ecological: for being the beginning of the ecosystem of Andean paramos that extends from the north of Peru to Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, and contains differentiated flora and fauna of the Andean territory. It is located within the confluence zone of the Atlantic slopes (Huancabamba river) and the Pacific basin (Quiroz river), being a key point of the Coast - Amazonian corridor, as well as a source of water to the west and nutrients to the east.

c.  Archaeological: for presenting evidence of occupation since the Intermediate Formative Period
(200b.C – 700 A.C), that are visible in the numerous archaeological sites and the network of registered roads, among others, associated with the complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons.

Criterion (v): The complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons is an area that exemplifies the continuous healing practice since pre-Hispanic times and maintains until today. This healing practices are strictly associated with the use of a set of lagoons of the Andean paramo ecosystem that has a presence from Venezuela to Peru. These are considered as a sacred and respect space, these values are attributed to the "healing" properties of their waters for physical and/or spiritual healing, prosperity, among others, depending on the lagoon. This practices were developed by performing certain rites, accompanied by the use of endemic species of flora and fauna that only people with certain "special qualities" could develop, which are called healers.

Criterion (vi): The healing practices constitute a cultural manifestation present in many civilizations and societies of the world, both ancient and contemporary, that have developed diverse importance and with varied complexity, both in their beliefs and in their rituals; however, some few cases are associated indivisibly to a specific medium.

Peru is one of the regions with the highest number of healing and shamanic expressions in the continent. This is a result of the survival of practices and traditions of the pre-Hispanic origin that have evolved over time, incorporating symbolic elements and rites that denote an Andean, Amazonian and western cultural syncretism, reaching a remarkable level of complexity and magical symbolism in the healing process performed exclusively in the set of Las Huaringas Lagoons by the healers.

The importance of the healing practices in Las Huaringas for the region of Piura and adjacent areas of Northern Peru, Southern Ecuador and Colombia is such that influences notoriously in the collective imagination and in the beliefs and social behavior of groups of people. Thus, the local settlers, and a large numbers of visitors, associate everything that happens to them daily with elements associated with healing practice in the lagoons. For example, they feel safe in their actions and decisions if they have bathed in the lagoons; they feel protected by a healer. Likewise, for the quackery practice, they have generated their own commercial activities that provide biotic elements (mainly flora) and other items for healing use and ritual practices. Likewise, cargo animals are provided for transportation since vehicles access is not allowed.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity


The human presence in the mountain range where the complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons is born, has a long occupation that dates back to 3000 years ago (Arroyo, 2004). In addition, Chikwate Grande is recognized as the pacarina (center of creation of the ancestors considered sacred beings) the most important of that mountain range (Arroyo, 2004: 99). This deity remains present in the territorial dynamics of said space, since it delimits the border ethnic and cultural that is in relation to the mestizo healers of the upper part (complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons) and is a fundamental part of the collective memory and daily life of the current healers (Arroyo, 2004: 242). We also appreciate that in all the pre-Hispanic period there is a relationship of exchange and affiliation with the Jivaros, which is lost from the colony (Hocquenghem, 1989), but remains in the shamanistic practice of the current healers of the Huaringas, evidencing the authenticity regarding the continuous use of the territory.

At present, the area of Huancabamba and Peru and Ecuador limit constitute a corridor culture, where social and economic exchange dates back to pre-Hispanic period. Many social and cultural groups claim memories of a common past as Guayacundos, the Calvas, etc. This Andean paramos area is a common territory of cultural confluence, in it remains contemporary social practices that appreciate the historical process of this cultural territory. In addition, they single out the role of lagoon complex as associative place of regional healing. In short, this associative space has a regional importance in the entire ecosystem of the paramos, is a space for cultural integration in which converge, socio-economic activities, various social groups that recall ethnic groups of this ecosystem of the paramos, it strengthens integration social in this continental environment. 

There are historical references about the shamanistic practice of the healers of the Huaringas in the various documents of colonial origin. One of the first references is found in (Lequanda, cited by Diez, 1999: 49) that refers to a ritual performed in the complex of lagoons. We also find documentary evidence in criminal cars of the eighteenth century, which shows the description of a healer table at the end of the eighteenth century (Millones, 2002: 53), therefore, the healing activity in the lagoon complex is perceptible since the eighteenth century, and as a result, its practice continued and became widespread in the colonial era.


The Cultural Landscape of the Complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons has an extension of 15,859.9677 hectares that includes the group of lagoons and the paramo that contains them. Not existing within its limits human occupation or agricultural, livestock or extractive activity, as a sacred area, being under the care of groups of healers organized in associations recognized as the Association of Healers of Huancabamba. 

Comparison with other similar properties

In the world heritage list there is no reference to a space similar to the Complex of Las Huaringas Lagoons nor associated with traditional shamanism and/or similar activities. Both the physical configuration of the area, the climatic conditions, the present biotic resources (characteristic of this System) and the human dynamics expressed in the quackery and traditions/beliefs associated with this space that make the lacustrine complex unique in the regional area (Latin America) and worldwide. It is to consider water as a key element, both for its material presence and for its healing use and practices of the healers, reiterating that it has not been possible to find a similar case in the world.

Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove (2005), Nigeria. Criteria: (ii) (iii) (vi).

It is an ancient forest on the outskirts of Osogbo. It is considered the house of Osun, the goddess of fertility in the Yoruba pantheon. In the landscape of the forest and its serpentine river, there are shrines and chapels dedicated to Osun and other deities.

The site is a symbol of the identity and worldview of this African culture. It is assumed to be probably the last Yoruba sacred grove that has survived and testifies to the ancient practice of creating sacred groves on the border of settlements. The Austrian artist, Suzanne Wenger, who was assimilated into this community, developed a cultural movement that helped to revive the Osun Sacred Grove. Annually a festival is held that attracts numerous visitors interested in the religious or cultural practices of the Yoruba.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, also known as Ayers Rock (1994), Australia. Criteria: (v)(vi)(vii) (viii).

Uluru is one of the natural icons of sandy plain of Central Australia. Together with Kata Tjuta, it forms the National Park. This site presents geological formations with spectacular characteristics that dominate the Uluru. An immense monolith and Kata Tjuta are part of the traditional belief system of one of the oldest and most recognizable societies in Australia. It is a huge rock formation that emerges from one of the oldest human deities: The Anangú. 

One of its most notable features is that the color of the mountains seems to change according to different times of the day and year. It has a big cultural significance for Australian aborigines, according to the government of the country that administrative the site. For them, these mountains are related to Creation.

Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba (2004), Togo. Criteria: (v)(vi).

In the northeast of Togo, this landscape that extends over 50,000 hectares to neighboring Benin, is the center of the Batammariba community. The population is grouped into villages where there are spaces to celebrate their rituals. They also have other elements such as rocks and sites for traditional initiation ceremonies. Nature is strongly associated with the rituals and beliefs of that society. The traditional architecture of houses in the form of turrets with a flat or conical straw roof, considered a symbol of Togo, stands out in this region. The reasons for its inclusion in the World Heritage List were influenced by the fact that it is a living culture whose development is based on maintaining the ancestral traditions of the Batammariba culture. Further, it is an exceptional testimony of the spiritual association between man and his natural environment.

Tongariro National Park (1993), New Zealand Tongariro. Criteria: (vi)(vii)(viii) 

The first cultural landscape inscribed on the World Heritage List. It is a volcanic complex that rises 1978 meters on the North Island. It contains active and extinct volcanoes, as well as a variety of ecosystems and landscapes of spectacular beauty. For the Maori communities that live there for centuries, the site is directly related to their origins and survival. It has a high cultural and religious significance for these people and expresses the spiritual connections between this community and its natural environment. In 1887, the head of the Maori fearing the intrusion of the Europeans transferred it to the State to protect the values ​​and the exceptional beauty of the place. This is how the first National Park in New Zealand emerged and the fourth of its kind in the world.

Its management is a model of tangible and intangible heritage protection, of a diversity that is based on ancestral traditions. However, the authorities are aware that it is necessary to control and better guide the tourist influx.