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About the Q'eros

The anthropologist Dr. Oscar Núñez del Prado met a group of Q’eros during the festival of Paucartambo in 1949. In 1955, he led the first western expedition

Quipu Zeichnung von Guaman Poma

 into their territory high up in the Andes. In the years after, he was able to identify the Q’eros unequivocally as “descendants of the Inkas by comparing his observations and the statements of the Q’eros with the information contained in the old chronicles of the Spaniards from 500 years previously. These features included, among others:

  • Knowledge of the prophecy of the return of the Inka
  • Woolen clothing (such as ponchos) with ancient patterns from Inkan times
  • Speaking of an old or ancient form of Qechua
  • Knowledge of the Quipus (knotted cords, see picture on the right) that contained statistical information about the population, taxes, and agriculture, and possibly also constituted a type of calendar or even a form of writing  

The remote villages of the Q’eros are located at an altitude of over 4,400 meters (14,400 ft) in the snowcapped Vilcanota mountain range, the highest in south-eastern Peru. The Q’ero nation today consists of about 2,000 members, distributed throughout 14 villages.

The Q’eros are now also referred to as “keepers of the ancient knowledge,” as they have preserved the spiritual tradition of the Inkas in a very pure form. Many people believe that the Q’eros fled to the mountains after the arrival of the Spaniards to ensure their survival there – but that is wrong.

Q'eros vor ihrer Hütte (1955)

The Q’eros have always been workers and have always lived high in the Peruvian Andes. They were (and still are) farmers who not only cultivated vegetables, but also herded llamas, alpacas and sheep. Then as now, they were also famous for their weaving.   

They know stories about Spanish soldiers who once tried to advance into their territory. The Spaniards were defeated because powerful Paqos, the Apus, asked the spirits of the mountains for help. Large boulders broke free from the mountains and slew the troops.

The Q’eros are certainly the most well respected mystics in the southern and central Andes. They describe themselves as “grandsons of Inkarrí,” the legendary first Inka king (see also the Legend of the origin of the Inkas). The later Inkas and the Inka nobility called themselves “children of Inkarrí.”  

If one compares this view with the information from the prophecy of the Inkas, it can be deduced that the 3 children of Taytanchis (“Our Father”) refer to the following:

- The Inka nobility represent the children with the ability and the power to love
- The workers (such as the Q’eros) represent the children with the ability and the power to work
- The people from the West (such as the Spaniards back then) represent the children with the ability and the power to apply knowledge


More detailed information about the Q'eros and a picture of Dr. Oscar Núñez del Prado can be found in the article The Q'eros.