Memoria dictada, Leyenda Oficial: Establecimiento de las Leyes de la Tierra en el Entablo de Casta, Perú (1921)


11 de abril de 2019 15h30-17h30

Memory Dictated, Legend Official: Setting Down the Laws of the Land in the Entablo of Casta, Peru (1921)

Sarah Bennison, St Andrews

In 1921, times were about to change in the rural highland Lima village of San Pedro de Casta. Local authorities had begun a collective effort of setting down in writing a handbook containing instructions for a key economic and social event in the ritual calendar –the annual canal-cleaning event. If all functionaries could fulfil their duties sufficiently, then the ritual would go well and water would flow through the canals to the fields, should the sacred ancestors allow. As a key economic, political and legal document, The Entablo was written by and in consultation with village elders, drawing on centuries of ancestral (largely pre-colonial) irrigation knowledge. The manuscript was written primarily in Spanish, the language of the State and Lima city, and features Quechua lexicon as well as features of other languages. At the time of writing, Quechua language use was dying out in the Huarochirí province of Lima, where Casta is located.

This paper highlights the importance of The Entablo in Casta today, and explores key sections of the text, focussing especially on references to the remote past. The paper also demonstrates the essential nature of employing indigenous language lexicon in the context of localised ancestral ritual, where Spanish–a language which developed outside of the Andes– cannot fully communicate the nature of the proceedings and pacts set down as village law and legend official.

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