The Village and Rock Art Site of Calacala
The village of Calacala (place of many rocks) is situated 13 miles (21 km) southeast of the city of Oruro at an altitude of nearly 10,000 feet above sea level. Large parts of the surrounding region are used as pasture for the 500 llamas owned by the 70 families that live in and around the village. Once a year, on September 14, numerous pilgrams arrive at Calacala from other indigenous villages and the city of Oruro for the festivity of Exaltación de Santa Cruz, popularly known as the festivity of Lord of the Lakes.
The rock art probably dates
to the Late Horizon (Inka Period)
The principal rock art site is situated
2 km southeast of the village
Llama rock art engravings
Rock art engravings representing Llamas
The continued use of rock art sites is evident from recent offerings and rites carried out at sites, as in the case of the paintings in the Province Los Andes of Dept. La Paz investigated by Freddy Taboada, and in the north of Oruro studied by Roy Querejazu Lewis. In both cases, members of the neighbouring indigenous population consider the site part of their sacred realm. Animals sacrificed at rock art sites include llamas and a bull, blood was spattered upon the paintings. Chewed coca leafs were placed on rock carvings and paintings in Cochabamba and Potosí.
The principal rock art site (a small cave and a rock shelter) is situated to the southeast of the village, at a distance of 2 km, and at an altitude of 4.050 m. There are numerous paintings in different shades of red colour, white and black, and engravings, mostly representing llamas, with a few human figures, and some felines. Another feature of the rock art are cupholes or "cupules" carved on vertical or horizontal surfaces. The art clearly refers to pastoral life showing llamas accompanied by its pastors, sometimes the human figures are connected to the animals by a rope. One of the panels is dominated by a white llama figure (height: 60 cm), the favourite sacrificial animal in indigenous rites until today.
In 1970, this outstanding site was declared a National Monument by the Bolivian state. In 1976 the National Archaeological Institute fenced in an area of 23 x 60m protecting the decorated cave and rock shelter. Since then the National Anthropological Museum in Oruro has been responsible for maintaining this small archaeological park. A resident of Calacala was appointed guardian and accompanies visitors to the site. The Bolivian Rock Art Research Society SIARB published an article on rock art at Calacala in its Boletin 15 (2001).
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