The Q’eswachaka Bridge is a suspension bridge made of vegetable fibre that spans over the Apurimac River in the district of Quehue in the Cusco region of Peru. This bridge dates back to the Inca period and its maintenance and renovation is done through a rite performed by Winch’iri, Chaupibanda, Ccollana Quehue and Perqaro communities. The Chus and Pablo Barrera– directed documentary Q’eswachaka: the Last Inca Bridge, follows the family of Victoriano, who holds the position of Chakaruwak (specialist in braiding the soquillas called Q’eswas), this three-day rite in a community where tradition is to become the “makers of bridges” and where livestock and agriculture are the main activities for subsistence.
The ritual for renewing the bridge is carried out through a work model dating back to Incan times. This work has various rituals and festive activities that last three days, and usually begins the second Sunday in June. On the fourth day it is celebrated with dances and lots of typical food, since Peruvian ancestors always considered the communal work to be a holiday and their identity as a people strengthened.
The Andean man must ask permission for each activity to the apus, the spirits of the mountains. The spiritual leader is the only one who can legitimately raise the spiritual table, where the Pachamama offerings made by commoners are blessed, such as coca leaves, alcohol or corn through a fire that stays lit until the construction of the bridge, something vital because the consent of the apus and Pachamama is crucial for preventing accidents from occurring.
The documentary feature Q’eswachaka: the Last Inca Bridge portrays the life of the Andean man, full of rituals that reflect their relationship with the environment. The braiding technique has a profound implication: the double composition of the q’eswa and how it is braided reflect an essential aspect of Andean thought: the whole world is conceived as a constant play of complementary opposites that keep the flame of life: feminine and masculine, light and darkness, life and death. Duality is the operative principle of the cosmos; energy in motion constantly unfolds and multiplies to form more complex realities. Like the entire universe, Q’eswachaka is also made by multiplying and unfolding its original duality: the q’eswa.