Photographer's Note

The Chipaya are an original ethnic group who live on the high plains of Bolivia. Although their legends reflect that they have resided only in the same general area where they presently live, their linguistic affiliation points to their having migrated from Central America. The name "Chipaya" probably came from the Aymara ch'ipaņa, "to tie up," referring to the netlike way they tie the roofs on their houses.

A traditional Chipaya village house is round, constructed of sod blocks, with the door facing east. The roof is made by first forming a framework of intersecting hoops made from tola, a short, cedarlike shrub, tied together with straw rope. Pieces of matting made from fine straw and mud are laid over the framework. Then the house is roofed with handfuls of stiff straw and ichu grass dipped in a runny clay-mud mixture. The roof is sewed on around the bottom with straw rope and then further secured with a network of straw ropes to hold it when there are strong winds. A second type of house, found in the agricultural areas, is cone shaped and made entirely of sod blocks. Recently adobes have sometimes been used for housing blocks after an initial four or five courses of sod blocks are laid. The doors were traditionally of cactus wood from nearby mountains, laced together with leather thongs, but in recent years, the use of wood and/or metal has increased.

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Additional Photos by Matteo Porta (mporta) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 198 W: 78 N: 620] (3812)
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