The Huarochirí manuscript is a remarkable epic history of Andean people, written around 1608 in Quechua, an indigenous language spoken across the Andes even today and once the lingua franca of the Inka empire. Named for Huarochirí, a town in Peru, this manuscript describes the origins of the Andean world and its peoples. While the precise conditions giving rise to the manuscript are not known, the document records memories of times long past and events of great antiquity. Early in the 17th century, the manuscript seems to have been used by a Spanish priest, Francisco de Avila, in order to combat the "idolatry" of this mountainous Andean region. He may have been the author of the few Spanish annotations that appear in the text. Today, the manuscript is housed with other papers related to Avila in the Biblioteca Nacional of Madrid.
Visual Culture
In the pre-Hispanic Andes, most peoples preserved their histories orally, although some skilled khipu-readers may have "read" histories from khipus, or objects of knotted string. The Huarochirí manuscript is extraordinary in that it preserves, in the Latin alphabet, indigenous histories in an indigenous language, Quechua.

This excerpt comes from the early section of the manuscript, which records primordial history. The text is self-reflexive, connecting the ancient Andean past to the Biblical story of the Flood, which would have been well-known to literate Andeans in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. This story of origins focuses on water and the animal world. No less importantly, it addresses the landscape still visible in the 17th century and today: the mountain of Villca Cota sits above Huarochirí.

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