Thursday, January 1, 2009

the pututu

I had been living in Carmen Pampa for at least eight months before I first heard it.  And the only reason I heard it in the first place was because someone told me about it.  It's such a calming, unassuming sound that if you aren't aware of it, you probably won't even hear it.  

It being the pututu.

The pututu, a trumpet made from a hollowed out cow horn, has long been used as a method of communication throughout the Andes.  Though we do have wireless internet connection here in Carmen Pampa, it is the far-reaching sound of the pututu that indicates important news to be shared and discussed in the community.

Carmen Pampa's pututu is currently the responsibility of former UAC-CP student and Carmen Pampa native, Willy Aliaga, who is an elected leader in his community.  Carmen Pampa's pututu has been wrapped several times with masking tape to repair cracks.

In the time of the Incas, chasquis (or "messengers") blew the pututu to announce their arrival and impending news.  Today, elected officials in rural Bolivian communities like Carmen Pampa sound the pututu to organize meetings or announce emergencies within the community. 

Carmen Pampa community leader and UAC-CP veterinary science thesis student Willy Aliaga told me that its a very important role to be responsible for the pututu.  In the case of Carmen Pampa's pututu, it's been in the community for more than 20 years and mishandling or misuse of the horn can result in fines.

Willy explained that every community's pututu has a very specific sound depending on the age of the cow and the size of its horn.  So while the people in Carmen Pampa are able to hear the calls of pututus from at least three nearby communities, Carmen Pampeños (as they call themselves) never mistake another community's call for their own.  "It's just something that, when you hear it," Willy said, "you know what it recognize it."

Inspired by the pututu and the idea of recognizing ways in which we are called together, called to act on behalf of common beliefs and causes, Carmen Pampa Fund's 2008 Annual Report highlights ways in which people are called to actively participate in the work of the College.  To learn more about how and why people have been called to educate, study, serve, lead, exemplify, and donate, please click here.


Anonymous said...

There were no cows in the time of the Incas! Cows, along with sheep and wheat was imported by the Spanish after 1532. The instrument was made of sea shells and it is still used today.

Anonymous said...

Sea shells were used originally, but today cow horns are used in Bolivian communities. As indicated in the picture.