Legend of Aya Huma
Mythica Ecuador™ – A story behind your purchased Poncho
They say that in the days of Inti Raymi when everyone was partying, that moonlit night, a widowed man, sad and lonely, after having served the dancers who had come to visit him at home with food and chicha, as is the usual, was getting ready to sleep. He had begun to doze when he suddenly heard the clamor of the dance in the courtyard. The traverse flutes sounded with warrior melodies, the energetic footwork and the angry voices of animation complemented the rhythm of the dance.
He thought another group of dancers had arrived. He got up ready to offer festive food and chicha, but he was surprised because the dancers had not entered directly inside the house but were only dancing in the patio. He stopped before going outside.
Something abnormal was happening: the footwork of the dancers made the ground shake, the music of the flutes seemed to come from everywhere and the voices of animation of the dance were heard like thunder. Before going out to the patio, he looked out through an opening in the door, and saw that those who danced in that enormous way were human-shaped beings that had two faces on the same head (one in front and one behind), had large ears and noses, their hair was very disorganized, as if they were “standing up”. Some had sticks in their hands, others carried churus or ushumpis, and some played the flute with great mastery.
When looking at the feet, he noticed that they had a kind of fur and the toes were behind and the heels were forward. The apparition lasted a few moments, and with the same speed with which they had arrived they disappeared into the cornfield and immediately everything was silent as before. Due to the characteristics of the exceptional dancers, and more than all, because they all had their heels forward, the man understood that those who had come to his house were the AYAs he had heard from his elders. He was so impressed with the strange appearance that he decided to make himself an outfit just like it. Trying to remember every detail he made a double-sided mask and began to dance as “AYA” at each Inti Raymi.
They say that he never tired of the tireless dances of days and nights in a row, he guided and encouraged others at all times. He never suffered any accident or fall, he was never defeated in any fight, he was the first to enter the fight and the last to run in case his people were defeated. When he danced, his feet did not touch the ground and many times he slept among the thorns on the edge of the ravines without suffering any harm. He used to bathe and sleep on these holidays next to waterfalls, springs, lakes and ceremonial places.
Every year this man demonstrated his strength and endurance, for which the entire community respected and appreciated him. One day, he disappeared from the community. The elders say that he was taken by the AYA whom he tried so hard to imitate. They say that this man still lives in the rough places of the pacha-mama helping with the strength of the AYA to strengthen the bodies and spirits of those who request it.
What Aya Huma represents?
This character represents the connection with the cosmos in the popular Festival of the Sun. He is the one who dances in three times to be able to connect with the Earth, the Sun and the Moon.
He is also considered a community guide, leader and warrior possessor of vital energy from nature.
Typical costume of the Aya Huma
‣ The outfit of this character is composed of a colored mask with two faces.
‣ The attire demonstrates the duality of the cosmos (good and evil, sun and moon, future and present, north and south).
‣ The hair that is part of the outfit symbolizes wisdom.
‣ In the mask four types of ears can be seen, which refer to the four directions or cardinal points and to the elements present in nature, air, fire, earth and water.
‣ The outfit is also made up of a whip, which is a symbol of power and authority.
‣ The suit covers the legs of a coat that is a piece made with leather.
‣ The suit covers the legs with a zamarro that is a piece made with the skin of different animals.
‣ In some indigenous communities, the Aya Huma sings wind instruments, while dancing to the rhythm of drums, songs and guitars.
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