CITY OF THE THREE FLOORS
Lamas is a traditional province of the departamento of San Martín. Here ancestral and the modern things are all mixed up with the colorful landscape of the Central Huallaga. It is located on a hill that dominates the low May river could have inspirited the name of the town of “Las Lomas”, which progressively derived in the word Lamas.
Lamas is less than an hour away from Tarapoto city and stands out to show an evident division of three sections that in the local jargon has deserved the qualification of “City of the Three Floors”. Actually, the first floor belongs to the low part of the hill Waykus, and here live native Quechua speakers that could be the legendary descendants of the Chankas of Ayacucho, Apurímac and Huancavelica. Promoting the hill is the second floor, in which live the “mestizos”. Above, to 860 meters above sea level arises the summit or third floor, called “viewer” from here you can see the exuberant vegetation and the foliage of the Central Huallaga.
Who were really the founders of Lamas? What mysteries are hidden in the streets of the “mestizos”? What fears shelter the native ones so that they construct his houses without windows? Lately, the version that says that natives of the Walku descend from the Chankas, a group whose territory includes the departamentos of Ayacucho, Apurímac and Huancavelica, has become very important.
According to the stories of Sarmiento de Gamboa, they arrived to the Low May River running from the Incas, possibly in the decades of 1450 or 1460. Their leader and conductor was Ancohuallo, who was defeated by Inca Pachacutec and forced to thicken the conquering forces of the Tahuantinsuyu with his people. But when Ancohuallo finds out that Pachacutec ordered to kill him and his people, he runed away while the Inca army was in Huanuco. Perhaps his destiny took him to the Northeastern looking for a place where nobody could find him. Perhaps this epic history is very well-known in Lamas and to commemorate that episode, the name of Ancohuallo is popular; also there is monument to this Chanka rebel in a small park designated for such aim in the mestizos floor. This mountain origin also supports the linguistic one.
The natives from the Wayku speaks a quechua that is very similar to the one that is spoken in Ayacucho, Apurímac and Huancavelica. Also exists similitude with t he quechua spoken in Cajamarca, Amazon and Ucayali. Approximately twenty thousand people the districts of Sisa Pongo, Chazuta, and Pamashto among others, still use the Quechua as their main language.
Although the historical linguistic data, in addition to the bioantropologist researches, indicates a highland origin for the natives of the Wayku, these do not include the existence of other groups of the highlands. Certainly when Chankas arrived at the low May, they found other “nations” like the Motilones, Tabalosos, Amassifuynes, the Hibitos, the MiniChes, the Chayahuitas, etc. These people lived in the low May and their relations were not very friendly. The word “motilon” is applied to all the groups that were located in the province of Lamas. For that reason, some students propose that the natives of Lamas can be consequence of different “nations” of the Central Huallaga that were grouped by the Jesuits missionaries in century XVII, imposing Quechua to catechize the natives.
The natives The natives usually wear their primroses typical suits, that in full dress shine mainly in Easter and on August 31st dates in which they are congregated to intone ancestral songs and dances. Also calls the attention the courtship and the marriage between the mestizos. This happen when the bride accepts that some coins involved in a handkerchief can be dropped in her décolleté. It is also counted that the groom must demonstrate his capacity to maintain his future wife, taking a heavy load from Lamas to a town located to more than 2 days of trip. Only fulfilling satisfactorily this requirement, the marriage is consumed.
The Lamas natives have opted to maintain their identity despite daily contact with the mestizos. They still build their houses without windows, to prevent evil spirits and negative energies from invading their homes. They express their identity through handcrafts of baskets made from jipijapa, cotton weavings, ceramics and numerous ornaments made from the seeds of exotic trees. At the gates of the 21st century, Lamas remains truly an ancestral enclave that defies the dizzying rush of modernization sweeping the country