Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Quichua Song and Verse

This post has not taken exactly the format of the original so you may prefer to view the original which is linked in the Verrill Master List.

Quichua Song and Verse

by A. Hyatt Verrill


Researched by Alan Schenker, Digitized by Doug Frizzle October 2011.

(Editor's Note:
Mr. Verrill is well known as an ethnologist, archeologist, and explorer. He spent many years of his life travelling through little known country in Central and South America.)

In many of the Quichua songs and verses, syllables, words, lines or even entire stanzas are sometimes purposely omitted. When these are sung or recited the missing syllables or words are supplied by musical notes of the quena or drum. As such verses, when written, appear incomplete and lacking in rhythm I have, in most cases, supplied words or syllables, but in a few I have retained the omissions in order to preserve the typical form of the original. An excellent example of this type of verse is as follows:

Sumak Kankakchaska

(Beautiful Light)

A-aa sumak kankakchaska # # # #

Kaynimitu way waykikuna haway #

Lupini kita kaysari munki # #

A-aa sumak kankakumuchaska # #

Kay nimi toukay waywayki kona hawa

A punkan ki # # ki # i # ayay.

Following is my translation of a Quichua Prayer To The Sun: next to it is the original Quichua.

A Prayer To She Sun

Hail to thee, most mighty god!Link

I cry to thee, I plead, I pray

That thou my prayer mayest heed.

And from thy heart may pardon me

And pity show for all my sins

0 Inti favor show thy son

Hail, hail to thee, our almighty lord, the sun.

Alau- Ukumanta-Kanman

Alau ukumanta Kanman Appu yaya Kaparini Hftkay tauya rikupay Buka manak tau yapay Apu pisaya rikunga Xanka pamba ciksungumi Casma kacun Apu Inti


Double l (ll) is pronounced much like the Spanish sound of elyay but with a more distinct l sound than in Spanish.

K is a harsh explosive gutteral approximating k-y! Ems the word Manko is pronounced more as if spelled Man-akyo or even Man-aq-qo. In some cases, however, a softer K is used, and this I have indicated by using the letter C which should have about the same sound as our K.

S has the ordinary English sound except when final, when it is pronounced like YS. Also, the final S does not signify the plural of Quichua, but means "called" as in HUARA-S. In Quichua the plural is denoted by the suffix CUNA meaning many. Thus the plural of PACHA, would be PACHA-CUNA, of HUAKO, HUAKO-CUNA etc. But for simplicity I have used the S as a plural ending, thus slightly Anglicizing the words.

QUI and QUE have the Spanish sounds of KEY, KAY etc.

J and H are silent or slightly aspirated. The use of these letters is really the Spanish idea of spelling and pronunciation and many Quichua words that in their pure and original form began with a true vowel sound are now pronounced (as well as written) as if preceded by the Spanish J. Thus AMAUTU as used today would he JAMAUTO.

W and V are interchangeable, their pronunciation being better expressed by the Spanish HUI or HUE than by our English consonants.

Also, many - in fact most - Quichua words of more than one syllable are pronounced as if hyphenated. In spoken Quichua the words sound as if broken up—sort of staccato effect—due to this separation of syllables and hence I have indicated this feature by using a hyphen.

Dance Music and Singing;

Dances of course played a very important part in the lives of the Indians of Peru as they do among all Indians. Mainly they were held to celebrate some event, such as harvesting corn, shearing llamas, rounding up and marking llamas, etc. Others were symbolical and were of a more or less religious character, while many were purely for entertainment and enjoyment. All were danced to the accompaniment of music and singing. The one given below is a typical example.

The Dance

Dum-du-dum—cile—ci—le’ !

To dance, to dance with thee

With hells on my feet, with bells on my feet

I could dance forever with thee

Dum-da-cile, cile-ci –le’ !

Dum-da-dum-cile-ci-le’ !

Dance to the music of chanko and horn

Dance from the darkness until the dawn

With hells on our feet, with bells on our feet


Dam-da, cile, cile—ci—le’ !

Dancing, dancing forever with thee

Bells on thy feet, bells on thy feet

Dance through the night until the day comes

Dance to the music of quena and drums

Dum-da-da-cile, cile—da-dum!

Da- dum-da-cile, cile—ci—le’ !

Note: Tambu- A drum. Charnko or Charanko: A guitar-like instrument, usually made from the shell of the armadillo.


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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.