The Reeds.

bulljup

Swansea, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

Uros islander collecting reeds to repair his home. The Uros are a pre-Incan people who live on self-fashioned floating islands on Lake Titicaca Puno, Peru and Bolivia. They form three main groups: Uru-Chipayas, Uru-Muratos and the Uru-Iruitos. The latter are still located on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca and Desaguadero River.
The islets are made of totora reeds, which grow in the lake. The dense roots that the plants develop and interweave form a natural layer called Khili (about one to two meters thick) that support the islands. They are anchored with ropes attached to sticks driven into the bottom of the lake. The reeds at the bottoms of the islands rot away fairly quickly, so new reeds are added to the top constantly, about every three months. This is especially important in the rainy season when the reeds rot much faster. The islands last about thirty years.
Much of the Uros’ diet and medicine also revolve around the same totora reeds. When a reed is pulled, the white bottom is often eaten for iodine. This prevents goitres. This white part of the reed is called the chullo. Like the Andean people of Peru rely on the Coca Leaf for relief from a harsh climate and hunger, the Uros rely on the Totora reeds in the same way. When in pain, the reed is wrapped around the place in pain to absorb it. Also if it is hot outside, they roll the white part of the reed in their hands and split it open, placing the reed on their forehead. In this stage, it is very cool to the touch. The white part of the reed is also used to help ease alcohol-related hangovers. It is a primary source of food. They also make a reed flower tea.

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