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Kuntur Ko (2012)

by Cecilia Vicuña

Kuntur Ko (Water Condor)
Alba del Habla, Dawn of Speech
New York, 2012

Poems for the spirit of water composed in response to the destruction of the glaciers in Chile. Recorded at NYU Department of Recorded Music, Tisch, 2006. Released by Torn Sound, NY, 2012. Distributed by Hueso Records.


Oir es el Oro ("hearing is gold")

In this set of songs/poems I enter the space of the death of the glaciers, the slow disappearance of "agua dulce," sweet water in the Andes and the world. I offer a prayer, a call for us to return to a relationship with water that protects its cycle from ocean to glacier and back. Composed by combining the names for water in Quechua and Mapuche, as seen from the perspective of Spanish and English, and the confluence of the Spanish words for gold (oro) and  prayer, the poems create sound reflections of the circulation / transformation of water.

The word "qon",  (also spelled kon, or con) in Quechua is water / ocean / chaos / the source of life. In Mapuche, "con" or "co" is water and the whole cycle of water from glacier to ocean. I play as well with the Quechua word "kuntur" ("condor"), turning it into the Spanish "cordón" ("thread"). In the Andes, water and thread become the metaphor "thread of life." Kuntur is the ancestral spirit, the guardian of the glaciers, weaving the waters as they move from glacier to ocean and back.  During the ceremonial cleansing of the irrigation canals, people play a flute made from the hollow bone of the condor's wings.  Its eerie sound brings into presence the ancestral world of the true owners of water, the mountain deities.

The recording was done in 2006. That year Chile elected a woman president, Michele Bachelet. On election day, I climbed the mountain to offer a menstrual quipu at the foot of the glacier, for women to remember the union of water and blood.