The Wiphala: Andean Symbol

Clearing out a cupboard the other day I spotted a colourful pamphlet I picked up when living in Bolivia over a decade ago. Published in 2007 by Ediciones “Amuyawi” in El Alto, it gives a detailed account of the Wiphala’s place in Andean cosmology, its history, and its role as a symbol of resistance against European colonisers and their present day descendants. It’s a prime example of decolonisation in action: research grounded, not in overseas faculties, but in the Andean Ayllus and communities where the true heirs of this knowledge reside.

The brazen attacks on the Wiphala during the 2019-20 Bolivian coup exposed the racist contempt those who carry the torch of colonial domination have for this sacred indigenous symbol. Expanding the audience of this work is clearly essential.

A quick web search took me to a digitised pdf version of the pamphlet on the indigenist website, but I couldn’t find an English translation. So, I dusted off my very rusty Spanish and made one. I haven’t included any of the figures – you can find them here. Copyright is held by Ediciones “Amuyawi” and the translated text is reproduced here for educational purposes only.

  1. Introduction
  2. Andean Symbols
  3. Natural Heritage of the Andean Culture
  4. The Andean People
  5. The Sacred Wiphala of Pusintsuyu/Tawantinsuyu
  6. Existence and use of the Wiphala
  7. Etymology of the Word Wiphala
  8. Forms of Denomination of the Wiphala
  9. The Wiphala in the Activities of the Andean Man
  10. The Wiphala as an Expression of Unity and Equality
  11. The Wiphala as an expression of Andean Philosophy
  12. The Wiphala Expression of the Cosmic Calendar
  13. Origin of the Word ‘Bandera’ (flag)
  14. Differences Between the Wiphala and Western Flags
  15. The Wiphala in the Resistance
  16. The Prohibition of the Wiphala
  17. The ‘Criollo’ State Does Not Solve the Problems of the Communities
  18. Classes of Andean Emblems
  19. Where and Why We Should Use the Wiphala
  20. Sources


This work was, as the fruit of a deep investigation, carried out in the communities and Ayllus of the Andean area. Thanks to the brothers who made it possible with their participation, and who are worthy of admiration for their personal contributions to what is cultural rescue. For what we express for our brothers from Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia is our philosophical thought and the essence of the AYMARA-QUISWA man.

We also declare that our people have continued resisting for many centuries. Our aspirations were postponed as a result of the invasion and subjugation by the Spanish. Our people were humiliated and marginalized, our wealth was exploited and looted, the doctrine of PACHA-MAMA was banned and our symbols and emblems were forced underground.

Despite the intention of carrying out genocide and ethnocide against the AYMARAS-QUISWAS with the Christian inquisition imposed by the Spanish, the usurpers, remnants of the colonisers who hold power to this day over our people, were not able to exterminate the bronze race.

Therefore, we proudly declare that the AYMARAS-QUISWAS remain in the land of the Amautas, Inca, Malicus, Kumanis. We are the national majorities, oppressed but not defeated, and that is why in the ancestral homeland of Tawantinsuyu the sleeping giant awakens from his slumber. Today he gets up and begins to walk, brandishing the sacred Andean Wiphala to shake off the oppressive yoke, for a new era of PACHA-KUTI. We proclaim that the Children of the SUN have regained power and territory once more and we raise our voices saying “JALLALLA TAQIATIPIRI QULLANA MARKA!”.

This work has been reproduced for the purpose of awareness and dissemination of the political situation in the country, not for profit, and respecting the authors of this work. The Indian calendar has been updated based on the calendar of Lic. Germán Choquehuanca (Inka Huaskar Chuquiwanka).
Amuyawi Editions is a means of disseminating themes of our ancestral knowledge and is pleased to deliver it into the hands of our brothers and sisters to continue advancing the transformation of our political and ideological objectives.

Andean Symbols

It is necessary to know the historical reality of our people. Therefore, to the descendants of the Andean Civilization and in use of our attributions, we express what was our Aymara-Qhishwa national and cultural identity of the Pusinsuyu/Tawantinstiyu.

Despite more than five centuries of subjugation, humiliation, and exploitation by the Spanish and “Criollos”, we are still standing and the Andean culture remains intact to this day, and this allows us to declare that the collectivist and harmonic system is valid throughout the Andean area. Many national and foreign anthropologists and archaeologists that have written about the Qhishwa-Aymara culture focus their analysis from a Western perspective and each one interprets it at their own discretion according to their ideological and religious conceptions.

Consequently, our history was altered and distorted, the true history of the Andean culture is not written and, for many researchers, the Aymara-Qhishwa civilization is unknown.

For this reason, in the context of universal history, our culture has not been taken into account in its true essence as a civilization. Our ancestors achieved a high degree of organization, with a surprising social, economic and political development, in the society of “QULLANA marka”, later called “Pusintsuyu/Tawantinsuyu” in Aymara-Qhishwa, respectively, can be translated into Spanish (with the 4 organisations of the country).

In more than 600 years, researchers have not been able to clarify with complete transparency the origin of our NATION. Who are we?

Nevertheless, today, we descendants live as the inheritors of the AYMARA-QHISHWA civilization, we continue to practice all the traditions and cultural manifestations that are part of our lives with what we propose to project into the future.


Natural Heritage of the Andean Culture

Before discussing the Whiphala, we would like to mention the symbols that today make up the ritual universe of Andean culture, with the purpose of motivating the study of our culture.

As an example we have the natural heritage identified by our ancestors; the NATIONAL SYMBOLS of the Pusintsuyu/Tawantisuyu, the INTI tata (father sun) and the PAXSI mama (mother moon) that represent the DUAL force of the Andean man: that is the CHACHA-WARMI (man-woman), this is the reflection of all social and cultural manifestations of the Andean peoples.

Likewise, the CHAKANA constellation (southern cross) represents the socio-economic and political organization of the Pusintsuyu/Tawantinsuyu that make up the AYLLU (socio-economic organization) of the JANAN-SAYA (possession from above) and JURIN-SAYA (possession from below) territorial spaces corresponding to men and women, respectively.

The constellation of QUTU (the Pleiades) is the representation of UNITY and EQUALITY that is reflected in society within the collectivist and harmonious system. It is the socio-economic relationship of reciprocity and brotherhood in collective work, such as AYNI (reciprocity), MINK’A (substitution for other), PHAYNA (lightning work) and CHUQU (solidarity work). It is expressed as SUMA QAMAÑA (vivir bien/buen vivir or living well) with well-being and harmony in each family or TAMA (family organization) that is regulated in Andean society.

The constellation of ARA-ARU (Orion’s Belt or Three Kings/Three sisters) represents the TURNU rotation system through the MIT’A (compulsory service) in carrying out organized work as a contribution and public service for the development of the MARKA (people) of the SUYU (Nation or country).

It is the reference image in the ROTATION of the authorities in management of government administration. It is the rotation system of farmland in AYNUQA (plots) in QALLPA (worked land) whose precise observation of these stars (see fig. on the left) allows time to be synchronized on our planet. SUNI QÄNA (evening star) and QUIWA-QÄNA (morning star) represent the Andean ecological layers for the conservation and survival of animal and plant species that are in direct relationship with the earth.

Likewise, the QARWA-NAYRA constellation (llama eye) and the KUNTURI JIPIÑA constellation (condor’s nest) and all the constellations mentioned are indicators of PACHA (time) that is directly related to the production and survival of Andean man.

But it is also necessary to know other SYMBOLS such as the sacred plants and flowers that benefit man in the scientific natural medicine practiced by our people until today.

Birds are also symbols, such as the KUNTURI (condor), the PAKA (eagle), the MAMANI (falcon), the Q’INTI (swallow), LULI (hummingbird) and others. Among the beasts the PUMA (American lion), the TITI (jaguar), also the llama, the vicuña, even the KATARI or AMARU (viper) in Aymara-Qhishwa respectively in other regions.

We also have as national and regional symbols the high mountains of the Andes, such as the Jillimani, the Sajama, the Sawaya, the Surata, the Tunari, the Thunupa, and many others that represent the AJAYU (remote ancestors), the ACHACHILA-JACH’AMALA ancestors (male-female); The veneration of these mountains has the sole purpose of commemorating each period, the memory and the deeds of our HEROES of Andean mythology.

The Andean People

The ancient inhabitants of the Andes organized their territory according to the laws of the stars. One of their most important constellations was the Southern Cross, from which the measurements used to organize their territories were derived.

The water mirrors

When a luminous body is at the centre of the sky, and we can see it over our head, it is said to be at the zenith. 12 o’clock noon, when the sun is at the centre of the sky, is called the zenith hour. With the sun, it is sufficient to observe how the shadow is cast to know that we are exactly under its light.

The same does not happen with the stars at night, and to capture their reflection we need water mirrors. To make a water mirror you need a pot of water. You place it under the star that is at the zenith, whose reflection you want to capture. You know that the mirror of water is reflecting the exact point when a luminous and static ring forms around the vessel, that is, it does not move.

On the other hand, if you have not yet captured its exact place, the reflection projected on the water moves. To capture the exact point, you must slowly move the vessel until the luminous ring appears. This is what the Andean men did to transfer the Southern Cross to earth. This constellation is at its zenith between May 2nd and 3rd at midnight, in the highland populations of Salinas de García Mendoza, the Thunupa volcano and the entire area.

Its measures
In this way, once the Southern Cross was moved to earth, they obtained its measurement standard, called Tupu, which consists of the distance from point to point of its transverse axis or smaller arm. Nowadays this Tupu is equivalent to 20.4 metres and its main or trunk arm coincides with the cross section of the square formed by 4 Tupus, which was later called the sacred proportion.

This square formed by the four Tupus, came to be the surface measure called Ek’a (see fig.).
In addition, turning this square about its midpoint generates a circle, from which they concluded that the transversal of the square enters the perimeter of said generated circle 3.16 times.
5 Ek’as arranged in a cross was the basis for generating the Chacana Cross that you will often see in their fabrics.

The wiphala or flag of the Tawantinsuyu, also has its origin in this generation of squares and consists of 7 x 7 squares of fading colours that end in a row of white, arranged diagonally.

The AYMARA-QISHWA still maintain the most important of the symbols, such as the WAKA (sacred places) that symbolizes the procreation of the HUMAN genus on earth WINJAYA QAMANATAKI (to live eternally). The ILLA (image similar to a domestic animal) in identified sites, represents the multiplication of cattle (animals) that benefits and allows the survival of man.

The QILLAMPU and ISPALLA (sacred names) for any food product, because it represents abundant production in all its varieties and that must be preserved for the benefit of Andean man.

The Sacred Wiphala of Pusintsuyu/Tawantinsuyu

We must emphasize that the ancestral homeland of the Qhishwa-Aymaras counts the sacred WIPHALA among its most important emblems. It is composed of seven colours of the rainbow and represented in four versions of different colours corresponding to the four SUYU. From the Andean Aymara-Qhishwa perspective, the WIPHALA is known historically as the national emblem of the Pusintsuyu/Tawantinsuyu.

That is why the WIPHALA is the symbol of national and cultural identification of the Amazonian Andes. It is the emblem of the collectivist and harmonious nation and the representation of the daily activities of the Andean man in time and space.

One of the many researchers of the Aymara-Qhishwa culture, Carlos Urquizo S., confirms that the WIPHALA was the national emblem of the Andean civilization, before and during the period of the INKAS.

Existence and use of the Wiphala

The existence and use of this emblem is probably from the very creation of TIWANAKU more than 2000 years ago.

According to archaeological investigations and excavations, tissue remains were found in different regions of the Tawantinsuyu (see fig. below), which today includes Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

Hence, it is assumed that the WIPHALA was used for many centuries, in agricultural work, in festivals, in ceremonial and cultural acts, and in all social events of the Andean man.

According to Germán Ch. Wanka, an object similar to a banner was found in an 800-year-old tomb in the Chanqay region, located on the central coast of Peru. A pennant-like object, called Walqanka, before the Inkas, is seen in a graphic by Ph. Waman Puma of A. from the year 1612.

A WIPHALA painted in a rock can be found in the place called Wantirani, in Qppakati Manko Kapajk Province of the Department of La Paz. Two WIPHALAS painted in Qiru or glass, can be found in the Tiwanaku Museum of La Paz. Likewise, a WIPHALA together with fabrics in Koroma, dating from pre-colonial times, is in the Quijarro Province of the Department of Potosí.

In 1534 during the invasion and occupation of the city of Qusqu (today Cuzco) the Spanish met the first resistance of the Qhishwa-Aymaras and saw among the crowd, objects similar to the flag of stripes and squares of seven colours of the rainbow. We believe that with the above investigations, more information about the existence of WIPHALA will become available. Our task is to find out much more than we have yet come to know about the virtues and knowledge that our ancestors the AJAYUS and ACHACHILAS had.

Etymology of the Word Wiphala

The word WIPHALA probably comes from the ancient language “Jhaqi-aru” (language of the human being) later named by the chronicler Polo de Ondegardo in 1554 as AYMARA, which derives from the words jaya-mara (distant years or time immemorial).

Then we decipher in the following way, first “Wiphay” is a voice of triumph, used until today in festivals and in ceremonial acts. Second, the “lapx-lapx” produced by the effect of the wind, which originates from the word (laphaqi), is understood as the movement of a flexible object.

Joining the two sounds (WIPHAY-LAPX) we have the WIPHALA, with the “px” dropped for ease of pronunciation.

Forms of Denomination of the Wiphala

Laphaqay, by the Kallawayas in the department of La Paz.
Laphaqax, in the provinces of the department of Cuzco.
Laphala, in the regions of the department of Potosí.
Wiphayla, in the valleys of the department of Cochabamba.
Wipala, in the regions of Ecuador.
Huipala: for the monolinguals of Castilian in residential neighbourhoods.
Wifala: for bilingual Castilian Aymara from outlying neighbourhoods.
Wipala: for the bilingual Spanish Qhishwa from peripheral areas.
WIPHALA: for the Qhishwa-Aymaras in the communities and Ayllus.

The Wiphala in the Activities of the Andean Man

According to Andean customs and traditions, it is always hoisted in all social and cultural events, for example, in the meetings of community members of the Ayllu, in the marriages of
the community, when a child is born in the community, when a child’s haircut is performed (Andean baptism), at funerals, etc.

The WIPHALA also flies at festivals, at the ceremonial acts of the community, at the civic acts of the MARKA (town), at the games of WALLUNK’A (columbio), at the competitive games ATIPASINA (to win), historical dates, at the K’ILLPA (ceremonial day of the cattle), and at the transmission of command of the authorities in each period.

It is also used at dances, such as the ANATA or PUJLLAY festival (game), in agricultural work (with or without teams), through the ayni, the mink’a, the chuqu and the mit’a. At the end of building works, a house construction and in all community work of the Ayllu and Marka.

The point and place of location of each Tawantinsuyu town is determined according to this generating system of the square and its diagonal in progressive amplifications, placing Tiawanacu within the initial square.

On the corner of its first extension is Oruro, the land of the Urus. In the next expansion is Potosí and further down the Pilcomayu River. Upwards is the Peruvian town of Paracas, in the next square to the north the town of Vitos, then Cuzco and so on until you reach Cajamarca. The diagonal that crosses the entire territory was called “Wiracocha Route”. On this route are its most important religious towns such as Cuzco, Tiawanacu, Copacabana, Isla del Sol, Chiripujio, Huancarani, Culli Culli, etc.

The Wiphala as an Expression of Unity and Equality

The structure and composition of the colors of the WIPHALA as an Andean cultural emblem, constitutes a symmetrical and organic form. The formation of seven colours of the rainbow is the cosmic reflection that represents the organization of the community and harmonious system of the Qhishwa-Aymara.

It is the expression of socio-economic relations within the QAMAÑA (existence) system of brotherhood in reciprocity and human solidarity.

THE WIPHALA: It has four sides and seven colours of equal proportion that means EQUALITY in the diversity of the Andean peoples.

It represents the means of production and distribution of products to each according to their needs and according to their ability. Where hunger and misery are unknown, where there are neither RICH nor POOR, where there is no ambition for GOLD and SILVER, and where illicit enrichment and dispossession of wealth for personal interests are not known.

THE WIPHALA: It has 49 squares and seven united colours, which represent the MARKAS and SUYUS. It means UNITY in the geographic diversity of the Andes, where INDIVIDUALISM and SELFISHNESS are not known, and where man does not live on false ILLUSIONS or FANTASIES of GOD, which does not benefit Andean culture at all. Therefore, the WIPHALA is the symbol of Unity and Equality, of Organization and Harmony of the Andean community system.

The Wiphala as an Expression of Andean Philosophy

The WIPHALA is the dialectical expression of the evolution of Science, Technology, Art and the socio, economic, political, and cultural development of Pusintsuyu/Tawantinsuyu. Also, the WIPHALA contains the representation of the CHAKANA of the four stars of the firmament – the reference that guides the geopolitical organization of the Andes from space.

It also symbolizes the commemoration of the Ayar-kachi, Ayar-uchu, Ayar-laq’a, Ayar-k’allku, the four mythological brothers, precursors of the Pusintsuyu/Tawantinsuyu, that is, in the memory of the creators (of the four organized states) in the Andes, which is the western part of the AWYAYALA today in Latin America.

The WIPHALA also expresses the celebration of the four annual festivals which commemorate the four periods of the year seen in the cosmic calendar of the Aymara-Qhishwa: JUYPHI-PACHA (cold season), LAPAKA-PACHA (hot season), JALLU-PACHA ( rainy season), AWTI-PACHA (dry season).


A diagonal line is reflected through which you can see two spaces that represent the INTI-tata, the PAXSI-mama, the Man and the Woman CHACHA and WARMI, the ARAXA-PACHA (the above), AKA-PACHA (the here), likewise the JANAN-SAYA and the JURIN-SAYA, as well as to our languages: Aymara and Qhishwa, respectively.

The diagonal line of the WIPHALA is the union of two spaces, symbolic of complementary opposition, expressed in the DUAL force and the Harmony of the Andes. Also, this LINE represents the “Qhapaq-ñan” or “Qhapax-thakhi” (rich and powerful path). The line means, therefore, the Union of two beings, like the CHACHA-WARMI, to generate and multiply the population and to build a society of happiness and harmony, which in turn represents the Way to paradise of the Aymara-Qhishwa. This path reflects the transformation of nature and the social transformation of man on the planet.

On the other hand, the representation of the five central squares of the WIPHALA means the expression of the moral principles of the Andean man. It is the sacred PENTALOGY of the AMAWT’A as follows:

  1. Don’t be lazy
  2. Don’t be a liar
  3. Don’t be a thief
  4. Don’t be a murderer
  5. Don’t be a libertine.

These rules have the sole purpose of avoiding and curbing all the defects of the human being. These five central squares also represent the five notes of Andean Pentatonic Music, performed in the rhythms of Jarawi, Wayli, Wayñu and others. It is also the representation of the five powers of the structure of the Community State of the Andes.

  1. The Philosophical Doctrine
  2. The Government
  3. The Economy
  4. Legislation
  5. Justice

Finally, it represents the five periods of the PACHA-KUTI (the cosmic revolution). According to the proverb of the AMAWT’AS, every 500 years there must be a change or a revolution in the social, economic, and political structure of Andean society and in the world.

For all that has been said, the WIPHALA symbolises the philosophical doctrine of the PACHA-KAMA (principle of Universal order) and the PACHA-MAMA (mother, cosmos) that constitutes Space, Time, Energy, and our Planet. That’s why the meaning of the Wiphala is holistic.

The Wiphala Expression of the Cosmic Calendar

According to a publication by Alejandro Quisbert M., the WIPHALA is the representation of an astronomical and mathematical measuring instrument, which our ancestors probably would have used to control the movements of the Earth, in relation to the Sun and the Moon.

Through this, it was possible to appreciate the meteorological phenomena which would allow agricultural technology to be applied in an adequate and systematic way in the Andes.

The WIPHALA, as an instrument, has its rules and fulfils a function that consists of horizontal, vertical and diagonal interpretation in combination with the seven colours.

Alejandro Quisbert M. claims that this instrument is known by the denominative of the Andean AWAKU, therefore the mathematical interpretation of this object can be explained as follows: the combination of colours, with different directions, forms mathematical harmony in each box and to guide us three readings are needed, one vertical, one horizontal, and the third diagonal. This reading in turn separates equal parts of the instrument. Then, the upper part corresponds to the day with the Sun, the lower part to the night with the Moon. Moreover, with the instrument it is possible to interpret, through a mathematical calculation of the solstice, the equinox including the eclipses. For example, the annual moon has thirteen months of 28 days, and the annual sun has 12 months – 8 months of 30 days and 4 of 31 – adding all the days make 364 days – plus a day called the JACH’A -URU (big day) – making 365 days of the calendar year.

That is why Andean peoples celebrate the AYMARA-QHISHWA new year (the MACHAQA-MARA or the MUSUQ-WATA, also known historically as the MARA-T’AQA or separation of the year) every 21st June.

We must consider that after each 21st June of any year that may coincide with the full moon, counting could begin, from the central box of the instrument, of the changes of the moon and the sun in relation to the Earth, which accurately indicates the seasons of the calendar year (see figures).

  1. Year equal to 365 days in the lunisolar calendar. For the moon: 13 months of 28 days. For the sun: 12 months, 8 of 30 days.
  2. The way to count the days of the lunar month together with the days of the solar month making the Lunisolar Calendar.
  3. Adding the product of 1(1)+2(2)+3(3)+4(4)+5(5)+6(6)= 91 on each side (91×4=364) days +1 day of New Aymara Year = 365 days of a year.
  4. The square of the wiphala represents the sun (A) the southern cross is also included (B) and the stepped figure representing the moon (C).
  5. The sum of 91 days + the days in the first square (D-E-A) represents the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice, plus 1 day of the Aymara new year (A-B); the sum of 91 days + 91 days in the second square (D-C-D) represents the spring equinox and the summer solstice.
  6. The numerical values given in the boxes diagonally below give sums of 1+4+9+16+25+36=91 (91×4=364). In superior summation, the following figures are obtained: 6+10+12+12+10+6=56 (56×13=728) (728/2=364). With this it is shown that the sum in the Andean abacus gives 364 + 1 day of the new Aymara year, which gives 365 days of a year.

Origin of the Word ‘Bandera’ (flag)

The word comes from the sounds ‘band’, ‘bandoleros’, ‘bandits’ from the time of European feudalism, who dedicated themselves to invading, assaulting, raping and murdering under their flags and pennants. An example is the ‘Bandeirantes’ gang of criminals who enslaved indigenous and Afro peoples from Brazil.

Differences Between the Wiphala and Western Flags

To make a comparison of the emblems of the West and of the Andes, we must differentiate the shape and characteristics of each. For example, the Wiphala as an Andean emblem was always square to express organization and harmony, as well as Unity and Equality. In contrast, the Bolivian flag, like the Spanish one, has a rectangular shape and both have a European origin. For the Qhishwas-Aymaras, it represents the western system and culture, in opposition to the community system and the Andean culture.

Because it is a rectangle, it is the expression of the injustice, inequality, individualism, and selfishness of western society. It represents social and racial discrimination, which is why there is exploitation of man by man, why there are rich and well fed and, on the other hand, poor and hungry, and where human solidarity is unknown.


The Wiphala becomes an emblem of resistance

The invaders like Columbus, Cortéz, Pizarro, Valdivia, and others, brought in their hands, the sword, the cross, the bible their FLAG.

With the sole purpose of appropriating and plundering our riches, they subjugated us under their Christian doctrine. From that time, a regime of terror and bloody is implanted. With the implementation of the Holy Inquisition, the priests apply repression and persecution to our grandparents, legalising genocide and ethnocide against the Qhishwa-Aymaras and other peoples of the continent, causing the death to more than 100 million men, women, elderly and innocent and defenceless children, pouring out rivers of blood.

Since then, as a consequence of colonialism, we have been dispossessed of our best lands and of all our riches. Our natural resources have been looted, particularly gold and silver, later with tin and other minerals, today with oil and wood, tomorrow with lithium.

The subjugation, exploitation and looting that began more than 500 years ago continues to this day in all its dimensions.

Faced with these barbarities and inhumane crimes committed by the Spanish and other Europeans in our territory since 1534, the Qhishwa-Aymaras organized the army with the Inka mallku II, with Santos At’ajalp’a in 1572; with the uprisings of Tupaq Amaru and Tupaq Katari in 1780, with Muiwa in 1811, with Qallisaya in 1816, and many others who fought in the colonial period, against feudalism and the Spanish army.

Consequently, the two SYMBOLS clashed: the Wiphala of Pusintsuyu/Tawantinsuyu and the Flag of Spain.

Since then, the WIPHALA has become a symbol of Cultural RESISTANCE of the original Nation of the Andes, against Spanish domination.

The Wiphala in the Resistance

As a consequence of the Spanish invasion of the continent of AWYAYALA, the native peoples and nations, essentially pacifists, opted for confrontation in defence of self-determination and national sovereignty, brandishing our emblems against the colonial system and Spanish feudalism.

During the usurpation and the arbitrary establishment of the foreign colonial regime, the army of COMUNEROS goes to the frontline with the WIPHALA’S squares of seven colours and white, against the rectangular flag (red, yellow and red) of Spain.

Later the Criollo patriots used a green flag in their fight against the Spanish and, after defeating the Spanish royalists, created their Republic of Bolivia in a part of our homeland. After the territorial separation, the Criollos continue to dominate our people, prolonging the forms of submission and destroying the first Republic of Aymara-Qhishwa of Ayupaya. On August 17, 1825, after the creation of the FEUDAL state, the Criollos create their own Bolivian flag, with the colours “green, red and green” in a rectangular shape.

On July 25, 1826, not satisfied with the composition of the colours they choose to change their flag, for “yellow, red and green”. And on October 31, 1851, they change it once more, opting for the currently used “red, yellow and green”. We affirm that the tricolor and the bicolor flags of Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia are symbols of oppression and submission for the Qhishwa-Aymaras, Guarani and the other native peoples of the Andes and the Amazon.

The Prohibition of the Wiphala

The authorities of the Spanish crown, after the defeat of the comunarios, prohibited the use of this sacred emblem.

WIPHALAS were burned everywhere, those who carried it were persecuted, and even those who uttered the word WIPHALA were punished. It is symptomatic that in dictionaries such as Bertonio’s, the word WIPHALA does not appear, like others such as “jallalla”. Hence, the WIPHALA is synonymous with subversion for the dominant minorities, both politically, ideologically, and religiously. These bans further strengthened the WIPHALA as a symbol of resistance and rebellion during the colonial period. The WIPHALA continued to fly underground and in peaceful resistance and democracy. Today more than ever the QHISHWA-AYMARAS raise their WIPHALAS high in their communities, Ayllus and Markas, to build the new SUYU.

The ‘Criollo’ State Does Not Solve the Problems of the Communities

The government and the authorities of the Criollo republic do not solve the socioeconomic and cultural problems of the national majorities at all. On the contrary, the situation has worsened. Therefore, the Qhishwa-Aymaras rise again, for the defence of the interests of the native nation of the ANDES, leading with the WIPHALAS of the Qullana Marka: with Luciano Willka in 1847, Pawlu S. Willka in 1895, Rumi Maki in 1914, and many other compatriots facing the tricolor of the Bolivian Criollos.

Today the descendants of the Pusintsuyu=Tawantinsuyu, once again raise our WIPHALAS, in the streets of the cities, in the great concentrations of masses, in the great social and cultural events. Moreover, the new generation of the Quilana marka, all the community brothers must become aware that our purpose is to replace the tricolor and bicolor of the Criollos and recover the National and Cultural Identity of the Qhishwa-Aymaras.

To reestablish the communitarian and harmonious system of Tawantinsuyu, implant a new system of socio-economic and political structure in the Andes. The wiphala is the symbol of liberation of the comunarios of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. The wiphala is the expression of thought to put an end to the neocolonial regime of the parasitic bourgeoisie of the Criollos.
The wiphala is the rallying cry to definitively defeat neoliberalism and eradicate the exploitation of man by man, halt the looting of our wealth, and the illicit accumulation of fortunes by the Criollo social class.

For what our Emblem also expresses is the recovery of territorial sovereignty and self-determination of the Qhishwa-Aymaras, Guaraníes and other native peoples, overcoming the current individualistic and selfish western system.

Classes of Andean Emblems

There are four kinds of Andean emblems: the continental, the national, the regional and the local.

The continental: solid white, it represents the continent of AWYAYALA (what is called ‘Latin America’ today).

The national: from Tawantinsuyu=Pusintsuyu, composed of seven colours of the rainbow with horizontal stripes in harmonic order (called SULLPU), it is the cosmic reflection that represents the collective social organization and the harmonious life of the Aymara-Qhishwa in the Andes.

Similarly, there is another emblem, with which it forms its pair according to Andean logic, composed of four squares and four colours, red, yellow, green and white in equal parts. It represents the four state organizations of the country o del Tawantinsuyu (called TARU) and symbolizes the unity and equality of the four organized Punsintsuyu territories.

The regional: has seven colours and 49 equal squares (called ACHANK’ARA) differentiated by the colour of the diagonal line and that it separates into two equal parts. Its composition is symmetrical and harmonic, representing the organic structure of the minor nations corresponding to the four SUYUS and shows an image of Unity and Equality.

Likewise, the regional corresponding to its pair is of a solid colour and each one is characterized by the colour allocated according to regions.

The local: of any single colour and represents the AYLLUS and MARKAS around its jurisdiction, with an image or identification sign of its own in the middle to differentiate from one to the other.

Finally, there is the wiphala with a figure called the CHAKANA. In the centre it has a circle called P’uytu, divided in two. The upper part represents the day and the lower part the night. Always at the tip or the upper part of the mast of the large wiphalas is the head of a sacred animal from Andean mythology. Similarly, a flower is put on the mast-tip of the small wiphalas – particularly the emblems of solid colour.

Where and Why We Should Use the Wiphala

The wiphala is the property of the original nation, that is, the Qhishwa-Aymaras, Guarani and all indigenous peoples. It is the symbol of the exploited, oppressed, humiliated, and marginalized classes. It is the representation of the national majorities.

For the Aymara-Qhishwa, the wiphala is the expression of Andean philosophical thought. It manifests in its content the development of science, technology and art. It is also the dialectical expression of Pacha-kama and Pacha-mama. It is the image of organization and harmony of brotherhood and reciprocity in the Andes.

That is why the wiphala is sacred, and it is up to us to spread and defend the image and the meaning of our emblem throughout the Andean area – in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia – and to show the peoples of the world our territorial, national and cultural identity.

Its management and use must be permanent and consistent, as in the glorious past of our grandparents and our culture.

We must use it in ceremonial acts, at festivals, marches, games and competitions, in acts of commemoration, meetings of ayllus and markas communities, and in agricultural work. The wiphala must be present in all social and cultural events, particularly on the memorable dates of QULLANA MARKA and Tawantinsuyu. As comunarios we live identified with our cultural essence. Therefore, the wiphala must fly in every place and at every event of the daily life of the Andean man.

When hoisting the wiphala, everyone must remain silent, and at the end someone must give the voice of triumph and of victory of the JALLALLA QULLANA marka! JALLALLA Pusintsuyu/TAWANTINSUYU!


Chronicle of good government, Edition 1612 by ph. Waman Puma de A.,

History of Bolivia, Ed. 1920 by Froilán Giebel.

Wiphala exhibition, 1945 La Paz.

Wiphala, research work by Germán Ch. Wanka, 1985.

Cultural seminar held in Oruro, community members, leaders participated, 1986.

Andean symbols research contributions, V. Hugo Cárdenas, 1987.

Seminar Workshop in Oruro, Cultural Identity, 1989.

Chasqui Magazine, Ed. June 1990 Edit. Firefly.

CULTURAL Research by Carlos Urquiso S.

La wiphala Ed. Presencia by Alejandro Guisber, July 14, 1991.

Felix Lopez M.
Froilan Cano
Félix Cárdenas A.
Filemon Chogue

The children… They return along the paths of:



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