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The Capayanes were an indigenous people, now extinct, that lived in Argentine territory.


Their geographical area was partly of the provinces of La Rioja, Catamarca, San Juan, from the mountainous zone understood to be between the limit of La Rioja with Catamarca on Colorado river and the surroundings of Jáchal river-Zanjón, in San Juan, including Andes, in the western part, up to the cords of the Velasco, where they were mixed with the Diaguitas. They occupied the fertile valleys of Famatina, Sanagasta, Yacampis, Guandacol and Jáchal. They had as neighbors in the northern part the diaguitas and in the southern part the huarpes.


They shared with the diaguitas or paziocas the language Kakán, or a derivation of it. Vestiges of their language are in completions as bis, wee or small stone, for example: Yacampis, Quilmebis, Guanchina, etc.


The Capayán knew the technology of the thread, and spun the wool of guanaco and llamas. Also they knew the metallurgy of copper and gold. They constructed channels and irrigation ditches to water their farmlands. Their cultivars were maize, zapallo, potato and quínoa. They widely used ceramics, principally in the production of funeral urns, decorated geometrically with the colors black, red and white, known as Sanagasta style or Angualasto style.

Their houses were of mud and adobe and were sometimes built at the foot of a great tree used as a roof. This technology of construction still lasts in the Riojan zone of Vinchina.


About 1480, the Inca invaded the region of the diaguitas and capayanes, incorporating their territories into the Inca Empire (Tawantinsuyu). From 1607, the Spanish conquest resulted in their dispersion and later extinction at the end of the 18th century. The capayanes took part in an uprising in 1632 together with the olongastas and other diaguitas.

Today a Catamarca's department takes their name (See Capayán Department).

Etymology and ethnic filiation[edit]

The etymology of the name started to this people seems to be the word rune simi Kapak ñan (Great way), that is to say usually so called " Way of the Inca ". The explanation for this would be in that the territory that they were living age sedates of a knot of communications very importantly in the south of the Tawantinsuyu. The majority of the authors consider the capayán due to the cultural common features (for example the use of the language kakán) as one of the parts of the pazioca ("diaguitas"), in the same way that it were the calchaquíes, olongastas, quilmes, though they would have differed for the genetic and cultural influence of the neighbors huarpes and after 1480 for the presence of Mitmakuna deported persons up to the region for the Incas, many of such mitimaes would have trade and manufacture of alcoholic maize drink and churumata.

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