What is Quincha?

While I was driving about with Holly and Kris last week Kris noticed that some of the houses are made of mud.  Up until her comment about it, I didn’t realize that mud houses or casas de quincha were specific to the Azuero region.

Quincha houses and buildings are still being constructed in our region but the use of block, rebar and cement is much more common.  Having said that, our new town Electoral Tribunal office is a quincha building:



Quincha construction in the Azuero is a traditional construction system that uses wood and cane/bamboo to make a framework that is covered in mud and plaster.  The completed building keeps the heat out and is earthquake-proof. Originally these types of houses were built for only the wealthy while the peasants lived in thatched roof houses made of only cane.  Eventually, because the materials were cheap and cane and wood plentiful they were more commonly built for everyone until cheaper and easier materials such as block and concrete began being used.

We have several quincha houses throughout town.  Most of these have a coating of repello (a skim coat of thin concrete) and are painted colorfully.  Nowadays as back when quincha houses were more popular, it takes a whole community to build one and it is used as a social event, similar to a barn raising on a farm in North America.

I found this YouTube video of a junta de embarra (a work day to cover with mud)  that was filmed at a building event just a short drive up the peninsula in La Candelaria.   With the rising prices of construction materials this is a way for people who don’t have a great amount of money to have a home on their family land, in the campo.


About indacampo

You'll find me at https://indacampo.wordpress.com/ blogging about Panama...and other things.
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7 Responses to What is Quincha?

  1. LOL Great video! It looks like an excuse for a party and lots of fun, true Panamanian style. Your office building looks really nice. The houses I remember weren’t painted but were decent homes, and if it works, why not?!

    • indacampo says:

      I’ve been meaning to get out and about town to take some pictures of the ones that you can’t tell are quincha. Stay tuned for some more photos! 🙂

  2. Pingback: Arte en el pueblo ~ WP Photo Challenge “Art” | In Da Campo

  3. dehggial says:

    for some reason it won’t let me like your post but I wanted to let you know I thought it was great. You learn something everyday!

    • indacampo says:

      Gracias! I always say it’s a good day when you learn at least one new thing. And thank you for stopping by!

  4. Colleen Carter-Neblett says:

    I have interest in building a quincha on recently purchased land near LasTablas. How do I go about finding a builder.

    • indacampo says:

      Having had no experience building a quincha building myself I’m really not sure. I would suggest starting by using a ‘regular’ Panamanian contractor as an information source. My experience has been that most quincha buildings that are built now are completed as community projects. It is likely however, that you’ll find the country folk in your area have a knowledge and depth of experience that you can tap in to. Another idea would be to contact ASEP (the agricultural ministry) they may be able to provide you some information or direct you to someone who can help. You can also try asking at the municipio office where your permits are issued. The engineer/architect there could possibly have some ideas for you. Good luck!

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