Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Legend of Ancient Peru—The Four Brothers Part I

Another legend of ancient Peru is about the founder of the first race who had been given a golden rod by (his) Father and was instructed to push that rod into the ground wherever they stopped to rest in wandering through the land. When they reached a place where the rod sank deep into the earth, they were to stop, settle, and found a kingdom.
This legend, of course, parallels Nephi fleeing the area of first landing and using the liahona to guide him to where the Lord wanted him to settle (with those that followed him.) 
    According to this legend, the rod sank deep in the Cuzco Valley, an area where ancient ruins depict a Nephite style construction.  This legend further states that the original ancestor, or prince, who first settled in Cuzco, was called Manco Capac who was said to be a red haired, bearded man who appeared with his wife at Lake Titicaca, and with his three brothers and their wives. The legends surrounding the emergence of Manco Capac, and the subsequent kings that followed anciently, are particularly impressive and appear highly authentic from an ethnological and historical point of view. They tell of the wandering of a clan in search of a permanent place to settle, and that the final halt before the appearance of Manco Capac was in the region of Cuzco.
    Other old Indian legends claim that the Indians, whose ancestors built the megalithic structures of Peru thousands of years ago, claim they were forced out by hostile tribes and migrated north after abandoning their gigantic cities. This, of course, parallels the flight of King Mosiah as he left the Land of Nephi and settled in Zarahemla. Lastly, the old Chimu dynasty of ancient Peru dates back to their earliest founders who were said to have arrived in the land by ship.
    But the legends of real impact are those of the four brothers coming to the land of promise as the first settlers. In this legend, four main brothers came to the Land of Promise:  Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi (1 Nephi 2:5).  These were the sons of Lehi at the time the family left Jerusalem. Two more sons, of course, were born in the wilderness during an eight-year trek (1 Nephi 17:4; 18:7), and were quite young when they reached the Land of Promise for during the voyage, they still required much nourishment (1 Nephi 18:19), very possibly one was still at his mother's breast. However, there can be no doubt that four main brothers were among the Lehi Colony when it reached the Land of Promise.
    Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, a Spanish explorer, author, historian, astronomer, and scientist, but most importantly, a well-educated sea captain and cosmographer of the viceroyalty, and under assignment to write the history of Peru forty years after the Spanish arrival in the region. He listed the fundamental legends that came out of the Inca barrios of Cuzco with their local memories of the early situation. His works, along with those of Juan de Santa Cruz Pachacuti, Miguel Cabello Valboa, Pedro de Cieza de Leon and Juan de Betanzos, sspeak of these brothers. In addition, we have the writings of these legends by Garcilaso de la Vega, Alonso Ramos Gavilan, and Martin de Moru. In fact, almost every chronicler has some reference to the story of these four brothers.
    These early legends of the beginning, called the mists of pre-Inca history, cover four successive Peruvian epochs, beginning with the people of the First Age (Pacarimoc Runa) who were white, agriculturists, and strong in their religion for they worshipped Viracocha, the Creator, as the one and only God. The descendants of the older and legitimate sons became the people of later epochs, while descendants of other sons became the Indians.
Originally there were four sons and their sister-wives, who were sent by their father to administer in his name and were perceived as propagators of the truth and militant soldiers of a new and exclusive gospel. These four brothers emerged near Cuzco and were followed by the people they ruled and there were four "sisters" with them.
    Each of these original brothers was married to a "sister-wife" (Lehi’s sons married Ishamel’s daughters) and they had a golden staff of "peculiar properties" (the Liahona) which "informed them when their mission was at an end" by remaining fixed on an "unknown promised land toward which they were journeying." This golden staff or rod was to show these eight and their followers where they should seek their homeland. Enroute "difficulties developed with the oldest and most troublesome of the brothers" (Laman), who had been prevailed upon to return "to the place of origin to retrieve some golden vessels they had failed to bring with them" (the Brass Plates). And when one of the brothers was near death, he designated his grown son as his heir and successor (Nephi’s son became the next king or ruler of the Nephites).
    This legend dates to a people who spoke a pre-Quechua language and considered themselves indigenous to the valley of Cuzco (Land and City of Nephi) and the Quechuan names used in the legend can be attributed to their years as subjects of the Inca Empire for these people were never to be considered as part of the Inca Empire.
These people considered themselves peaceful, that is, “unwarlike,” but chose leaders who were "war-leaders" and whose services were not hired or paid. The leading brother (Nephi) of the four was elected to be the war-leader and his great successes earned him the coveted title of capac—chieftan, which was an honorific title of true eminence. Later, this brother moved further away and appointed one of his brothers (Jacob) to be the "field guardian" of the community.
    Three brothers became the leaders of three groups or tribes who called themselves by separate names but were united and had to escape into the Andes with some of their people (Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites). There was a brother who did not combine with the league of three, and a long-lasting dualism occurred between the two groups (Laman and Nephi). Each group cherished a separate history, which carried down even into Inca times (the Nephites considered themselves the rightful heirs of leadership, while the Lamanites considered the Nephites to have stolen the right of rule from their ancestors).
    One brother led his people into the wilderness where the "warlike orientation of these footloose people was evidenced" and became adept at raiding the valley below” (the Lamanites continually “went down” to make war in the Land of Zarahemla), and perfected the ritual huarachicoy or breechcloth ceremony (the Lamanites in Alma 3:5).
One brother was so brave and strong and skilled with weapons that the other two brothers were affronted and humiliated at not being able to match his feats (Laman and Lemuel were continually angry with Nephi, whose hunting skills were superior to theirs). They were galled by envy and they sought to kill their brother.
    It should be noted that though the earliest repetition of these legends have been badly eroded by time, what remains has been faithfully recorded. Obviously, the legends have been enhanced with exotic additions, had survived more than a thousand years by the time Sarmiento and others recorded them, yet enough remains to draw some interesting parallels with the Book of Mormon.  Taking each point one at a time, we find: 
(See the next post, “A Legend of Ancient Peru—The Four Brothers Part II,” for an explanation of the above legend as well as the connection to the Book of Mormon and the events listed there with Lehi arriving in the Land of Promise and how his four adult sons interacted and fit so closely into this legend)


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