Friday, April 22, 2016

Quellqa: Ancient Written Language of Peru – Part VII

Continuing with the previous posts on the original Peruvian and even Incan script writing and its demise and disappearance that left little record of its existence. 
    It should also be noted that that fifteenth and sixteenth-century Europeans (the Spanish invaders and even the well educated friars, priests, and chroniclers) were ill-equipped to identify a pre-alphabetic system of writing among the Incas because it was not until 1822 that Champollion began to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphs and only after that time did nonalphabetic semantic systems began to be taken seriously.
    Victoria de la Jara cites Father Joseph de Acosta in 1590 who, with great lucidity, was able to discern the ideographic nature of the tocapu designs and point out that the Inca “made up for the lack of writing and letters, partly with paintings…though those of Peru were very crude and rough; and in greater part with qipus.”
It was Sarmiento de Gamboa in his Historia de los Incas, who wrote in 1572, “a very great diligence is attributed to the Pachacuti Inga Yupangui, ninth Inca, who made a general call to all the old historians of all the provinces he had conquered and even of many more of all those kingdoms, and had them in the city of Cuzco a great while examining them on antiquities origin and notable things of their past kingdoms. And after, he made them paint by his order on large boards and set aside in the House of the Sun a great wall where the boards were kept, and were embellished with gold, they were like our libraries, and he constituted doctors who knew how to understand and declare them.”
    De la Jara maintains that these boards were painted with the geometric designs of the logographic signs, in the manner of the painted ceremonial vases called keros, which she believed were transcriptions of the content of the boards. Whether geometric designs, such as the tocapu, or some other form of painted objects, people or glyphs, it is obvious that the doctors (camayoc) who “knew how to understand and declare them” were needed that the paintings could be read and narrated so the people could understand what was written on the boards. These boards were eventually sent to Spain by order of the Viceroy Toledo and have subsequently disappeared—only the woven symbols and the kero remain.
It is also of interest that the very critique of the experts on the Peruvian textile designs as being “familiar,” “lacking freshness or originality,” “mass-produced art,” “designs almost mechanically imprinted,” are the very cause of an understanding as to their not being art in the traditional sense, but that, according to John Alden Mason (The Ancient Civilizations of Peru, Penguin, New York, 1991) their deliberate repetition gives rise to the understanding that they are, in fact, geometric symbols that form a system of signs that have interpretive meaning to those who understand them.
    In a Compendium of World History, Vol 2, a Dissertation presented to the faculty of the Ambassador College Graduate School of Education in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Philosophy, Herman L. Hoeh in 1969, wrote: “Modern scholars have done little to acquaint us with the true history of early Peru. In the early centuries following the Spanish conquest of Peru and neighboring regions, many native records came into the possession of the conquerors. The assumption that the Incas knew only how to tie knots in a string to remind them of the past is absurd.”
    According to Hoeh, The modern view of Peruvian history is that it cannot be established more than a century before the commencement of the Spanish colonial period. Archaeologists have done amazingly well in recovering cultural artifacts buried in the ground, but they have thus far been unwilling to associate what they find with early Peruvian history found in the authentic Indian records by the conquerors. The slightest study of Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa's 'History of the Incas' would have confirmed the accuracy of his outline. Archaeology everywhere substantiates the written record wherever it has been carefully preserved.
Sir Clements Markham (left) has contributed heavily toward Inca and Pre-Inca studies by his two books 'The Incas of Peru' and 'History of the Incas.' The former contains the list of kings from the beginning as preserved by Montesinos. It gives just over 100 names out of which nearly 80% have the lengths of reign preserved. Montesinos did not give sufficient information to establish every reign, but the list is so nearly complete that it is not at all difficult to determine contemporary events between Peru and the rest of the world. The latter volume preserves an invaluable outline of the Inca period.
    Once again, the idea that the early Spaniards would have recognized such a writing system is beyond credibility, no more than they thought the Aztecs or Mayan had a written language from what they first saw. And once accepted by search and failure over time, becomes an accepted “fact.” Thus, the Inca had no written language of the type the invaders would have  understood, and, in fact, they did not at that time. Whether or not there were those who knew about the written script of the pre-Inca period at the time of the Spanish arrival, is unknown, though surely there would have been some information somewhere since Montesinos was able to uncover it though it took many years of hard research among the Inca themselves, at least some of which heard the stories or knew the legends.
    As an example, one of those legends was that Titu Yupanqui Pachacuti fought a bloody battle, but was defeated and died shortly afterwards. His soldiers took his body secretly to Tamputoco. Cusco was uninhabited and was forgetting the secret of writing guarded by amautas. Four centuries later, the Inca Tupac Pachacuti Cauri one day consulted the oracle of God Illatici Huira Cocha, in order to restore the use of writing. But he revealed that the cause of a major disaster that had once affected the Empire "were the lyrics, since then no one had dared to resurrect because its use had indeed been a great misfortune."
    Tupac Cauri then ordered by a law "under penalty of death, was no longer yo use 'quilca' or vegetable leaves that were used to write or use in any way the letters."
The famed Pusharo Wall with his many glyphs inscrived upon it, none of which have yet to be interpreted
 Another legend, based on a partial interpretation of some of the glyphs on the Pusharo rock, which is believed by some that they are almost related to a conventional and phonetic writing system, is that many centuries before the Incas a writing system emerged and was used for some time as discussed numerous chronicles and based on painted sticks and batons—a system that implicated an original form of pictograms or qilcas. However, during the period of Tawantinsuyo era, it was lost; that is, when the Inca came to power, the system disappeared.
    Another stems from the well-known Peruvian archaeologist Rafael Larco Hoyle, who was the first studying pre-Inca signs to interpret them as a class of alphabetic signs. He preferably explored and studied the archeological Mochica sites of Northern Peru, and thus discovered that the Andeans often used little painted sticks obviously covered with ideographic signs: straight or uneven lines, circles, stripe; in short, all the thematic of the glyphs covering the Pusharo wall! The latter could therefore be remote memories of an ancient alphabetic language. On ancient Mochica sculptured pottery artifacts, Larco Hoyle identified Chaski figures, the official messengers that precisely delivered those painted batons that were always surrounded with stick representations. Some of their wooden bags were found later containing batons, quartz gravers to incise them and a white powder to make the inscriptions stand out.
    Another is that Luis Valcarcel advanced the theory that the holy scripture of the Incas was called: kellka, or quilca. It became popular and, abandoning his esotericism, it was banned under the influence of the priestly class or did not survive the catastrophes that caused it to become forgotten. Valcarcel considers that the term kellka must necessarily refer to a hieroglyphic writing system.
    There is also a very strong belief among some researchers that focus on the quellqa writing system, and the reasons why the Incas preferred the quipu to a more flexible system of writing. Montesinos used data from the chronicles of the period of Spanish conquest and the views of modern researchers is that probably the use of quellqa was banned by the order of Inca Pachacutec Yupanqui or Inca Tupac Yupanqui around 1470 in connection with the subjugation of the powerful Chimú state in northern Peru and among its allies. The aim of the Incas was to prevent a wider spread of this system of information exchange, which was readily available and convenient to use. In its stead, the Incas favored the use of the traditional mnemotechnical device quipu, which was known to the previous civilizations in Peru, because its practical uses were limited. The teaching, learning, and use of the quipu were subjected to the strict control of a special organ of government. This served the political interests of the early totalitarian state.
    In addition, According to John Denison Baldwin (Pre-Historic Nations, Harper and Brothers, New York, 1872), both Montesinos and archaeologist Charles Etienne Brsseur de Bourbourg (who published the Popol Vuh in 1861) say the Peruvians had an accurate measure of the solar year and a knowledge of the art of writing together with paper made of banana leaves at least 1800 years before our era. 
It might also be of interest to know that at Chincan there was an image resembling a form of writing. At first  it was perceived as ordinary vandalism by the tourists who thought it was done with white paint. However, having performed a more thorough examination and especially after pouring water on this part of the rock, it appeared that the writing was quite old and although made in a rather careless way it looked like equations written on a blackboard with white chalk. It was a surprise to unveil that white paint had nothing to do with the writing since the inscription was accomplished with an unknown method similar to etching. It was found that the writing, in fact, was represented with the whitish crystalin formation incorporated into the stone structure. Unfortunately it was impossible either to get a scraping or a sample of the writing since it would lead to the partial destruction of the inscription.
In the area of Myumarca tower at Sacsahuaman, the archaeologists found an Andesite stone block with an ornament on it, with the writing structure and style reminding them of the crystalin writing in Chincan. Whether any of this can eventually be shown as a written script, as the Mayan writing glyps eventually were, remains to be seen. The Inca destroyed the records of those they conquered, the Spanish destroyed the records of the Inca, and we are left today with a spattering of early chroniclers who may or may not have had their own agendas to feather during the occupation and their working to secure their own places in that movement. Montesinos was certainly not one of themhis works show an entirely different capability of the early Peruvians and the first Incas.

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