Friday, February 9, 2018

The Intriguing Pachacamac

Pachacamac, known in Quechua as Pacha Kamaq, was the creator deity worshipped by the early Peruvians long before the Inca came to power, and thought to be the son of the ancient creator-God Viracocha. Pacha-Kamaq literally means “Earth-Mover,” or “Maker of the Earth,” and considered by the ancients as the only true God, the “Maker or Creator of the Earth,” and also creator of the Sun and the Moon and the first man and woman.
The once magnificent temple and city complex known as Pachacamac, near Lima, Peru

The Temple and site complex south of Lima called Pachacamac dates to about 200 B.C. to 600 A.D., and built overlooking a colonnaded plaza and sitting on an eight-level platform on a natural hill, the temple buildings must have dominated the site. Each level of the adobe brick platform is around three feet high, and painted in bright colors with plant and animal designs. The figures were made more striking by outlining them in black. The temple was well-maintained as some areas of decoration show as many as 16 re-coats. Buildings on the highest platform were arranged around a courtyard, and some were used as accommodation.
    This complex was dedicated to Pachacamac, who is the “judge of the human race,” according to the ancients of Peru, and in some areas was called Con, and in others Inti, and still others Virococha. Among the ancient Peruvians there was a tradition analogous to the narrative of Genesis, as to the construction of an ark, and the preservation of a small portion of the human family from total ruin. There also prevailed the belief that the end of the world would come after a frightful famine, that the sun would be obscured and the moon fall into our planet, and that everything would be left enveloped in thick darkness.
 In opposition to the Supreme Being, and therefore, as the Peruvian religion considered, to Pachacamac, who was the infinite essence, endowed with ineffable and innumerable attributes, the ancients of Peru also believed in the existence of another being, of evil disposition and very powerful, animated with an inextinguishable hatred against the human race, and disposed to injure them as much as possible. This being, who, by the character attributed to him, reminds one of the Hebrew Lucifer or Satan of the Jews.
    The worship of Pachacamac was much more widely extended than historians suppose, and we may safely say that he was the Deity most popular and most respected by the Peruvian people generally; while the religion of the sun was that of the Inca, a later worship which, although generally recognized by the ancients, never succeeded in eradicating their faith in and devotion to their primary divinity. In fact, in all the accounts of the life of the early Peruvians there may be seen that profound respect which they paid Pachacamac.
Upon the birth of a child, they raised him in their arms, offering him to this Deity, and imploring his protection for the new-born infant. According to Mariano Edward de Rivero, a native Peruvian, and Dr. John James von Tschudi, in Peruvian Antiquities (George P. Putnam & Co., New York, 1853, p158), “When a Peruvian ascended a hill or elevation, he unburdened himself of his load upon reaching the summit, made the usual reverences preceding the invocation of the name of Pachacamac, and bowing himself repeated three times the word "Apachicta," which was the abbreviation for Apachicta muchhani; which means, "I adore him who enables me to endure—I give thanks to him who has given me strength to endure thus far;" and at the same time he presented to the Apachic or Pachacamac an offering, which consisted either of a hair which was drawn from the eye-lash, and blown into the air, or of the Coca which they chewed, or of a small twig or little straw, or of a small stone or a handful of earth.”
 The city complex and temple of Pachacamac attracted pilgrims from great distances to consult its oracle. According to Mark Cartwright in Pachacamac (Ancient History Encyclopedia, West Sussex, Great Britain, 2016), a High Priest interpreted the oracle from the privacy of a chamber only he was permitted to enter. Pilgrims had to undergo many weeks of initiation, fasting and cleansing rituals before they could be considered worthy of consulting the oracle.”
 The area has been described by Historian J. Alden Mason in The Ancient Civilizations of Peru (Penguin Books, New York, 1988), as “The Mecca of Ancient Peru,” and according to Cartwright, “Pilgrims were also expected to make offerings such as foodstuffs, coca, textiles, and any other precious goods they could afford. Indeed, the priests of Pachacamac established a network of subsidiary shrines throughout the region which received tributes from local populations. As at ancient oracles the world over, questions posed would have concerned the weather for agricultural purposes, warfare, health issues, family problems, and so on.”
Mason also described finds in tombs at Pachacamac of pottery and textiles coming from many different peoples such as those of the Lambayeque, Nazca, Wari, Tiwanaku, and Chimu, attesting to its wide-spread popularity and draw for Pilgrims. Eventually, the religious buildings spread with many shrines to lesser areas of importance and a residential area sprang up to cover an area of four-square miles, thus becoming the largest center in central and southern Peru. In the residential zones many of the floors and column bases, which must have supported roofs of matting, survive.
    Even in Inca times, the Peruvians believed in a great Creator Deity, whom they called Viracocha, or Apu Qun Tiqsi Wiraqutra and Con-Tici (Kon-Tiki). However, Viracocha was actually worshipped in Peru long before the Inca, but once the Inca rose to power, he was quickly brought into their idea of gods.
In Inca mythology the god gave a headdress and battle-axe to the first Inca ruler Manco Capac and promised that the Inca would conquer all before them. The god's name was also assumed by the king known as Viracocha Inca (died 1438 A.D.) and this may also be the time when he was formally added to the family of Inca gods. The Inca worshipped at their capital of Cuzco, Viracocha also had temples and statues dedicated to him at Caha and Urcos and sacrifices, quite often, llamas, were made to the god on important ceremonial occasions. As other Inca gods were more important for the daily life of common people, Viracocha was principally worshipped by the nobility, and then usually in times of political crisis.
    No doubt based on ancient legends and myths handed down, in art Viracocha is often depicted as an old bearded man wearing a long robe and supported by a staff. One of his earliest representations may be the weeping statue at the ruins of Tiwanaku, close to Lake Titicaca, the traditional site where all things were first created. Here, sculpted on the lintel of a massive gateway, the god holds thunderbolts in each hand and wears a crown with rays of the sun whilst his tears represent the rain. Another famous sculpture of the god was the gold three-quarter size statue at Cuzco which the Spanish described as being of a white-skinned bearded male wearing a long robe.
    Though Viracocha was one of many gods, he soon became one of the most important deities in the Inca pantheon and elevated to the Creator of all things, or the substance from which all things were created—he was, in fact, understood to be the father of all the other gods. He created the universe, sun, moon, and stars, the Earth, time and civilization itself.
    The Inca had many legends surrounding their gods, especially Viracocha, who was “great,” “all knowing,” “powerful,” and was similar to the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, all of which were considered to be “the White God,” whom the Inca confused Pizarro’s men when first encountered.
    Known in ancient Peruv variously as Pachacamac, Earth-maker, Kodo-yanpe, Pacharurac, Pacharurac, Pachayachachic, Pachayachachic, Teacher of the World, Ticci Viracocha or Aymara Yatin, the early Peruvians believed in a single, all-powerful, creator God, a fact which survived among certain groups down through many millennia, even to the time of the Inca, whose pantheon of gods was spread through the land by their conquering host until the idea of a single god was unknown and Pachacamac and Viracocha were relegated to secondary levels in their pantheon by the time the Spanish arrived.
    The important point about Pachacamac or Viracocha is that in ancient Peru and within the Andes long before much was known about the various early cultures, this Creator-God flourished in the minds, acts, and worship of these early Peruvians. Despite all the rhetoric to the contrary from archaeologists and anthropologists, the early Peruvians did not worship the sun, nor build temples to it, nor create pantheon of gods. They worshipped one, all-powerful God, the creator of Heaven and Earth, of all mankind, and gave him names to so signify. The intriguing Pachacamac or Viracocha reigned supreme in the heavens and was worshipped by mankind for more than two thousand years until he fell into the status level by the time the Spanish arrived.

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