Sunday, June 14, 2020

The White Indians of Peru – Part III

Continued from the previous post regarding the white Indians of the Chahapoyas in northern Peru.
Map of the sites mentioned the article

Despite being a common pattern for the Chachapoya settlements in the Utcubamba Valley, in northern Peru, only Kuelap represents the unique buildings, such as the outer wall, the Templo Mayor, the Torreón and others that distinguish it from other settlements. In addition, the Chachapoya funerary pattern is characterized by several forms of burial: the mausoleum or collective tomb and the sarcophagus or unipersonal sepulcher of anthropomorphic exterior appearance (animals and non-human characters given human characteristics), many of which have polychromy (several colors) and geometric (lines and shapes) or figurative (symbolic) ornamentation.
Cliffside tombs and funerary carvings and figures of Chachapoya cliffs overlooking their settlement

The Chachapoya along the eastern slopes of the northeastern Andes mountains of Peru (also known as the montaña or ceja de selva-the "eyebrow of the jungle") did not bury their dead in the ground, but in seemingly impossible to reach tombs and constructed citadels built into the stone of cliff sides at Tajopampa, Diablo Wasi, and La Petaca, the latter having 125-150 structures located on the largest open rock escarpment, plus two other rock faces almost impossible to reach. These complex tombs, built into the vertical cliff sides, would have been extremely difficult to construct.
Modern-day workers precariously working on an ancient cliff tomb. How ancient man did this initial work is amazing

To do so, they likely walked along the rock ledges, cutting stone out to widen the pathways and used the cut stone to build the tombs. Once completed, they filled the tombs by carrying up bodies of family members, with adults and children buried together, including both males and females. The tombs had open chambers, platforms and, surprisingly, walkways that connected groups of tombs.
    These elaborate tombs and citadels, decorated with colorful pictographs, contained the mummies of ancient people who placed prepared human remains wrapped in textiles into constructed collective tombs and individually crafted mausoleums along cliff faces. These funerary sites are also found in Purunllaca, Monte Viudo, Huayabamba, and Los Pinchudos.
    These burials were located in isolated places like in the hollows and cliffs, caves or natural galleries or excavated adjacent to precipices; being inaccessible, but very visible at a distance.
Some of the jungle-covered cliff tombs at Tajopampa
 
Tajopampa is located close to La Petaca, an enormous cliff which has been featured on the Discovery and History Channels and the BBC Lost Kingdoms of South America. Beyond and south of La Petaca is another cliff tomb site called Diablo Wasi (Huasi), and near there, another site called Boveda. These, like similar earthen terraces in Colombia, Ecuador and eastern Peru, were surrounded by many ancient terraces designed to manage runoff drainage rather than support irrigation.
    In fact, the pre-Columbian Andes are renowned for agricultural terrace systems in areas of steep terrain. These terrace technologies were adapted to different landscapes with thre different systems within a 30-mile area in the central Chachapoyas. 
    While the terraces are similar, the architectural style of its settlements and funerary buildings differentiates Chachapoyas from other contemporary Andean and Peruvian Amazonian societies, and is still a symbol of local, regional and national identity. Its architecture reveals an architectural pattern or autochthonous style shared between the curacazgos and the social differences within them.
Chachapoya, the Warriors of the Clouds in the high mountains shrouded in clouds and mist

The white indigenous Peruvian Chachapoya culture, were also referred to as “Warriors of the Clouds” because they made their home in the Amazonian cloud forests—are mainly known today for what they built: fortified hilltop fortresses and intricate sarcophagi overlooking their villages from sheer, inaccessible cliff sides. The little we know about their existence before the arrival of the Spanish comes to us via an oral history passed along by the Inca to their Spanish conquerors (the victorious version of history).
Top: The placement of Chachapoya sarcophagi in cliff sides in northern Peru reminiscent of the (Bottom) Anasazi or Puebloans Cliffside dwellings in the four corners area of the southwestern United States 

Francisco de Orellana, another Spanish conqueror who was best known for being the first known person who navigated the entire length of the Amazon River, which initially was named "Rio de Orellana," also founded the city of Guayaquil in what is now Ecuador.
He was a close friend and possibly a relative of Francisco Pizarro, and recorded a description of the white Chachapoya, stating the Cloud People were much taller than the Spaniards, and had extremely light skin and blonde hair. These facts continue to puzzle modern day scientists, as there is no evidence of previous Europeans in this area of the world before the Cloud People.
    Most attempts at learning more about the Chachapoya have been in vain. Most burial sites and archeological discoveries had been so heavily looted that little was left to learn from them. The Cloud people also left no evidence of a written language, which means that no record of the internal workings of war or daily life can be found.
    In 2006, archeologists made a breakthrough discovery. In an underground burial site found deep inside a cave, contained five Chachapoya mummies, two of which were completely intact with skin and hair. The discovery of these mummies verified not only the height and skin type of the Cloud People, but it also showed a lot about their ever so intricate racial makeup.
Thanks to the arid climate of the Cloud Forests in Peru, statues of wood, stone carvings and other rare artifacts have been discovered that show a little more about this legendary tribe. It is now thought that the Chachapoya wore woolen clothes and always donned a llautos (wool turban), to let local tribes and people know who they were.
    The most recent discovery in uncovering the secrets behind the Cloud People was made in 2008. The ruins of a lost Chachapoya city were accidentally uncovered by locals who were chopping their way through the thick forest in search for a nearby waterfall. The settlement is over 12 acres in size, and is situated in an extremely remote part of northern jungles of the Peruvian Amazon. The Citadel sits at the very edge of a huge mountain side, the location is said to be so the Cloud People could look out for oncoming enemies.
    Although the buildings are said to be over 1000 years old, they are in remarkably good condition, and in some cases the full original rock paintings can still be seen. Each of the ‘houses’ is built in the traditional Chachapoya style, with round stones and small slit windows. Small platforms situated next to some of the buildings, paired with the evidence in the rock paintings, lead archeologists to believe that the Cloud People had a diet rich in ground plants and seeds. There is still so much to be discovered about the white-skinned Cloud People of Peru, but there has been some amazing scientific and archeological process in the last 10 years and hopefully there’s much more to come.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, could you please link to any studies done on these mummies? Can't find any pictures or studies

    Thanks! Very interesting read

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