Friday, June 1, 2012

Legends of Peru—Four Brothers First Settled the Andes, Part I

Mesoamerican Theorists have inundated us with legends of ancient settlement, recorded in the 16th century by Fernando Alva de Cortes Ixtlilxochitl, the Lords of Totonicapan, and others; however, none remark of the earlier legends of the Andes in South America and, specifically, the Four Brothers who Settled the Andes, sometimes referred to as the Wandering.

First of all, the Book of Mormon tells us that 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 were born in the wilderness during an eight-year trek (1 Nephi 17:4; 18:7); however, they were quite young when they reached the Land of Promise for during the voyage, they still required much nourishment (1 Nephi 18:19). Certainly, only four adult brothers were among the Lehi Colony when it reached the Land of Promise.

This should suggest that we we should find something in the history or legends regarding the first settlers of this land as brothers, and we do in the Andes of South America, which parallels the events of the Book of Mormon quite closely.

Eight early and respected historians of Peru and the Andes give us a detailed account of the fundamental legends that came out of the Inca barrios of Cuzco at the time the Spaniards arrived. They are Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, Juan de Santa Cruz Pachacuti, Miguel Cabello Balboa, Pedro de Cieza de Leon and Juan de Betanzos, all wrote of these legends, as did Garcilaso de la Vega, Alonso Ramos Gavilan, and Martin de Moru. In fact, almost every chronicler has some reference to the story of the Wandering and the Four Brothers that settled the Andes.

 Those who wrote about the Legend of the Four Brothers included (LtoR) Gamboa, Pachacuti, Cieza de Leon and Balboa  

These early legends of the beginning, referred to as 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 indigenous natives (Indians).

Originally there were four sons 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.  Each of these original brothers was married to a "sister-wife" and they had a golden staff of "peculiar properties" which "informed them when their mission was at an end" by remaining fixed on an "unknown promised land toward which they were journeying."  En route "difficulties developed with the oldest and most troublesome of the brothers," who had been prevailed upon to return "to the place of origin to retrieve some golden vessels they had failed to bring with them."   And when one of the brothers was near death, he designated his grown son as his heir and successor.

As recorded by these historians, this legend dates to a people who spoke a pre-Quechua language and considered themselves indigenous to the valley of Cuzco, yet pre-dated the Inca Empire by many centuries. They considered themselves unwarlike, but chose leaders who were "war-leaders," and whose services were not hired or paid. The leading brother of the four was elected to be the war-leader and his great successes earned him the coveted title of capac, or chieftan, which was an honorific title of true eminence. Later, this brother moved further away and appointed one of his brothers 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. There was a brother who did not combine with the league of three, and a long-lasting dualism occurred between the two groups.  Each group cherished a separate history, which carried down even into Inca times.  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," and who perfected the ritual huarachicoy or breechcloth ceremony.  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.  They were galled by envy and 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 as early as the 16th century.  Obviously, the legends have been enhanced with exotic additions, had survived more than a thousand years after the demise of the Nephite Nation by the time Sarmiento and others recorded them, yet enough remains to draw some interesting parallels with the Book of Mormon.

(See the next post, “Legends of Peru—Four Brothers First Settled the Andes, Part II,” for the comparison of this early Peruvian legend with the Book of Mormon)

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