Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Most Famous Andean Temple – Part II

Continuing from the previous post, “The Most Famous Andean Temple – Part I,” regarding the original pre-Inca period temple built in the Huatanay (Watanay) River Valley, that is the Cuzco Valley, located on the eastern end of the Knot of Cusco, where anciently the Killke culture first settled. At the time of the Spanish invasion, the Pre-Inca peoples and even the Inca themselves, filled the temple grounds with a fabulous wealth in life-sized statues and figurines of people, animals and plant life made of gold, silver and copper.
     Toward the west of the Illapa sanctuary on these grounds is the Temple of K'uychi (Rainbow), which size and characteristics were similar to those of the original, but it was partially mutilated on its northwest portion in order to build the Dominican Convent.
The famous stone of twelve angles, a most remarkable engineering fete in ancient Peru that attracts tourists from all over the world. It was part of the wall of the Inca Roca before the Spanish conquest
The Quechua name of this area is Tuq’ukachi which means “the opening of the salt.” The street of Hatun Rumiyuq, meaning “the one with the big stone,” is the most visited by tourists today. Here was the palace of Inca Roca, which was converted by the Spanish to the Archbishop’s residence. Along this street that runs from the Plaza de Armas to the Barrio de San Blas, one can see the “Stone of Twelve Angles,” which is viewed as a marvel of ancient stonework and has become emblematic of the city's history.
    In ancient Cuzco, the Rainbow was another important symbol, elevated to one of divinity during Incan Society because it was considered to have come from the sun, therefore, the Inca emperors adopted it as their emblem because they boasted of being descendants of the Sun.
    In the "Tawantinsuyo" they used an Unancha, that is, an emblem or flag having the seven colors of the rainbow; that banner was recovered and today is used as Qosqo City's flag. That temple was completely adorned with gold and over one of its walls there was a rainbow painted over the gold plates covering the whole temple. In the Peruvian Andes there are popular beliefs that are effective since immemorial times regarding the rainbow, and today there are numerous legends and myths surrounding the symbol.
    On the lateral eastern side there is a trapezoidal window coinciding exactly in size, shape, height and level with the two of the Illapa temple, creating an excellent perspective. Those three windows are leveled; for leveling Quechuas used water based devices. Water was stored in a ceramic jar with two small holes as finders in two opposing ends that constituted an incipient but useful level.
All that remains visible today is the foundation wall around the current Santo Domingo cathedral the Spanish built atop the pre-Inca masonry. The original, round stone wall is clearly seen at the base of the cathedral
    Between the K'uychi and Illapa temples there is an open area in which on the rear wall are three finely carved channels to which tradition and popular imagination call "phonic channels" because when being hit they emit "different musical notes". However, those channels on the original ground level served for draining rain waters concentrated in the complex's central patio, similar channels are found in all the complexes or buildings that did not have rooves.
    Obviously, inside the whole complex there were different enclosures for the "Willaq Uma" (High Priest) and the other lesser priests. During Inca times, these spaces were used for sheltering the different idols coming from the conquered, submitted or incorporated nations that were concentrated inside the Qorikancha. In this way, the Inca allowed the cult of conquered people, so that if there were rebellion attempts in the conquered nations, reprisals in Qosqo were against their gods, producing the religious intimidation that gave many benefits to the Inca.
    In the complex's southern sector there was a terracing that reached even as far as the edge of the channeled Saphi River (today the river flows beneath the Avenida el Sol). The terraces were part of the Qorikancha's Solar Garden which was probably the most extraordinary example of wealth found in this temple. It was a very special garden because it contained samples of the regional flora and fauna and even persons sculpted in natural size, made of gold and silver.
    Garcilaso and other chroniclers wrote that there were many animals, from insects to mammals; plants, from small flowers to native trees; children, men and women, and numerous other precious metal objects made by Quechua goldsmiths occupying this exceptional garden. Until some decades ago it was argued that chroniclers had written many lies and fantasies about this; however, recent archaeological diggings carried out were slowly demonstrating the truth as some golden plant and animal shaped artifacts were found. The magnificence, quality and amount of objects in this garden astounded all the conquerors that saw it. Of course, that did not keep the Spanish from ruining and looting the garden and its objects, which were melted down in order to make coins or bars to facilitate their transportation to Spain. That is one of the reasons why in the Peruvian museums there are not important Inca artifacts of precious metals.
    It is evident that the Qorikancha was the richest, most elaborate and dazzling temple of the pre-Inca period, where they concentrated and displayed the gold and silver of their territory, which arrived as offerings for the sacred city and the temple. During Inca times, gold and silver did not have economic value, only the beauty and prestige of their grandeur as did colored conch shells or "mullu" (genus Spondylus gaederopus) that came from the Ecuadorian coasts; they were highly appraised because they represented the "Qochamama" or "Mother Sea."
    Anciently, Peruvian gold was easily found in deposits near rivers, panned in stream beds, and exposed nuggets lying on the surface, as well as in ores mixed with silver and copper. By Inca times, it was extracted from diverse veins or mines, but still being panned in the Amazonian rivers where gold is found as dust or nuggets among the sand. In these later times, gold dust was concentrated or brought together with mercury and then burned at high temperatures in order to liberate the gold from mercury. The use of mercury among Quechuas was very controlled due to its harmfulness. Today, both gold and silver is still abundant in the Andean Countries, which have an important production of that metal.
    Also in this vast temple complex there were five water fountains, in which flowed clean water transported through underground channels from springs or sources kept completely secret. During Inca times, those water fountains had religious duties as water was another deity in the Andean Religion; they were also adorned with precious metals, had golden spillways, and large gold and silver jars. In colonial times the water was dried up as a consequence of lack of maintenance and deliberate Spanish destruction.
    Garcilaso indicates that he saw just one of them: the last one which Dominican monks used to irrigate their vegetable garden. Since 1975, the convent and church were reconstructed, at the same time some archaeological digs were performed uncovering one of the five original fountains, located before the "solar round building,” that tapped into the two rivers that had been channeled around the city, still flowed through its finely carved conduits. It is possible that in the future remains of the other fountains described by Garcilaso will be located.
    Until 1990 most of the Solar Garden's space was covered by different buildings; thanks to a law that was put into effect by the end of the 1980s, the central government and especially the Qosqo's Municipality bought the lands and houses of the sector and some archaeological works were carried out in an attempt to “uncover the Peruvian past” and more of the temple Cieza de Leon said, “...was one of the rich temples existing in the world."
    In the middle of the cloister's central patio is an eight-sided fountain carved in a single andesite piece that according to some historians was of Inca manufacture; however, its shape and characteristics are not classical in Incan stonemasonry. Far more likely, it was pre-Inca, as would have been the gold and silver imagery in the garden and the base of the colonial addition of St. Dominic Church.
    One of the important factors in all of this is the timing. Pedro Cieza de León was in Peru from 1536 to 1551; Gómez Suárez de Figueroa, known as Inca Garcilaso de la Vega was in Peru from 1539 to 1560; and Vicente de Valverde y Alvarez de Toledo (Vincent de Valley Viridi), a Spanish Dominican friar, who was involved in the Conquest of the Americas, was named Protector of the Natives and Inquisitor in 1536, the year that the Holy See established Cuzco as the seat of the first diocese of the Catholic Church in South America, covering the entire continent, up to modern Nicaragua. Emperor Charles V, named Valverde as the first Bishop of Cuzco, and Pope Paul III ratified this choice in a consistory held in January 1537.
    Valverde then returned to Peru in 1538, two years after Cieza first arrived in Cuzco. In 1539, and one year before Garcilaso was born in Cuzco, the first, small cathedral was begun on the grounds of the original temple and completed a year later. The main cathedral construction was not started until 1559 and took almost a century to complete, using blocks pilfered from the nearby site of Sacsayhuaman. Today it is joined by Iglesia del Triunfo, 1539 to its right and Iglesia de Jesus Maria, 1733, to the left.
    Thus, the pre-Inca temple, which the Inca occupied until their defeat by the Spanish, stood until 1559, eight years after Cieza’s death, and when Garcilaso was twenty years old, one year before he left Cuzco for Spain. This should suggest to all that both Cieza and Garcilaso’s descriptions of the temple and its grounds were both first hand views of the site and personal experiences within the temple and grounds and the palace next to it of which they both wrote.

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