Wednesday, July 15, 2015


The Spaniards conquered Peru over the course of several decades in an atmosphere of civil war and chaos.  The Incas had just concluded a war between two brothers, Atahualpa and Huascar when the Spanish arrived on the scene.  Atahualpa had just captured Huascar and was heading south to enter his capital, Cuzco, when he himself was made hostage by the Spanish.  Atahualpa then had Huascar murdered.  After extorting the proverbial king's ransom, the Spanish, in turn, murdered Atahualpa.  The Spanish next marched on Cuzco, the capital and Holy City of the Inca Empire, installing a puppet emperor.  Throughout the period the Incas scurried about trying to hide the most sacred religious items from defilement.     

Gold and silver had no monetary significance to the Incas.   They were considered sacred, with gold regarded as the sweat of the sun and silver as the tears of the moon.  Religious items were made of gold and silver, but they had no worth, other than artistic, to the common man. 

Huascar's Chain: On the occasion of Huascar's weaning ceremony, his father decreed that a gold chain be cast for the dancers to carry as they went through their ritual dance.  The chain later disappeared, never falling into the hands of the Spaniards, and in all probability guarded somewhere in the remote mountains.  The chain is described as being seven hundred feet long, twice the width and length of the great Square of Joy in Cuzco.  The two hundred dancers were scarcely able to raise it.

Atahualpa's Mug:  One of the Emperor Atahualpa's favorite possessions was the head of an enemy general named Atoc.  One of the Spaniards, Cristobal de Mena saw this "head with its skin, dried flesh and hair.  Its teeth were closed and held a silver spout.  On top of the head a golden bowl was attached.  Atahualpa used to drink from it when he was reminded of the wars waged against him by his brother.  They poured the chicha (beer) into the bowl and it emerged from the mouth, through the spout, from which he drank."

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