Thor heyerdahl'S '' american indians in the pacific '' part V: traces of caucasion-like elements in pre-inca peru

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Comparative chronology limits the Polynesian sphere of influence


......The period of Polynesian expansion comes too late in the history of mankind to permit a boat-load of stone club warriors to create a lasting impression or effect any changes among organised civilisations in the outside world. This is a quite obvious and conclusive reply to the constantly recurring claims that there is evidence of Polynesian influence in Peru. If we analyse the question whether the complex Polynesian island culture may not be receiver rather than the giver in its relation to early Peru, we shall find that this alternative view implies not merely that the voyage went away from Peru with a favourable wind and current, but also that we automatically shall have to consider a completely different time level for the Polynesian contact with Peru.
Polynesia and the chronology of Peru


If the Polynesians had come from the Old World, and pushed east until a small group reached Peru, they would have reached it at the end of their migratory expansion; but if they moved the other way and entered the ocean from Peru, they must have left Peru at the very beginning of their migratory epoch. We have seen that the fifth century marks the approximate era when the first migrants entered Polynesia, and that the eastern outpost, represented by Easter Island, was settled at the very opening of this period by men who declared that they had come from a scorched land far to the east, fifty-seven generations before the turn of the last century, according to local genealogy.
We do not know just when the Incas came into power, but we have a guide in the fact that the hierarchy of Peru was also founded on ancestral worship, with a dynasty who claimed divine origin and thus kept careful track of their own genealogies and family lines. The late arriving Quzco Incas, just like the late arriving Maori-Polynesians, added their own genealogy on to that of their cultured predecessors merely as a subsequent line, [Means 1920 b.]

Bennett [1949] dates the actual Inca rulers from about 1250 A. D., and Means [1920 b, p. xiv] from about 1100 A. D. Even if we allow a fair margin and include more doubtful names in the actual Inca lines, we must admit that a local period corresponding to the fifth century expulsion to Polynesia takes us back to a definite pre-Incaic period in Peru, when not only iron but even bronze and other hard metals were unknown, and when the Peruvian stone adzes were still in use as in early Neolithic times, because the gold, silver, and copper of the Tiahuanaco periods were all too soft to compete with the better quality of a hard polished stone-blade. [Bennett and Bird 1949, p. 193; Kroeber 1930 a, p. 109.] As well is known, the subsequent Inca had attained a bronze-age culture, but they never reached the iron-age until the arrival of the Spaniards. Iron was never worked in any part of the aboriginal Americas.

.......We know with equal certainty that in the middle of the first millennium A.D. leading cultures, some of which surpassed and inspired the subsequent culture of the Incas in their artistic taste and architectural achievement, began active trade relations along the Pacific desert coast of South America, as well as back and forth between the coast and the interior highlands of the Andes. The essential local cultures of this important pre-Inca period were the Early Chimu on the coast of northern Peru, and the Early Nazca on the same coast further south, the Chavin of the northern highlands of interior Peru, and the early Tiahuanaco of the same interior plateaux further to the south.
One of the most outstanding, vigorous, and widespread of these pre-Inca cultures was that of Tiahuanaco, whose external influences are traceable over vast continental territories of Pacific South America.

Both Bennett [1943, p. 326] and Kroeber [1944, p. 115] show that archaeology reveals the existence, before the era of the Incas, of the two great expansion periods in Peru, when in turn each of the two main highland cultures, the Tiahuanaco and the Chavin, spread to attain pan-Peruvian influence. It is furthermore generally agreed that there were also at least two main phases of Tiahuanaco culture.


We thus see that the Tiahuanaco Empire is thought to have expanded its power down to the Pacific coast of Peru at a period roughly coinciding with the first colonisation of Easter Island and the other

........But I would like to insist that in the early generations when man first fled into the open East Pacific Ocean, there were outstanding high cultures fighting for possession of the coastal stretch of Pacific South America, where refugee families, as will be demonstrated later, had no means of concealment in the open desert country, but had the advantage that they could embark in their coastal fishing-craft to seek escape by the sea.

....Peruvian archaeologists, basing their calculations upon the early results of Uhle, Tello, and others, have long shown that the ancient local high-cultures, like the Early Chimu and the Tiahuanaco I, flourished in Peru as early as 200-300 A.D., or about two or three centuries before culture reached Polynesia.. The newly invented method of testing the antiquity of fabrics and vegetable compounds by the “Carbon-14 method” has enabled recent archaeologists to push these Peruvian time limits for local culture back at least another two thousand years. Thus Dr. Junius Bird of the American Museum of Natural History [see also Bennett and Bird 1949], has informed me that remains of cultivated plants, like Gossypium barbadense, Lagenaria siceraria, Cucurbita ficifolia, and C. mosschata, as well as remains of bark-cloth, were found by him at the base of a fifty foot refuse mound on the coastline of Chicama Valley, Peru, and that his own guess as to the antiquity of these remains, later supported by radio-carbon tests, places them in a period between 3000 and 1000 B.C. [J.B.Bird: Letter 28th March 1949; and viva voce.]

The Approaches to information on the Inca predecessors


If the many so-called “Oceanic” elements in Peru actually should prove to be wind-and sea-borne “Peruvian” elements in Oceania, then their occurrence in Polynesia should be investigated with the same objectivity as the same objectivity as the wind- and sea-borne Polynesian elements further down in Melanesia. There will be no valid excuse for ignoring the possibility of Peru-Polynesian diffusion the moment we reverse the process and bring elements of great continental high-cultures to small unoccupied oceanic islands, not up towards the east but “downhill” with the winds and the current, and not in an impossible period when the Incas dominated Peru, but in considerably earlier and Neolithic Tiahuanaco, Chiu or Nazca centuries.

To look to Peru for aboriginal Pacific explorers or castaways who included red-haired uru-kehu individuals and types more Caucasian-like than even the Maori himself, seems a rather discouraging prospect, at the very best. The physical features of the known Indian tribes of coastal and inland Peru are less Caucasian-like and more Mongoloid than all Maori-Polynesian and most Northwest Indian tribes, at least with regard to hair texture and colour, facial expression, and skin. We might therefore have been led to ignore and overlook any further possibilities in this direction, had not a number of factors to be discussed in later parts urged the impression that, even if there were no apparent racial evidence, there was certainly sufficient cultural evidence in early Peru to require a second glance in that direction. Urged by accumulated archaeological [Part VI] and botanical [Part VII] data, we reconsidered the possibility of what we had first judged to be a fantastic idea, that red-haired culture-people, sharing their general characteristics with the Caucasian rather than the Mongol race, might have been present in pre-Inca Peru although unknown locally in historic time.

Naturalistic portraiture of models seen by Early Chimu artists some 1500 years ago in aboriginal Peru showed that Caucasian-like types were represented among them although unfamiliar among the local pure-bred Indians of today. [See Plates XXVI-XXVII.] This in itself was a most surprising and stimulating fragment of prehistoric information. Next, by turning our attention to the well preserved Peruvian mummies from the desert tombs at Paracas and other pre-Inca necropoli from later centuries B.C. and the earlier centuries A.D., we found that one of the problems they offered modern science was the colour and structure of their hair.[See Plates XXXIV- XXXVI] Among those best preserved, which had been kept away both from light and from contact with the sand, some had the coarse, straight and black hair of the Mongol and the average modern Peruvian Indian, but there were also a great number with reddish-brown hair [sometimes interspersed with yellow], and with a fine, silky and sometimes even clearly wavy texture.[Wilson 1862, Vol. II, pp.228,235,246,; Busk 1873, p.313; Reiss and Stübel 1880-87, Pl. 16,17; Dawson 1928, p.127; Trotter 1943, pp.69-75;etc.]
The pre-Incaic importance of the cult site at Tiahuanaco


......we may note what Sarmiento de Gamboa [1572, p.40], a famous navigator as well as chronicler, and familiar with the native Peruvian aristocracy after the Spanish Conquest, wrote in his early History of the Incas:

“ supply the want of letters these barbarians had a curious invention which was very good and accurate. This was that from one to the other, from father to sons, they handed down past events, repeating the story of them many times, just as lessons are repeated from a professor's chair, making the hearers say these historical lessons over and over again until they were fixed in the memory. Thus each one of the descendants continued to communicate the annals in the order described with a view to preserving their histories and deeds, their ancient traditions, the number of their tribes, towns, provinces, their days, months and years, their battles, deaths, destructions, fortresses and “Sinchis”. Finally they recorded, and they still record, the most notable things which consist in their numbers [or statistics], on certain cords called Quipu, which is the same to say reasoner or accountant. On these cords they make certain knots by which, and by differences of colour, they distinguish and record each thing as by letters. It is a thing to be admired to see what details may be recorded on these cords, for which there are masters like our writing masters.


It is clear that the mobile culture-bearers behind such a dynamic high-culture, which in its art and architecture surpassed [but inspired] the culture of the subsequent Incas, must have included individuals with outstanding intelligence, abilities and ambitions, which cannot be judged by the low standards of the historically known Aymara -[Colla-] Indians of the district. Nor do these local Indians make the slightest claim of descent from the architects and founders of Tiahuanaco, although the colossal ruins are the central element in all their traditions and religious beliefs, just as they were to the aboriginal population in wide regions during the early Inca Empire.

The legendary reference to “white and bearded men”


In 1863, Bollaert wrote in his paper on “The pre-Incarial Ruins of Tia Huanaco” [p.235]: “There are vague traditions that Tia Huanaco was built by white and bearded men.” Describing the same ancient ruins, Inwards [1884, p.32] states with Humboldt that “ the arrival of the Spaniards the natives attributed the construction of them to a race of white and bearded men who inhabited the ridge of the Cordilleras long before the foundation of the empire of the Incas.”
During the first generations after the Conquest, however, the myths and traditions of the legendary pre-Incas were still alive in Peru, and when the famous historian Prescott began to analyse the early Spanish documents and manuscripts in the archives of the Royal Academy of History at Madrid, he came to the following conclusion concerning the early Inca beliefs [1847,Vol.I,p.9]:

“The story of the bearded white men finds its place in most of their legends.” he also wrote[Ibid]: “ Another legend speaks of certain white and bearded men, who, advancing from the shores of Lake Titicaca, established an ascendancy over the natives, and imparted to them the blessings of civilisation. It may remind us of the tradition existing among the Aztecs in respect to Quetzalcoatl, the good deity, who with a similar garb and aspect came up the great plateau from the east on a like benevolent mission to the natives. The analogy is more remarkable, as there is no trace of any communication with, or even knowledge of, each other to be found in the two nations.”


The memory of the hero-god Viracocha was vividly preserved among aborigines in wide regions of the former Inca Empire, even through the last century, and in many places Viracocha stories still survive to-day among the elder natives. A good synopsis of the Viracocha-traditions is included in Brinton's monograph American Hero-Myths. [1882, pp.169-202.]

Brinton [Ibid., p.192] quotes Zegarra, a leading contemporaneous Peruvian scholar, in saying: “The tradition was that Viracocha's face was extremely white and bearded.” Brinton adds himself: “There is, indeed, a singular uniformity of statement in the myths. Virachocha, under any and all his surnames, is always described as white and bearded, dresses in flowing robes and of imposing mien.”
Beyond his growth of beard and his lighter skin there was nothing strange in Viracocha's own build, yet he taught his Peruvian followers to change artificially their natural visage. Bandalier [1910,pp.304,305], who collected the Titicaca island legend of the expelled Viracocha “gentlemen”, also pointed out that in several myths Viracocha himself was remembered as the chief of a “large-eared” people that were the first inhabitants of Titicaca Island. These Islanders called themselves Ringrim, signifying “ear” since their ears were perforated and a heavy nugget inserted to enlargen the aperture. Tradition states that this “large-eared” people was instructed by Viracocha in building stone edifices and fortresses, including the megalithic constructions of the “The House of the Sun”. The Titicaca islanders, as Bandalier told us, preserved the tradition that children of the early light-skinned men, by the native women, grew up to become the Inga-Ré or Incas.
We recall how Easter Island traditions insist that there were “long-ears” among their ancestors when they arrived from the scorched land to the east, that is to say, from the direction of the contemporaneous Tiahuanaco Empire.
Tiahuanaco-cult centre of the Viracocha-people


Juan de Betanzos [1551] had an unusually good opportunity of collecting and preserving the aboriginal Peruvian beliefs and traditions. He came to the Inca Empire when it was first discovered and conquered, and he married a local Indian girl, so that he was in intimate contact with the natives, among whom he stayed for the rest of his life.

Betanzos {Chap.II] says: “... when I asked the Indians what shape this Viracocha had when their ancestors had thus seen him, they said that according to the information they possessed, he was a tall man with a white vestment that reached to his feet, and that this vestment had a girdle; and that he carried his hair short with a tonsure on the head in the manner of a priest; and that he walked solemnly, and that he carried in his hands a certain thing which today seems to remind them of the breviary that the priests carry in their hands. And this is the account I received on this subject, according to what the Indians told me. And when I asked them what this person called himself...they told me that his name was Con Ticci Viracocha Pachayachachic, which in their language means God, Maker of the World.”

Betanzos goes into great detail about Viracocha's activities when he reigned in Tiahuanaco before the first Incas came. We learn from his early narrative that Viracocha began his religious activity in Tiahuanaco as a sculptor of stone. From stone he made human statues as models for the new people he was to create. He sculptured a certain number of men and a chief who was to govern them, as well as several pregnant women and other women who already had children. When these stone statues were finished he had them moved to other places; whereupon he created a community in Tiahuanaco also by carving them from stone in the same manner.


Obviously there is a kernel of history within these geographically continuous and vivid memories of ConTici Viracocha and his many “viracocha” subjects or disciples, who first moved south from Titicaca Island to their hierarchic abode at Tiahuanaco, and finally northwards through Peru by way of Cacha, Tambo de Urcos, Cuzco, and down to the pacific coast of Ecuador at Puerto Viejo, all before the beginnings of Inca genealogy. It is clear that the Aymara and the Quechua Indians, whose early ancestors must have known Tiahuanaco at the time of its habitation, have in these detailed accounts memorised some episode connected with the final desertion of the hierachic site, with the departure of its priest-king and his viracocha family or followers. There is little to be added about their mysterious man-making activities until we later consider Tiahuanaco monoliths and human stone busts of pre-Inca origin left in various places in the Titicaca basin and on the Andean plateau. But we may note that the assembling of the viracochas, who had all deserted Tiahuanaco to unite on the Pacific Coast in the northern province of Puerto Viejo, coincides with the best locality for South American navigation and boat construction. The local craft of Puerto Viejo and its vicinity were the balsa rafts described later, and the sight of men moving about a balsa raft at sea will, to those on the shore, most emphatically leave the impression that the crew actually wade about unsupported, knee deep or even further than the waist in the waves, In reality they may not even wet their feet, but the view of the low-lying logs is blocked by rows of alternating waves even in a slightly chopped sea.

There are no later memories of these pre-Spanish viracochas except that they left in one party from this northern part of the subsequent Inca Empire. This is stated by Betanzos in his own captions to the chapter cited, which run as follows:

“How the people of this land were bought forth on the command of Virochocha, and as regards those Viracochas which he sent out in this errand; and how Con Ticci Viracocha set out in the same manner, and about the two who stayed with him to carry out the same work; and how, upon finishing all this, he assembled with his own people and went out on the ocean never again to be seen”

The identity of the creator – gods Tici of Peru and Tiki of Polynesia


Means [1931,p.422]: “ It seems clear enough that pre-Incaic names for the Creator-god were Con, Con-Tici, Illa-Tici, and sundry approximations thereto, sometimes prefixed to the name Viracocha in later times...”

Since the Quechua is the modern Peruvian tongue spoken and introduced by the Inca, it would be fruitless on chronological grounds to try to change the name Viracocha in the Polynesian island world. We shall have to consider instead his original pre-Inca names Con, Con-T ici, and Illa-Tici for relationship to some creator-god or royal progenitor in Polynesian mythology.

It will be later seen that Con was originally the full name or title of the creator and sun-god on the Northern Peruvian coast, while Tici correspondingly was the name for the same culture-hero in the Peru-Bolivian highlands.........we shall here concentrate on the name Tici since it is most intimately associated with the pre-Inca monarch of Tiahuanaco.

Tici is a word of ancient origin, adopted in Quechua mythology from an earlier language, distinct from their own. It is preserved as a live word in Quechua dialects either as tecsi or ticsi meaning “origin”. [Ibid.] Thus Markham [1920, p. 10] says, in referring to Blas Valeras, the best informed mestizo chronicler of the sixteenth century, whose major works are unfortunately lost: “ The names given for God by Valera, as used by the ancient Peruvians, are also given by some others of the best authorities. They are ILLA TICI UIRA COCHA. The first word means light. TICI is the foundation of things, or beginning.”

It is interesting if we now turn to the Polynesian islands in the adjoining part of the ocean, to find, as Izett [1904, p.22] shows that: “Tiki is the name borne by a deity or demigod well known to all the people throughout the islands of Polynesia. There be those who hold that the original creation of man owns Tiki for its authorship, whilst others- no less confident, it is proper to state- affirm that Tiki occupies no higher position than that of the first man created.”

Stolpe [1891, p.206], in an attempt to analyse the implications of the Tiki traditions throughout Polynesia, writes: “In Rarotonga, Tahiti, and New Zealand he is considered to have been the first man. He is the prototype of a great group of divine beings, all of whom have been ordinary men who have after death been promoted to be gods of a lower rank than the previously mentioned actual gods, and who are collectively called Atua. Tiki, regarded as a class of gods, are thus the ancestral spirits, to which are attributed divine worship, thus they are the protecting spirits of their own descendants and are venerated with images in which they take up abode on certain occasions. Such images are found in many forms, from the colossal stone statues of Easter Island to the small portable images of polished nephrite which are worn by the Maori.”

When we recall that the semi-solar Tici of Peru was remembered over vast territories of the Inca Empire as an early hierarch who left Peru in pre-Inca time on an organised expedition into the East Pacific, it is certainly remarkable to find memories throughout Polynesia of a semi-solar progenitor Tiki [occasionally pronounced Ti'i, Ki'i, or Kisi] who everywhere began the earliest Polynesian island history. Buck [1949,p.452]: “Tiki was regarded as a definite individual, who was the first man in various parts of Polynesia, including the Society Islands [Ti'i] and Hawaii [Ki'i].The persistence of the same concept among some of the Maori tribes shows that it was carried to New Zealand from Central Polynesia.”



Percy Smith [1922, p.93] shows further that this mythical island fisherman Tikitiki was identical with the general Polynesian island -fisherman Maui, whose full Maori name is Maui-tikitiki-a-Taranga, or Maui-tikitiki of Taranga...

This again is interesting, because Taranga was the name of one of the earliest aboriginal tribes inhabiting the shores of Lake Titicaca [Ponansky 1914, p.42: etc.] in the vicinity of Tici's centre of creation at Tiahuanaco. Together with the Uru-Indians, who inhabit the east banks of the river Desaguadero, the Taranga-people happens to be one of the oldest and most important tribes just in the area near Lake Titicaca where Tiahuanaco is located, and many places in the vicinity are named after Taranga.

Uru – Uru


We cannot mention the Taranga without including a word on the Uru, whose traditions connect their ancestors with the building period of Tiahuanaco, or rather Chuara, which was the pre-Inca name of the present ruined site. Ponansky [1914, p. 91] showa that, according to Uru traditions, some of their forefathers had been buried as living sacrifices under the edifices of Tiahuanaco during it s construction, an indication of the antiquity of this people in the neighbourhood.

The fact that the early Uru nation of Pacific South America was contemporaneous with Tici, the legendary founder of Tiahuanaco, and that their habitat is considered to have formerly extended from that vicinity right down to the coast at Africa and the eastern margin of the open Polynesian ocean, cannot but be worth serious attention if a number of prominent Polynesianists, including a careful observer like Best, find it worth while to compare the Ur of Sumeria with the Uru of Polynesian memories.

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