[Footnote 18: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 24. - Antig. y Monumentos del Peru, Ms.
"Cercada junto a la techumbre de una plancha de oro de palmo i medio de ancho i lo mismo tenian por de dentro en cada bohio o casa i aposento." (Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.) "Tenia una cinta de planchas de oro de anchor de mas de un palmo enlazadas en las piedras." Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.] Adjoining the principal structure were several chapels of smaller dimensions. One of them was consecrated to the Moon, the deity held next in reverence, as the mother of the Incas. Her effigy was delineated in the same manner as that of the Sun, on a vast plate that nearly covered one side of the apartment. But this plate, as well as all the decorations of the building, was of silver, as suited to the pale, silvery light of the beautiful planet. There were three other chapels, one of which was dedicated to the host of Stars, who formed the bright court of the Sister of the Sun; another was consecrated to his dread ministers of vengeance, the Thunder and the Lightning; and a third, to the Rainbow, whose many-colored arch spanned the walls of the edifice with hues almost as radiant as its own. There were besides several other buildings, or insulated apartments, for the accommodation of the numerous priests who officiated in the services of the temple. *19
[Footnote 19: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 24. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 3, cap. 21. - Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
All the plate, the ornaments, the utensils of every description, appropriated to the uses of religion, were of gold or silver. Twelve immense vases of the latter metal stood on the floor of the great saloon, filled with grain of the Indian corn; *20 the censers for the perfumes, the ewers which held the water for sacrifice, the pipes which conducted it through subterraneous channels into the buildings, the reservoirs that received it, even the agricultural implements used in the gardens of the temple, were all of the same rich materials. The gardens, like those described, belonging to the royal palaces, sparkled with flowers of gold and silver, and various imitations of the vegetable kingdom. Animals, also, were to be found there, - among which the llama, with its golden fleece, was most conspicuous, - executed in the same style, and with a degree of skill, which, in this instance, probably, did not surpass the excellence of the material. *21
[Footnote 20: "El bulto del Sol tenian mui grande de oro, i todo el servicio desta casa era de plata i oro, i tenian doze horones de plata blanca que dos hombres no abrazarian cada uno quadrados, i eran mas altos que una buena pica donde hechavan el maiz que havian de dar al Sol, segun ellos decian que comiese." Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.
The original, as the Spanish reader perceives, says each of these silver vases or bins was as high as a good lance, and so large that two men with outspread arms could barely encompass them! As this might, perhaps, embarrass even the most accommodating faith, I have preferred not to become responsible for any particular dimensions.]
[Footnote 21: Levinus Apollonius, fol. 38. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 3, cap. 24. - Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.
"Tenian un Jardin que los Terrones eran pedazos de oro fino y estaban artificiosamente sembrado de maizales los quales eran oro asi las Canas de ello como las ojas y mazorcas, y estaban tan bien plantados que aunque hiciesen recios bientos no se arrancaban. Sin todo esto tenian hechas mas de veinte obejas de oro con sus Corderos y los Pastores con sus ondas y cayados que las guardaban hecho de este metal; havia mucha cantidad de Tinajas de oro y de Plata y esmeraldas, vasos, ollas y todo genero de vasijas todo de oro fino; por otras Paredes tenian esculpidas y pintadas otras mayores cosas, en fin era uno de los ricos Templos que hubo en el mundo." Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 24.]
If the reader sees in this fairy picture only the romantic coloring of some fabulous El Dorado, he must recall what has been said before in reference to the palaces of the Incas, and consider that these "Houses of the Sun," as they were styled, were the common reservoir into which flowed all the streams of public and private benefaction throughout the empire. Some of the statements, through credulity, and others, in the desire of exciting admiration, may be greatly exaggerated; but, in the coincidence of contemporary testimony, it is not easy to determine the exact line which should mark the measure of our skepticism. Certain it is, that the glowing picture I have given is warranted by those who saw these buildings in their pride, or shortly after they had been despoiled by the cupidity of their countrymen. Many of the costly articles were buried by the natives, or thrown into the waters of the rivers and the lakes; but enough remained to attest the unprecedented opulence of these religious establishments. Such things as were in their nature portable were speedily removed, to gratify the craving of the Conquerors, who even tore away the solid cornices and frieze of gold from the great temple, filling the vacant places with the cheaper, but - since it affords no temptation to avarice - more durable, material of plaster. Yet even thus shorn of their splendor, the venerable edifices still presented an attraction to the spoiler, who found in their dilapidated walls an inexhaustible quarry for the erection of other buildings. On the very ground once crowned by the gorgeous Coricancha rose the stately church of St. Dominic, one of the most magnificent structures of the New World. Fields of maize and lucerne now bloom on the spot which glowed with the golden gardens of the temple; and the friar chants his orisons within the consecrated precincts once occupied by the Children of the Sun. *22
[Footnote 22: Miller's Memoirs, vol. II. pp. 223, 224.]
Besides the great temple of the Sun, there was a large number of inferior temples and religious houses in the Peruvian capital and its environs, amounting, as is stated, to three or four hundred. *23 For Cuzco was a sanctified spot, venerated not only as the abode of the Incas, but of all those deities who presided over the motley nations of the empire. It was the city beloved of the Sun; where his worship was maintained in its splendor; "where every fountain, pathway, and wall," says an ancient chronicler, "was regarded as a holy mystery." *24 And unfortunate was the Indian noble who, at some period or other of his life, had not made his pilgrimage to the Peruvian Mecca.
[Footnote 23: Herrera, Hist. General, dec 5, lib. 4, cap. 8. "Havia en aquella ciudad y legua y media de la redonda quatrocientos y tantos lugares, donde se hacian sacrificious, y se gastava mucha suma de hacienda en ellos." Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms.]
[Footnote 24: "Que aquella ciudad del Cuzco era casa y morada de Dioses, e ansi no habia en toda ella fuente ni paso ni pared que no dixesen que tenia misterio." Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms.]
Other temples and religious dwellings were scattered over the provinces; and some of them constructed on a scale of magnificence, that almost rivalled that of the metropolis. The attendants on these composed an army of themselves. The whole number of functionaries, including those of the sacerdotal order, who officiated at the Coricancha alone, was no less than four thousand. *25
[Footnote 25: Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.
An army, indeed, if, as Cieza de Leon states, the number of priests and menials employed in the famous temple of Bilcas, on the route to Chili, amounted to 40,000! (Cronica, cap. 89.) Every thing relating to these Houses of the Sun appears to have been on a grand scale. But we may easily believe this a clerical error for 4,000.]
At the head of all, both here and throughout the land, stood the great High-Priest, or Villac Vmu, as he was called. He was second only to the Inca in dignity, and was usually chosen from his brothers or nearest kindred. He was appointed by the monarch, and held his office for life; and he, in turn, appointed to all the subordinate stations of his own order. This order was very numerous. Those members of it who officiated in the House of the Sun, in Cuzco, were taken exclusively from the sacred race of the Incas. The ministers in the provincial temples were drawn from the families of the curacas; but the office of high-priest in each district was reserved for one of the blood royal. It was designed by this regulation to preserve the faith in its purity, and to guard against any departure from the stately ceremonial which it punctiliously prescribed. *26
[Footnote 26: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 27. - Conq i Pob. del Piru, Ms.
It was only while the priests were engaged in the service of the temples, that they were maintained, according to Garcilasso, from the estates of the Sun. At other times, they were to get their support from their own lands, which, if he is correct, were assigned to them in the same manner as to the other orders of the nation. Com Real., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 8]
The sacerdotal order, though numerous, was not distinguished by any peculiar badge or costume from the rest of the nation. Neither was it the sole depository of the scanty science of the country, nor was it charged with the business of instruction, nor with those parochial duties, if they may so be called, which bring the priest in contact with the great body of the people, - as was the case in Mexico. The cause of this peculiarity may probably be traced to the existence of a superior order, like that of the Inca nobles, whose sanctity of birth so far transcended all human appointments, that they in a manner engrossed whatever there was of religious veneration in the people. They were, in fact, the holy order of the state. Doubtless, any of them might, as very many of them did, take on themselves the sacerdotal functions; and their own insignia and peculiar privileges were too well understood to require any further badge to separate them from the people. The duties of the priest were confined to ministration in the temple. Even here his attendance was not constant, as he was relieved after a stated interval by other brethren of his order, who succeeded one another in regular rotation. His science was limited to an acquaintance with the fasts and festivals of his religion, and the appropriate ceremonies which distinguished them. This, however frivolous might be its character, was no easy acquisition; for the ritual of the Incas involved a routine of observances, as complex and elaborate as ever distinguished that of any nation, whether pagan or Christian. Each month had its appropriate festival, or rather festivals. The four principal had reference to the Sun, and commemorated the great periods of his annual progress, the solstices and equinoxes. Perhaps the most magnificent of all the national solemnities was the feast of Raymi, held at the period of the summer solstice, when the Sun, having touched the southern extremity of his course, retraced his path, as if to gladden the hearts of his chosen people by his presence. On this occasion, the Indian nobles from the different quarters of the country thronged to the capital to take part in the great religious celebration.
For three days previous, there was a general fast, and no fire was allowed to be lighted in the dwellings. When the appointed day arrived, the Inca and his court, followed by the whole population of the city, assembled at early dawn in the great square to greet the rising of the Sun. They were dressed in their gayest apparel, and the Indian lords vied with each other in the display of costly ornaments and jewels on their persons, while canopies of gaudy feather-work and richly tinted stuffs, borne by the attendants over their heads, gave to the great square, and the streets that emptied into it, the appearance of being spread over with one vast and magnificent awning. Eagerly they watched the coming of their deity, and, no sooner did his first yellow rays strike the turrets and loftiest buildings of the capital, than a shout of gratulation broke forth from the assembled multitude, accompanied by songs of triumph, and the wild melody of barbaric instruments, that swelled louder and louder as his bright orb, rising above the mountain range towards the east, shone in full splendor on his votaries. After the usual ceremonies of adoration, a libation was offered to the great deity by the Inca, from a huge golden vase, filled with the fermented liquor of maize or of maguey, which, after the monarch had tasted it himself, he dispensed among his royal kindred. These ceremonies completed, the vast assembly was arranged in order of procession, and took its way towards the Coricancha. *27
[Footnote 27: Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms. - Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 27. The reader will find a brilliant, and not very extravagant, account of the Peruvian festivals in Marmontel's romance of Les Incas. The French author saw in their gorgeous ceremonial a fitting introduction to his own literary pageant Tom. I. chap. 1 - 4.]
As they entered the street of the sacred edifice, all divested themselves of their sandals, except the Inca and his family, who did the same on passing through the portals of the temple, where none but these august personages were admitted. *28 After a decent time spent in devotion, the sovereign, attended by his courtly train, again appeared, and preparations were made to commence the sacrifice. This, with the Peruvians, consisted of animals, grain, flowers, and sweet-scented gums; sometimes of human beings, on which occasions a child or beautiful maiden was usually selected as the victim. But such sacrifices were rare, being reserved to celebrate some great public event, as a coronation, the birth of a royal heir, or a great victory. They were never followed by those cannibal repasts familiar to the Mexicans, and to many of the fierce tribes conquered by the Incas. Indeed, the conquests of these princes might well be deemed a blessing to the Indian nations, if it were only from their suppression of cannibalism, and the diminution, under their rule, of human sacrifices. *29
[Footnote 28: "Ningun Indio comun osaba pasar por la calle del Sol calzado; ni ninguno, aunque fuese mui grand Senor, entrava en las casas del Sol con zapatos." Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.]
[Footnote 29: Garcilasso de la Vega flatly denies that the Incas were guilty of human sacrifices; and maintains, on the other hand, that they uniformly abolished them in every country they subdued, where they had previously existed. (Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 2, cap. 9, et alibi.) But in this material fact he is unequivocally contradicted by Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 22, - Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms., - Montesinos, Mem. Antiguas, Ms., lib. 2, cap. 8, - Balboa, Hist. du Perou, chap. 5, 8, - Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 72, - Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms., - Acosta, lib. 5, cap. 19, - and I might add, I suspect, were I to pursue the inquiry, by nearly every ancient writer of authority; some of whom, having come into the country soon after the Conquest, while its primitive institutions were in vigor, are entitled to more deference in a matter of this kind than Garcilasso himself. It was natural that the descendant of the Incas should desire to relieve his race from so odious an imputation; and we must have charity for him, if he does show himself, on some occasions, where the honor of his country is at stake, "high gravel blind." It should be added, in justice to the Peruvian government, that the best authorities concur in the admission, that the sacrifices were few, both in number and in magnitude, being reserved for such extraordinary occasions as those mentioned in the text.]
At the feast of Raymi, the sacrifice usually offered was that of the llama; and the priest, after opening the body of his victim, sought in the appearances which it exhibited to read the lesson of the mysterious future. If the auguries were unpropitious, a second victim was slaughtered, in the hope of receiving some more comfortable assurance. The Peruvian augur might have learned a good lesson of the Roman, - to consider every omen as favorable, which served the interests of his country. *30
[Footnote 30: "Augurque cum esset, dicere ausus est, optimis auspiciis ea geri, quae pro reipublicae salute gererentur." Cicero, De Senectute.
This inspection of the entrails of animals for the purposes of divination is worthy of note, as a most rare, if not a solitary, instance of the kind among the nations of the New World, though so familiar in the ceremonial of sacrifice among the pagan nations of the Old.]
A fire was then kindled by means of a concave mirror of polished metal, which, collecting the rays of the sun into a focus upon a quantity of dried cotton, speedily set it on fire. It was the expedient used on the like occasions in ancient Rome, at least under the reign of the pious Numa. When the sky was overcast, and the face of the good deity was hidden from his worshippers, which was esteemed a bad omen, fire was obtained by means of friction. The sacred flame was intrusted to the care of the Virgins of the Sun, and if, by any neglect, it was suffered to go out in the course of the year, the event was regarded as a calamity that boded some strange disaster to the monarchy. *31 A burnt offering of the victims was then made on the altars of the deity. This sacrifice was but the prelude to the slaughter of a great number of llamas, part of the flocks of the Sun, which furnished a banquet not only for the Inca and his Court, but for the people, who made amends at these festivals for the frugal fare to which they were usually condemned. A fine bread or cake, kneaded of maize flour by the fair hands of the Virgins of the Sun, was also placed on the royal board, where the Inca, presiding over the feast, pledged his great nobles in generous goblets of the fermented liquor of the country, and the long revelry of the day was closed at night by music and dancing. Dancing and drinking were the favorite pastimes of the Peruvians. These amusements continued for several days, though the sacrifices terminated on the first. - Such was the great festival of Raymi; and the recurrence of this and similar festivities gave relief to the monotonous routine of toil prescribed to the lower orders of the community. *32
[Footnote 31: "Vigilemque sacraverat ignem, Excubias divum aeternas."
Plutarch, in his life of Numa, describes the reflectors used by the Romans for kindling the sacred fire, as concave instruments of brass, though not spherical like the Peruvian, but of a triangular form.]
[Footnote 32: Acosta, lib. 5, cap. 28, 29. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 6, cap. 23.]
In the distribution of bread and wine at this high festival, the orthodox Spaniards, who first came into the country, saw a striking resemblance to the Christian communion; *33 as in the practice of confession and penance, which, in a most irregular form, indeed, seems to have been used by the Peruvians, they discerned a coincidence with another of the sacraments of the Church. *34 The good fathers were fond of tracing such coincidences, which they considered as the contrivance of Satan, who thus endeavoured to delude his victims by counterfeiting the blessed rites of Christianity. *35 Others, in a different vein, imagined that they saw in such analogies the evidence, that some of the primitive teachers of the Gospel, perhaps an apostle himself, had paid a visit to these distant regions, and scattered over them the seeds of religious truth. *36 But it seems hardly necessary to invoke the Prince of Darkness, or the intervention of the blessed saints, to account for coincidences which have existed in countries far removed from the light of Christianity and in ages, indeed, when its light had not yet risen on the world. It is much more reasonable to refer such casual points of resemblance to the general constitution of man, and the necessities of his moral nature. *37
[Footnote 33: "That which is most admirable in the hatred and presumption of Sathan is, that he not onely counterfeited in idolatry and sacrifices, but also in certain ceremonies, our sacraments, which Jesus Christ our Lord instituted, and the holy Church uses, having especially pretended to imitate, in some sort, the sacrament of the communion, which is the most high and divine of all others." Acosta, lib. 5, cap. 23.]
[Footnote 34: Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 4, cap. 4. - Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms.
"The father of lies would likewise counterfeit the sacrament of Confession, and in his idolatries sought to be honored with ceremonies very like to the manner of Christians." Acosta, lib. 5, cap. 25.]
[Footnote 35: Cieza de Leon, not content with many marvellous accounts of the influence and real apparition of Satan in the Indian ceremonies, has garnished his volume with numerous wood-cuts representing the Prince of Evil in bodily presence with the usual accompaniments of tail, claws, &c., as if to reenforce the homilies in his text! The Peruvian saw in his idol a god. His Christian conqueror saw in it the Devil. One may be puzzled to decide which of the two might lay claim to the grossest superstition.]
[Footnote 36: Piedrahita, the historian of the Muyscas, is satisfied that this apostle must have been St. Bartholomew, whose travels were known to have been extensive. (Conq. de Granada, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 3.) The Mexican antiquaries consider St. Thomas as having had charge of the mission to the people of Anahuac. These two apostles, then, would seem to have divided the New World, at least the civilized portions of it, between them. How they came, whether by Behring's Straits, or directly across the Atlantic, we are not informed. Velasco - a writer of the eighteenth century! - has little doubt that they did really come. Hist. de Quito, tom. I. pp. 89, 90.]
[Footnote 37: The subject is illustrated by some examples in the "History of the Conquest of Mexico," vol. III., Appendix, No. 1.; since the same usages in that country led to precisely the same rash conclusions among the Conquerors.]
Another singular analogy with Roman Catholic institutions is presented by the Virgins of the Sun, the "elect," as they were called, *38 to whom I have already had occasion to refer. These were young maidens, dedicated to the service of the deity, who, at a tender age, were taken from their homes, and introduced into convents, where they were placed under the care of certain elderly matrons, mamaconas, who had grown grey within their walls. *39 Under these venerable guides, the holy virgins were instructed in the nature of their religious duties. They were employed in spinning and embroidery, and, with the fine hair of the vicuna, wove the hangings for the temples, and the apparel for the Inca and his household. *40 It was their duty, above all, to watch over the sacred fire obtained at the festival of Raymi. From the moment they entered the establishment, they were cut off from all connection with the world, even with their own family and friends. No one but the Inca, and the Coya or queen, might enter the consecrated precincts. The greatest attention was paid to their morals, and visitors were sent every year to inspect the institutions, and to report on the state of their discipline. *41 Woe to the unhappy maiden who was detected in an intrigue! By the stern law of the Incas, she was to be buried alive, her lover was to be strangled, and the town or village to which he belonged was to be razed to the ground, and "sowed with stones," as if to efface every memorial of his existence. *42 One is astonished to find so close a resemblance between the institutions to find so close a resemblance between the institutions of the American Indian, the ancient Roman, and the modern Catholic! Chastity and purity of life are virtues in woman, that would seem to be of equal estimation with the barbarian and with the civilized. - Yet the ultimate destination of the inmates of these religious houses was materially different.
[Footnote 38: Llamavase Casa de Escogidas; porque las escogian. o por Linage, o por Hermosura." Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 4, cap. 1.]
[Footnote 39: Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms.
The word mamacona signified "matron"; mama, the first half of this compound word, as already noticed, meaning "mother." See Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 4, cap. 1.]
[Footnote 40: Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
[Footnote 41: Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms.]
[Footnote 42: Balboa, Hist. du Perou, chap. 9. - Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 11. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 4, cap. 3. According to the historian of the Incas, the terrible penalty was never incurred by a single lapse on the part of the fair sisterhood; though, if it had been, the sovereign, he assures us, would have "exacted it to the letter, with as little compunction as he would have drowned a puppy." (Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 4, cap. 3.) Other writers contend, on the contrary, that these Virgins had very little claim to the reputation of Vestals. (See Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 121.) Such imputations are common enough on the inhabitants of religious houses, whether pagan or Christian. They are contradicted in the present instance by the concurrent testimony of most of those who had the best opportunity of arriving at truth, and are made particularly improbable by the superstitious reverence entertained for the Incas.]
The great establishment at Cuzco consisted wholly of maidens of the royal blood, who amounted, it is said, to no less than fifteen hundred. The provincial convents were supplied from the daughters of the curacas and inferior nobles, and, occasionally, where a girl was recommended by great personal attractions, from the lower classes of the people. *43 The "Houses of the Virgins of the Sun" consisted of low ranges of stone buildings, covering a large extent of ground, surrounded by high walls, which excluded those within entirely from observation. They were provided with every accommodation for the fair inmates, and were embellished in the same sumptuous and costly manner as the palaces of the Incas, and the temples; for they received the particular care of government, as an important part of the religious establishment. *44
[Footnote 43: Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 4, cap. 1.]
[Footnote 44: Ibid., Parte 1, lib. 4, cap. 5. - Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 44.]
Yet the career of all the inhabitants of these cloisters was not confined within their narrow walls. Though Virgins of the Sun, they were brides of the Inca, and, at a marriageable age, the most beautiful among them were selected for the honors of his bed, and transferred to the royal seraglio. The full complement of this amounted in time not only to hundreds, but thousands, who all found accommodations in his different palaces throughout the country. When the monarch was disposed to lessen the number of his establishment, the concubine with whose society he was willing to dispense returned, not to her former monastic residence, but to her own home; where, however humble might be her original condition, she was maintained in great state, and, far from being dishonored by the situation she had filled, was held in universal reverence as the Inca's bride. *45
[Footnote 45: Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 4, cap.4. - Montesinos, Mem Antiguas, Ms., lib 2, cap. 19.]
The great nobles of Peru were allowed, like their sovereign, a plurality of wives. The people, generally, whether by law, or by necessity stronger than law, were more happily limited to one. Marriage was conducted in a manner that gave it quite as original a character as belonged to the other institutions of the country. On an appointed day of the year, all those of a marriageable age - which, having reference to their ability to take charge of a family, in the males was fixed at not less than twenty-four years, and in the women at eighteen or twenty - were called together in the great squares of their respective towns and villages, throughout the empire. The Inca presided in person over the assembly of his own kindred, and taking the hands of the different couples who were to be united, he placed them within each other, declaring the parties man and wife. The same was done by the curacas towards all persons of their own or inferior degree in their several districts. This was the simple form of marriage in Peru. No one was allowed to select a wife beyond the community to which he belonged, which generally comprehended all his own kindred; *46 nor was any but the sovereign authorized to dispense with the law of nature - or at least, the usual law of nations - so far as to marry his own sister. *47 No marriage was esteemed valid without the consent of the parents; and the preference of the parties, it is said, was also to be consulted; though, considering the barriers imposed by the prescribed age of the candidates, this must have been within rather narrow and whimsical limits. A dwelling was got ready for the new-married pair at the charge of the district, and the prescribed portion of land assigned for their maintenance. The law of Peru provided for the future, as well as for the present. It left nothing to chance. - The simple ceremony of marriage was followed by general festivities among the friends of the parties, which lasted several days; and as every wedding took place on the same day, and as there were few families who had not some one of their members or their kindred personally interested, there was one universal bridal jubilee throughout the empire. *48
[Footnote 46: By the strict letter of the law, according to Garcilasso, no one was to marry out of his own lineage. But this narrow rule had a most liberal interpretation, since all of the same town, and even province, he assures us, were reckoned of kin to one another. Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 4, cap. 8.]
[Footnote 47: Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 9. This practice, so revolting to our feelings that it might well be deemed to violate the law of nature, must not, however, be regarded as altogether peculiar to the Incas, since it was countenanced by some of the most polished nations of antiquity.]
[Footnote 48: Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte lib. 6, cap. 36. - Dec. de la Aud Real., Ms. - Montesinos, Mem Antiguas, Ms., lib. 2, cap. 6.]
The extraordinary regulations respecting marriage under the Incas are eminently characteristic of the genius of the government; which, far from limiting itself to matters of public concern, penetrated into the most private recesses of domestic life, allowing no man, however humble, to act for himself, even in those personal matters in which none but himself, or his family at most, might be supposed to be interested. No Peruvian was too low for the fostering vigilance of government. None was so high that he was not made to feel his dependence upon it in every act of his life. His very existence as an individual was absorbed in that of the community. His hopes and his fears, his joys and his sorrows, the tenderest sympathies of his nature, which would most naturally shrink from observation, were all to be regulated by law. He was not allowed even to be happy in his own way. The government of the Incas was the mildest, - but the most searching of despotisms.
Education. - Quipus. - Astronomy. - Agriculture. - Aqueducts. - Guano. - Important Esculents.
"Science was not intended for the people; but for those of generous blood. Persons of low degree are only puffed up by it, and rendered vain and arrogant. Neither should such meddle with the affairs of government; for this would bring high offices into disrepute, and cause detriment to the state." *1 Such was the favorite maxim, often repeated, of Tupac Inca Yupanqi, one of the most renowned of the Peruvian sovereigns. It may seem strange that such a maxim should ever have been proclaimed in the New World, where popular institutions have been established on a more extensive scale than was ever before witnessed; where government rests wholly on the people; and education - at least, in the great northern division of the continent - is mainly directed to qualify the people for the duties of government. Yet this maxim was strictly conformable to the genius of the Peruvian monarchy, and may serve as a key to its habitual policy; since, while it watched with unwearied solicitude over its subjects, provided for their physical necessities, was mindful of their morals, and showed, throughout, the affectionate concern of a parent for his children, it yet regarded them only as children, who were never to emerge from the state of pupilage, to act or to think for themselves, but whose whole duty was comprehended in the obligation of implicit obedience.
[Footnote 1: "No es licito, que ensenen a los hijos de los Plebeios, las Ciencias, que pertenescen a los Generosos, y no mas; porque como Gente baja, no se eleven, y ensobervezcan, y menoscaben, y apoqueen la Republica: bastales, que aprendan los Oficios de sus Padres; que el Mandar, y Governar no es de Plebeious, que es hacer agravio al Oficio, y a la Republica, encomendarsela a Gente comun." Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 8, cap. 8.]
Such was the humiliating condition of the people under the Incas, while the numerous families of the blood royal enjoyed the benefit of all the light of education, which the civilization of the country could afford; and, long after the Conquest, the spots continued to be pointed out where the seminaries had existed for their instruction. These were placed under the care of the amautas, or "wise men," who engrossed the scanty stock of science - if science it could be called - possessed by the Peruvians, and who were the sole teachers of youth. It was natural that the monarch should take a lively interest in the instruction of the young nobility, his own kindred. Several of the Peruvian princes are said to have built their palaces in the neighbourhood of the schools, in order that they might the more easily visit them and listen to the lectures of the amautas, which they occasionally reinforced by a homily of their own. *2 In these schools, the royal pupils were instructed in all the different kinds of knowledge in which their teachers were versed, with especial reference to the stations they were to occupy in after-life. They studied the laws, and the principles of administering the government, in which many of them were to take part. They were initiated in the peculiar rites of their religion, most necessary to those who were to assume the sacerdotal functions. They learned also to emulate the achievements of their royal ancestors by listening to the chronicles compiled by the amautas. They were taught to speak their own dialect with purity and elegance; and they became acquainted with the mysterious science of the quipus, which supplied the Peruvians with the means of communicating their ideas to one another, and of transmitting them to future generations. *3
[Footnote 2: Ibid., Parte 1, lib 7, cap. 10. The descendant of the Incas notices the remains, visible in his day, or two of the palaces of his royal ancestors, which had been built in the vicinity of the schools, for more easy access to them.]
[Footnote 3: Ibid., Parte 1, lib. 4, cap. 19]
The quipu was a cord about two feet long, composed of different colored threads tightly twisted together, from which a quantity of smaller threads were suspended in the manner of a fringe. The threads were of different colors and were tied into knots. The word quipu, indeed, signifies a knot. The colors denoted sensible objects; as, for instance, white represented silver, and yellow, gold. They sometimes also stood for abstract ideas. Thus, white signified peace, and red, war. But the quipus were chiefly used for arithmetical purposes. The knots served instead of ciphers, and could be combined in such a manner as to represent numbers to any amount they required. By means of these they went through their calculations with great rapidity, and the Spaniards who first visited the country bear testimony to their accuracy. *4
[Footnote 4: Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms. - Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 9. - Acosta, lib. 6, cap. 8. - Garcilasso Parte 1, lib. 6, cap. 8.] Officers were established in each of the districts, who, under the title of quipucamayus, or "keepers of the quipus," were required to furnish the government with information on various important matters. One had charge of the revenues, reported the quantity of raw material distributed among the laborers, the quality and quantity of the fabrics made from it, and the amount of stores, of various kinds, paid into the royal magazines. Another exhibited the register of births and deaths, the marriages, the number of those qualified to bear arms, and the like details in reference to the population of the kingdom. These returns were annually forwarded to the capital, where they were submitted to the inspection of officers acquainted with the art of deciphering these mystic records. The government was thus provided with a valuable mass of statistical information, and the skeins of many-colored threads, collected and carefully preserved, constituted what might be called the national archives. *5
[Footnote 5: Ondegardo expresses his astonishment at the variety of objects embraced by these simple records, "hardly credible by one who had not seen them." "En aquella ciudad se hallaron muchos viejos oficiales antiguos del Inga, asi de la religion, como del Govierno, y otra cosa que no pudiera creer sino la viera, que por hilos y nudos se hallan figuradas las leyes, y estatutos asi de lo uno como de lo otro, las sucesiones de los Reyes y tiempo que governaron: y hallose lo que todo esto tenian a su cargo que no fue poco, y aun tube alguna claridad de los estatutos que en tiempo de cada uno se havia: puesto." (Rel. Prim., Ms.) (See also Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 9. - Acosta, lib. 6, cap. 8, - Garcilasso, Parte 1, lib. 6, cap. 8, 9.) A vestige of the quipus is still to be found in some parts of Peru, where the shepherds keep the tallies of their numerous flocks by means of this ancient arithmetic] But, although the quipus sufficed for all the purposes of arithmetical computation demanded by the Peruvians, they were incompetent to represent the manifold ideas and images which are expressed by writing. Even here, however, the invention was not without its use. For, independently of the direct representation of simple objects, and even of abstract ideas, to a very limited extent, as above noticed, it afforded great help to the memory by way of association. The peculiar knot or color, in this way, suggested what it could not venture to represent; in the same manner - to borrow the homely illustration of an old writer - as the number of the Commandment calls to mind the Commandment itself. The quipus, thus used, might be regarded as the Peruvian system of mnemonics.
Annalists were appointed in each of the principal communities, whose business it was to record the most important events which occurred in them. Other functionaries of a higher character, usually the amautas, were intrusted with the history of the empire, and were selected to chronicle the great deeds of the reigning Inca, or of his ancestors. *6 The narrative, thus concocted, could be communicated only by oral tradition; but the quipus served the chronicler to arrange the incidents with method, and to refresh his memory. The story, once treasured up in the mind, was indelibly impressed there by frequent repetition. It was repeated by the amauta to his pupils, and in this way history, conveyed partly by oral tradition, and partly by arbitrary signs, was handed down from generation to generation, with sufficient discrepancy of details, but with a general conformity of outline to the truth.
[Footnote 6: Ibid., ubi supra.]
The Peruvian quipus were, doubtless, a wretched substitute for that beautiful contrivance, the alphabet, which, employing a few simple characters as the representatives of sounds, instead of ideas, is able to convey the most delicate shades of thought that ever passed through the mind of man. The Peruvian invention, indeed, was far below that of the hieroglyphics, even below the rude picture-writing of the Aztecs; for the latter art, however incompetent to convey abstract ideas, could depict sensible objects with tolerable accuracy. It is evidence of the total ignorance in which the two nations remained of each other, that the Peruvians should have borrowed nothing of the hieroglyphical system of the Mexicans, and this, notwithstanding that the existence of the maguey plant, agave, in South America might have furnished them with the very material used by the Aztecs for the construction of their maps. *7
[Footnote 7: Ibid., ubi supra. - Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms. - Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 9.
Yet the quipus must be allowed to bear some resemblance to the belts of wampum - made of colored beads strung together - in familiar use among the North American tribes, for commemorating treaties, and for other purposes.] It is impossible to contemplate without interest the struggles made by different nations, as they emerge from barbarism, to supply themselves with some visible symbols of thought, - that mysterious agency by which the mind of the individual may be put in communication with the minds of a whole community. The want of such a symbol is itself the greatest impediment to the progress of civilization. For what is it but to imprison the thought, which has the elements of immortality, within the bosom of its author, or of the small circle who come in contact with him, instead of sending it abroad to give light to thousands, and to generations yet unborn! Not only is such a symbol an essential element of civilization, but it may be assumed as the very criterion of civilization; for the intellectual advancement of a people will keep pace pretty nearly with its facilities for intellectual communication. Yet we must be careful not to underrate the real value of the Peruvian system: nor to suppose that the quipus were as awkward an instrument, in the hand of a practised native, as they would be in ours. We know the effect of habit in all mechanical operations, and the Spaniards bear constant testimony to the adroitness and accuracy of the Peruvians in this. Their skill is not more surprising than the facility with which habit enables us to master the contents of a printed page, comprehending thousands of separate characters, by a single glance, as it were, though each character must require a distinct recognition by the eye, and that, too, without breaking the chain of thought in the reader's mind. We must not hold the invention of the quipus too lightly, when we reflect that they supplied the means of calculation demanded for the affairs of a great nation, and that, however insufficient, they afforded no little help to what aspired to the credit of literary composition. The office of recording the national annals was not wholly confined to the amautas. It was assumed in part by the haravecs, or poets, who selected the most brilliant incidents for their songs or ballads, which were chanted at the royal festivals and at the table of the Inca. *8 In this manner, a body of traditional minstrelsy grew up, like the British and Spanish ballad poetry, by means of which the name of many a rude chieftain, that might have perished for want of a chronicler, has been borne down the tide of rustic melody to later generations.
[Footnote 8: Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 2, cap. 27.
The word haravec signified "inventor" or "finder"; and in his title, as well as in his functions, the minstrel-poet may remind us of the Norman trouvere. Garcilasso has translated one of the little lyrical pieces of his countrymen. It is light and lively; but one short specimen affords no basis for general criticism.]
Yet history may be thought not to gain much by this alliance with poetry; for the domain of the poet extends over an ideal realm peopled with the shadowy forms of fancy, that bear little resemblance to the rude realities of life. The Peruvian annals may be deemed to show somewhat of the effects of this union, since there is a tinge of the marvellous spread over them down to the very latest period, which, like a mist before the reader's eye, makes it difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction.
The poet found a convenient instrument for his purposes in the beautiful Quichua dialect. We have already seen the extraordinary measures taken by the Incas for propagating their language throughout their empire. Thus naturalized in the remotest provinces, it became enriched by a variety of exotic words and idioms, which, under the influence of the Court and of poetic culture, if I may so express myself, was gradually blended, like some finished mosaic made up of coarse and disjointed materials, into one harmonious whole. The Quichua became the most comprehensive and various, as well as the most elegant, of the South American dialects. *9
[Footnote 9: Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms.
Sarmiento justly laments that his countrymen should have suffered this dialect, which might have proved so serviceable in their intercourse with the motley tribes of the empire, to fall so much out of use as it has done. "Y con tanto digo que fue harto beneficio para los Espaoles haver esta lengua pues podian con ella andar por todas partes en algunas de las quales ya se va perdiendo." Relacion, Ms., cap. 21.
According to Velasco, the Incas, on arriving with their conquering legions at Quito, were astonished to find a dialect of the Quichua spoken there, although it was unknown over much of the intermediate country; a singular fact, if true. (Hist. de Quito, tom. I. p. 185.) The author, a native of that country, had access to some rare sources of information; and his curious volumes show an intimate analogy between the science and social institutions of the people of Quito and Peru. Yet his book betrays an obvious anxiety to set the pretensions of his own country in the most imposing point of view, and he frequently hazards assertions with a confidence that is not well calculated to secure that of his readers.]
Besides the compositions already noticed, the Peruvians, it is said, showed some talent for theatrical exhibitions; not those barren pantomimes which, addressed simply to the eye, have formed the amusement of more than one rude nation. The Peruvian pieces aspired to the rank of dramatic compositions, sustained by character and dialogue, founded sometimes on themes of tragic interest, and at others on such as, from their light and social character, belong to comedy. *10 Of the execution of these pieces we have now no means of judging. It was probably rude enough, as befitted an unformed people. But, whatever may have been the execution, the mere conception of such an amusement is a proof of refinement that honorably distinguishes the Peruvian from the other American races, whose pastime was war, or the ferocious sports that reflect the image of it.
[Footnote 10: Garcilasso, Com. Real., ubi supra.]
The intellectual character of the Peruvians, indeed, seems to have been marked rather by a tendency to refinement than by those hardier qualities which insure success in the severer walks of science. In these they were behind several of the semi-civilized nations of the New World. They had some acquaintance with geography, so far as related to their own empire, which was indeed extensive; and they constructed maps with lines raised on them to denote the boundaries and localities, on a similar principle with those formerly used by the blind. In astronomy, they appear to have made but moderate proficiency. They divided the year into twelve lunar months, each of which, having its own name, was distinguished by its appropriate festival. *11 They had, also, weeks; but of what length, whether of seven, nine, or ten days, is uncertain. As their lunar year would necessarily fall short of the true time, they rectified their calendar by solar observations made by means of a number of cylindrical columns raised on the high lands round Cuzco, which served them for taking azimuths; and, by measuring their shadows, they ascertained the exact times of the solstices. The period of the equinoxes they determined by the help of a solitary pillar, or gnomon, placed in the centre of a circle, which was described in the area of the great temple, and traversed by a diameter that was drawn from east to west. When the shadows were scarcely visible under the noontide rays of the sun, they said that "the god sat with all his light upon the column." *12 Quito, which lay immediately under the equator, where the vertical rays of the sun threw no shadow at noon, was held in especial veneration as the favored abode of the great deity. The period of the equinoxes was celebrated by public rejoicings. The pillar was crowned by the golden chair of the Sun, and, both then and at the solstices, the columns were hung with garlands, and offerings of flowers and fruits were made, while high festival was kept throughout the empire. By these periods the Peruvians regulated their religious rites and ceremonial, and prescribed the nature of their agricultural labors. The year itself took its departure from the date of the winter solstice. *13
[Footnote 11: Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms.
Fernandez, who differs from most authorities in dating the commencement of the year from June, gives the names of the several months, with their appropriate occupations. Hist. del Peru, Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 10.]
[Footnote 12: Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 2, cap. 22-26.
The Spanish conquerors threw down these pillars, as savouring of idolatry in the Indians. Which of the two were best entitled to the name of barbarians?]
[Footnote 13: Betanzos, Nar. de los Ingas, Ms., cap. 16. - Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 23. - Acosta, lib. 6, cap. 3.
The most celebrated gnomon in Europe, that raised on the dome of the metropolitan church of Florence, was erected by the famous Toscanelli, - for the purpose of determining the solstices, and regulating the festivals of the Church, - about the year 1468; perhaps at no very distant date from that of the similar astronomical contrivance of the American Indian. See Tiraboschi, Historia della Letteratura Italiana, tom. VI. lib. 2, cap. 2, sec. 38.] This meagre account embraces nearly all that has come down to us of Peruvian astronomy. It may seem strange that a nation, which had proceeded thus far in its observations, should have gone no farther; and that, notwithstanding its general advance in civilization, it should in this science have fallen so far short, not only of the Mexicans, but of the Muyscas, inhabiting the same elevated regions of the great southern plateau with themselves. These latter regulated their calendar on the same general plan of cycles and periodical series as the Aztecs, approaching yet nearer to the system pursued by the people of Asia. *14
[Footnote 14: A tolerably meagre account - yet as full, probably, as authorities could warrant - of this interesting people has been given by Piedrahita, Bishop of Panama, in the first two Books of his Historia General de las Conquistas del Nuevo Regno de Granada, (Madrid, 1688.) - M. de Humboldt was fortunate in obtaining a Ms., composed by a Spanish ecclesiastic resident in Santa Fe de Bogota, in relation to the Muysca calendar, of which the Prussian philosopher has given a large and luminous analysis. Vues des Cordilleres. p. 244.]
It might have been expected that the Incas, the boasted children of the Sun, would have made a particular study of the phenomena of the heavens, and have constructed a calendar on principles as scientific as that of their semi-civilized neighbours. One historian, indeed, assures us that they threw their years into cycles of ten, a hundred, and a thousand years, and that by these cycles they regulated their chronology. *15 But this assertion - not improbable in itself - rests on a writer but little gifted with the spirit of criticism, and is counter-balanced by the silence of every higher and earlier authority, as well as by the absence of any monument, like those found among other American nations, to attest the existence of such a calendar. The inferiority of the Peruvians may be, perhaps, in part explained by the fact of their priesthood being drawn exclusively from the body of the Incas, a privileged order of nobility, who had no need, by the assumption of superior learning, to fence themselves round from the approaches of the vulgar. The little true science possessed by the Aztec priest supplied him with a key to unlock the mysteries of the heavens, and the false system of astrology which he built upon it gave him credit as a being who had something of divinity in his own nature. But the Inca noble was divine by birth. The illusory study of astrology, so captivating to the unenlightened mind, engaged no share of his attention. The only persons in Peru, who claimed the power of reading the mysterious future, were the diviners, men who, combining with their pretensions some skill in the healing art, resembled the conjurors found among many of the Indian tribes. But the office was held in little repute, except among the lower classes, and was abandoned to those whose age and infirmity disqualified them for the real business of life. *16
[Footnote 15: Montesinos, Mem. Antiguas, Ms., lib. 2, cap. 7. "Renovo la computacion de los tiempos, que se iba perdiendo, y se contaron en su Reynaldo los anos por 365 dias y seis horas; a los anos anadio decadeas de diez anos, a cada diez decadas una centuria de 100 anos, y a cada diez centurias una capachoata o Jutiphuacan, que son 1000 anos, que quiere decir el grande ano del Sol; asi contaban los siglos y los sucesos memorables de sus Reyes." Ibid., loc. cit.]
[Footnote 16: "Ansi mismo les hicieron senalar gente para hechizeros que tambien es entre ellos, oficio publico y conoscido en todos, . . . . . los diputados para ello no lo tenian por travajo, por que ninguno podia tener semejante oficio como los dichos sino fuesen viejos e viejas, y personas inaviles para travajar, como mancos, cojos o contrechos, y gente asi a quien faltava las fuerzas para ello." Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms.]
The Peruvians had knowledge of one or two constellations, and watched the motions of the planet Venus, to which, as we have seen, they dedicated altars. But their ignorance of the first principles of astronomical science is shown by their ideas of eclipses, which, they supposed, denoted some great derangement of the planet; and when the moon labored under one of these mysterious infirmities, they sounded their instruments, and filled the air with shouts and lamentations, to rouse her from her lethargy. Such puerile conceits as these form a striking contrast with the real knowledge of the Mexicans, as displayed in their hieroglyphical maps, in which the true cause of this phenomenon is plainly depicted. *17
[Footnote 17: See Codex Tel-Remensis, Part 4, Pl. 22, ap. Antiquities of Mexico, vol. I. London, 1829.]
But, if less successful in exploring the heavens, the Incas must be admitted to have surpassed every other American race in their dominion over the earth. Husbandry was pursued by them on principles that may be truly called scientific. It was the basis of their political institutions. Having no foreign commerce, it was agriculture that furnished them with the means of their internal exchanges, their subsistence, and their revenues. We have seen their remarkable provisions for distributing the land in equal shares among the people, while they required every man, except the privileged orders, to assist in its cultivation. The Inca himself did not disdain to set the example. On one of the great annual festivals, he proceeded to the environs of Cuzco, attended by his Court, and, in the presence of all the people, turned up the earth with a golden plough, - or an instrument that served as such, - thus consecrating the occupation of the husbandman as one worthy to be followed by the Children of the Sun. *18
[Footnote 18: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 16.
The nobles, also, it seems, at this high festival, imitated the example of their master. "Pasadas todas las fiestas, en la ultima llevavan muchos arados de manos, los quales antiguamente heran de oro; i echos los oficios, tomava el Inga an arado i comenzava con el a romper la tierra, i lo mismo los demas senores, para que de alli adelante en todo su senorio hiciesen lo mismo, i sin que el Inga hiciese esto no avia Indio que osase romper la tierra, ni pensavan que produjese si el Inga no la rompia primero i esto vaste quanto a las fiestas.' Conq. i. Pob. del Piru, Ms.]
The patronage of the government did not stop with this cheap display of royal condescension, but was shown in the most efficient measures for facilitating the labors of the husbandman. Much of the country along the sea-coast suffered from want of water, as little or no rain fell there, and the few streams, in their short and hurried course from the mountains, exerted only a very limited influence on the wide extent of territory. The soil, it is true, was, for the most part, sandy and sterile; but many places were capable of being reclaimed, and, indeed, needed only to be properly irrigated to be susceptible of extraordinary production. To these spots water was conveyed by means of canals and subterraneous aqueducts, executed on a noble scale. They consisted of large slabs of freestone nicely fitted together without cement, and discharged a volume of water sufficient, by means of latent ducts or sluices, to moisten the lands in the lower level, through which they passed. Some of these aqueducts were of great length. One that traversed the district of Condesuyu measured between four and five hundred miles. They were brought from some elevated lake or natural reservoir in the heart of the mountains, and were fed at intervals by other basins which lay in their route along the slopes of the sierra. In this descent, a passage was sometimes to be opened through rocks, - and this without the aid of iron tools; impracticable mountains were to be turned; rivers and marshes to be crossed; in short, the same obstacles were to be encountered as in the construction of their mighty roads. But the Peruvians seemed to take pleasure in wrestling with the difficulties of nature. Near Caxamarca, a tunnel is still visible, which they excavated in the mountains, to give an outlet to the waters of a lake, when these rose to a height in the rainy seasons that threatened the country with inundation. *19
[Footnote 19: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 21. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 24. - Stevenson, Narrative of a Twenty Years' Residence in S. America, (London, 1829,) vol. I. p. 412; II. pp. 173, 174.
"Sacauan acequias en cabos y por partes que es cosa estrana afirmar lo: porque las echauan por lugares altos y baxos: y por laderas de los cabecos y haldas de sierras q estan en los valles: y por ellos mismos atrauiessan muchas: unas por una parte, y otras por otra, que es gran delectacio caminar por aquellos valles: porque parece que se anda entre huertas y florestas llenas de frescuras." Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 66.]
Most of these beneficent works of the Incas were suffered to go to decay by their Spanish conquerors. In some spots, the waters are still left to flow in their silent, subterraneous channels, whose windings and whose sources have been alike unexplored. Others, though partially dilapidated, and closed up with rubbish and the rank vegetation of the soil, still betray their course by occasional patches of fertility. Such are the remains in the valley of Nasca, a fruitful spot that lies between long tracts of desert; where the ancient water-courses of the Incas, measuring four or five feet in depth by three in width, and formed of large blocks of uncemented masonry, are conducted from an unknown distance.
The greatest care was taken that every occupant of the land through which these streams passed should enjoy the benefit of them. The quantity of water allotted to each was prescribed by law; and royal overseers superintended the distribution, and saw that it was faithfully applied to the irrigation of the ground. *20
[Footnote 20: Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Memoirs of Gen-Miller, vol II p. 220.]
The Peruvians showed a similar spirit of enterprise in their schemes for introducing cultivation into the mountainous parts of their domain. Many of the hills, though covered with a strong soil, were too precipitous to be tilled. These they cut into terraces, faced with rough stone, diminishing in regular gradation towards the summit; so that, while the lower strip, or anden, as it was called by the Spaniards, that belted round the base of the mountain, might comprehend hundreds of acres, the uppermost was only large enough to accommodate a few rows of Indian corn. *21 Some of the eminences presented such a mass of solid rock, that, after being hewn into terraces, they were obliged to be covered deep with earth, before they could serve the purpose of the husbandman. With such patient toil did the Peruvians combat the formidable obstacles presented by the face of their country! Without the use of the tools or the machinery familiar to the European, each individual could have done little; but acting in large masses, and under a common direction, they were enabled by indefatigable perseverance to achieve results, to have attempted which might have filled even the European with dismay. *22
[Footnote 21: Miller supposes that it was from these andenes that the Spaniards gave the name of Andes to the South American Cordilleras. (Memoirs of Gen. Miller, vol II. p. 219.) But the name is older than the Conquest, according to Garcilasso, who traces it to Anti, the name of a province that lay east of Cuzco. (Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 2, cap. 11.) Anta, the word for copper, which was found abundant in certain quarters of the country, may have suggested the name of the province, if not immediately that of the mountains.]
[Footnote 22: Memoirs of Gen. Miller, ubi supra. - Garcilasso, Com. Real. Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 1.]
In the same spirit of economical husbandry which redeemed the rocky sierra from the curse of sterility, they dug below the arid soil of the valleys, and sought for a stratum where some natural moisture might be found. These excavations, called by the Spaniards hoyas, or "pits," were made on a great scale, comprehending frequently more than an acre, sunk to the depth of fifteen or twenty feet, and fenced round within by a wall of adobes, or bricks baked in the sun. The bottom of the excavation, well prepared by a rich manure of the sardines, - a small fish obtained in vast quantities along the coast, - was planted with some kind of grain or vegetable. *23
[Footnote 23: Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 73.
The remains of these ancient excavations still excite the wonder of the modern traveller. See Stevenson, Residence in S. America, vol. I. p. 359. - Also McCulloh, Researches, p. 358.]
The Peruvian farmers were well acquainted with the different kinds of manures, and made large use of them; a circumstance rare in the rich lands of the tropics, and probably not elsewhere practised by the rude tribes of America. They made great use of guano, the valuable deposit of sea-fowl, that has attracted so much attention, of late, from the agriculturists both of Europe and of our own country, and the stimulating and nutritious properties of which the Indians perfectly appreciated. This was found in such immense quantities on many of the little islands along the coast, as to have the appearance of lofty hills, which, covered with a white saline incrustation, led the Conquerors to give them the name of the sierra nevada, or "snowy mountains."
The Incas took their usual precautions for securing the benefits of this important article to the husbandman. They assigned the small islands on the coast to the use of the respective districts which lay adjacent to them. When the island was large, it was distributed among several districts, and the boundaries for each were clearly defined. All encroachment on the rights of another was severely punished. And they secured the preservation of the fowl by penalties as stern as those by which the Norman tyrants of England protected their own game. No one was allowed to set foot on the island during the season for breeding, under pain of death; and to kill the birds at any time was punished in the like manner. *24
[Footnote 24: Acosta, lib. 4, cap. 36. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 3.]
With this advancement in agricultural science, the Peruvians might be supposed to have had some knowledge of the plough, in such general use among the primitive nations of the eastern continent. But they had neither the iron ploughshare of the Old World, nor had they animals for draught, which, indeed, were nowhere found in the New. The instrument which they used was a strong, sharp-pointed stake, traversed by a horizontal piece, ten or twelve inches from the point, on which the ploughman might set his foot and force it into the ground. Six or eight strong men were attached by ropes to the stake, and dragged it forcibly along, - pulling together, and keeping time as they moved by chanting their national songs, in which they were accompanied by the women who followed in their train, to break up the sods with their rakes. The mellow soil offered slight resistance; and the laborer, by long practice, acquired a dexterity which enabled him to turn up the ground to the requisite depth with astonishing facility. This substitute for the plough was but a clumsy contrivance; yet it is curious as the only specimen of the kind among the American aborigines, and was perhaps not much inferior to the wooden instrument introduced in its stead by the European conquerors. *25
[Footnote 25: Ibid., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 2.]
It was frequently the policy of the Incas, after providing a deserted tract with the means for irrigation, and thus fitting it for the labors of the husbandman, to transplant there a colony of mitimaes, who brought it under cultivation by raising the crops best suited to the soil. While the peculiar character and capacity of the lands were thus consulted, a means of exchange of the different products was afforded to the neighbouring provinces, which, from the formation of the country, varied much more than usual within the same limits. To facilitate these agricultural exchanges, fairs were instituted, which took place three times a month in some of the most populous places, where, as money was unknown, a rude kind of commerce was kept up by the barter of their respective products. These fairs afforded so many holidays for the relaxation of the industrious laborer. *26
[Footnote 26: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 19. - Garcilasso, Com. Real, Parte 1, lib. 6, cap. 36; lib. 7, cap. 1. - Herrera, Hist. General. dec. 5, lib. 4, cap. 3.]
Such were the expedients adopted by the Incas for the improvement of their territory; and, although imperfect, they must be allowed to show an acquaintance with the principles of agricultural science, that gives them some claim to the rank of a civilized people. Under their patient and discriminating culture, every inch of good soil was tasked to its greatest power of production; while the most unpromising spots were compelled to contribute something to the subsistence of the people. Everywhere the land teemed with evidence of agricultural wealth, from the smiling valleys along the coast to the terraced steeps of the sierra, which, rising into pyramids of verdure, glowed with all the splendors of tropical vegetation. The formation of the country was particularly favorable, as already remarked, to an infinite variety of products, not so much from its extent as from its various elevations, which, more remarkable, even, than those in Mexico, comprehend every degree of latitude from the equator to the polar regions. Yet, though the temperature changes in this region with the degree of elevation, it remains nearly the same in the same spots throughout the year; and the inhabitant feels none of those grateful vicissitudes of season which belong to the temperate latitudes of the globe. Thus, while the summer lies in full power on the burning regions of the palm and the cocoa-tree that fringe the borders of the ocean, the broad surface of the table land blooms with the freshness of perpetual spring, and the higher summits of the Cordilleras are white with everlasting winter.
The Peruvians turned this fixed variety of climate, if I may so say, to the best account by cultivating the productions appropriate to each; and they particularly directed their attention to those which afforded the most nutriment to man. Thus, in the lower level were to be found the cassava-tree and the banana, that bountiful plant, which seems to have relieved man from the primeval curse - if it were not rather a blessing - of toiling for his sustenance. *27 As the banana faded from the landscape, a good substitute was found in the maize, the great agricultural staple of both the northern and southern divisions of the American continent; and which, after its exportation to the Old World, spread so rapidly there, as to suggest the idea of its being indigenous to it. *28 The Peruvians were well acquainted with the different modes of preparing this useful vegetable, though it seems they did not use it for bread, except at festivals; and they extracted a sort of honey from the stalk, and made an intoxicating liquor from the fermented grain, to which, like the Aztecs, they were immoderately addicted. *29
[Footnote 27: The prolific properties of the banana are shown by M. de Humboldt, who states that its productiveness, as compared with that of wheat, is as 133 to 1, and with that of the potato, as 44 to 1. (Essai Politique sur le Royaume de la Nouvelle Espagne, Paris, 1827, tom. II. p. 389.) It is a mistake to suppose that this plant was not indigenous to South America. The banana-leaf has been frequently found in ancient Peruvian tombs.]
[Footnote 28: The misnomer of ble de Turquie shows the popular error. Yet the rapidity of its diffusion through Europe and Asia, after the discovery of America, is of itself sufficient to show that it could not have been indigenous to the Old World, and have so long remained generally unknown there.]
[Footnote 29: Acosta, lib. 4, cap. 16.
The saccharine matter contained in the maize-stalk is much greater in tropical countries than in more northern latitudes; so that the natives in the former may be seen sometimes sucking it like the sugarcane. One kind of the fermented liquors, sora, made from the corn, was of such strength, that the use of it was forbidden by the Incas, at least to the common people. Their injunctions do not seem to have been obeyed so implicitly in this instance as usual.]
The temperate climate of the table-land furnished them with the maguey, agave Americana, many of the extraordinary qualities of which they comprehended, though not its most important one of affording a material for paper. Tobacco, too, was among the products of this elevated region. Yet the Peruvians differed from every other Indian nation to whom it was known, by using it only for medicinal purposes, in the form of snuff. *30 They may have found a substitute for its narcotic qualities in the coca (Erythroxylum Peruvianum), or cuca, as called by the natives. This is a shrub which grows to the height of a man. The leaves when gathered are dried in the sun, and, being mixed with a little lime, form a preparation for chewing, much like the betel-leaf of the East. *31 With a small supply of this cuca in his pouch, and a handful of roasted maize, the Peruvian Indian of our time performs his wearisome journeys, day after day, without fatigue, or, at least, without complaint. Even food the most invigorating is less grateful to him than his loved narcotic. Under the Incas, it is said to have been exclusively reserved for the noble orders. If so, the people gained one luxury by the Conquest; and, after that period, it was so extensively used by them, that this article constituted a most important item of the colonial revenue of Spain. *32 Yet, with the soothing charms of an opiate, this weed so much vaunted by the natives, when used to excess, is said to be attended with all the mischievous effects of habitual intoxication. *33
[Footnote 30: Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 2, cap. 25.]
[Footnote 31: The pungent leaf of the betel was in like manner mixed with lime when chewed. (Elphinstone, History of India, London, 1841, vol. I. p. 331.) The similarity of this social indulgence, in the remote East and West, is singular.]
[Footnote 32: Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms. - Acosta, lib. 4, cap. 22. - Stevenson, Residence in S. America, vol. II. p. 63. - Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 96.]
[Footnote 33: A traveller (Poeppig) noticed in the Foreign Quarterly Review, (No. 33,) expatiates on the malignant effects of the habitual use of the cuca, as very similar to those produced on the chewer of opium. Strange that such baneful properties should not be the subject of more frequent comment with other writers! I do not remember to have seen them even adverted to.]
Higher up on the slopes of the Cordilleras, beyond the limits of the maize and of the quinoa, - a grain bearing some resemblance to rice, and largely cultivated by the Indians, - was to be found the potato, the introduction of which into Europe has made an era in the history of agriculture. Whether indigenous to Peru, or imported from the neighbouring country of Chili, it formed the great staple of the more elevated plains, under the Incas, and its culture was continued to a height in the equatorial regions which reached many thousand feet above the limits of perpetual snow in the temperate latitudes of Europe. *34 Wild specimens of the vegetable might be seen still higher, springing up spontaneously amidst the stunted shrubs that clothed the lofty sides of the Cordilleras, till these gradually subsided into the mosses and the short yellow grass, pajonal, which, like a golden carpet, was unrolled around the base of the mighty cones, that rose far into the regions of eternal silence, covered with the snows of centuries. *35
[Footnote 34: Malte-Brun, book 86.
The potato, found by the early discoverers in Chili, Peru, New Granada, and all along the Cordilleras of South America, was unknown in Mexico, - an additional proof of the entire ignorance in which the respective nations of the two continents remained of one another. M. de Humboldt, who has bestowed much attention on the early history of this vegetable, which has exerted so important an influence on European society, supposes that the cultivation of it in Virginia, where it was known to the early planters, must have been originally derived from the Southern Spanish colonies. Essai Politique, tom. II. p. 462.]
[Footnote 35: While Peru, under the Incas, could boast these indigenous products, and many others less familiar to the European, it was unacquainted with several of great importance, which, since the Conquest, have thriven there as on their natural soil. Such are the olive, the grape, the fig, the apple, the orange, the sugar-cane. None of the cereal grains of the Old World were found there. The first wheat was introduced by a Spanish lady of Trujillo, who took great pains to disseminate it among the colonists, of which the government, to its credit, was not unmindful. Her name was Maria de Escobar. History, which is so much occupied with celebrating the scourges of humanity, should take pleasure in commemorating one of its real benefactors.]
Peruvian Sheep. - Great Hunts. - Manufactures. - Mechanical Skill. - Architecture. - Concluding Reflections.
A nation which had made such progress in agriculture might be reasonably expected to have made, also, some proficiency in the mechanical arts, - especially when, as in the case of the Peruvians, their agricultural economy demanded in itself no inconsiderable degree of mechanical skill. Among most nations, progress in manufactures has been found to have an intimate connection with the progress of husbandry. Both arts are directed to the same great object of supplying the necessaries, the comforts, or, in a more refined condition of society, the luxuries of life; and when the one is brought to a perfection that infers a certain advance in civilization, the other must naturally find a corresponding development under the increasing demands and capacities of such a state. The subjects of the Incas, in their patient and tranquil devotion to the more humble occupations of industry which bound them to their native soil, bore greater resemblance to the Oriental nations, as the Hindoos and Chinese, than they bore to the members of the great Anglo-Saxon family, whose hardy temper has driven them to seek their fortunes on the stormy ocean, and to open a commerce with the most distant regions of the globe. The Peruvians, though lining a long extent of sea-coast, had no foreign commerce.
They had peculiar advantages for domestic manufacture in a material incomparably superior to any thing possessed by the other races of the Western continent. They found a good substitute for linen in a fabric which, like the Aztecs, they knew how to weave from the tough thread of the maguey. Cotton grew luxuriantly on the low, sultry level of the coast, and furnished them with a clothing suitable to the milder latitudes of the country. But from the llama and the kindred species of Peruvian sheep they obtained a fleece adapted to the colder climate of the table-land, "more estimable," to quote the language of a well-informed writer, "than the down of the Canadian beaver, the fleece of the brebis des Calmoucks, or of the Syrian goat." *1
[Footnote 1: Walton, Historical and Descriptive Account of the Peruvian Sheep, (London, 1811,) p. 115. This writer's comparison is directed to the wool of the vicuna, the most esteemed of the genus for its fleece.]
Of the four varieties of the Peruvian sheep, the llama, the one most familiarly known, is the least valuable on account of its wool. It is chiefly employed as a beast of burden, for which, although it is somewhat larger than any of the other varieties, its diminutive size and strength would seem to disqualify it. It carries a load of little more than a hundred pounds, and cannot travel above three or four leagues in a day. But all this is compensated by the little care and cost required for its management and its maintenance. It picks up an easy subsistence from the moss and stunted herbage that grow scantily along the withered sides and the steeps of the Cordilleras. The structure of its stomach, like that of the camel, is such as to enable it to dispense with any supply of water for weeks, nay, months together. Its spongy hoof, armed with a claw or pointed talon to enable it to take secure hold on the ice, never requires to be shod; and the load laid upon its back rests securely in its bed of wool, without the aid of girth or saddle. The llamas move in troops of five hundred or even a thousand, and thus, though each individual carries but little, the aggregate is considerable. The whole caravan travels on at its regular pace, passing the night in the open air without suffering from the coldest temperature, and marching in perfect order, and in obedience to the voice of the driver. It is only when overloaded that the spirited little animal refuses to stir, and neither blows nor caresses can induce him to rise from the ground. He is as sturdy in asserting his rights on this occasion, as he is usually docile and unresisting. *2
[Footnote 2: Ibid., p. 23, et seq. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 8, cap. 16. - Acosta, lib. 4, cap. 41.
Llama, according to Garcilasso de la Vega, is a Peruvian word signifying "flock." (Ibid., ubi supra.) The natives got no milk from their domesticated animals; nor was milk used, I believe, by any tribe on the American continent.]
The employment of domestic animals distinguished the Peruvians from the other races of the New World. This economy of human labor by the substitution of the brute is an important element of civilization, inferior only to what is gained by the substitution of machinery for both. Yet the ancient Peruvians seem to have made much less account of it than their Spanish conquerors, and to have valued the llama, in common with the other animals of that genus, chiefly for its fleece. Immense herds of these "large cattle," as they were called, and of the "smaller cattle," *3 or alpacas, were held by the government, as already noticed, and placed under the direction of shepherds, who conducted them from one quarter of the country to another, according to the changes of the season. These migrations were regulated with all the precision with which the code of the mesta determined the migrations of the vast merino flocks in Spain; and the Conquerors, when they landed in Peru, were amazed at finding a race of animals so similar to their own in properties and habits, and under the control of a system of legislation which might seem to have been imported from their native land. *4
[Footnote 3: Ganado maior, ganado menor.]
[Footnote 4: The judicious Ondegardo emphatically recommends the adoption of many of these regulations by the Spanish government, as peculiarly suited to the exigencies of the natives. "En esto de los ganados parescio haber hecho muchas constituciones en diferentes tiempos e algunas tan utiles e provechosas para su conservacion que conven dria que tambien guardasen agora." Rel. Seg., Ms.]
But the richest store of wool was obtained, not from these domesticated animals, but from the two other species, the huanacos and the vicunas, which roamed in native freedom over the frozen ranges of the Cordilleras; where not unfrequently they might be seen scaling the snow-covered peaks which no living thing inhabits save the condor, the huge bird of the Andes, whose broad pinions bear him up in the atmosphere to the height of more than twenty thousand feet above the level of the sea. *5 In these rugged pastures, "the flock without a fold" finds sufficient sustenance in the ychu, a species of grass which is found scattered all along the great ridge of the Cordilleras, from the equator to the southern limits of Patagonia. And as these limits define the territory traversed by the Peruvian sheep, which rarely, if ever, venture north of the line, it seems not improbable that this mysterious little plant is so important to their existence, that the absence of it is the principal reason why they have not penetrated to the northern latitudes of Quito and New Granada. *6
[Footnote 5: Malte-Brun, book 86.]
[Footnote 6: Ychu, called in the Flora Peruana Jarava; Class, Monandria Digynia. See Walton, p. 17]
But, although thus roaming without a master over the boundless wastes of the Cordilleras, the Peruvian peasant was never allowed to hunt these wild animals, which were protected by laws as severe as were the sleek herds that grazed on the more cultivated slopes of the plateau. The wild game of the forest and the mountain was as much the property of the government, as if it had been inclosed within a park, or penned within a fold. *7 It was only on stated occasions, at the great hunts, which took place once a year, under the personal superintendence of the Inca or his principal officers, that the game was allowed to be taken. These hunts were not repeated in the same quarter of the country oftener than once in four years, that time might be allowed for the waste occasioned by them to be replenished. At the appointed time, all those living in the district and its neighbourhood, to the number, it might be, of fifty or sixty thousand men, *8 were distributed round, so as to form a cordon of immense extent, that should embrace the whole country which was to be hunted over. The men were armed with long poles and spears, with which they beat up game of every description lurking in the woods, the valleys, and the mountains, killing the beasts of prey without mercy, and driving the others, consisting chiefly of the deer of the country, and the huanacos and vicunas, towards the centre of the wide-extended circle; until, as this gradually contracted, the timid inhabitants of the forest were concentrated on some spacious plain, where the eye of the hunter might range freely over his victims, who found no place for shelter or escape.
[Footnote 7: Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms.]
[Footnote 8: Sometimes even a hundred thousand mustered, when the Inca hunted in person, if we may credit Sarmiento. "De donde haviendose ya juntado cinquenta o sesenta mil Personas o cien mil si mandado les era." Relacion, Ms., cap. 13.]
The male deer and some of the coarser kind of the Peruvian sheep were slaughtered; their skins were reserved for the various useful manufactures to which they are ordinarily applied, and their flesh, cut into thin slices, was distributed among the people, who converted it into charqui, the dried meat of the country, which constituted then the sole, as it has since the principal, animal food of the lower classes of Peru. *9
[Footnote 9: Ibid., ubi supra.
Charqui; hence, probably, says McCulloh, the term "jerked," applied to the dried beef of South America. Researches, p. 377.]
But nearly the whole of the sheep, amounting usually to thirty or forty thousand, or even a larger number, after being carefully sheared, were suffered to escape and regain their solitary haunts among the mountains. The wool thus collected was deposited in the royal magazines, whence, in due time, it was dealt out to the people. The coarser quality was worked up into garments for their own use, and the finer for the Inca; for none but an Inca noble could wear the fine fabric of the vicuna. *10
[Footnote 10: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms. loc. cit. - Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 81. - Garcilasso, Com. Real. Parte 1, lib. 6, cap. 6.]
The Peruvians showed great skill in the manufacture of different articles for the royal household from this delicate material, which, under the name of vigonia wool, is now familiar to the looms of Europe. It was wrought into shawls, robes, and other articles of dress for the monarch, and into carpets, coverlets, and hangings for the imperial palaces and the temples. The cloth was finished on both sides alike; *11 the delicacy of the texture was such as to give it the lustre of silk; and the brilliancy of the dyes excited the admiration and the envy of the European artisan. *12 The Peruvians produced also an article of great strength and durability by mixing the hair of animals with wool; and they were expert in the beautiful feather-work, which they held of less account than the Mexicans from the superior quality of the materials for other fabrics, which they had at their command. *13
[Footnote 11: Acosta, lib. 4, cap. 41.]
[Footnote 12: "Ropas finisimas para los Reyes, que lo eran tanto que parecian de sarga de seda y con colores tan perfectos quanto se puede afirmar." Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 13]
[Footnote 13: Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.
"Ropa finissima para los senores Ingas de lana de las Vicunias. Y cierto fue tan prima esta ropa, como auran visto en Espana: por alguna que alla fue luego que se gano este reyno. Los vestidos destos Ingas eran camisetas desta opa: vnas pobladas de argenteria de oro, otras de esmeraldas y piedras preciosas: y algunas de plumas de aues: otras de solamente la manta. Para hazer estas ropas, tuuiero y tienen tan perfetas colores de carmesi, azul, amarillo, negro, y de otras suertes: que verdaderamente tienen ventaja a las de Espana." Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 114.]
The natives showed a skill in other mechanical arts similar to that displayed by their manufacturers of cloth. Every man in Peru was expected to be acquainted with the various handicrafts essential to domestic comfort. No long apprenticeship was required for this, where the wants were so few as among the simple peasantry of the Incas. But, if this were all, it would imply but a very moderate advancement in the arts. There were certain individuals, however, carefully trained to those occupations which minister to the demands of the more opulent classes of society. These occupations, like every other calling and office in Peru, always descended from father to son. *14 The division of castes, in this particular, was as precise as that which existed in Egypt or Hindostan. If this arrangement be unfavorable to originality, or to the development of the peculiar talent of the individual, it at least conduces to an easy and finished execution by familiarizing the artist with the practice of his art from childhood. *15
[Footnote 14: Ondegardo, Rel. Prim. et Seg., Mss. - Garcillaso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 7, 9, 13.]
[Footnote 15: At least, such was the opinion of the Egyptians, who referred to this arrangement of castes as the source of their own peculiar dexterity in the arts. See Diodorus Sic., lib. 1, sec. 74.]
The royal magazines and the huacas or tombs of the Incas have been found to contain many specimens of curious and elaborate workmanship. Among these are vases of gold and silver, bracelets, collars, and other ornaments for the person; utensils of every description, some of fine clay, and many more of copper; mirrors of a hard, polished stone, or burnished silver, with a great variety of other articles made frequently on a whimsical pattern, evincing quite as much ingenuity as taste or inventive talent. *16 The character of the Peruvian mind led to imitation, in fact, rather than invention, to delicacy and minuteness of finish, rather than to boldness or beauty of design.
[Footnote 16: Ulloa, Not. Amer., ent. 21. - Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 114. - Condamine, Mem. ap. Hist. de l'Acad. Royale de Berlin, tom. II. p. 454-456.
The last writer says, that a large collection of massive gold ornaments of very rich workmanship was long preserved in the royal treasury of Quito. But on his going there to examine them, he learned that they had just been melted down into ingots to send to Carthagena, then besieged by the English! The art of war can flourish only at the expense of all the other arts.] That they should have accomplished these difficult works with such tools as they possessed, is truly wonderful. It was comparatively easy to cast and even to sculpture metallic substances, both of which they did with consummate skill. But that they should have shown the like facility in cutting the hardest substances, as emeralds and other precious stones, is not so easy to explain. Emeralds they obtained in considerable quantity from the barren district of Atacames, and this inflexible material seems to have been almost as ductile in the hands of the Peruvian artist as if it had been made of clay. *17 Yet the natives were unacquainted with the use of iron, though the soil was largely impregnated with it. *18 The tools used were of stone, or more frequently of copper. But the material on which they relied for the execution of their most difficult tasks was formed by combining a very small portion of tin with copper. *19 This composition gave a hardness to the metal which seems to have been little inferior to that of steel. With the aid of it, not only did the Peruvian artisan hew into shape porphyry and granite, but by his patient industry accomplished works which the European would not have ventured to undertake. Among the remains of the monuments of Cannar may be seen movable rings in the muzzles of animals, all nicely sculptured of one entire block of granite. *20 It is worthy of remark, that the Egyptians, the Mexicans, and the Peruvians, in their progress towards civilization, should never have detected the use of iron, which lay around them in abundance; and that they should each, without any knowledge of the other, have found a substitute for it in such a curious composition of metals as gave to their tools almost the temper of steel; *21 a secret that has been lost - or, to speak more correctly, has never been discovered - by the civilized European.
[Footnote 17: They had turquoises, also, and might have had pearls, but for the tenderness of the Incas, who were unwilling to risk the lives of their people in this perilous fishery! At least, so we are assured by Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 8, cap. 23.]
[Footnote 18: "No tenian herramientas de hierro in azero." Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms. - Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 4, cap. 4.]
[Footnote 19: M. de Humboldt brought with him back to Europe one of these metallic tools, a chisel, found in a silver mine opened by the Incas not far from Cuzco. On an analysis, it was found to contain 0.94 of copper, and 0.06 of tin. See Vues des Cordilleres, p. 117.]
[Footnote 20: "Quoiqu'il en soit," says M. de la Condamine, "nous avons vu en quelques autres ruines des ornemens du meme granit, qui representoient des mufles d'animaux, dont les narines percees portoient des anneaux mobiles de la meme pierre." Mem. ap. Hist. de l'Acad. Royale de Berlin, tom. II. p. 452.]
[Footnote 21: See the History of the Conquest of Mexico, Book 1, chap. 5.] I have already spoken of the large quantity of gold and silver wrought into various articles of elegance and utility for the Incas; though the amount was inconsiderable, in comparison with what could have been afforded by the mineral riches of the land, and with what has since been obtained by the more sagacious and unscrupulous cupidity of the white man. Gold was gathered by the Incas from the deposits of the streams. They extracted the ore also in considerable quantities from the valley of Curimayo, northeast of Caxamarca, as well as from other places; and the silver mines of Porco, in particular, yielded them considerable returns. Yet they did not attempt to penetrate into the bowels of the earth by sinking a shaft, but simply excavated a cavern in the steep sides of the mountain, or, at most, opened a horizontal vein of moderate depth. They were equally deficient in the knowledge of the best means of detaching the precious metal from the dross with which it was united, and had no idea of the virtues of quicksilver, - a mineral not rare in Peru, - as an amalgam to effect this decomposition. *22 Their method of smelting the ore was by means of furnaces built in elevated and exposed situations, where they might be fanned by the strong breezes of the mountains. The subjects of the Incas, in short, with all their patient perseverance, did little more than penetrate below the crust, the outer rind, as it were, formed over those golden caverns which lie hidden in the dark depths of the Andes. Yet what they gleaned from the surface was more than adequate for all their demands. For they were not a commercial people, and had no knowledge of money. *23 In this they differed from the ancient Mexicans, who had an established currency of a determinate value. In one respect, however, they were superior to their American rivals, since they made use of weights to determine the quantity of their commodities, a thing wholly unknown to the Aztecs. This fact is ascertained by the discovery of silver balances, adjusted with perfect accuracy, in some of the tombs of the Incas. *24