[Footnote 79: Bark-gatherers. The Peruvians call the bark cascarilla, and they point out the distinctions of a great number of species and varieties.]
[Footnote 80: From Cuzco, the ancient residence of the Incas. It was discovered by the French chemists Corriol and Pelletier, in the Cascarilla which is shipped in Arica; hence this alkaloid is also called Aricin.]
[Footnote 81: The Indian name for this animal is Chaque chinca. The black variety Yana chinca is called by the Spaniards Tigre or Yaguar.]
[Footnote 82: Rupicola peruviana, Ch. Dum. The color of the female is reddish brown, and she is named by the natives Tunqui mulato; the male is called Tunqui Colorado. In some parts of the Montana the Cephalopterus ornatus is called Yana Tunqui. Thus, even the Indians have observed the relationship of these birds, which, classed according to our system of natural history, actually belong to one family, the Ampelidae. Their affinity is indicated very correctly by the Indian name.]
[Footnote 83: The Organistas of Peru, Brazil, and Guiana, &c., mentioned by so many travellers, all belong to the family of the Troglodytinae, to the two genera, Troglodytes, Vieill, and Cyphorhinus, Cab. The Peruvian Organista above alluded to, is the Troglodytes leucophrys, Tsch. In Guiana it appears to be the Cyphorhinus carinatus, Cab.]
[Footnote 84: Xenops, Anabates, Dendrocolaptes, and many other kinds of Capito and Picus.]
[Footnote 85: These are different kinds of Cassicus and Icterus.]
[Footnote 86: Kinds of Pteroglossus. Those most frequently met with in the Montanas are the Pt. atrogularis, Sturm; Pt. coeruleocinctus, Tsch. (Aulacorhynchus, Orb.); and Pt. Derbianus, Gould.]
[Footnote 87: Dios te de signifies May God give it thee. The sound which is interpreted, Dios te de resembles very much the cry of most of the Toucans, or pepper-eaters.]
[Footnote 88: Several kinds of Penelope.]
[Footnote 89: The cry of this bird closely resembles the Spanish words Ven aca (Come hither).]
[Footnote 90: Seven species of Crypturus.]
[Footnote 91: Sterna erythrorhynchos, Prince Max., St. magnirostris, Licht.]
[Footnote 92: Champsa fissipes, sclerops et nigra, Wagl.]
[Footnote 93: Echidna ocellata, Tsch. This is the only species of the viper family belonging to South America, as yet known.]
[Footnote 94: Sphenocephalus melanogenys, Tsch.; Lygophis Reginae, Wagl.; L. taeniurus, Tsch.; L. elegans, Tsch.]
[Footnote 95: From naui, the eye, huacay, to cry, and cici, the ant;—so called by the Indians, because the pain of its numerous stings brings tears into the eyes.]
[Footnote 96: "Acabe la tarea" may be translated "My task is finished." But the Indians are not very consistent in their interpretations of the song of the Cucarachero; for in some districts, they contend that it repeats the words—Casa te Soltera, "Go and get married, Maiden."]
[Footnote 97: A. von Humboldt, von Martius, and, in particular, Poeppig, who has published a narrative of his journey through Peru, distinguished by its precision, and written in a style so elegant and simple that its perusal affords the utmost interest and pleasure.]
Montana of San Carlos de Vitoc—Villages—Hacienda of Maraynioc—the Coca Plant—Mode of Cultivating and Gathering it—Mastication of Coca—Evil Consequences of its excessive Use—Its Nutritious Qualities—Indian Superstitions connected with the Coca Plant—Suggestions for its Introduction in the European Navies—Fabulous animal called the Carbunculo—The Chunchos—Missions to Cerro de la Sal—Juan Santos Atahuallpa—The Franciscan Monks—Depopulation of Vitoc.
The Montana of San Carlos de Vitoc is, without exception, one of the most interesting districts of Peru. It has on the one side, and at a short distance, the populous villages of the Sierra, and on the other it borders on the forests, through which the wild Indians range in their hunting excursions. It was formerly the principal key to the missionary stations of the Pampa del Sacramento, the Chanchamayo, Perenc, and Upper Ucayali. It is only twenty leagues distant from Tarma, from whence the road leads through the fertile valley Acobamba, to Palca. Eastward of the latter place are the ruins of a fort, which in former times must have been a place of considerable importance. The wild Indians have repeatedly made hostile sallies from their forests, and it is only by this bulwark, which, with four small field-pieces, completely defends the narrow valley, that they have been checked in their advance on Tarma. An exceedingly steep path runs about a league and a half up the acclivity; then, becoming somewhat more level, it extends to the base of the crest, which at that part is about 14,000 feet above the level of the sea. Here the aspect of the Andes is by no means so imposing as that of the Cordillera, for the glaciers and steep rocky summits are wanting. The highest peaks rise only about 200 feet above the crest. As in the Cordillera, the eastern declivity inclines much more gently than the western, but the road is marshy, and is interspersed with large hollows, into which the mules often fall and are killed. After passing over the Andes, two leagues further, we come to the hacienda Maraynioc, where numerous herds of cattle are kept. Round the hacienda there are potato plantations, and the potatoes reared here are so excellent, that they are celebrated throughout the whole Sierra. Every morning the sky is obscured by heavy clouds; it rains regularly two days in the week, and there are frequent falls of snow; yet notwithstanding this excessive humidity, a bad harvest is an event never to be apprehended. The cultivation of maize is, however, found to be impracticable here, for soon after germination the ears rot. A small stream flows past the hacienda, and after a course of about three leagues, it reaches the Montana de Vitoc. Formerly, the road ran close along the bank of this stream, but in consequence of the repeated depopulation of Vitoc, it became neglected, and at length impassable. The way is now over the Cuchillo, or sharp edge of a mountain ridge, and it must be at least four times longer than the course formerly taken. From Maraynioc the road proceeds, for the length of a league, through a valley overgrown with brushwood, and then rises to a lateral branch of the Andes, which is almost as high as the main chain. The Indians call this ridge, Manam rimacunan ("Thou shall not speak!"), for a heavy wind, accompanied by drifting snow, blows constantly, and renders it scarcely possible to open the mouth to utter a word. From Manarimacunan, downwards, to the lower Montana, the road passes over stones laid in echelon form, and through a very slippery hollow way, which descends rapidly downward, and is surrounded by almost impenetrable woods; the only open and level place is the field of Chilpes, which is a few hundred paces long.
Here it is highly interesting to contemplate the rapid increase of vegetation, and the varied changes in the animal world. From the brink of a ridge where only feeble vegetation can be seen, we descend a few leagues and speedily find ourselves in the region of the Cinchona tree, and in the evening we are among lofty palms. The first human dwellings seen on entering the Montana are half a dozen small huts, forming the hamlet Amaruyo, formerly called Sibis, and immediately after we come to the village of Vitoc. It consists of about fifty wretched huts, and has a small church, in which worship is performed twice a year for the inhabitants of the whole valley.
Vitoc is surrounded by two rivers, which unite in a sharp angle, called the Tingo, and which separate the valley from the territory of the wild Indians. The valley is deep, and the surrounding heights are broken by many quebradas. The soil is very fruitful, and the locality is less than some others infested with troublesome insects; yet it is but scantily peopled, for, besides the two villages and the Hacienda of Maraynioc, already mentioned, it contains only a few scattered chacras. The inhabitants of this, the most favored district of the Montanas, scarcely amount to 200. The villagers employ themselves chiefly in the cultivation of pines, which are sent to Lima. The Indians of Palca and Tapo bring them potatoes, salt, and butcher's meat, for which the villagers exchange their pine-apples. The fruit is conveyed by asses to the coast, where, however, it seldom arrives in good condition. The other productions of the Montana are maize, oranges, bananas, paltas, Spanish pepper, &c.; but these articles are sold only in the Sierra. Each inhabitant of the village cultivates his own piece of ground, which he can enlarge when he pleases; but these people are too indolent to devote themselves seriously to agriculture. It is only when the governor in Tarma compels them to pay the annual contribution, that they make an effort to augment their earnings; they then seek a market for the products of their cultivation, and sell them for ready money. Vitoc and some of the villages in its neighborhood form altogether only one ecclesiastical community, whose pastor lives in Tarma the whole year round. He goes to Pucara only once in six or eight months, to read a couple of masses, and to solemnize marriages and christenings, but chiefly to collect fees for burials which may have taken place during his absence.
The plantation of Pacchapata is of considerable extent, but produces very little. The system of repartimientos, already described, by which the poor Indian is kept in a state of slavery by advances of clothing, meat, brandy, &c., is practised in this hacienda to a great extent. The laborer who is set down in the plantation-book as a debtor for ten or twelve dollars, has a good chance of remaining during the rest of his life a tributary slave; for if he tries by prolonged labor to relieve himself from the debt the owner of the plantation causes brandy to be made, and this is too great a temptation to be resisted by an Indian. The butcher's meat given to the laboring Indians in general consists of Chalonas, that is, the dried flesh of sheep which have died in the haciendas of the hilly districts. For a meagre, tough, unwholesome chalona the Indian has to add a dollar and a half or two dollars to his debt, while a living sheep in the Sierra would not cost half the price. It is the same with other articles furnished by the haciendas. European importations, such as can be purchased at very low prices in the Sierra, are sold at high profits by the owners of plantations to the poor Indians, who have to repay them by long and severe labor.
At Pacchapata, besides maize, yuccas, and fruits, sugar, coffee, and coca are also cultivated. The sugar-cane grows in abundance, and is of good quality. An excellent kind of coffee is grown here; the bean is slightly globular, and its color is a greenish blue. In former times the viceroy used to send the coffee of Vitoc as a highly-esteemed present to the court of Madrid. The coca is also very fine, and yields three harvests in the year; which, however, is only the case in a few of the Montanas, as, for example, at Pangoa and Huanta. I may here subjoin some notice of this highly interesting plant.
The coca (Erythroxylon coca, Lam.) is a shrub about six feet in height, with bright green leaves and white blossoms. The latter are succeeded by small scarlet berries. It is raised from the seed, in garden-beds called almazigas. When the young shoots are one and a half or two feet high, they are removed to regularly laid out coca fields (cocales), where they are planted at the distance of about three spans from each other. The coca requires humidity; therefore, during the first year or two after it is planted in the fields, maize is sown between the matas, or young shoots, to screen them from the too great influence of the sun. When the leaves are ripe, that is to say, when on being bent they crack or break off, the gathering commences. The leaves are stripped from the branches, a task usually performed by women, and it requires great care lest the tender leaves and young twigs should be injured. In some districts, the Indians are so very careful in gathering the coca, that, instead of stripping off the leaves, they cut them from the stem by making an incision with their nails. The plant thus rendered leafless is soon again overgrown with verdant foliage. After being gathered, the leaves are spread out on coarse woollen cloths and dried in the sun. The color of the leaves when dried is a pale green. The drying is an operation which likewise demands great care and attention, for if the leaves imbibe damp, they become dark colored, and then they sell for a much lower price than when they are green. The dry coca is finely packed in woollen sacks, and covered with sand. These sacks are of various sizes and colors, in different parts of the Montanas. In Huanuco they are grey or black, and when filled weigh from 75 to 80 pounds. In Vitoc they are grey and white, and contain 150 pounds. In Huanta and Anco they are small in size, and black or brown in color, and contain merely one aroba. In the Montanas of Urubamba, Calca, and Paucartambo, the coca leaves are put into small baskets called cestos, and covered with sand. Great care is also requisite in the carriage of the coca, for if damp be allowed to penetrate the sack, the leaves become hot, or as the natives express it, Se calientan, and are thereby rendered useless.
The Indians masticate the coca. Each individual carries a leathern pouch, called the huallqui, or the chuspa, and a small flask gourd, called the ishcupuru. The pouch contains a supply of coca leaves, and the gourd is filled with pulverised unslaked lime. Usually four times, but never less than three times a day, the Indian suspends his labor, for the purpose of masticating coca. This operation (which is termed chacchar or acullicar) is performed in the following manner: some of the coca leaves, the stalks having been carefully picked off, are masticated until they form a small ball, or as it is called an acullico. A thin slip of damp wood is then thrust into the ishcupuru, or gourd, and when drawn out some portion of the powdered lime adheres to it. The acullico, or ball of masticated coca leaves, is, whilst still lying in the mouth, punctured with this slip of wood, until the lime mixing with it, gives it a proper relish, and the abundant flow of saliva thus excited is partly expectorated and partly swallowed. When the ball ceases to emit juice, it is thrown away, and a new one is formed by the mastication of a fresh mouthfull of coca leaves. In Cerro de Pasco, and in places still further south, the Indians use, instead of unslaked lime, a preparation of the pungent ashes of the quinua (Chenopodium Quinua, L.). This preparation is called Llucta or Llipta. In using it a piece is broken off and masticated along with the acullico. In some of the Montana regions the Llucta is made from the ashes of the musa root. The application of the unslaked lime demands some precaution, for if it comes in direct contact with the lips and gums, it causes a very painful burning. During a fatiguing ride across the level heights, where, owing to the cold wind, I experienced a difficulty of respiration, my Arriero recommended me to chew coca, assuring me that I would experience great relief from so doing. He lent me his huallqui, but owing to my awkward manner of using it, I cauterized my lips so severely that I did not venture on a second experiment.
The flavor of coca is not unpleasant. It is slightly bitter, aromatic, and similar to the worst kind of green tea. When mixed with the ashes of the musa root it is somewhat piquant, and more pleasant to European palates than it is without that addition. The smell of the fresh dried leaves in a mass is almost overpowering; but this smell entirely goes when they are packed in the sacks. All who masticate coca have a very bad breath, pale lips and gums, greenish and stumpy teeth, and an ugly black mark at the angles of the mouth. An inveterate coquero, or coca chewer, is known at the first glance. His unsteady gait, his yellow-colored skin, his dim and sunken eyes encircled by a purple ring, his quivering lips and his general apathy, all bear evidence of the baneful effects of the coca juice when taken in excess. All the mountain Indians are addicted more or less to the practice of masticating coca. Each man consumes, on the average, between an ounce and an ounce and a half per day, and on festival days about double that quantity. The owners of mines and plantations allow their laborers to suspend their work three times a day for the chacchar, which usually occupies upwards of a quarter of an hour; and after that they smoke a paper cigar, which they allege crowns the zest of the coca mastication. He who indulges for a time in the use of coca finds it difficult, indeed almost impossible, to relinquish it. This fact I saw exemplified in the cases of several persons of high respectability in Lima, who are in the habit of retiring daily to a private apartment for the purpose of masticating coca. They could not do this openly, because among the refined class of Peruvians the chacchar is looked upon as a low and vulgar practice, befitting only to the laboring Indians. Yet, Europeans occasionally allow themselves to fall into this habit; and I knew two in Lima, the one an Italian and the other a Biscayan, who were confirmed coqueros in the strictest sense of the word. In Cerro de Pasco there are societies having even Englishmen for their members, which meet on certain evenings for the chacchar. In these places, instead of lime or ashes, sugar is served along with the coca leaves. A member of one of these clubs informed me that on the few first trials the sugar was found very agreeable, but that afterwards the palate required some more pungent ingredient.
The operation of the coca is similar to that of narcotics administered in small doses. Its effects may be compared to those produced by the thorn-apple rather than to those arising from opium. I have already noticed the consequences resulting from drinking the decoction of the datura. In the inveterate coquero similar symptoms are observable, but in a mitigated degree. I may mention one circumstance attending the use of coca, which appears hitherto to have escaped notice: it is, that after the mastication of a great quantity of coca the eye seems unable to bear light, and there is a marked distension of the pupil. I have also observed this peculiarity of the eye in one who had drunk a strong extract of the infusion of coca leaves. In the effects consequent on the use of opium and coca there is this distinction, that coca, when taken even in the utmost excess, never causes a total alienation of the mental powers or induces sleep; but, like opium, it excites the sensibility of the brain, and the repeated excitement, occasioned by its intemperate use after a series of years, wears out mental vigor and activity.
It is a well known fact, confirmed by long observation and experience, that the Indians who regularly masticate coca require but little food, and, nevertheless, go through excessive labor with apparent ease. They, therefore, ascribe the most extraordinary qualities to the coca, and even believe that it might be made entirely a substitute for food. Setting aside all extravagant and visionary notions on the subject, I am clearly of opinion that the moderate use of coca is not merely innoxious, but that it may even be very conducive to health. In support of this conclusion, I may refer to the numerous examples of longevity among Indians who, almost from the age of boyhood, have been in the habit of masticating coca three times a day, and who in the course of their lives have consumed no less than two thousand seven hundred pounds, yet, nevertheless, enjoy perfect health. The food of the Indians consists almost exclusively of vegetable substances, especially roasted maize and barley converted into flour by crushing, which they eat without the admixture of any other substance. The continued use of this farinaceous food occasions severe obstructions, which the well known aperient qualities of the coca counteract, and many serious diseases are thereby prevented. That the coca is in the highest degree nutritious, is a fact beyond dispute. The incredible fatigues endured by the Peruvian infantry, with very spare diet, but with the regular use of coca; the laborious toil of the Indian miner, kept up, under similar circumstances, throughout a long series of years; certainly afford sufficient ground for attributing to the coca leaves, not a quality of mere temporary stimulus, but a powerful nutritive principle. Of the great power of the Indians in enduring fatigue with no other sustenance than coca, I may here mention an example. A Cholo of Huari, named Hatun Huamang, was employed by me in very laborious digging. During the whole time he was in my service, viz., five days and nights, he never tasted any food, and took only two hours' sleep nightly. But at intervals of two and a half or three hours, he regularly masticated about half an ounce of coca leaves, and he kept an acullico continually in his mouth. I was constantly beside him, and therefore I had the opportunity of closely observing him. The work for which I engaged him being finished, he accompanied me on a two days' journey of twenty-three leagues across the level heights. Though on foot, he kept up with the pace of my mule, and halted only for the chacchar. On leaving me, he declared that he would willingly engage himself again for the same amount of work, and that he would go through it without food if I would but allow him a sufficient supply of coca. The village priest assured me that this man was sixty-two years of age, and that he had never known him to be ill in his life.
The Indians maintain that coca is the best preventive of that difficulty of respiration felt in the rapid ascents of the Cordillera and the Puna. Of this fact I was fully convinced by my own personal experience. I speak here, not of the mastication of the leaves, but of their decoction taken as a beverage. When I was in the Puna, at the height of 14,000 feet above the level of the sea, I drank, always before going out to hunt, a strong infusion of coca leaves. I could then during the whole day climb the heights and follow the swift-footed wild animals without experiencing any greater difficulty of breathing than I should have felt in similar rapid movement on the coast. Moreover, I did not suffer from the symptoms of cerebral excitement or uneasiness which other travellers have observed. The reason perhaps is, that I only drank this decoction in the cold Puna, where the nervous system is far less susceptible than in the climate of the forests. However, I always felt a sense of great satiety after taking the coca infusion, and I did not feel a desire for my next meal until after the time at which I usually took it.
By the Peruvian Indians the coca plant is regarded as something sacred and mysterious, and it sustained an important part in the religion of the Incas. In all ceremonies, whether religious or warlike, it was introduced, for producing smoke at the great offerings, or as the sacrifice itself. During divine worship the priests chewed coca leaves, and unless they were supplied with them, it was believed that the favor of the gods could not be propitiated. It was also deemed necessary that the supplicator for divine grace should approach the priests with an Acullico in his mouth. It was believed that any business undertaken without the benediction of coca leaves could not prosper; and to the shrub itself worship was rendered. During an interval of more than 300 years Christianity has not been able to subdue the deep-rooted idolatry; for everywhere we find traces of belief in the mysterious power of this plant. The excavators in the mines of Cerro de Pasco throw masticated coca on hard veins of metal, in the belief that it softens the ore, and renders it more easy to work. The origin of this custom is easily explained, when it is recollected, that in the time of the Incas it was believed that the Coyas, or the deities of metals, rendered the mountains impenetrable, if they were not propitiated by the odor of coca. The Indians, even at the present time, put coca leaves into the mouths of dead persons, to secure to them a favorable reception on their entrance into another world, and when a Peruvian Indian on a journey falls in with a mummy, he, with timid reverence, presents to it some coca leaves as his pious offering.
Soon after the conquest of Peru, when the Spaniards treated the Indians and all their customs with contempt, coca became an object of aversion to the whites. The reverence rendered by the natives to the coca plant induced the Spaniards to believe that it possessed some demoniacal influence. The officers of the government and the clergy, therefore, endeavored, by all possible means, to extirpate its use, and this is one cause, hitherto overlooked, of the hatred with which the Indians regarded the Spaniards. In the second council held at Lima, in 1567, coca was described "as a worthless object, fitted for the misuse and superstition of the Indians;" and a royal decree of October 18, 1569, expressly declares that the notions entertained by the natives that coca gives them strength, is an "illusion of the devil" (una elusion del Demonio). The Peruvian mine owners were the first to discover the importance of the chacchar in assisting the Indians to go through their excessive labor, and they, together with the plantation owners, became the most earnest defenders of coca. The consequence was, that, in defiance of royal and ecclesiastical ordinances, its use increased rather than diminished. One of the warmest advocates of the plant was the Jesuit Don Antonio Julian, who, in a work entitled, "Perla de America," laments that coca is not introduced into Europe instead of tea and coffee. "It is," he observes, "melancholy to reflect that the poor of Europe cannot obtain this preservative against hunger and thirst; that our working people are not supported by this strengthening plant in their long-continued labors." In the year 1793, Dr. Don Pedro Nolasco Crespo pointed out in a treatise the important advantages that would be derived from the use of the coca plant, if introduced into the European navies, and he expresses a wish that experiments of its utility in that way could be tried. Though it is not probable that Dr. Crespo's wish will ever be realized, yet there is little doubt that the use of coca as a beverage on board ship would be attended with very beneficial results. It would afford a nutritious refreshment to seamen in the exercise of their laborious duties, and would greatly assist in counteracting the unwholesome effects of salt provisions. As a stimulant it would be far less injurious than ardent spirits, for which it might be substituted without fear of any of the evil consequences experienced by the coqueros. After a long and attentive observation of the effects of coca, I am fully convinced that its use, in moderation, is no way detrimental to health; and that without it the Peruvian Indian, with his spare diet, would be incapable of going through the labor which he now performs. The coca plant must be considered as a great blessing to Peru. It is an essential means of preserving the nationality of the Indians, and in some measure mitigating the melancholy fate of that once great race which disease and excessive labor now threaten to destroy.
In former times the cultivation of coca in the Montana de Vitoc was very considerable. Upwards of 4,000 arobas used to be annually forwarded to the market of Tarma. Now only fifty arobas are sent. Vitoc produces no fodder for horses or mules; those animals, therefore, are very lean and feeble in this district, and are usually unfit for work after two years. Indeed, they suffer so much from the attacks of the blood-sucking bat and the gad-fly (tabano), that after being only a few weeks in the Montana de Vitoc, their strength is exhausted, and they are scarcely able to reach the Puna. Black cattle, on the contrary, thrive excellently; but it is not possible to keep up herds, for the young calves are all devoured by the numerous animals of prey. The llamas, which the Cholos bring from Tapo to Vitoc, are so enfeebled and overcome by the journey, that on the second day after their arrival it is often found necessary to send them to a colder district.
In this Montana the large animals of prey seldom approach human habitations, though sometimes the ounce pays them a visit, and the Cuguar descends from the Ceja. Other animals of the feline genus are very numerous, and their depredations render it impossible to breed poultry. Even the fabulous animal, called the carbunculo, is said to have been seen oftener than once in Vitoc. In almost every place I visited on the coast, in the Sierra, and in the Montanas, extraordinary stories concerning this animal were related; and many persons even assured me they had seen him. The carbunculo is represented to be of the size of a fox, with long black hair, and is only visible at night, when it slinks slowly through the thickets. If followed, he opens a flap or valve in the forehead, from under which an extraordinary, brilliant, and dazzling light issues. The natives believe that this light proceeds from a brilliant precious stone, and that any fool hardy person who may venture to grasp at it rashly is blinded; then the flap is let down, and the animal disappears in the darkness. Such are the stories related by the Indians; and it appears that the belief of the existence of the carbunculo has prevailed in Peru from the earliest times, and certainly before the conquest, so that its introduction cannot be attributed to the Spaniards. It is even prevalent among many of the wild Indian tribes, by whom the early missionaries were told the stories which they in their turn repeated about the animal. As yet nobody has been fortunate enough to capture such an animal, though the Spaniards always showed themselves very desirous to obtain possession of the precious jewel; and the viceroys, in their official instructions to the missionaries, placed the carbunculo in the first order of desiderata. What animal may have served as a foundation for those fabulous stories, it is certainly difficult to decide; probably a different one in each particular district. On the coast it may have been the anash (one of the mephitic animals), which seeks for his food only at night. I have often observed for a moment a singularly brilliant flashing in the eyes of that animal when irritated.
The worst enemies of the delightful Montana de Vitoc are the wild Indians, who are only separated from the Christian Indians by the two rivers Aynamayo and Tullumayo. They belong to the ferocious race of the Chunchos, and in their savage manners they somewhat resemble the Casibos and Campas. They have their chief residence in Chibatizo, nine leagues from Pucara. Only three leagues from Pacchapata, at the confluence of the Chanchamayo and Tullumayo, they have a pretty large village; and Palmapata, which they temporarily took possession of, is situated still nearer. They frequently extend their hunting excursions to the banks of the great rivers, and make inroads upon the territory of Vitoc, cruelly murdering all the Cholos they meet with. Any kind of friendly intercourse with them is impracticable. I took some pains to accomplish that object, but without success. While they were on their hunting expeditions I have left in their huts knives, fish-hooks, ear-rings, and other things. In return for these presents they left for me some of their edible roots, among which were yuccas, but all were poisoned, so that, had we not observed caution, I and my venturous companion, Klee, might have fallen victims to the treachery of these Indians. The Chunchos, when on their expeditions, are almost in a state of nudity. Sometimes they wear a short whitish-brown shirt without sleeves. This garment, when worn by the chiefs, is red. Most of them dye their hair with achote (Bixa Orellana, L.), a deep vermilion, and paint the face and breast of the same color. Their weapons consist of a bow of chonta (Guilielma speciosa), with which they use two kinds of arrows. One kind are very long, with round points and barbs of chonta; the others are shorter, and have points made of reed, which inflict deep wounds, very difficult to be healed. They also use the great wooden sword, the macana. A cross having been put up in the forest, they fastened to it a few days afterwards a macana and two arrows, as symbols of irreconcilable enmity to Christians. Their warlike instrument is a reed, two feet long and four inches broad, through which their howlings resound in horrible discord.
It is a custom with the inhabitants of Vitoc to undertake two expeditions every year against the Chunchos. They are the most laughable enterprises imaginable. All the Cholos of the valley, with the Alcalde at their head, or rather in the midst of them, proceed, armed with sticks, axes, forest knives, and two muskets, to explore the banks of both rivers. The front ranks advance with drums beating, and a number of Indians carry large calabashes filled with guarapo, to which they pay their earnest devotions every half hour. When by accident some of the Chunchos are seen, the Cholos fly with all the rapidity that terror can inspire, and cannot be got together again till they reach their village; then they raise a tremendous shout, and when safe in their dwellings boast proudly of their heroic deeds.
The Chunchos are in possession of a very rich bed of salt, some twelve or fourteen leagues from Vitoc, from whence they permit the neighboring tribes with whom they are at peace, to supply themselves with salt. Hostile tribes, such as the Campas and the Callisecas, sometimes attempt to carry away salt, and then a sanguinary contest ensues. This stratum of salt comes from the top of a hill, called the Cerro de la Sal, and it runs in the direction from south-west to north-east, to the length of nearly three leagues, covering a breadth of about thirty ells. The salt is mixed with red earth. It is probably a continuation of the great salt bed of Maynas, stretching eastward along the left bank of the Perene. It may be presumed that it does not extend as far as the immense Pajonal, as the Campas go for their salt to the Cerro de la Sal.
In former times various attempts were made to convert the Chunchos to Christianity; and these attempts were partially successful. The first missionary who ventured among them was the intrepid Fray Geronimo Ximenes. In 1635 he penetrated from Huancabamba to the Cerro de la Sal, and there preached the gospel in the language of the people. He built a chapel, and then directed his course south-west to Vitoc, where he founded the village San Buenaventura. Two years after he embarked on the Chanchamayo, with the intention of extending his mission to the Campas tribe, by whom he was killed, together with his companion, Fray Christoval Larios, and twenty-eight other Spaniards. Several missionaries subsequently proceeded to the Cerro de la Sal, and found favor with the natives, so that in 1640 they had no less than seven villages of converted Chunchos, Amagas, and Campas; but only a few years afterwards all the missionaries and soldiers were killed and the chapels were destroyed. The Franciscan monks, inspired by their indefatigable zeal, ventured in 1671, on a new mission to the fatal Cerro de la Sal; and they had the good fortune to found a village in which eight hundred Neophytes were collected. A second and smaller village was founded in the vicinity of the destroyed San Buenaventura, and named Santa Rosa de Quimiri; but the avarice of some Spaniards who fancied there were gold mines in the Cerro de la Sal, induced them to get the missions withdrawn from the superintendence of the priests, and to turn the whole into a political system. Then commenced the oppression of the Indians in those parts. The consequence was a great insurrection in 1674, when all the whites were massacred. Thus were the labors of the missionaries a second time annihilated. Every attempt for the conversion of Indians was for a long time fruitless, and the missionaries who ventured to approach them were shot. After the lapse of about thirty years, during which interval the Chunchos had fallen back to their original savage state, the founder of the Convent of Ocopa, Fray Francisco de San Jose, with four priests and two lay brothers, penetrated into the valley of Vitoc, and entered upon the territory of the Chunchos. At this time (1709) Vitoc was first peopled, and in the course of twenty years six large villages were built. In the year 1739 these missions, again flourishing, counted ten Christian villages and three thousand baptized Indians. Three years afterwards the Indian insurrection, headed by the apostate Juan Santos, destroyed all the missions of Central Peru.
Juan Santos was an Indian born at Huamanga, and he claimed descent from the last of the Incas. This claim was probably well founded, for before the revolt he was called Atahuallpa, which was the name of the Inca put to death by Pizarro. Juan Santos was haughty, high spirited, and clever. In the year 1741 he killed, in a quarrel, a Spaniard of high rank, and to elude the pursuit of justice, he fled to the forests. There he brooded over plans for taking vengeance on the oppressors of his country. He first addressed himself to the tribes of the Campas, and having gained them over, he proceeded to Quisopongo in the Pajonal. From thence, in the year 1742, he made his first attack on the mission of the Cerro de la Sal. The Spaniards had already been warned of the intended rising, but they considered it too unimportant to call for serious measures of repression; and whilst lulling themselves in their imagined security, they were surprised and massacred by the Indians. The insurrection spread with incredible rapidity. Juan Santos himself led all the principal attacks. In one night he took the fortress of Quimiri with sixty-five men, all of whom were massacred in the most cruel manner. The well-defended fort of Paucartambo was next taken by a small number of Chunchos, commanded by Juan Santos. All the Christian churches were destroyed by the insurgents. The sacred images and the priests were tied together, and cast into the rivers; the villages were burned, and the cultivated fields laid waste. The number of Spanish soldiers killed in this insurrection was 245; the number of priests, 26. In the course of a few weeks all the missions of central Peru were completely destroyed, and terror spread even to the mountains. The Spanish government found it necessary to adopt the most vigorous measures, for there was reason to fear that the mountain Indians would revolt. Castles and forts were built on the frontiers of all the Montanas and strongly garrisoned; but the insurrection did not extend further. The ultimate fate of Juan Santos Atahuallpa has never been satisfactorily ascertained. Some assert that he became a powerful ruler, and that as long as he lived the races of the Chunchos, Pacanes, Chichirrenes, Campas, and Simirinches, were united. On an old manuscript in the monastery of Ocopa I found a marginal note, in which it was said, "As to the monster, the apostate Juan Santos Atahuallpa, after his diabolical destruction of our missions, the wrath of God was directed against him in the most fearful manner. He died the death of Herod, for his living body was devoured by worms."
Shortly after the tragical downfall of these missions, two priests, Fra Francisco Otasua and Fray Salvador Pando, visited the ruins of Quimiri, and endeavored to conciliate the rebels; but in vain. After three months, during which they suffered dreadful ill treatment from the Chunchos, they returned to the monastery of Ocopa.
These missionaries were all monks of the order of San Francisco. Their active zeal and heroic submission to any sacrifice in furtherance of the cause in which they were embarked must excite at once astonishment and admiration. Undaunted by incredible privations and laborious exertions in the pathless forests, without food or shelter; undismayed by the continual apprehension of a violent and cruel death, they courageously obeyed the inward impulse which inspired them to preach the gospel to the wild Indians. When intelligence was received of the violent death of one of the brotherhood, others immediately offered to supply the place of the victim, and the superiors of the order had much difficulty in restraining the zealous monks. In the central and northern missions of Peru, 129 Franciscan monks were murdered by the wild Indians. Those who compose that number are recorded by name, but many others disappeared without leaving a trace of what had become of them, and of course they are not included in the list. The number of lay brethren who perished is much greater. It is indeed melancholy to reflect how little advantage has been obtained by the sacrifice of so many valuable lives. The missions have nearly all disappeared, and the Indians have now retrograded into the savage state in which they were before the conquest of Peru.
The Franciscan monks were mild and patient teachers. They proceeded on the principle of leaving the Christian religion to act for itself, and they scorned to promote it by any kind of compulsion. The Dominicans, on the other hand, who came to Peru with the conquerors, preached Christianity with fire and sword. The Jesuits, who headed the missions of Southern Peru, adopted the one way or the other, as they found most advantageous to the object they had in view. By this means they secured the attachment of the neophytes, and retained most of their conversions. Many of the Jesuit missionaries were highly intelligent and well-informed men. We are indebted to them for important geographical and statistical information, and in particular for some philological works of great value, viz., a grammar and dictionary of the language of every tribe they converted. The Dominican monks, who were mere ignorant fanatics, sacrificed to their blind zeal for conversion all the monuments of the early civilization of the Peruvians, and restrained, rather than promoted, the intellectual development of the people. The Franciscans, animated by pious inspiration, earnestly preached the doctrines of Christ to the wild inhabitants of the distant forests; but they communicated little information to the rest of world. A few imperfect maps, and some scanty notices on the manners and customs of the Indians, are the whole amount of their laical labors.
In the year 1779 an attempt was again made to penetrate to the Cerro de la Sal, and a road was opened leading from Palca to Chanchamayo, where a fort was built; but at the expiration of five years the government destroyed it, as continued irruptions of the Chunchos could not be checked. In 1784, the governor of Tarma, Don Juan Maria de Galvas, supported by the Superior of Ocopa, Fray Manuel Sobreviela, visited the valley of Vitoc, which had been abandoned since the Indian insurrection. The new village of San Teodoro de Pucara was founded, and the destroyed fort, Santa Ana de Colla, was rebuilt. The Montana was soon peopled, and in a short time it contained upwards of forty haciendas and large chacras. The village of Sorriano, scarcely two leagues from Colla, was then inhabited by Chunchos, who showed a willingness to maintain friendly intercourse with the occupants of Vitoc, from whom they took meat, tools, and other things, which they repaid by agricultural labor. Unfortunately, the plantation owners soon began to take an undue advantage of this friendly intercourse, and to charge exorbitant prices for the articles required by the Indians. For a pin or a needle they demanded two days' work, for a fishing-hook four, and for a wretched knife, eight, ten, or more. A rupture was the consequence. The Chunchos burned their own village, and returned again to Chanchamayo. Still, however, they continued on a sort of amicable footing with the Cholos, until one of the latter wantonly shot a Chuncho at a festival. The tribe then mustered in thousands to avenge the murder. They destroyed the Christian villages, and massacred all the inhabitants who were not able to fly. Thus was Vitoc once more depopulated: Cardenas, the military governor of Tarma, made a fresh endeavor to restore the cultivation of this fine valley. He made the road again passable, laid out the large plantation Chuntabamba, built and garrisoned the Colla fort. The site of the former Chuncho village, Sorriano, was converted into a cocal (or coca field), and the Montana began once more to assume a flourishing aspect. Still, however, the Chunchos continued to harass their neighbors, particularly during the time of the coca harvest, which could not be gathered without military protection. During one of the harvests a laborer was shot by the wild Indians, which so terrified the Cholos, that they all fled to Sorriano. Soon after, Cardenas died, and the coca plantation being neglected, became a waste. A few years afterwards the hacienda of Pacchapata was laid out. During the war of independence the Spaniards destroyed Fort Colla, and the inhabitants of Vitoc were left without any means of defence against their savage enemies. The last attempt to reduce the Chunchos to subjection and order was made by a military expedition under the command of General Don Francisco de Paula de Otero, but owing to ill-arranged plans it totally failed. No more than twenty-five years have elapsed since the valley of Vitoc, with its rich plantations, was in the most flourishing prosperity. Now only faint traces of its past cultivation are discernible.
The history of the Montana of Vitoc is the history of all the Montanas of Peru. In all, we perceive the alternate rise and decline of cultivation and civilization, caused by the efforts of the missionaries, and the incursions of the wild Indians. Throughout all these districts the present condition exhibits a marked inferiority to the past, a circumstance which may be accounted for by the long-continued civil war, during the contest for independence. Nevertheless, the internal tranquillity of the country, and the increasing population, suggest favorable prognostics for the future.
[Footnote 98: See page 189.]
[Footnote 99: I allude here to individuals (and such cases are by no means singular) who have attained the great age of 130. Supposing these Indians to have begun to masticate coca at ten years old, and calculate their daily consumption as a minimum at one ounce, the result is the consumption of twenty-seven hundred weight, in 120 years.]
[Footnote 100: The worthy Padre forgets the high price that would be charged for coca in Europe. In Tarma and Huenuco the aroba (twenty-five pounds) costs at an average six Spanish dollars; add to this the carriage to Lima, the freight to Europe, custom-house duties, &c., and this price would be nearly doubled.]
[Footnote 101: The whole valley of Vitoc can furnish only two muskets, and these are in as useless a state as possible. As for powder, there is a constant want of it. During my residence in Vitoc I usually gave the Alcalde some of my powder when he went out with his Cholos, or when there was a firing on festival days. The want of a suitable number of muskets, and sufficient powder in the dangerous vicinity of the Chunchos, is characteristic of the improvidence of the inhabitants of Vitoc.]
Oppressions exercised by the Spaniards upon the Peruvian Indians—The Repartimiento and the Mita—Indian Insurrections—Tupac Amaru—His Capture and Execution—War of Independence—Character of the Peruvian Indians—Music—Dress—Superstitions—Longevity—Diminished Population of Peru—Languages spoken by the Aboriginal Inhabitants—Specimen of Quichua Poetry—The Yaravies—The Quipu—Water Conduits—Ancient Buildings—Fortresses—Idols—Domestic Utensils—Ancient Peruvian Graves—Mode of Burying the Dead—Mummies.
A glance at the history of Peru serves to show that prior to the Spanish conquest the Indians were the subjects of a dynasty, to which they rendered willing obedience. We find, indeed, an uninterrupted series of revolutions and wars, arising out of the continued extension of the empire, to which nations differing one from another in language, religion, and manners, were gradually annexed. For some time after their subjugation these nations struggled to recover their independence, but the wise and mild government of the Incas gradually restored peace, and established unity. In course of time, the magnitude of the empire led to its downfall. Huayna Inca-Capac divided his dominions between his two sons. To the elder, Huascar, he gave the southern portion of the empire, and to the younger, Atahuallpa, he gave the northern division. Between the two brothers there arose disputes, which led to a sanguinary war; and in that fatal interval, Pizarro, with his invading forces, landed in Peru. With a degree of speed, which internal union among the people would have rendered impossible, the Spaniards made themselves masters of the country, massacred alike sovereigns and subjects, destroyed the sanctuaries, and established a new religion and new laws. The barbarous cruelties by which that religion and those laws were upheld are too well known to require repetition here. Of the many oppressive measures to which the Spaniards enforced submission from the conquered people, I will briefly notice two: the Repartimiento and the Mita. The Repartimiento was the distribution, among the natives, of articles of European production. These distributions were under the superintendence of the provincial authorities, the corregidores, and the sub-delegados. The law was doubtless intended, in its origin, for the advantage and convenience of the native Indians, by supplying them with necessaries at a reasonable price. But, subsequently, the Repartimiento became a source of oppression and fraud, in the hands of the provincial authorities. All the corregidores and sub-delegados became traders. They purchased consignments of manufactured goods from Europe, at a cheap rate, and sold them to the Indians at exorbitant prices. To add to the grievance, the articles thus forced upon the natives were, in many instances, not necessaries, but objects of luxury utterly useless to them. Even more oppressive and cruel than the Repartimiento, was the Mita, which consisted of the forced labor of the Indians in the mines and plantations. Every Spaniard who wished to work a mine, obtained from the corregidor a certain number of Indians, to each of whom he gave daily four reals as wages, with the agreement of paying to the government a yearly tax of eight dollars. The condition of the Indians who were distributed to the plantation owners was even worse than that of the mine laborers; they received only two reals per day, and were required to work in the fields from three in the morning until after sunset. The Indians employed in this compulsory labor, whether in the mines or the plantations, were called Mitas. But there was another sort of forced labor, for which no wages were paid. It was indeed less toilsome than working in the mines and plantations, yet the Indians employed in it were frequently subject to much ill-treatment. I allude to domestic service in the houses of the corregidores, sub-delegados, and priests. The Indians thus employed were called Pongos, and they were required to continue in their places for the space of a year, after which they were discharged. A corregidor frequently had half a dozen of these pongos, whom he provided with miserable food and wretched clothing.
In the mines and plantations countless numbers of Indians were annually swept away by the excessive labor consequent on the mita. Some writers estimate at nine millions the number of Indians sacrificed in the mines in the course of three centuries. This estimate is certainly too high; but three millions more may be added for the number of victims of the mita in the plantations.
That the government in Spain should have tolerated this barbarous system, so obviously calculated to bring ruin on the nation, may naturally be matter of surprise. But a glance at the Indian laws (Leyes de Indias) suffices to show the distinction between the intentions of the Spanish government and the corrupt legislation of the country. The laws are, with some few exceptions, conceived in a mild spirit, and show that their framers had in view the well-being of the colonies. The execution of these laws was consigned to the superintendence of what was termed the Indian council (Consejo de Indias). This council consisted of a certain number of men who resided in Spain, and who either were only in part acquainted with the real state of things in South America, or were bribed by Indian gold to wink at the abuses committed there. From this council were chosen the viceroys and high authorities of the colonies, who, whilst in the exercise of their official functions, amassed enormous wealth by unjust exactions from the Indians. One of the latest viceroys of Peru was a man who arrived in Lima in a state of utter poverty, and who, in the short space of three years, amassed the immense sum of five millions of dollars.
Could it be matter of surprise if at length the Indians rose against their oppressors, and made an effort to shake off the heavy yoke of their tyrants? For two hundred years they had borne it silently, without a single attempt to emancipate themselves. Juan Santos Atahuallpa was the first who stirred up revolt against the Spaniards. The insurrection which he had headed, though deemed too insignificant to fix the attention of the short-sighted government of Lima, nevertheless, convinced the Indians that they were strong enough to make a stand against their oppressors. Several partial risings in Southern Peru were speedily put down; a leader was wanted to organize the disconnected plans and movements of the insurgents. This want was at length supplied in the person of the ill-fated Tupac Amaru, cacique of Tungasuca, a descendant of the last Inca.
The event which caused Tupac Amaru to attempt a movement against the Spaniards occurred in 1780. In that year, the corregidor of Tinta, Don Antonio Ariaga, made repartimientos to the amount of 340,000 dollars, and with the most cruel rigor enforced payment of the useless articles distributed. The cacique of Tungasuca assembled the irritated Indians, who seized the corregidor and hanged him. This was the signal for a general rising in all the neighboring districts. The forces of Tupac Amaru augmented daily. He was invested with the title of Inca, and treated with the honors due to sovereignty. For several months an active war was maintained in the Puna, where several towns and villages were taken by the insurgents. Tupac Amaru had made himself master of the village of Chucuito, and was preparing to advance upon Cuzco, when, about the end of April, 1781, he, and all his family, were made prisoners by the Spaniards. He was tried and condemned to death, together with his wife, two sons, his brother-in-law, and several other individuals of note among the Indians.
But the execution of Tupac Amaru, which was marked by circumstances of monstrous barbarity, far from stemming the tide of revolution, served only to stimulate the vengeance of the insurgents. They once more mustered their warlike bands, under the command of Casimiro Tupac Amaru, the brother of the late cacique, his son Andres, and an intrepid Indian chief, named Nicacatari. The latter, assisted by Andres, burned several villages of Upper Peru, and murdered all the whites. They next advanced upon the strongly fortified town of Sorrata, whither the Spaniards of the surrounding districts had fled for protection. The town was taken by the insurgents, and the inhabitants, 22,000 in number, inhumanly put to death, with the exception of eighty-seven priests and monks. The Indians then advanced westwards, defeating several Spanish corps, and spreading terror and dismay through the country. But, that which neither the arms nor the executions of the Spaniards could accomplish, was effected by their gold. A treacherous Indian, bribed by the promise of a large reward, conducted a division of Spanish soldiers to the spot where the chiefs were accustomed to meet, unattended by any guard, to hold their council. They were surprised, captured, and condemned to death. Once more deprived of leaders, the Indians disbanded and withdrew, some to their homes, and others into the forests. Numberless victims paid the debt of retribution to the Spanish government, which now adopted every measure that could tend to annihilate the nationality of the native Indians. Their dances, their music, their dress—all that could revive the remembrance of their progenitors, was condemned to rigorous prohibition; they were even forbidden the use of their mother tongue, the Quichua language. The only beneficial result of these wars, in which upwards of a hundred thousand lives were sacrificed, was the abolition of the Repartimientos, which had been the cause of the insurrections.
Peace was now, at least to appearance, restored; and if, occasionally, symptoms of disturbance arose, they were immediately repressed. This state of things continued until the Creoles themselves gave the signal of revolt, and the War of Independence broke out in all the Spanish colonies of South America. In this enterprise the Indians readily took part. But it is a great mistake to suppose that the Indian natives made common cause with the Creoles against the Spaniards for the purpose of bringing about the present form of government. They wished to emancipate themselves in order to establish their own dynasty and a government modelled after that of their forefathers. They wanted not a republic, but a monarchy, and a sovereign chosen from the sacred race of the Incas. Having no clear comprehension of the real object of the War of Independence, the Indians, when they saw whites fighting against whites, directed their hostility against all Pucacuncas (pale faces) without distinction, killing loyalists or patriots, just as they happened to fall in their way. This hatred was so bitterly manifested, that in some provinces all the whites and mestizos were obliged to fly, even though they were the most decided enemies of the Spanish loyalists. In Jauja the Indians vowed not to leave even a white dog or a white fowl alive, and they even scraped the whitewash from the walls of the houses.
The provisional government ordered levies of troops to be made in the provinces which had fallen into the hands of the patriots; and then, for the first time, Indians were enrolled in the army as regular troops. But it was only in a very few districts that they voluntarily took part in the conflict for independence: they performed the forced service of conscripts, and whenever an opportunity enabled them to retire from it, they did so. The Spanish dominion being overthrown, the war terminated, and a republican constitution was established. The Indians then clearly perceived that they had been made the tools of the leaders of the revolution. Upon the whole, their condition was but little improved; for if they were relieved from some oppressive laws, other hardships weighed heavily on them, and they found that they still were slaves in the land of their fathers. The creoles, like the Spaniards, will draw the string of despotism till it snaps. Then will arise another Indian insurrection like that headed by Tupac Amaru, but with a more successful result. After a fearful struggle, they may reconquer their fatherland, and re-establish their ancient constitution; and can it be matter of surprise if they wreak cruel vengeance on the enemies of their race?
Since the War of Independence, the Indians have made immense progress. During the civil war, which was kept up uninterruptedly for the space of twenty years, they were taught military manoeuvres and the use of fire-arms. After every lost battle the retreating Indians carried with them in their flight their muskets, which they still keep carefully concealed. They are also acquainted with the manufacture of gunpowder, of which in all their festivals they use great quantities for squibs and rockets. The materials for the preparation of gunpowder are found in abundance in the valleys of the Sierra.
In the year 1841, when I was passing through a miserable village on the confines of one of the Montanas of Central Peru, I took up my abode for some days in the hut of an Indian, and whilst there I accidentally saw eighteen muskets which were deposited in a place of concealment. I, quite unsuspectingly, inquired of the Indian, why he thought it requisite to keep so many weapons of defence? He replied, with a sinister frown, that the time would come when he should find them useful. I could easily perceive that my accidental discovery was by no means agreeable to him; and from the very marked change which I observed in his manner. I deemed it prudent to withdraw from the village and its vicinity. Whilst my horse was being saddled, I noticed my host and some of his confidential friends engaged in very earnest conversation, and I could easily perceive that I was the subject of it. On my departure the Indian asked me, with apparent friendliness of manner, which way I was going? When I was beyond the sphere of his observation, I deemed it prudent to proceed quite in an opposite direction from the route which I told him I intended to take.
The character of the Peruvian Indian is essentially gloomy. It was not always so, if we may give credit to the animated pictures drawn by early travellers in Peru; but three hundred years of oppression and suffering have impressed their melancholy stamp on the feelings and manners of the people. This gloominess is strikingly manifested in their songs, their dances, their dress, and their whole domestic economy. The favorite musical instruments of the Indians are those called the Pututo and the Jaina. The former is a large conch, on which they perform mournful music, as the accompaniment of their funeral dances. In early times this conch was employed in the solemnities of royal interments; now its use is exclusively reserved for the anniversaries held in commemoration of certain events connected with the fallen Inca dynasty. The Jaina appears to be of more modern origin; it is a rude kind of clarionet, made from a reed. Its tone is indescribably melancholy, and it produces an extraordinary impression on the natives. If a group of Indians are rioting and drinking, or engaged in furious conflict with each other, and the sound of the Jaina is suddenly heard, the tumult ceases, as if by a stroke of magic. A dead stillness prevails, and all listen devoutly to the magic tones of the simple reed; tones which frequently draw tears from the eyes of the apathetic Indian.
Their garments are all of dark and sombre hues. Dark blue is a favorite color, and appears to be generally adopted for mourning; for whenever the Indians follow a corpse to the grave, they always wear dark blue ponchos. The dress of the men usually consists of short trowsers, of coarse brown cloth, fastened round the waist by a girdle, and a woollen or cotton shirt. They seldom wear a jacket, the ponchos of Alpaca wool being always the outer garment. On their feet they wear sandals of untanned leather, which merely cover the toes, and are fastened round the ancle.
The dress of the women consists of a loose under garment, without sleeves, and made of coarse blue woollen cloth. It is confined round the waist by a broad girdle, called the huccau. Over the arms are drawn black sleeves, reaching from the wrist to about the middle of the upper arm. A sort of robe or tunic, called the anacu, descends from the shoulders to the knees. It is fastened, not in front, but on one side. This garment is made of a thin sort of woollen stuff. It is always black, being worn in token of mourning for the Incas. On the occasion of certain festivals, the Indian women wear a particolored dress, called a faldillin. This garment frequently exhibits the most glaring contrasts of color, one half being bright red, and the other yellow, in addition to which it is sometimes adorned with flowers of brilliant hues, and tasteless, gold embroidery. A mantilla, consisting of a narrow piece of woollen cloth, passed over the shoulders, and fastened under the chin, either with a long silver pin, or a cactus-thorn, completes the costume. In this mantilla, or in a poncho, mothers are accustomed to wrap their infants, and fastening them to their backs, they carry them about in this manner for a whole day, whilst engaged in their work.
In their domestic relations, the Indians are unsocial and gloomy. Husband, wife, and children live together with but little appearance of affection. The children seem to approach their parents timidly, and whole days sometimes elapse without the interchange of a word of kindness between them. When the Indian is not engaged in out-door work, he sits gloomily in his hut, chewing coca, and brooding silently over his own thoughts. To his friend he is more communicative than to his wife. With the former, he will often discourse, apparently on some secret topic, for the space of half a night; nevertheless, he cannot be accused of treating his wife with any degree of cruelty, or of regarding her merely in the light of his slave, as is customary among many uncivilized races of people.
Besides the official authorities, to which the Government exacts obedience, the Peruvian Indian acknowledges other authorities, whose functions and power are similar to those which existed under the Inca dynasty. In like manner, though they have embraced the Christian faith, yet they obstinately adhere to certain religious ceremonies, which have been transmitted to them by their idolatrous progenitors. Thus their religion is a singular combination of Christian principles and heathenish forms. Hitherto the most patient and intelligent of their religious instructors have failed to outroot this attachment to old forms. The Christian religion has been spread among the Indians by force; and for centuries past, they have regarded the priests only in the light of tyrants, who make religion a cloak for the most scandalous pecuniary extortions, and whose conduct is in direct opposition to the doctrines they profess. If they render to them unconditional obedience, accompanied by a sort of timid reverence, it is to be attributed less to the operation of the Christian principle, than to a lingering attachment to the theocratic government of the Incas, which has impressed the Peruvians with a sacred awe of religion.
The superstition with which the Indians are so deeply imbued is adverse to the inculcation of pure religious faith; it is the more difficult to be eradicated, inasmuch as it has its origin in early tradition, and has in later times been singularly blended with the Catholic form of worship. Of this superstition I may here adduce some examples. As soon as a dying person draws his last breath, the relatives, or persons in attendance, put coca leaves into the mouth of the corpse, and light a wax candle. They then collect together the household goods and clothes of the deceased and wash them in the nearest river. They put on the dead clothes, which are made after the pattern of a monk's habit, and they hang round the neck of the corpse a little bag, containing seeds of coca, maize, barley, quinua, &c., for his plantations in the next world. In the evening ashes are strewed on the floor of the room, and the door is securely fastened. Next morning the ashes are carefully examined to ascertain whether they show any impression of footsteps; and imagination readily traces marks, which are alleged to have been produced by the feet of birds, dogs, cats, oxen, or llamas. The destiny of the dead person is construed by the foot-marks which are supposed to be discernible. The worst marks are those of hens' claws, which are believed to denote that the soul of the deceased is doomed to irrevocable perdition. The marks of the hoofs of llamas are considered favorable, and are believed to indicate that the soul, after a short purgatory, will be transferred to the joys of paradise. The funeral is conducted according to Christian forms, and under the superintendence of a priest. But as soon as the priest takes his departure food is put into the grave along with the dead body, which is interred without a coffin. I have sometimes seen one of the nearest relatives leap into the grave and strike the body with his foot, but the meaning of this strange proceeding I never could clearly understand. Some curious ceremonies are observed on All Souls' Day. In every house in which a member of the family has died in the course of the year, a table is laid out with brandy, coca, tobacco, together with some of the favorite dishes of the deceased person, and the chamber is kept closed the whole day. The family firmly believe that the spirit of their departed relative on that day revisits his earthly abode, and partakes of the repast that is spread out on the table. A widow usually wears mourning for the space of twelve months. In some provinces, on the anniversary of her husband's death, the widow puts on a bridal dress, and over it her ordinary garments. All her relatives visit her in her dwelling, where, to the accompaniment of doleful music, she takes the lead in a funeral dance. As the hour approaches at which the husband died in the previous year, the dancing and the music become more and more mournful; but whenever the hour is past one of the female friends approaches the widow and removes her black mantilla. The other females then strip off the rest of her mourning garments, and adorn her head with flowers. At length she appears in a complete bridal dress. The musicians strike up a lively strain, to which the whole party dance, and the evening is passed in drinking and merry-making.
Among the Peruvian Indians there are marked varieties of form and complexion. These differences are most distinctly observable between the inhabitants of the coast and those of the mountain and forest regions. In general, the Peruvian Indian is of middle height, rather slender, and not very robust. The coast Indians are more plump than the inhabitants of other districts, because they lead a less laborious life, and are less exposed to privations. It is scarcely possible to trace any particular national physiognomy among the Indians. In each province a distinct character is observable in the features of the inhabitants. The varieties of feature are less distinctly marked than the differences of complexion. The peculiar tints of the skin are decidedly defined, and indicate respectively the inhabitants of the three principal regions. The colder the climate, the fairer is the skin. For example, the color of the Puna Indian is a dark red-brown; that of the native of the Sierra is considerably lighter; it is a rusty red, but still darker than that of the coast Indians; and the natives of the forests are yellow, nearly approaching to maize color. These differences are singularly striking, when one has an opportunity of seeing the inhabitants of the different regions in juxtaposition. It is curious that the Cholos of the Puna, when they settle in the forests, become only a very little clearer; and that, on the other hand, the yellow Indians of the Montana, after being several years in the Puna, still retain their characteristic tint. The women are, on the whole, extremely ugly, with round, inexpressive faces. Their hands and feet are very small.
The Indians are, on the average, remarkable for longevity, though they frequently shorten their lives by the intemperate use of strong drinks. Instances are not rare of Indians living to be 120 or 130 years of age, and retaining full possession of their bodily and mental powers. Stevenson mentions that on examining the church registers of Barranca, he found that within an interval of seven years, eleven Indians had been interred, whose united ages amounted to 1207, being an average of 109 years to each. In the year 1839 there was living in the valley of Jauja an Indian who, according to the baptismal register shown to me by the priest, was born in the year 1697. He himself declared that he had not for the space of ninety years tasted a drop of water, having drunk nothing but chicha. Since he was eleven years of age, he alleged that he had masticated coca, at least three times every day, and that he had eaten animal food only on Sundays; on all the other days of the week he had lived on maize, quinua, and barley. The Indians retain their teeth and hair in extreme old age; and it is remarkable that their hair never becomes white, and very seldom even grey. Those individuals whose advanced ages have been mentioned above, had all fine black hair.
Since the Spanish conquest, the population of Peru has diminished in an almost incredible degree. When we read the accounts given by the old historiographers of the vast armies which the Incas had at their command; when we behold the ruins of the gigantic buildings, and of the numerous towns and villages scattered over Peru, it is difficult to conceive how the land could have been so depopulated in the lapse of three centuries. At the time of the conquest it was easy, in a short space of time, to raise an army of 300,000 men, and, moreover, to form an important reserved force; whilst now, the Government, even with the utmost efforts, can scarcely assemble 10,000 or 12,000 men. According to the census drawn up in 1836, Peru did not contain more than 1,400,000 men, being not quite so many as were contained at an earlier period in the department of Cuzco alone. Unfortunately there is no possibility of obtaining anything approaching to accurate estimates of the population of early periods; and even if such documents existed, it would be difficult to deduce from them a comparison between Peru as it now is, and Peru at the period when Bolivia, a part of Buenos Ayres, and Columbia, belonged to the mighty empire. I will here quote only one example of the immense diminution of the population. Father Melendez mentions that shortly after the conquest, the parish of Ancallama, in the province of Chancay, contained 30,000 Indians fit for service (that is to say, between the ages of eighteen and fifty); now, the same parish contains at most 140 individuals, of whom one-third are Mestizos. The whole coast of Peru, now almost totally depopulated, was once so thickly inhabited, that to subdue King Chimu, in North Peru alone, an army of 80,000 men was requisite. The causes of the diminished Indian population of Peru have been so frequently and fully detailed by previous writers, that I need not here do more than briefly advert to them. They are found in the extensive and reckless massacres committed by the Spaniards during the struggle of the conquest; in the suicides and voluntary deaths resorted to by the natives to escape from the power of their oppressors; in the mita, the small-pox, the scarlet fever, and the introduction of brandy. The mita alone, especially the labor in the mines, has swept away four times as many Indians as all the other causes combined. Since the abolition of the mita, the Indian population has been on the increase, though there has not yet been time for any marked result to become manifest; the more especially, considering the numbers of lives sacrificed during the frequent civil wars. Nevertheless, it is easy to foresee that a decided augmentation of the Indian inhabitants of the western parts of South America will, ere long, be apparent.
Among the aboriginal inhabitants of Peru a variety of languages are in use. In the southern parts of the country, particularly about Cuzco, the Quichua is spoken. It was the dialect of the court, and that which was most generally diffused, and the Spaniards therefore called it la lengua general. In the highlands of Central Peru, the Chinchaysuyo language prevailed. The Indians of the coast, who belonged to the race of the Chunchos, spoke the Yunga. The Kauqui was the language of that part of Central Peru which corresponds with the present province of Yauyos. The inhabitants of the north-eastern parts of Peru, as far as the Huallaga, spoke the Lama language, and the natives of the highland regions of Quito spoke the Quitena. These different languages, which, with the exception of the Lama, proceed all from one source, differ so considerably, that the inhabitants of the several districts were reciprocally incapable of understanding each other, and the Incas found it necessary to introduce the Quichua among all the nations they subdued. The other dialects were thereby much corrupted, and at the time of the Spanish invasion, they were seldom correctly spoken. This corruption was naturally increased more and more after the arrival of the Spaniards, by the introduction of a new language. Only for a few of the new articles brought by the Spaniards to Peru did the Indians form new names, taking the roots of the words from their own language: for most things they adopted the Spanish names. By this means, but still more by the future intercourse of the people with the invaders, the purity of the natural language rapidly disappeared in proportion to the influence which the Spaniards obtained by their increase in numbers and moral superiority. At present the Quichua is a compound of all the dialects and the Spanish; it is spoken in the greatest purity in the southern provinces, though even there it is much intermixed with Aymara words. In Central Peru the Chinchaysuyo prevails, and on the coast the Spanish and the Yunga. The present Indians and people of mixed blood, who of necessity must speak the ever-changing Quichua, and also the Spanish, speak both in so corrupt a manner, that it is frequently almost impossible to understand them.
The family of the Incas had a secret language of their own, which was not learned by subjects. This language is now almost totally lost, not more than two dozen words of it being preserved. In early times, the Quichua language was much cultivated. It was used officially in public speaking, and professors were sent by the Inca family into the provinces to teach it correctly. For poetry, the Quichua language was not very well adapted, owing to the difficult conjugation of the verbs, and the awkward blending of pronouns with substantives. Nevertheless, the poetic art was zealously cultivated under the Incas. They paid certain poets (called the Haravicus), for writing festival dramas in verse, and also for composing love-songs and heroic poems. Few of these heroic poems have been preserved, a circumstance the more to be regretted, as many of them would doubtless have been important historical documents; but for that very reason, the Spaniards spared no pains to obliterate every trace of them. Some of the love-songs have, however, been preserved. In Quichua poetry, the lines are short, and seldom thoroughly rhythmical. Rhymes were only exceptional, and were never sought for. The poetry was, therefore, merely a sort of broken prose.
A specimen of one of the best of the Quichua love-songs is given by Garcilaso de la Vega, in his "Commentaries and Poems." It is copied from papers left by a monk named Blas Valera; and some lines of it are here subjoined. The subject is an old Peruvian tradition:—A maiden of royal blood (nusta) is appointed by the Creator of the world (Pacchacamac) in heaven, to pour water and snow on the earth out of a pitcher; her brother breaks the pitcher, whereupon thunder and lightning arise.
Cumac nusta Beautiful Princess, Turallayquim Thy Pitcher Puynuyquita Thy brother hath broken Paquicayan Here in Pieces; Hina mantara For that blow Cunununun It thunders; and lightning Yllapantac Flashes all around.
There were, however, instances of versification which may properly be called poetry. Of this the Yaravies, or elegies, afford some fair examples. These poems have for their subjects unfortunate love, or sorrow for the dead. They were recited or sung by one or more voices, with an accompaniment of melancholy music, and made a great impression on the hearers. A foreigner, who for the first time hears one of these Yaravies sung, even though he may not understand the Quichua words, is nevertheless deeply moved by the melody. The strain is sad and sweet. No other music is at once so dismal and so tender. What the donina is as an instrument, the yaravie is in singing; both convey the expression of a deeply troubled heart. The yaravie has been imitated by the Spaniards in their own language, and some of the imitations are very beautiful; but they have not been able to reach the deep melancholy of the Quichua elegy. The modern poetry of the Indians is inferior to the old; the words are a mixture of Quichua and Spanish, and are scarcely intelligible. The Spanish words have often Quichua terminations affixed to them; on the other hand, sometimes the Quichua words are inflected after the Spanish manner, making altogether a barbarous compound.
The ancient Peruvians had no manuscript characters for single sounds; but they had a method by which they composed words and incorporated ideas. This method consisted in the dexterous intertwining of knots on strings, so as to render them auxiliaries to the memory. The instrument consisting of these strings and knots was called the QUIPU. It was composed of one thick head or top string, to which, at certain distances, thinner ones were fastened. The top string was much thicker than these pendent strings, and consisted of two doubly twisted threads, over which two single threads were wound. The branches, if I may apply the term to these pendent strings, were fastened to the top ones by a simple loop; the knots were made in the pendent strings, and were either single or manifold. The lengths of the strings used in making the quipu were various. The transverse or top string often measures several yards, and sometimes only a foot long; the branches are seldom more than two feet long, and in general they are much shorter.
The strings were often of different colors; each having its own particular signification. The color for soldiers was red; for gold, yellow; for silver, white; for corn, green, &c. This writing by knots was especially employed for numerical and statistical tables; each single knot representing ten; each double knot stood for one hundred; each triple knot for one thousand, &c.; two single knots standing together made twenty; and two double knots, two hundred.
This method of calculation is still practised by the shepherds of the Puna. They explained it to me, and I could, with very little trouble, construe their quipus. On the first branch or string they usually placed the numbers of the bulls; on the second, that of the cows; the latter being classed into those which were milked, and those which were not milked; on the next string were numbered the calves, according to their ages and sizes. Then came the sheep, in several subdivisions. Next followed the number of foxes killed, the quantity of salt consumed, and, finally, the cattle that had been slaughtered. Other quipus showed the produce of the herds in milk, cheese, wool, &c. Each list was distinguished by a particular color, or by some peculiarity in the twisting of the string.
In this manner the ancient Peruvians kept the accounts of their army. On one string were numbered the soldiers armed with slings; on another, the spearmen; on a third, those who carried clubs, &c. In the same manner the military reports were prepared. In every town some expert men were appointed to tie the knots of the quipu, and to explain them. These men were called quipucamayocuna (literally, officers of the knots). Imperfect as was this method, yet in the flourishing period of the Inca government the appointed officers had acquired great dexterity in unriddling the meaning of the knots. It, however, seldom happened that they had to read a quipu without some verbal commentary. Something was always required to be added if the quipu came from a distant province, to explain whether it related to the numbering of the population, to tributes, or to war, &c. Through long-continued practice, the officers who had charge of the quipus became so perfect in their duties, that they could with facility communicate the laws and ordinances, and all the most important events of the kingdom, by their knots.
All attempts made in modern times to decipher Peruvian quipus have been unsatisfactory in their results. The principal obstacle to deciphering those found in graves, consists in the want of the oral communication requisite for pointing out the subjects to which they refer. Such communication was necessary, even in former times, to the most learned quipucamayocuna. Most of the quipus here alluded to seem to be accounts of the population of particular towns or provinces, tax-lists, and information relating to the property of the deceased. Some Indians in the southern provinces of Peru are understood to possess a perfect knowledge of some of the ancient quipus, from information transmitted to them from their ancestors. But they keep that knowledge profoundly secret, particularly from the whites. The ancient Peruvians also used a certain kind of hieroglyphics, which they engraved in stone, and preserved in their temples. Notices of these hieroglyphics are given by some of the early writers. There appears to be a great similarity between these Peruvian hieroglyphics and those found in Mexico and Brazil.
I have already mentioned one of the largest and most wonderful works of Peruvian antiquity, namely, the great military road which passes through the whole empire leading from Cuzco to Quitu, and which has many highly important lateral branches. The magnificent water-conduits, by which barren sand wastes and sterile hills were converted into fruitful plantations, are monuments of equivalent greatness. Traces of these water-conduits are to be seen throughout the whole of Peru, and even where the canals themselves no longer exist, the divisional boundaries of the fields they watered are still discernible. In many districts where the valleys of the Sierra run into the Puna—(I allude here only to the declivities above Tarmatambo, on the road towards Jauja)—there may be seen many square fields of uniform size, each of which is surrounded by a low stone wall; these fields are at present overgrown with Puna grass, and are not fit for cultivation. They are what were called Tapu lands, which were distributed to every subject of the Inca empire, so that each family enjoyed the produce arising from the cultivation of a certain portion of ground. These Tapu lands were watered by skilfully constructed aqueducts, whereby they were rendered suitable for agriculture. The Spaniards having destroyed the conduits, the reservoirs dried up, and the soil became barren. Many of these conduits were subterraneous, and it is now no longer possible to find them; in some parts they were constructed with pipes of gold, which the Spaniards eagerly seized as valuable booty.
There still exist vast remains of well-constructed colossal buildings, as palaces, fortresses, and temples. The walls of these edifices were built of square stones, so finely cut, and joined so closely together, that between any two there is not space sufficient to insert the edge of the thinnest paper. In the royal palace of Cuzco, and in the Temple of the Sun, a fusion of gold or silver was used for cement between the stones. This was, however, only employed as a luxury; for in other great edifices, for example, in the baths of Huamalies in the province of Jauja, stones are kept together by their own weight and the precision of the workmanship. These stones are of very considerable magnitude; some being from twelve to sixteen feet long, from eight to ten feet high, and equally broad. They are not all square; some are polygonal, and some spherical, but they were all joined one to another with the same exactness: of this a remarkable example is presented in the highly interesting ruins of the palace of Limatambo. A question which naturally suggests itself is,—how did the ancient Peruvians, without iron tools, hew these vast stones, and afterwards work the different fragments so skilfully? The first point is to me quite inexplicable; the second may possibly be accounted for by friction; the softest of two stones which was to be brought into a particular shape being rubbed by a harder, and afterwards polished by pyritous plants. The removal of the block from the quarry where it was excavated to the place of its destination, and the raising of fragments of stone to considerable heights, could only have been effected by the co-operation of thousands of men, for no kind of elevating machinery or lever was then known.
The fortresses give a high idea of the progress made by the ancient Peruvians in architectural art. These structures were surrounded by ramparts and trenches. The larger ones were protected by the solidity of the walls, and the smaller ones by difficulty of access. The approaches to them were chiefly subterraneous; and thereby, they were enabled to maintain secret communication with the palaces and temples in their neighborhood. The subterraneous communications were carefully constructed; they were of the height of a man, and in general from three to four feet broad. In some parts they contract suddenly in width, and the walls on each side are built with sharp pointed stones, so that there is no getting between them, except by a lateral movement. In other parts they occasionally become so low, that it is impossible to advance, except by creeping on all fours. Every circumstance had been made a subject of strict calculation; it had been well considered how treasures might be removed from the palaces and temples to the fortresses, and placed securely beyond the reach of an enemy, for in the rear of every narrow pass there were ample spaces for soldiers, who might dispute the advance of a whole army. Besides the remains of the fortress of Cuzco, which are gradually disappearing every year, the most important are those of Calcahilares and Huillcahuaman. Less interesting, though still very curious, are the ruins of Chimu-canchu in Manische, near Truxillo, which are not of stone but of brick. The architecture of the small fortress of Huichay, two leagues from Tarma, which defended the entrance to that valley, is very remarkable. The front is built of small but firmly united stones, and covers a large cavity, in which there are numerous divisions, intended for the preservation of warlike stores, and for quartering soldiers. On the steep declivity of the hill there had been a deep trench, between which there was a wall fourteen feet higher, flanked by three bastions. Around this fortress nitre is found in great abundance. It is now collected by the Huancas (the inhabitants of the valley of Jauja), for making gunpowder. The diggings for nitre have almost obliterated the entrance to the cavity, and the fortress is already so much injured that possibly in another century scarcely a trace of the edifice will remain. Notwithstanding a search of several days, I did not succeed in discovering the mouth of the cavity, though an old Indian, who, years ago, had often visited it, pointed out to me what he supposed to be its precise situation. The walls of perpendicular rock in the neighborhood of Huichay are often 60 to 80 feet high, and the clefts or fissures in them are filled up with small stones. It would be incomprehensible how the Indians ascended to perform this labor, were it not perceived that they have hollowed passages in the mountain. It would appear they must have had dwellings, or stores for provisions, on the higher part of the hill, for small windows are often perceptible in walls of masonry.