PERU: GIANTS AND DEVILS BROOD

The natives of this land affirm that in the beginning, and before this world was created, there was a being called Viracocha. He created a dark world without sun, moon or stars. Owing to this creation he was named Viracocha Pachayachachi, which means Creator of Everything. And when he had created the world he formed a race of giants of disproportioned greatness painted and sculptured, to see whether it would be well to make real men of that size. He then created men in his likeness as they are now; and they lived in darkness.

Viracocha ordered these people that they should live without quarrelling, and that they should know and serve him. He gave them a certain precept which they were to observe on pain of being confounded if they should break it. They kept this precept for some time, but it is not mentioned what it was. But as there arose among them the vices of pride and covetousness, they transgressed the precept of Viracocha Pachayachachi and falling, through this sin, under his indignation, he confounded and cursed them. Then some were turned into stones, others into other things, some were swallowed up by the earth, others by the sea, and over all there came a general flood which they call uñu pachacuti, which means water that overturns the land. They say that it rained 60 days and nights, that it drowned all created things, and that there alone remained some vestiges of those who were turned into stones, as a memorial of the event, and as an example to posterity, in the edifices of Pucara, which are 60 leagues from Cusco.

So it was here in Pucará that the petrified people existed!

First, Viracocha had created giants as an experiment and then humans in his own image. This was done in dark, without light and heat from sun, moon and stars. However, humans were so covetous that he cursed them and let most people drown in a great flood.

The flood as anger of Viracocha.

The myth was written by Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, and his collection of myths came in a special way that fully meets the authors dramatic life. So just a few words about him:

Born was Sarmiento in 1532. After a military career in Europe he crossed – he was in the beginning of the twenties – the Atlantic for Mexico. There he stayed for a few years, but then came in self-created difficulties because he had, in joke, had let a doll, representing an actual person, burn as heretic. It did not seem to be fun but was considered with great seriousness, so at that time Sarmientos mood was hardly high. However, he escaped from Mexico to Peru. There the Archbishop accused him of being in possession of magic rings and ink.

What was about him Sarmiento?

A soldier with magic ink? He was sentenced to expulsion, but was pardoned. In order better to skip away, he proposed the Spanish Viceroy that he should sail south through the Pacific in search of the unknown, and the Viceroy nodded, finding it would be an easy way to get rid of such a troublemaker. As the expedition leader, the ten-year younger and relatively inexperienced Álvaro de Mendaña was appointed. In 1568, the expeditions two ships, with the first white people, reached the Solomon Islands near Australias east coast – the farthest in the realm of the Spanish King.

The Spaniards treatment of humaneaters there is outside the scope of this history, but evidence for the Spanish presence was crucial for both Spains King and the person who could document the discovery. Sarmiento had been the idea man behind the expedition, had been Captain of the flagship and the expeditions cosmograph, but expeditionleader Mendaña had thrown Sarmientos logbook and maps overboard to be able to take the credit for the discovery himself and expected a very golden return. Mendaña thought he could get away from his cheek, for it was his uncle who was Viceroy and who had allowed the expedition. When the expedition returned to Peru in 1569, Sarmiento brought the case to court that recognized him as the legitimate discoverer of the islands.

Today, Mendaña is honored for the discovery. But in those days it was different.

Someone in the office must have noticed that Sarmiento was a man of very particular casting.

In 1570-72 Francisco Álvarez de Toledo, newly appointed Viceroy in Peru, had inspected the country and during his travel let Indians question. These protocols of interrogation with criticism of Spanish power abuse aroused the Viceroys sense that a comprehensive History of the Incas should be written, in which the Spanish conquest – with all the difficulties it had ever caused, which after all couldn’t be hidden for the world, so he must have thought as he heard of assaults and abuse of power – could be put into a larger – and better – context. The Spanish conquest was to be legitimized, and he chose Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa as the one to lead. The word legitimize might not be used, but it must have been decisive.

Sarmiento was 40 years and was supposed to describe the history of the Incas 40 years after the conquest of the Inca Empire had started. With authorization of the Viceroy, he summoned forty-two people who had been powerful in the Empire or their descendants, and – and perhaps especially – descendants of those who had felt the power of the Incas, so that they in Cusco should give explanations, and they vowed that they would speak truely. What they were supposed to speak truely about was at least 40 years back in time, and most even longer. Memory failure, beautification and condemnation can hardly be avoided under these circumstances.

Sarmiento had listened to explanations of the summoned Indians, had noted and then weighed the opposing views before summarizing them, whereafter their representations were read aloud in their language by a sworn translator. Chapter after chapter was discussed, some corrections were included. About his Indian sources, Sarmiento wrote:

All were agreed in confirming and declaring through the interpreter, that the said history was good and true, and in agreement with what they knew and had heard their fathers and ancestors say, as it had been told to them. (Sarmiento 1907:200)

Later, selected Spaniards in Cusco were asked for advice and their corrections were entered into the approved and then it all was rewritten. Sarmiento continued:

They only amended some names of persons and places and made other slight corrections, which the said Alcalde ordered to be inserted as the Indians had spoken, and this was done. After the said corrections all the Indians, with one accord, said that the history was good and true, in conformity with what they knew and had heard from their ancestors, for they had conferred and discussed among themselves, verifying from beginning to end. They expressed their faith that no other history that might be written could be so authentic and true as this one, because none could have so diligent an examination, from those who are able to state the truth.

TOP MARK to Sarmiento – noted by himself!

The manuscript consisted of 8 pages of introduction and 138 pages text as well as a list of witnesses with information about each individuals family affiliation and age. After the signing on March 2, 1572, the work was left to the Viceroy, who instructed an employee to travel to Spain to hand it and four pieces of cloth with graphic depictions of Inca family trees and a map to King Philip 2nd. Viceroy Toledo recommended the King to let the manuscript print.

Whether the King got the work read, is not known, but he did not let it print. Perhaps it was already passé, because the last Sapa Inca had been executed on September 24, 1572 – just half a year after deadline of the manuscript, as one says. The Inca history, claiming the lack of the Incas legitimacy, and thus full legitimacy of the Spanish conquest, had lost its relevance to the Spanish King. The power had spoken its harsh language and the handwritten sheets must have been placed on the right royal shelf.

Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa remained famous as explorer while his manuscript slid deeper into the library of forgotten books. Only in 1889 did Richard Pietschmann become aware of this in the Göttingen Universitys collection of handwritings. In 1902 he presented it at a meeting of the local Royal Scientific Society and publish the Spanish original with his presentation in the Societies journal in 1906.

——————————

(pp. 81-84 in volume 2, reproduced without notes and illustrations):

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO AZTECS AND INCAS: MYTHS AND STORIES FROM MEXICO AND PERU. Edited, translated, retold and commented by Mikael Witte. Volume 1 + Volume 2

476 pages + 540 pages. Richly illustrated in colors

400  Dkr. for each volume (Danish tax is included) + shipping

Published by Selskabet for smukkere Byfornyelse

Sale: selskabetfor@outlook.dk

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