Issue - June 2008



June 2008
Editorial

In this month's issue, read about how Wilson Peñaranda began his career; Elias Burgess brings Alcides D'orbigny Museum of Natural History; Jennine Loiseau invites us to participate of Fête de la Musique; Ivan Montaño tells us about Andean Bear...read more...

June 2008

The Pre-Hispanic Cult to Andean Bear

La Alianza Francesa celebrates music by organising the 11th “Fete de la Musique” in June. Once more Cochabamba will be among the thousands of cities taking part in this event around the globe.

Ivan Montaño V.
Biologist, expert in Global Information System (GIS)
Citizens from Pariti Island with two bear figures Archeological Museun, Universidad Mayor de San Simón

During the first years of the colony, writer Polo de Ondegardo wrote that these bears, as other animals, were adored by indigenous groups in the Yungas (an area in the eastern piedmont of the Andes Mountains, primarily in Bolivia) and other indigenous groups that lived in lands close to mountains (1571, Información Acerca de la Religión y Gobierno de los Incas). Garcilazo de la Vega indicates that they had very few bears in the lands of Peru, and points out that they were commonly eliminated, together with other carnivorous animals, during the royal Inca hunts (1616. Comentarios Reales de los Incas, Volume II),. They called the bears “Ucumari”, and were considered harmful to the other animals they hunted. (guanacos, vicuñas, and deer. Another possible cause of terminating these bears is thought to be because they bred on herds of llama, that were the main means of transporting goods. Some bears, along with other animals, were kept and raised in caves in Cuzco, where, according to Guaman Poma Ayala, traitors of the Incas were sent as punishment (1615. Nueva Crónica y Buen Gobierno).

In Cochabamba Francisco de Angulo, while entering Corocoro with his troops in one part of the Puna, which could have been Colomi, saw how the bears walked freely alongside guanacos and deer (1588. Research made by the captain Francisco of Angulo, on the discovery of Corocoro and other surroundings).

Some archaeological discoveries confirm their adoration during the pre-Hispanic period. “On the Island of Pariti (3810 m.), a statuette of a bear and a pot with its figure on the handle were found, believed to belong to the Tiwanaku culture. At the Fort of Samaipata (1900 a.s.l.), a zoomorphic figure was found by Rolando Marulanda (2000. Trabajos Arqueológicos en la Región de Samaipata), that identifies how the Andean bear, made by the Chané culture, were the first to sculpt rock at the Fort before the Incas or the Guaraníes. A piece of Incan pottery at the Incan Museum in Cuzco, shows two bears toasting amongst an Incan and the curaca Colla Capac (Maria Rostworowsky, 2004. Inkas).

Legends that form part of the oral tradition explaining the perception that numerous cultures had of the Andean Bear, are based on stories that Cabello de Balboa wrote (1586. Miscelánea Antártica). The first is about an archbishop that met a pregnant Indian woman in Carangue (close to Quito) bearing an Andean bear’s child and took care of her until she gave birth to a stillborn monster. The second story tells of a bear that kidnapped a six-teen year old girl in Numbacola (Province of Paltos). He took her to his cave where he locked her up so she could not escape and had her as his mistress, impregnating her and feeding her raw meat. When she gave birth, it appeared to be somewhat human with the exception of the hair that was similar to the father’s. The father cut the boy’s hair one day, when leaving to hunt, and the boy bled to death.

These stories and information show us that Andean bears were a part of various pre-Hispanic cultures. These cultures were marveled by the behavior of these animals, their gestures, how they could live in the dark jungles of the Yungas and lower in the Amazon as well as the coastal deserts; but most of all for their resemblance to humans that gave them some kind of power, like mediators or intermediaries between this world and the supernatural. It was an animal that could live amongst humans and wild alike, and became a part of mythology, religious ritual and other cults amongst humans.

Foundation NME Mundial

In April 2008, after finalizing the first school garden project in November and the presentation of computers as prices for all four garden schools, the Foundation NME Mundial was established. NME is a Dutch abbreviation for environmental education, which also works in Spanish “Naturaleza, Medioambiente y Educación”...

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