Issue - May 2010

May 2010


In this edition, Rocío Carranza writes of her experience at the Climate Change Conference, Sradhanjali Kootungal distills Cochabamba’s confusing transportation network, Husein Meghji uncovers the story behind the political graffi ti around the city, Jamie Bassett looks at one of the city’s oldest festivals and Walter Sánchez unearths the origins of Santiago the Indian-killer. read more...

May 2010

The Cult of Santiago Indian-killer in Cochabamba

translated by
RocĂ­o Carranza.

Before the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadores to the Andes, there existed Illapa, the feared and powerful God associated with thunder, rays, and lighting. According to the Jesuit chronologist Joseph de Acosta in his book “Historia Natural y Moral de Indias” the Incas “after Viracocha and the Sun, the third guaca or idol, with much veneration was thunder, which they called by three names: Chuquilla, Catuilla and Intiillapa, thinking that it was a man up in the sky with a slingshot and a truncheon; responsible for making it rain, hail, thunder and everything that pertains to the air where fog occurs.” Considered by Indigenous people as the third most important deity, after Viracocha and the Sun, he was persecuted during colonial times through the politics of extirpation of idolatry. In order to continue with their cult, the Indigenous disguised Illapa under the Christian image of Santiago el Mayor, the saint associated with the sound and lightning of the arquebus.

How did Santiago come to the Andes? With the first Spanish Conquistadores.

Even though it was a consequence of the ecclesiastical strategy, his cult was associated with the politics of the Spanish crown. Effectively, within the Spanish state nobility, Santiago had an elevated status and was the patron saint of the kingdom. His high status was due to the ecclesiastical visions he had seen during wars against Arabs and had intervened directly with the Holy Wars against Islam, supporting the Christians. The legend-which has no historical findings-says this happened in the year 859 when a king defeated the Muslims due to the apparition of the Apostle Santiago during fighting. Because of this, the Spanish began to worship him, depicting him as a medieval military gentleman mounted on a white horse covered with a robe and sword in one hand and a fl ag in the other. Under his feet was the image of a dead Muslim, symbol of their fall under the Christians. Th is was a common image of the Spanish in the year XVI and remained during the years XVII-XVIII and was called Santiago Muslim killer.

According to the historian, Teresa Gisbert de Meza in her book, “Mitos Indígenas sobre el Arte” the assimilation of Santiago el Mayor was not solely a Spanish imposition. According to legend, during a battle between the Spanish and the Incas in Cuzco, at the moment when the military was at the brink of victory, Santiago el Mayor appeared with a great commotion causing the Inca to fl ee, believing they had just seen the image of an angry Illapa. Th is handed the Spanish the victory and ever since, Santiago was known as the Indiankiller.

The event had such a profound impact on Indigenous imagery that the Vocabulario de Ludovico Bertonio (1616) picked up by the Aymara Lupaqa of the river Titicaca, accounts for the presence of Santiago in the Vía Láctea, which was therefore known as “Santiago’s path”. It is the chronologist Guaman Poma de Ayala (1612) who depicts Santiago as a gentleman with a robe mounted on a horse, luxuriously adorned, carrying a sword, a fl ag and a shield. Under his feet is the image of a dead Indian holding his weapon (macana) and this symbolized the fall of the Inca.

The cult of Santiago in Cochabamba, where he is popularly called Tata Santiago, was important from the fi rst years of the colony. So much so that one of the oldest towns was given the name Santiago de El Paso and a church was erected under the advocation of the saint. Even though there are no remaining images of the fi rst depictions of the colonial Santiago which would have adorned the church, it is possible that he would have been Santiago Indian-killer.

There are three ways by which Santiago was represented in Cochabamba: 1) Paintings on metal laminates. 2) Paintings on stone and 3) Images in bulk.

The paintings on the laminates were not large but they were important. Made by Mestizo and Indigenous painters, they were not made for the church, but rather for an indigenous audience. For its part, the Santiago painted on stone shows up in portable altarpieces popularly called “cajones.” In some of these images, Santiago appears beside the Virgin Mary or beside Jesus Christ.

Santiago el Mayor appeared with a great commotion causing the Inca to fl ee, believing they had just seen the image of an angry Illapa

The bulk images are important in the years between XVI and XVII for two reasons: 1) Grand statues made for the churches 2) small statues which were placed in cajones. In the first case, the big statues needed to be approved by top ecclesiastical authorities and were contracted out to Spanish or, at the most, Mestizo artists. In the second case they were largely Mestizo and Indigenous artists from the Villas and towns who created the smaller statues. In this case, contrary to the large statues in the churches where Santiago appears only with his horse, in the cajones he is mostly found to be with the Virgin Mary and with Jesus Christ. In these images, Santiago appears like a man of white complexion with a beard and moustache. Mounted on a white horse with his sword in his right hand and a shield in his left, the Spanish fl ag disappears. He sports a black farmer´s hat; this takes away his image of fi ghter. Many of the images continue the tradition of the fallen Indian, emphasizing the idea of Santiago the Indian-killer.

The most accurate pictures represent Santiago with a military uniform, the same one worn by members of the Bolivian army, the same one found on the images of Santiago found in the Santiago de El Paso church found in Cochabamba.causing the Inca to fl ee, believing they had just seen the image of an angry Illapa. Th is handed the Spanish the victory and ever since, Santiago was known as the Indian-killer.

Calendario Mayo 2010

Valle Hermoso,
2-3 de mayo

Santa Vera Cruz

1er domingo de mayo
Feria de la trucha y del guindol

1er domingo de mayo

Feria de la comida y el rosquetel

read more ...

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