Origin of the Aymará

translated by H. Clay Gorton from

Compendio De La Gramatica Kechua Y Aymara Libreria “Popular” Editores, La Paz - 1942

From the scientific viewpoint, it is not possible to clearly determine the origin of the Aymará race, since all the investigations to date have not arrived at an agreement of a simple hypothesis.

The supposed occupation of the western Indians by those of Carthage, according to the writings of A. Venegas, Zolorzano, Calancha Mansano and other illustrious historians, is no more than mere narrations without scientific basis. Friar Gregorio Garcia also expressed his opinion of the supposed origin of the Aymará, and affirmed in his work, “Origin of the Indi­ans” that it was the Phoenicians that disembarked in America, arriving at this conclusion from their superb world-circling navigation skills.

Ancient authors such as Pliny, Plato, Plutarch, Siculo and others have declared that there existed another continent, called Atlantis, and because of water erosion over the three thousand years of its existence the continent was submerged and its inhabitants migrated to America, from whom came the first Aymará.

Another opinion, that of Galban, claims that the first inhabitants of America were the Chi­nese and the Tarters, and after a period of time he attempted to confirm the hypothesis through the discovery of a significant amount of anthropomorphic data in spite of the existence of the blemish “Sacred Mongolia.”

A firm scientific conclusion cannot be established, leaving only suppositions of the probable origin of the Aymará, that they originated in South America and were the first inhabitants of this part of the world, leaving their origin as a mystery.

Their remote antiquity for generations and generations into the past makes it more and more improbable each day to determine the origin of the Aymará with any degree of cer­tainty. So much has been written of this cardinal theme that is has come to be a fantastic mythical legend.

The only precise scientific data we have concerning the origin of the Aymará is the work of Don Belisario Diaz Romero, Studies of American Pre-history.

WHO WERE THE AYMARÁ?

The more folklore that is written about the origin, the social organization, the religion and customs of the Aymará, the more difficult it becomes to decipher and to lift the veil of mystery that covers the appearance of this millennial race. All sorts of capricious legends, supposi­tions and plagiarisms of ancient authors exist. In reality, much has been written on the subject without any truth in it. The arduous investigator of antiquity, the proficient and discrete histo­rian, and the serious and honest archeologist continue their laborious and insistent investiga­tions to bring such an important theme to a positive conclusion, but they have as yet come to no positive conclusions. In the meanwhile we will continue to give credence to stories and accounts that merit our faith. As to the Aymará, the eminent historian, Don Luis S. Crespo, says: The origin of the population of Chuquiabo, as with all the primitive American people, is uncertain and doubtful, remaining until today wrapped in the cloak of mystery. Nothing is known of a certainty of its primitive inhabitants, neither of the race from which they came, nor of their form of government or degree of civilization.

The only thing in this particular that is known is that the Chuquiabo were one of the most ancient populations of the Aymará race, part of the jurisdiction of Colao, or Collasuyo, bellicose and fierce, and who lived in continual warfare with the neighboring provinces, who were themselves more or less fierce, and who tried time and again to subjugate the Colaos, but were always repulsed, as the Colaos were the most numerous and warlike in all the territory.

The inhabitants of this region, in speaking of their ancestors, related that they had been saved from a great flood, that some of the ancestors had emerged from a fountain and others from a stone, and after having wandered for a long time, they had established themselves in those territories, living separately in isolated habitations until valiant chieftains united them and formed kingdoms that found themselves in continual warfare.

With regard to the customs that they observed, it is known that they lived in an unorganized manner in a complete state of savagery. They lived in caves and hovels, in the crevasses of cliffs or in hollow trees; others lived higher up in the nearby hills, in natural fortresses and hovels. These structures, similar to the Eskimo igloos, consisted of a collection of rocks and mud, the walls and roofs of which were completely rough and were scarcely able to protect them from the elements.

These hovels, that are a reflection of their home life, as well as their social and political life, demonstrate that their lives were more miserable than the lowest classes living in India. The perverse, rustic and savage nature of these prehistoric beings is deduced from the construction of their hovels, separated from one another by great distances, evidently because they could not live with one another in closer proximity. From those hovels they went out into the countryside in search of herbs, roots and wild fruit and other legumes yielded by the land, and the flesh of wild animals.

Inclined by their warlike instinct, they came together only when they had to fight other nearby tribes; and wherever they planted their feet they sowed fear, misery, desolation and death. Following their encounters, the conquerors took the survivors and the women of the defeated, appropriated whatever they found in their path, and destroyed, killed and committed every type of vandalism with a fury and bloodthirstiness consistent with their savage state, against which nothing could contain their savagery.

After the fighting they would return to their miserable hutches, carrying the booty from the battle that they were able to make off with. There they recognized no authority or law whatsoever. Each one lived by his own account in whatever manner he wished. Only from time to time would someone who had the nerve or who dared to do so govern the others for a brief period; and after taking command of the others, treated them with tyranny and cruelty, taking advantage of their women at his will and warring with as many others as possible.

They worshiped many different idols, such as herbs, flowers, high hills, cliffs, caves, small boulders and rocks, lambs, etc. Thus each group, each lineage and each hovel had different gods, as it appeared to them that the god of another, occupied with the other’s concerns, would not be able to help anyone else, other than the person whose god he was. They worshiped all these objects, spreading before them the blood of humans and lambs.

In the end it seems that they came to unify their religion, worshiping only one God, called Tivici—RACOCHA, the name they gave to a being that they said watched over them, and of whom they articulated this tradition; the God had an unruly son, TAHUACPICAWIRACOCHA, who formed a deity in all things opposite to his father; such that the father made the good people, and the son made those who were bad; the father made the mountains and the son made the plains; the father made the fountains, and the son dried them up; and in all things was he against his father, until indignant, his father threw him into the lake where he had to seek refuge.

With the passage of time the population began to increase, and uniting themselves together, began to establish their hamlets along the banks of the river because of the great riches of gold that were found therein.

Attracted by the gold, they came from long distances to populate the shores of the cele­brated river until they became one of the largest and most important people belonging to the sect of the Pacasas.

The time that they spent in this condition is not known; but is it known that valiant chieftains united the inhabitants and formed the great tribe of Chuquiabo, that was one of the most warlike and audacious of the Collasuyo.

THE CONQUEST OF CHUQUIABO— The fourth Inca, Maita Capac, having begun at the end of the 12th century the formal conquest of the territory of the Antis, to which belonged the jurisdiction of the Collas, which up to that time had remained independent of the great empire of Tahuantinsuyo, introduced the Inca to this province with an army of more than 20,000 men.

The fight was fierce and tenacious on both sides; the blood of hundreds of Indians reddened the countryside for some time; one of the bloodiest battles was the one that took place along the shores of the river HUICHU, in which the Indians from CHUQUIABO participated. After an obstinate combat that lasted all of one day and in which nearly 6000 combatants perished, the locals or collas were defeated, who submitted themselves to the Inca, and recognizing their superiority, entered and became a part of their domains. Then it was that Maita–Capac, in the years from 1185 to 1190, founded the pueblo of Chuquiapu, (the name that according to the interpretation of the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, in the Royal Commentaries, signifies Capital or Principal Lance) in the same place as the already established Chuquiabo, situated in a mountain range of the ANTIS (Andes) in the vicinity of Hillimana (from where rises the sun) which was the easternmost region of the great nation of the Collas, being at the river MEHA–AWIRA, the limit that separated them from the SUCASUCA (Sicasica).

After founding the new population, MATIA CAPAC taught the inhabitants how to work the land and how to dress themselves, ordering them to make clothing of wool and cotton and to cultivate the land, that came to be, after the passage of some time, one of the most important lands of the empire. In addition, they were ordered to build a temple to which they dedicated a large number of overseers and workers that were engaged in forming rich works of gold.

Leaving HILLACATA, the chief of the conquered people, free to govern his people, they placed at his head a governor delegated with royal authority and charged with the organization of the country, giving him ample facilities and sufficient power to form armies and unite the people for war as necessary, with priests and educated men to instruct the people in the new laws and customs.

They also ordered that the children of important people remove to the capital of the empire to be educated there and be initiated into the Inca civilization. This was done so that after serving there as pledges, their presence in Cuzco was a guarantee of the compliance of their parents. By the time that they returned to their people they were converted to the religion and to the interests of their conquerors, and were believing participants in the new state of affairs. After taking all these steps the Inca abandoned the new community and returned to their metropolis.

The Aymará accepted the imposed civil and religious institutions without any violent reactions. Several causes combined to produce this result; some were related to the relationship between certain individuals of both races, and others to the very nature of the Inca institutions and politics. The worship of the sun, in the form promulgated by the Quechuas, without impeding the worship of the their local gods or de­stroying the transcendental dogma of PACHACAMAJ, was easily accommodated since it not only was in conformity with their religious spirit, but as also a rigorously logical consequence of the direction of their lives, fulfilling the principles of their own theology. The laws corresponding to a wise, essentially colonizing politic, were at the same time faithfully maintained such that they produced no protests or resistance. An exquisite tactic of the conquerors to have the conquered arm themselves and at the same time arm the government, a constant solicitous attention toward the subjects, a regular and continuous direction given to their politics, a particularly fervent and painstaking effort to inculcate the concept of equalizing the differences between the conquered and the conquerors with a common law applicable to both and with equal concepts of justice, inspired the most profound confidence in their paternal authority, erasing at the same time those frontiers that in all times and places tend to separate the conquered from the conquerors. The Incas thus found in the Aymará a most positive element to form a stable character in such a large nation. This they understood without a doubt from the beginning, or such inspiration motivated them from the beginning of their campaigns in this region.

These campaigns did not anticipate a simple forced agglomeration of men, nor a chance union of territories. The supreme intelligence that prepared and guided their plan understood that although a people could be subjugated by force, contradictory ideas cannot destroy diverse tendencies; such that as the Quechua hosts began their domination of these countries they searched for elements that were consistent with their own philosophy.

Glossary

Aymará -A native ethnic group in the Andes and Altiplano regions of South America. They lived in the region for many centuries before becoming a subject people of the Inca, and later of the Spanish in the 16th century.

Chuquiabo -An early Indian settlement on which site was founded the city of La Paz, Bolivia

Collas -The inhabitants of Collasuyo.

Collasuyo -The southernmost territory of the Inca Empire, extending from Cusco, Peru to Santiago, Chile, and from the Pacific coast to the province of Santiago del Estero, Argentina.

Inca -A small group of Quechuan people living in the Cuzco valley in Peru who established hegemony over their neighbors to create the great Inca Empire that lasted from about 1100 A.D. until the Spanish conquest in the early 1530s.

Kechua -South American Indian people in Peru who were formerly the ruling class of the Inca Empire

Sicasica -A city near La Paz, Bolivia

Tahuantin-suyo -The Inca Empire that had the city of Cusco as its headquarters and goes back to the year 1200 A.D.