Charles W. (Charles Williams) Mead.

Peruvian mummies and what they teach online

. (page 1 of 2)
Online LibraryCharles W. (Charles Williams) MeadPeruvian mummies and what they teach → online text (page 1 of 2)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY



Peruvian Mummies




By CHARLES W. MEAD

Department of Ethnology



GUIDE LEAFLET NO. 24



MARCH, 1907



\





-Ari;»'



Peruvian Mummies

AND WHAT THEY TEACH



A GUIDE TO EXHIBITS IN THE PERUVIAN HALL



By CHARLES W. MEAD

DEPARTMENT OF ETHNOLOGY



NO. 24

OF THE

GUIDE LEAFLET SERIES

OF THE

AMERICAN MUSEUn OF NATURAL HISTORY

EDMUND OTIS HOVEY, EDITOR

New York. Published by the fluseum. .'larch, 1907



NORTH




PERUVIAN HALL NO. 302.
Gallery Floor, West Wing.

PRESENT LOCATION OF THE OBJECTS DESCRIBED IN THIS

LEAFLET.

CASE

]Muiiiiny bundles . . U 27

Mummies . . . . . . . . . . . U 27

Prayer sticks ........... R 4-5

Mummified animals . . . . . . . . . U 27

Tre])hined skulls . . . . . . . . . . LT 26

Skull Collection U 26

Implements of war and the chase . . . . . . . U 21

(Jold and silver objects ......... A

Baskets, mats and nets ........ R 17-18

Cloths U 1

ISIaterials and implements used in weaving ..... B

Quipus, or Record Fringes . . . . . . . .Rl,2

Coca leaves and outfit for chewing . . . . . . R 11

Pottery U 9, 10, 11, 12 and D, E, F

Chicha jars . . . . .On toj) of U 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 27

Collection from the West Indies . . . . . . . U 2

^Musical Instruments . . . . . . . . . U 25

"U" refers to the upright cases; "R," to the railing cases.

4



PERUVIAN MUMMIES AND WHAT THEY TEACH.




By Ciimu.ks \V. .Mkvd,

Depart mini oj Etlitiologij.

VS(\\\\'V Peru, the hiiid of the lueiis, euniprised not
only the re^iion incliuleil within the present Republic
of Peru, but also the greater part of Ecuador, Bolivia
and Chile and was about equal to that portion of the
United States Iviny; east of the Rockv Mountains. The
Incas proper were a powerful tribe of warlike people
inhal)itini>; the (>Teat central plateau, from which dominating position
they extended their conquest in all directions. They developed a
much higher order of civilization than was foiuid in other parts of the
continent by the early European explorers, and the empire under their
sway included many tribes speaking difi'erent dialects.

The historv of the Ancient Peruvians must to a large de{):ree be read
in their graves, since they left no written records and the Spanish con-
queror destroved many of their cities and suppressed their customs.
Like many other peoples the Peruvians bestowed nuuli tender care on
their dead, carefully preparing them for burial and placing with them
in the ground many objects which were dear to thciu in life. Methods
of burial are so intimatelv connected with the reli":ioiis and

other customs of a people that in the absence of other Importance

„ . „ . , , , of the

sources of mtormntion a study ot graves or tombs may be Burials

expected to lead to important results. Fortunately foi- the
archa'ologist, climatic conditions in some parts of Peru ai-c such that
"burials" have been well pi'cserved. The region west of the Peru-
vian Cordillera, a narrow strip idong the coast, is in the main a desert.
the only fertile spots being the narrow valleys of the small rivei-s flow-
ing dow'n to the Pacific' 'I'he tombs and graves are usually found
on elevated ])laces outside of the valleys where the extreme drvness of
the air combines wiili tiie nitrons character of the ^and, into which
moisture has seldom found its way. to ih-siccate and prescixc the bodies
of the dead thus nnnnmifying them nalnralb. The same factors have

'The \isit()r is rclericil to tlic wWvi iiia|) dI Soiiili Aiiicrii'a on tlu' Ktt as lu'
enters the hall tor a dear exposition of the topographic features of the rt'gioii.



8 AMERICAX MUSEUM GUIDE LEAFLETS

caused the clothing and objects pUiced with the dead to l)e preserved for
many centuries.

As a rule the bodies were })repare(l for burial by placing them in a

sitting position with the knees drawn up and the head and hands resting

U{)on them, as is shown in the right-hand figure on page 0. Sometimes,

however, as appears from burials in the Chira Valley, in

for Burial '''^ extreme northwest of Peru, the body was extended at

full length. A few of the extended bodies have been found

in other ]>arts of the country, and two examples of this form from Surco,

Peru, are in the collection. After the body was placed in position, it

was enveloped in wra})})ings of various kinds. Sometimes the V)ody was

covered with fine cotton cloth, over which were placed finely woven

blankets or ponchos of the wool of the vicuna or the alpaca, with

designs in various colors.

The body and its wrappings were bountl together by a net-work of
stout cord of vegetable fibre; by a piece of strong cloth sewed together
in the form of a closed sack, or in some localities bv a casing; of woven
rushes. The "mummy bundle" was surmounted by the so-called
"false head," which was sewed to its upper surface. The significance
of this practice is unknown. These false heads, many of which are
present in the collection, were made of cloth and filled with different
vegetable substances. The face was represented in various ways:
sometimes by a mask of wood or clay, but often the eyes, nose
Bundles ^"^^ mouth were made of wood, shell, gold or silver and fast-
ened directly to the cloth by means of thread. To the out-
side of the mummy bundle were often attached several of the prayer
sticks or sepulchral tablets which are frequently found in considerable
nmnbers in the sand about the grave. These are either in the form
of a cross wound with variously colored yarns, or a framework of spht
reeds, covered with cloth upon which rude designs are painted. Favor-
ite animals were sometimes buried with the dead as is shown by the
mununified bodies of a dog and a parrot in the collection.

The manner of interment of the mummy bundle and its accompani-
ments differed in various localities. Tn the coast region many of the
Huacas "T'lumies are found in little vaults, or "huacas," of adobes or
flat .stones roofed with sticks or canes, overlaid with mats or a
layer of rushes, which prevented the earth covering from filling the
grave. These vaults usuallv contain from one to four Ixxlics.




>

Q
O
CQ

Q
UJ



5
3



>



<

QC



o

03



o

o3



< •t'



0)

a,
o
O



mi:. ID, i'i:i{rri.\.\ miwimii-.s n

Burials in stone towers or "cliulpas" seem to liave heeii coiifiiied

chiefly to the Avinara Indians of the ( 'allao, the <;reat j)lateau of the

Andes wliieh ineludes the basin of Lake 'l^itieaea and lies l)et\veen the two

maritime conhlleras and the eastern ranjje, out of which rise the lofty

volcanic peaks of Illiniaiii and Sorata. In i)lan these chulj)as are either

circular or rectangular and ai-e sj)oken of as round or s(|uare towers.

A round biuMal tower is shown on j)a<!;e 2. Dr. von Tschudi found

chulpas in the Department of Juuin, which may have been built by

Aymara mitimaes, or translated colonies. Describing the burial towers

near Palca, E. G. Sender savs: ^ " Priniarilv these chulpas _, ,

1 " . . • ' Chulpas

consisted of a cist, or excavation, in the ground about foni-
feet deep and three feet in diameter, walled uj) with rough stones. A
rude arch of converging and overla])ping stones, filled in or cemented
together with clay, was raised over this cist, with an opening barely
large enough to admit the bodv of a man, on a level with the surface
of the ground, tow'ards the east. ()\er this hollow cone was raised a
solid mass of clay and stones, wdiich, in the ])articular c-hulpa I am now
describing as a type of the whole, was 1(5 feet high, rectangular in
plan, 7i feet face by 6 feet on the sides. I'he surface had been rough-
cast with clay, and over this was a layer of finer and more tenacious
clay or stucco, presenting a smooth and even surface."

One of the most remarkal)le s])ecimens that tlie Deparlmcnt of
h^.thnoloo'V has acciuircd is a naturallv mnmnn'ficcl bodv which was
found in an old copj)er mine at Chu(|uicamata, l'i'o\incc of Antofagasta,
Chile, and which is illustrated on page 10. The condition of the body
shows that the imfortunate nn'nei' was caught by a cave-in of the roof
and j)ardy crushed. The mummification seems to have been pi'oduced
in part bv the action of copper salts and not to liaxc liccii allogcliici' a

desiccation due to the di'vness of the region. The skin has

,,,,,'., • £. 1 11 Natural

not collapsed on the l)ones, as ui the nnunimes tound usually Mummv

in the re<£ion, but the Ixxlv and liml)s ni'eserve ncai"l\' their
natural form and pri»|)()rli()iis, except for tlie crushnig ahcadx men-
tioned. No analysis has ycl bccii made of the tissues, so dial il is loo
early to hazard an\' supposition as to the chemical changes which they
have under<»'one. Mines mi diis neii'hborhood liaxc been worked for
an unknown lengili of tune upon a peiiihai' ileposit of alaeamile, a

' Sciuier's I'ciu, p. '_'l.'i.



12



JMKRICAX MUSKi'M dUWE LEAFLETS



Weapons and
Implements



hydrous chloride of copper, which is much prized on account of its
easy reduction. The age of tlie nuuumy is unknown, but it is sup-
posed to he pre-(\)hunbian.

The story told by the objects found with the Peruvian dead is in part
the storv of ancient Peruvian life. The ol)iects in the
I'cruvian collection in the hall, most of which have
come from graves and mummy bun-
dles, have been arranged so as to tell
part of this story. For example we
find with the bodies of men slings for
throwing stones, stone-headed clu))s
and l)olas (rounded stones joined l)y
cords), showing the weapons and im-
plements of war and the chase. With
the mummy bundle of the woman have
been found work-baskets, filled with
threads and yarns of various colors,
needles of thorn and copper, the im-
plements used in weaving, such as
spindles and shuttles, or the stones
used in smoothing and polishing the
outside of pottery vessels. Woman's
work in ancient Peru is indicated by
the presence or absence of oljjects
familiar to us of the present day.
Corn, beans and other foods were
usually placed beside the body in the
grave, together with vessels used in
eating and drinking. These objects
indicate not alone the belief of the
EAR OF CORN. FOUND WITH A MUMMY peoplc iu afuturc workl and the ne-
cessity of sustaining the s])irit in its
journey thereto, but they also show that the people were well advanced
in agriculture, and we are enabled to determine the kinds of ])lants
cultivated and in many cases even the methods by which they were pre-
pared for use.

Furthermore the ol)jects found in the graves prove that in the working
of copper, silver and gold the ancient Peruvians take high rank, and





CUP OF BEATEN GOLD AND STRING OF GOLD BEADS



13



mi:. in, /'/•.'/iTiv.i.v mcmmif.s 15-

sliow that the peoplt' knew how to ('xph)it and treat the ores oceiirrini!;
in their hiiitl. Among copper iinjileiiients there may l)e seen
in the collection a great variety of spear points, clulvheads, _
digging and jjlanting implements, knives and axes. Tweez-
ers are among the most familiar oi)jects from the graves, and are often
found suspended from the neck of a iniuuiny by means of a cord.

Some of the most notable of the gold objects are a ctij) beaten from
a single piece, and ornamented in repousse-work; human and animal
figures, both solid and hollow, and beads and j:)ins. The illustration
on page 13 shows the gold cup and a string of large gold beads. In
silver there are cups and vessels which, like the gold cup, are beaten

from single pieces and are often ornamented with human

, f. Ill- o'l • Gold and

or animal ngures and other designs. Silver tweezers in silver

many fanciful forms, pins and a variety of ornaments have
been found in and with the mummy bundles. These objects prove
that the makers were familiar with the processes of casting in moulds,
beating and soldering. Many of the hollow figurines were made in three
or more pieces and the parts soldered together.

Another remarkable class of objects is to be found on the right as
one enters the hall. Here are many garments and pieces of cloth which
were found wrapped around the dead or deposited in the graves. A
glance at this part of the collection will .show the ancient Peruvians
had great skill in the art of weaving. Upon closer examination it will
appear that they were familiar with most of the weaves known lo modern
people, from the finest gobelins to the coarsest cotton cloth. Many of
the specimens cannot be excelled at the present time. The looms used
were of the simplest description, consisting of two cro.ss-
sticks, one at the top, and the other at the bottom. The ^
warp threads were stretched from one to the other, while
the woof or filling was passed over and inidci- these by a shuttle. So
the weaving of these most perfect fabrics may be said (o haxc Itccu by
hantl. In this i"cs])ect they may stand in contrast to the modern
machine methods. In addition to the excellence of wca\c Peruvian
cloth is imicjue in decoration. The designs ar(> woven in and con-
sist of geometric figiu'es and conN-entionalized r('j)re.sen(alions of men.
pumas, jaguars and various kinds of birds and (ish. Some of the forms
are illustrated on page Hi. .V part of llic dccoraiixc elfect is (hic to
the regular repetition of die same design in dill'erent colors.



16



IMFJilCAX Ml'SECM ('.VIDE LEAFLETS



That the Peruvian shoiihl also take high rank as a potter will be
gathered from even a superficial study of the collection of all forms of
potterv at the west end of the hall, since many of the vessels show real
beauty of outline and form and excellence in their painted decoration.
These qualities seem the more remarkable when we consider that the








fn<ryf^




PIECES OF CLOTH FOUND WITH MUMMIES

makers had no knowledge of the potter's wheel and wtTc unac(|uainted
p with the art of glazing. Some of the vessels were shaped by

iiaiid, but others show that they were formed ])y means of
moulds. The body was moulded in two parts which were joined by
being pre.ssed together. Spout or handle, if desired, was then attached,
and all irregularities in the junctures remedied by scraping and rub-




POTTERY WATER-JAR WITH CORN DECORATION



17



MKAI). I'KHnuy Mr MM IKS



19



binf»;. Moulds were often used in inakinn- nian\- of die animal lieatls
and human figures that adorn these vessels. The decoration Avas put
on \\itli paint, and, after firing, the vessels were polished \>\' rul)l)ing
with a smooth pebble.

In the absence of an aboriginal written languat>e in Peru and on
account of the nieagreness of the descriptions left by the first Europeans
who visited the country, it is fortunate for the student of Peruvian archje-
■ology that the potter often represented by the shape of his vessel or in its




POTTERY VESSEL WITH PAINTED DECORATION



decoration forms and customs which were familiar to him in his evciy-
■day life.

Representations of the human figure arc connuon. Some of these
show the manner of wearing the poncho and other articles of clothing.
Some have in the lobe of the ear the large cylindrical car-oi-nameiUs
which led the Spaniards to nickname these j)eople "()i'e-
jones" — big ears. It would be im])ra('ticable, however, to



Human
figures



mention here more than a few of the subjects depicted. ( )n

one vessel a man piu'sues and kills a deer with a spear; on anothei- a

hunter is returm'n<r \\ith the bo(l\- of a deei- thrown across his shoni-



20 AMKlilC.lX Mi SEC M cl'lDE LEAFLETS

ders. Some jars show tlie manner of ('atcliini>; fish In- means of hook
and Hue, while others portray men and women carrying water jars and
other hnrdens by means of a strap passing around the forehead. Here
we see a man with liis favorite l)ird, evidently of the parrot family,
perched upon his shoulder; there a dance in progress, with several of
the figures playing upon nuisical instruments.

These potters were very fond of moulding their clay into animal
forms, and they have left us more or less truthful representations of
many of the species familiar to them. Their favorite models appear to
have l)een the puma, jaguar, monkey, llama, Guinea-pig,
figures lizards, birds of the parrot family, the king vulture and a
number of shells and vegetable forms. A complete list would
include most of the animal and many of the vegetable forms of Peru.

Everywhere, except in the most elevated parts of the country, maize

was not only the staple food of the people, but also was the source of

their favorite intoxicating beverage, — chicha; hence it was but natural

that they should so often represent the grain on their vessels. This

was very simplv and perfectlv accomplished. A mould was
Chicha , „ "^ ^ ' , ,' , • i • , ,. , t

made from an ear oi corn and dried m the sun or hred. Into

this clay \vas pressed; which on ])eing removed would be a facsimile of
the ear. This was joined to the jar while both were still in a plastic-
condition, after which the whole was fired and polished. A corn jar
is represented in the illustration on page 17.

Although this guide relates chiefly to burials, it may not be out of

place to call attention to some peculiarities of Peruvian skulls. The

skulls of all races are of great scientific value, but those of Peru are of

particular interest, because many of them bear the marks of surgical or

sacrificial operations. The Museum collection of Peruvian

, .. skulls is so extensive that only a representative series is on

exhibition. This contains many examples show^ing tre-
phining, artificial deformation and pathological conditions, together
with several normal Peruvian skulls for ])m'poses of comparison.

In Peru, where stones from slings and wooden clubs with heads of
stone and copper were the common oft"ensi\-e weapons, complex fractures
of the skull with depression of its bony plates must have been common.
There seems no reason to (loul)t that trephining was resorted to as a
means of relief in such fractures, and that sometimes cures w'ere effected
by this treatment. It is also prol)able that the o])eration in many




u
>
<

o:
(3



>

D
UJ

a



UJ

o



O

CE



Q
UJ



X
a.

UJ



MEAD, PERUVIAN MUMMfFS 23

cases was a part of some religious ceremonial, since some of the tre-
phined skulls in the collection show distinct orientation of the wound
and j)resent no indication of lesion. Implements of copper and bronze
and knives of stone and obsidian must have been employed in the opera-
tion, which was performed with skill.

Artificial deformation of the head was extensively practised in ancient
Peru and w^as accomplished by means of ligatures ai)plied in infancy.
The form taken by the head was determined by the manner in which
these bindings were applietl. The pathological skulls show tiie ravages
of disease in the bones of the cranium.



THE QUIPU.

The Quipu is a fringe consisting of a main cord w'ith other cords
of various colors hanging from it. In the fringe knots of different kinds
were tied. The ancient Peruvians, having no written language, made
use of the (juipu to keep their accounts and ])ossibly to record historic
incidents. By the color of the cord, the kind of knot, the distance of
the knots from the main cord and from each other, many facts could
he recorded and preserved. The maker of a cjuipu had a system which
was to a great extent arbitrary, and which had to be explained when the
(piipu was ])laced in the keeping of another.



COCA CHEWL\(;.

The coca ])Iant {KrtjiJn-o.vijloii coca. Lam.) grows wild in tlic moun-
tainous regions of Pern and Bolivia and was cultivated before the ('on-
(piest, as it is to-day, in districts from 2,()()() to r),()()() feet above the sea.
It is valued for its stimulating narcotic ])roperties, and the j)resent
Indians will often carry heavy burdens for several days without food,
if furnished with a plentiful ^np|)ly of coca. The leaves are gathered
and dried in the sun and then chewed mixed with nnslacketl lime in
the same way the betel is used by the Kast Indians. A bag of coca
teaves is almost always found witli a nnninny. The leaves of this plant,
together with the cloth bags in which they were carried and llic gonid
flasks containing lime may be seen in tiie collection



n.



24 AMERICAN MUSEUM GUIDE LEAFLETS



INIISCELLANEOUS EXHIBITS.

This gallerv' contains many exhibits, some of them very important,
of which no special mention has been made, since it is believed that the
case labels and the guide leaflets attached to the cases will furnish
the desired information to the student and visitor. Among these may
be mentioned the collection from the West Indies, the musical instru-
ments of the Incas, the case containing a great variety of animal forms
in ])ottery; collections of feather-work from Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay
and Brazil, and the collection from Columbia consisting of many objects
in pottery, stone and shell.

BIBLIOGRAPHY.

The followiny; books will be found useful to those who w^ish to
study South American Archaeology and they may be consulted on ap-
plication to the librarian of the Museum.

Vega, Garcilasso de la. The Royal Commentaries of Peru. Ed.

Rycaut, Lcjudon, 1688.
Cieza de Leon, Pedro de. Chronicle of Peru, Part I. (Hakluyt Society.)

London, 1864.
Andagoya, Pascual de. Narrative of the Proceedings of Pedrarias

Davila. (Hakluyt Society.) London, 1865.
Prescott, William H. History of the Conquest of Peru. London, 1847.
Herndon and Gibbon. Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon.

Washington, 1853.
Frezier, IVIoNSiEUR. A Voyage to the South Sea and iVlong the Coast

of Chili and Peru. Ivondon, 1717.
WiivMi'EK, Edward. Travels Amongst the Great Andes of the Equator.

New York, 1892.
Hutchinson, Thomas, Jr. Two Years in Peru, with Explorations of its

Antifjuities. London, 1873.
Squier, E. G. Incidents of Travels and Explorati(Mis in the L;ind of tlie

Incas. New Y(jrk, 1877.
Wiener, Charles. Perou et Bolivic Paris, 1880.
Reiss and Stuebel. The Necropolis of Ancon. Ed. Keane, New York,

1887.
B/ESsler, Arthur. Ancient Peruvian Art. New York, 1903.
Stuebel and Uhle. Die Ruinenstiltte von Tiahuanaco. Breslau, 1892.
Holmes, William H. Textile Art in its Relation to the Development of

Form and Ornament. Annual H('])()rt liureau Amer. Ethnology,

1884-85.
Stuebel, Reiss and Koppel. Siidamerikanische Volker. (Alte Zeit.)

Berlin,y889.



The American Huseum Journal



Edmuxd Otis Hovey, Editor

Frank M. Chapman, ]

Louis P. Ghatacap. i Advisory Board

William K. Grkgoky, J

.Sulj.sciiption, One Dollar per year. Fifteen Cents per copy

A subscription to the Journal is included in the membership fees of all classes of

Members of the Museum.

Subscriptions should be addressed to the American ^Museum Journal,

30 Bolyston St., Cambridge, ^lass., or 77th St., and

Central Park West, New York City.



The Guide Leaflet Series

of the

ajsiericax museum of natural history

Issued as supplements to The American Museum Journal
P'or Sale at the Museum

No 1. THE BIRD ROCK GROUP. By Frank M. Chapman. Associate Curator

of .Maiiiiiialniry and ( )niitholoffy. Oftober, 1!)(H. Price. 10 cetits.
No. 2. THE SAGINAW VALLEY COLLECTION. \W Hahlan I. Smith,

As>i>taiit ( 'iiratoi- ot Ariliaiildtjy. 1 Icccmber, 1901. Price, 10 cents.
No 3. THE HALL OF FOSSIL VERTEBRATES. By W. D. Matthew, Ph.D.,

Assistant Curatdr of X'crlcbratc Paladiitology. JanuarJ^ I'.IO'J. Out

of print.
No. 4. THE COLLECTION OF MINERALS. By Louis P. (Ihatacap, A. M..

Curator ol .Mincialo^y. lv\>.. I'.IOL'. Rev. cditiun. May, 1904. Price,

10 rents.
No. 5. NORTH AMERICAN RUMINANTS I'.y J. A. Ai.ikn, Ph.D.. Curator

of Mammalogy and ( »rnii lioiogy. Mar. 190-J. Per. (</., Feb.. 1904.

10 cents.



T^



No. 6. THE ANCIENT BASKET MAKERS OF SOUTHEASTERN UTAH. By

(iEuKUE 11. Pki'I'KU, As.-i.staut. in Anthropology. Apr., 1".J02. Price.
10 cenl:<.
No. 7. THE BUTTERFLIES OF THE VICINITY OF NEW YORK CITY. By

\ViLLi.\M Be; TE.NMLLLEH, Curator of Entomology. .May. 1902. Price,
1 r) nuts;.

No. 8. THE SEQUOIA. A Historical Review of Biological Science. By George

H. SHEinvooi), A.M., .\s.sistant Curator. Nov., 1902. Price, 10 cents.
No. 9. THE EVOLUTION OF THE HORSE. By W. D. Matthew, Ph.D., A.-^so-

ciate Curator of X'ertebrate rahoontology. Jan., 1903. Second edition,

May. 1905. Price. 10 cents.
No. 10 THE HAWK-MOTHS OF THE VICINITY OF NEW YORK CITY. By

William Beuten.mClleh, Curator of Entomology. Feb., 190.^. Price,

10 cents.
No. 11. THE MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF THE INCAS. By Charles W.


1

Online LibraryCharles W. (Charles Williams) MeadPeruvian mummies and what they teach → online text (page 1 of 2)