Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Taphophile Tragics


Ninamarca is a pre-inca burial cemetery located  at 3700 metres above sea level along the road to Manu National Park (which is in the Peruvian Amazon). From memory, Ninamarca was the first stop on the 2 day bus (truck actually) tour down to the Amazon and if you ever go to Manu its well worth going down by road from Cusco and flying back. (Although I'd actually recommend going to the Bolivian Amazon, its a lot cheaper and people say just as good. But make sure you go right into the jungle - somewhere like Chalalan Eco Lodge in Madidi not the 2 day jungle trip from Rurrenabarque. Manu didn't impress me that much, although we did see a jaguar. Overall I liked Bolivia a lot more than Peru although you do have to see Machu Picchu.)


As a silent reminder the tombs, called "Chullpas", mark the pre-Inca civilization of the Lupaca people that inhabited the Andes a long time ago. A chullpa is an ancient Aymara funerary tower originally constructed for a noble person or noble family. The tallest are about 12m high. The tombs at Sillustani are most famous, but chullpas are found across the Altiplano in Peru and Bolivia. Recent research has focused on the connection between chullpas and the ritual pathways etched into the landscape around Nevado Sajama, as well as possible patterns within chullpa sites.

Corpses in each tomb were typically placed in a foetal position along with some of their belongings, including clothing and common equipment. The construction of the chullpa varied with ethnic group: in general, those of the north Altiplano are circular and constructed with stone, while those of the south are rectangular and constructed with adobe. Some are unadorned, while others have intricate carvings. At Sillustani, many of the chullpas have lizards, which were considered a symbol of life because they could regenerate their tails, carved into the stone. In virtually all cases, the only opening to the tomb faces the rising Sun in the east. It is possible that chullpas were also used by the Incafollowing their conquest of the Aymara. Very similar stone constructions on Easter Island known as tupa have sometimes been suspected to be closely related to chullpas.

For more taphophilia please visit Julie's Taphophile Tragics.


Truck

Jaguar

12 comments:

Steffe said...

Interesting read and some quality photos of this old cemetery. It would be a dream to one day visit Peru.

Jim said...

Amazing photos there.

NixBlog said...

Great series of photos of this remarkable place. I hope to visit Peru!

Peter said...

Looks a fairly bleak place well suited to a burial site, and wow a big cat!

Julie said...

This post makes my heart sing, Ann. Your content is first rate. The culture is not your own. And the text is equal to the photographs!

And I am so envious of all your travels over the years. Having never been to South America, I have never experienced Mich Picchu ...

The Chulpas I knew nothing about until today. Twelve metres high is about 40' which would be about a 4 storey building. Can that be so!!

I am figuring from your images, that tourists can not actually walk around and into the funerary towers. That would not surprise me. I hope that at least some of the bodies are still within the chulpas but suspect they were raided many times over the centuries.

More of this unusual stuff from your travels is most welcome.

Joan Elizabeth said...

Ann, you have delivered yet another wonderfully different post.

Dianne said...

Wow! Amazing .... Different customs in different places.

PerthDailyPhoto said...

Fabulous post Ann, and I must say how lucky were the people buried there in those chullpas, their spirits would soar with those views.

diane b said...

That must have been an interesting tour. These Chullpas are very interesting especially the notion that they may be connected to the easter island constructions.

tapirgal said...

What an elegant post! I love to see bloggers around the world saving the environment and culture through their posts. And you got a jaguar!

Rae Walter said...

Fabulous post. A fascinating story Ann. Loved reading your tale of travel as well as seeing the photos. Wonderful also to catch up last week (gosh how time does fly!). Best wishes, Rae

Dina said...

Fascinating. What an adventure you had!