The Cloud Warriors: Sarcophagi Sentries Perched on the Cliffs in Peru

The Cloud Warriors: Sarcophagi Sentries Perched on the Cliffs in Peru

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Researchers would have never guessed what they would find inside a seven-foot-tall statue when it came crashing down the Peruvian cliffside in the Utcubamba valley in 1928. Its discovery was just the beginning to the fascinating story of the Cloud Warriors.

Chachapoya mummies. (pmoroni/ CC BY SA 2.0 )

As more of the sarcophagi were found, they became known as the purunmachu, where the ‘ Warriors of the Clouds ’ placed their dead. Although looters had reached many of the sarcophagi before archaeologists, several purunmachu were discovered intact, hidden high up on cliff ledges.

  • Cloud Warriors: The Mysterious Power of the Lost Chachapoya Culture
  • Kuelap, Peru - Ancient Fortress of the Cloud Warriors
  • Five incredible funerary practices from the ancient world

Sarcophagi on a cliff face, Chachapoyas, Amazonas, Peru. (Jorge Gobbi/ CC BY 2.0 )

The Chachapoya people, commonly known as the Cloud Warriors, began living in the cloud forests of the Amazonas region of present day Peru as early as 200 AD. The Inca culture conquered their region shortly before the Spanish arrived. It only took about a decade for the Chachapoya people to lose most of their cultural traditions following the Inca conquest. Then the Spanish arrival decimated the remainder of the Cloud Warriors. Yet the purunmachu remained patiently standing on the cliffsides.

The Karajía Six, Chachapoya sarcophagi. (A. Davey/ CC BY NC ND 2.0 )

Purunmachu sarcophagi were made in a series of steps. First, clay was sculpted around the carefully wrapped bodies of the dead. Then a mixture of mud and straw was applied. Finally, the sarcophagi were painted cream colored of white and decorative details such as necklaces, feathered tunics, and faces were painted on in yellow and red. When placed on a ledge of a high cliff, the sarcophagi look like sentries guarding the dead.

  • Archaeologists may have found children’s cemetery belonging to ‘Warriors of the Clouds’
  • Ten Precariously Situated Cliffside Constructions from the Ancient World
  • Scientists Set to Unravel Secrets of Oldest Peruvian Mummies Ever Found

Chachapoya mummies wrapped in cloth. (C-Monster/ CC BY NC 2.0 )

Eventually, the Chachapoya people were forgotten, what they held sacred had been lost in the years that passed, and many of their sarcophagi were destroyed by looters in search of treasure.

    The Chachapoyas Culture of Peru

    The Chachapoyas are a lost civilization in the upper Amazon of Peru. Discovered in a remote and rugged area of the Amazonian Andes in 1843, seventy years before Machu Picchu was brought to public attention, the colossal ruin known as Kuélap was built by members of a regional culture or group of cultures known as the Chachapoya.

    The Chachapoyas, also called the Warriors of the Clouds, were an Andean people living in the cloud forests of the Amazonas region of present-day Peru. The Incas conquered their civilization shortly before the arrival of the Spanish in Peru. When the Spanish arrived in Peru in the 16th century, the Chachapoyas were one of the many nations ruled by the Inca Empire. Their incorporation into the Inca Empire had not been easy, due to their constant resistance to the Inca troops.

    Since the Incas and the Spanish conquistadors were the principal sources of information on the Chachapoyas, unbiased first-hand knowledge of the Chachapoyas remains scarce. Writings by the major chroniclers of the time, such as El Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, were based on fragmentary second-hand accounts. Much of what we do know about the Chachapoyas culture is based on archaeological evidence from ruins, pottery, tombs and other artifacts.

    Origin of the Chachapoyas — Ever since early chroniclers reported the Chachapoyas to be a tall, fair-skinned race, there has been much popular speculation about their origins. Additionally, some claim that mummified remains of Chachapoyans resemble a Caucasoid-like physical type. A recent media report claimed that: “The Chachapoyas were a tall, fair-haired, light-skinned race that some researchers believe may have come from Europe.” This contradicts standard theories of migration to the New World. If not an autapomorphy, (or an artifact of preservation conditions see also the debate about the Tarim mummies), the Chachapoyas were a unique population. Accounts such as that of Cieza de León only indicate that they did have lighter skin than other Native Americans of the region, and as with other anomalous populations (such as the Guanche people of the Canary Islands), their origins and appearance are subject to speculation and exaggeration.

    According to the analysis of the Chachapoyas objects made by the Antisuyo expeditions of the Amazon Archaeology Institute, the Chachapoyas do not exhibit Amazon cultural tradition rather their cultural goods have Andean roots. Given that the terrain faciliates peripatric speciation – as evidenced by the high biodiversity of the Andean region – the physical attributes of the Chachapoyas are most likely reflecting founder effects, assortative mating, or related phenomena in an initially small population sharing a relatively recent common ancestor with other Amerind groups.

    The anthropomorphous sarcophagi resemble imitations of funeral bundles provided with wooden masks typical of the Horizonte Medio, a dominant culture on the coast and highlands, also known as the Tiahuanaco-Huari or Wari culture. The “mausoleums” may be modified forms of the chullpa or pucullo, elements of funeral architecture common throughout Peru and in Tiahuanaco-Huari.

    The reason for an Andean people to inhabit the Amazonian Andes in particular seems to be the need to expand agrarian borders. The agricultural environments of both the Andes and the coastal region, characterized by its extensive desert areas and limited soil suitable for farming, became insufficient for sustaining a population like the ancestral Peruvians, which had grown for 3000 years.

    The conquest of the Chachapoyas by the Incas took place, according to Garcilaso, during the government of Tupac Inca Yupanqui in the second half of the 15th century. He recounts that the warlike actions began in the slope of Pias. If this is true, it was to the south-west of the Gran Pajáten, whence it is deduced that the area of Pias was already considered as a Chachapoyas territory. About the resistance that the Chachapoyas put up against the Inca’s penetration in the times of Tupac Inca Yupanqui, there is abundant historical information, especially in the chronicle of Cieza.

    During the sovereign Huayna Capac’s government, the Chachapoyas rebelled: They had killed the Inca’s governors and captains (…) and (…) soldiers (…) and many others were imprisoned, they had the intention to make them their slaves. As an answer, Huayna Capac, who was in the Ecuadorian cañaris land and while he was gathering his troops, sent messengers to negotiate peace. But again, the Chachapoyas “punished the messengers (…) and threatened them with death”.

    Then Huayna Capac ordered to attack them. He crossed the Marañon river over a bridge of wooden rafts that he ordered to be built probably in the surroundings of Balsas, next to Celendín. From here, the Inca’s troops went to Cajamarquilla (Bolivar), with the intention of destroying this town that was “one of the principal towns” of the ‘Chachapoyas. From Cajamarquilla, an embassy consisting of women came out to meet them. In front of them there was a matron, who was a former concubine of Tupac Inca Yupanqui. They were asking for mercy and forgiveness, which the Inca granted them. In memory of this event of peace consecration, the place where the negotiation had taken place was declared sacred and closed so from now on “(…) neither men nor animals, nor even birds, if it was possible, would put their feet in it.” To assure the pacification of the Chachapoyas, the Incas installed garrisons in the region. They also arranged the transfer of groups of villagers under the system of mitmac, or change of territories of human groups: “(…) it gave them grounds to work and places for houses not much far from a hill that is next to the city (Cuzco) called Carmenga.” Of the Inca presence in the territory of Chachapoyas remain the architectural rests of Cochabamba, placed in the outskirts of Utcubamba in the current district of Leimebamba.

    The architectural model of the Chachapoyas is characterized by circular stone constructions as well as raised platforms constructed on slopes. Their walls were sometimes decorated with symbolic figures. Some structures such as the monumental fortress of Kuelap and the ruins of Cerro Olán are prime examples of this architectural style.

    Chachapoyan constructions may date to the 9th or 10th century this architectural tradition still thrived at the time of the arrival of the Spanish until the latter part of the 16th century. To be sure, the Incas introduced their own style after conquering the Chachapoyas, such as in the case of the ruins of Cochabamba in the district of Leimebamba.

    The presence of two funeral patterns is also typical of the Chachapoyas culture. One is represented by sarcophagi, placed vertically and located in caves that were excavated at the highest point of precipices. The other funeral pattern was groups of mausoleums constructed like tiny houses located in caves worked into cliffs. Chachapoyan handmade ceramics did not reach the technological level of the Mochica or Nazca cultures. Their small pitchers are frequently decorated by cordoned motifs. As for textile art, clothes were generally colored in red. A monumental textile from the precincts of Pajáten had been painted with figures of birds. The Chachapoyas also used to paint their walls, as an extant sample in San Antonio, province of Luya, reveals. These walls represent stages of a ritual dance of couples holding hands.

    Although there is archaeological evidence that people began settling this geographical area as early as 200 A.D. or before, the Chachapoyas culture is thought to have developed around 800 A.D. The major urban centers, such as Kuélap and Gran Pajáten, may have developed as a defensive measure against the Huari, a Middle Horizon culture that covered much of the coast and highlands.

    In the fifteenth century, the Inca empire expanded to incorporate the Chachapoyas region. Although fortifications such as the citadel at Kuélap may have been an adequate defense against the invading Inca, it is possible that by this time the Chachapoyas settlements had become decentralized and fragmented after the threat of Huari invasion had dissipated. The Chachapoyas were conquered by Inca ruler Tupac Inca Yupanqui around 1475 A.D. The defeat of the Chachapoyas was fairly swift however, smaller rebellions continued for many years. Using the mitmaq system of ethnic dispersion, the Inca attempted to quell these rebellions by forcing large numbers of Chachapoya people to resettle in remote locations of the empire.

    When civil war broke out within the Inca empire, the Chachapoyas were located on middle ground between the northern capital at Quito, ruled by the Inca Atahualpa, and the southern capital at Cuzco, ruled by Atahualpa’s brother Huascar. Many of the Chachapoyas were conscripted into Huascar’s army, and heavy casualties ensued. After Atahualpa’s eventual victory, many more of the Chachapoyas were executed or deported due to their former allegiance with Huascar.

    It was due to the harsh treatment of the Chachapoyas during the years of subjugation that many of the Chachapoyas initially chose to side with the Spanish colonialists when they arrived in Peru. Guaman, a local ruler from Cochabamba, pledged his allegiance to the conquistador Francisco Pizarro after the capture of Atahualpa in Cajamarca. The Spanish moved in and occupied Cochabamba, extorting what riches they could find from the local inhabitants.

    During Inca Manco Capac’s rebellion against the Spanish, his emissaries enlisted the help of a group of Chachapoyas. However, Guaman’s supporters remained loyal to the Spanish. By 1547, a large faction of Spanish soldiers arrived in the city of Chachapoyas, effectively ending the Chachapoyas independence. Residents were relocated to Spanish-style towns, often with members of several different ayllu occupying the same settlement. Disease, poverty, and attrition led to severe decreases in population by some accounts the population of the Chachapoyas region decreased by 90% over the course of 200 years after the arrival of the Spanish.

    The Chachapoyas people built the great fortress of Kuélap, with more than four hundred buildings and massive exterior stone walls, possibly to defend against the Huari around 800 AD. Referred to as the ‘Machu Picchu of the north,’ Kuélap receives few visitors due to its remote location. Other archaeological sites in the region include the settlement of Gran Pajáten, Gran Saposoa, the tombs at Revash, and the burial site at Laguna de los Condores (Lake of the Condors), among many others.

    In the News …

    Archaeologists find lost city of cloud people in Peru January 6, 2009

    Archaeologists have discovered a lost city carved into the Andes Mountains in Peru by the mysterious Chachapoya tribe, which is also known as the ‘cloud people’. According to a report in the Telegraph, the settlement covers some 12 acres and is perched on a mountainside in the remote Jamalca district of Utcubamba province in the northern jungles of Peru’s Amazon. The buildings, found on the Pachallama peak, are in remarkably good condition, estimated to be over 1,000 years old and comprised of the traditional round stone houses built by the Chachapoya, the ‘Cloud Forest People’.

    The area is completely overgrown with the jungle now covering much of the settlement, but explorers found the walls of the buildings and rock paintings on a cliff face. The remote nature of the site appears to have protected the site from looters as archaeologists found ceramics and undisturbed burial sites. The citadel is perched on the edge of an abyss. We suspect that the ancient inhabitants used this as a lookout point from where they could spot potential enemies, according to archaeologist Benedicto Perez Goicochea.

    The ruins were initially discovered by local people hacking through the jungle. They were drawn to the place due to the sound of a waterfall. The local people armed with machetes opened a path that arrived at the place where they saw a beautiful panorama, full of flowers and fauna, as well as a waterfall, some 500 meters high, said the mayor of Jamalca, Ricardo Cabrera Bravo.

    Initial studies have found similarities between the new discovery and the Cloud Peoples¹ super fortress of Kulep, also in Utcubamba province, which is older and more extensive that the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu, but has not been fully explored or restored. Little is known about the Chachapoya, except that the mighty Incas had beaten them into submission in 1475. Spanish texts from the era describe the Cloud People as ferocious fighters who mummified their dead. They were eventually wiped out by small pox and other diseases brought by the Europeans.

    Pizarro at Caxamalca

    On crossing the Cordilleras, Pizarro had the choice of two roads. One led directly to Caxamalca, where the Inca and his army were encamped. The other took a more roundabout course, having the Inca's camp on the left, and passing by Chincha to Cuzco, the Peruvian capital. The first road passed over the most difficult and dangerous mountain heights: by the other, the way into the center of Peru was comparatively easy. If Pizarro went by the first, he would meet the Inca and his hosts face to face if by the other, he would avoid this encounter, and might, perhaps, march without serious obstacles into the midst of the land of gold.

    Some of his officers urged him to take the easier route. They pointed out the difficulties of the mountain ascent, the danger of ambuscades, the certainty of being confronted by Atahualpa, if he chose the road to Caxamalca. He would avoid all these by marching by the road on the right.

    "No!" cried Pizarro. "We will not flinch, having come thus far, before the might of the Inca. Sooner or later, we shall have to meet him. I have told him I would visit him and, if I turn aside now, he would say that I feared him, and would exult over the terror he had caused me. I go by the road to Caxamalca!"

    At daylight the next day, the little army, with their captain at their head, began to climb the steep crags and cliffs of the Cordilleras. It proved a most difficult and dangerous journey. At a certain height the road dwindled to a mere path and in some places the soldiers scarcely had room to walk, and lead their horses upon it while the cliffs rose perpendicularly hundreds of feet above them, and descended in precipices hundreds of feet below them. Deep chasms had to be crossed, and steep crags to be clambered up and this was no easy task for men who wore the burdensome armor of that period: while, from the heat of the valley, they gradually reached heights where they were almost frozen by the cold. Several times, as they mounted slowly towards the summit, they came upon strong fortresses built upon hanging cliffs but they happily found no hostile array of Peruvians to oppose their progress and Pizarro began to think that the Inca, in neglecting to defend these formidable passes, had made up his mind to welcome the Spaniards as friends.

    After several days of the roughest climbing, Pizarro found himself at the summit of the pass. It was towards evening, and the air was biting cold. The soldiers hastened to gather some of the stunted trees that grew sparsely on the almost bald eminence and presently the entire crest of the mountain was lit up by great blazing fires, about which the men eagerly crowded to warm themselves.

    Pizarro halted at the summit long enough to rest his weary company, and to reconnoiter the path at some distance ahead and, while he was there, he received another envoy from the Inca, who brought a present of some sheep, and repeated the message of welcome and invitation Pizarro had before received. It was from this envoy that Pizarro heard for the first time of the war that had been going on between Atahualpa and his brother Huascar, and of Atahualpa's triumph and usurpation and, like the shrewd adventurer that he was, the idea at once struck him to turn these events to his own advantage.

    The march was soon resumed through many narrow passes and defiles among the mountains, and then upon a road, which, descending on the other side, wound in zigzag turnings over the mountain spurs, and across many a deep and jagged chasm. Sometimes the Spaniards came upon villages, which they did not hesitate to occupy, though they refrained from plundering or otherwise ill-treating the inhabitants. At last they came in sight of the beautiful and wide-spreading valley where lay Caxamalca, and, beyond the town, Atahualpa's camp.

    Pizarro stood upon a jutting crag, and gazed long and earnestly upon the fair and fruitful land that lay stretched out before him far as eye could reach. There, indeed, was the land which he had for so many years yearned to see, and longed to conquer, and which now seemed almost within his grasp. The supreme attempt was now near. Behind him lay ruin and death. To retreat now was not only to miserably fail, but to invite certain destruction. There was but one course to pursue,—to press vigorously and bravely forward, and to strain every nerve to possess the empire which had so long glittered, a glorious but almost unattainable prize, in his dreams by day and night.

    There was still no sign that his approach to Caxamalca would be resisted. The villages he passed seemed friendly, and more than one hospitable message was brought to him from the Inca as he advanced.

    Descending over the green and gentle slopes into the valley, Pizarro and his comrades pitched their camp on a broad plateau. No sooner had they done so than a large party of Peruvians came up the road, bearing a choice and plenteous supply of provisions which the Inca had sent. Upon these they feasted merrily till late in the night. The atmosphere was once more mild, and it seemed to them delicious to sleep again on the green turf and in a balmy air.

    The next morning Pizarro led his little army to within three miles of Caxamalca. There he halted until the rear, led by his brother Hernando, who had come over the mountains at some distance behind him, came up. From the spot where he now found himself the Spanish adventurer could plainly discern the glistening white houses, the two fortresses perched upon their rocks, and the square temples of the town and, extending his glance beyond, he could just see the white tents of the Inca's camp, dotting the plain and hillsides in the hazy distance.

    It may be that at this moment the proud and brave heart of the cavalier sank for an instant within him as he gazed upon the vast encampment, and realized what a mighty force he was about to brave. If so, he soon recovered himself and his face assumed an expression of grim determination, which betrayed his resolve to stake all in the attempt to conquer.

    From his distant camp, too, the Inca Atahualpa gazed long and wonderingly at the procession of Spanish horsemen and soldiers, with their flying banners and their glittering mail, as they streamed along the high-road, and approached, unresisted, nearer and nearer to the famous town. For Pizarro had once more given the order to "Forward march!" and, as the Inca looked, he could just see the van of the Spanish column, marching three deep, and entering the gates of Caxamalca.

    Pizarro advanced at the head of his troops. As he entered the streets, he was surprised to find them quite deserted. The houses were all closed, as if the inhabitants feared that the strangers would assail them and only here and there did he see a stray Peruvian hastening around a corner to avoid being observed.

    The procession moved in military order directly to the public square. Here their tents were pitched in a hurry for at this moment a violent hail-storm burst over the town. It was just at dusk, on the 15th of November, 1532, that Pizarro thus established himself at Caxamalca.

    Every precaution was necessary to prevent a surprise. Pizarro could not be sure of the Inca's real purpose. It might well be that he only waited to decoy the Spaniards into the town, in order to surround them with his infinitely more numerous force, and annihilate them then and there. Pizarro, therefore, posted his cavalry at convenient points, and sent out squads to reconnoiter the vicinity. No signs of hostility, however, betrayed themselves and the Spaniards slept peacefully through the night in some low huts that surrounded the square.

    No time was to be lost in finding out the Inca's real intentions. So the next morning Pizarro called De Soto to him, and told him to take fifteen horsemen, proceed to the Inca's camp, seek an audience of the monarch, and see if the Spaniards would be welcomed in Peru.

    When the commander had given these orders, his brother Hernando, who was standing by, said,—

    "I fear, sir, that fifteen horsemen will not be enough to send to the Inca's camp. If he should choose to attack them, they would soon be destroyed. We have in all sixty cavalry, and can spare twenty more, and still leave enough behind to act as sentries on the outskirts of the town."

    "Very well," replied Pizarro: "do you take twenty more good horsemen, and yourself follow De Soto to the Inca."

    The cavalcade set out, and was soon upon the highway leading to the Peruvian camp. At its head rode a trumpeter, who awoke the echoes of the lovely valley with loud blasts, and thus announced to the Inca the approach of the envoys. Rapidly they galloped over the well-built road and when they came to the bridge, instead of crossing it (for they feared, lest, by accident or design, it might not hold them), they plunged their horses into the stream, and ascended the bank in safety on the other side.

    Here they found a large force of Peruvian warriors drawn up in line, with their lances in rest, and their bows in their hands. For a moment De Soto suspected that he was about to be attacked, and ordered his cavalrymen to keep close together but one of the Peruvian officers advanced, made friendly signs, and offered to conduct the party into the presence of the Inca. Hernando Pizarro now came up with his twenty horsemen, and accompanied De Soto to the imperial camp.

    Atahualpa had been apprised of their approach, and was once more seated, surrounded by his brilliantly-attired court and beautiful women, on the lawn in front of his pavilion. De Soto advanced on horseback in the midst of the throng, followed by Hernando and several other cavaliers, and stopped just in front of the Inca. All preserved complete silence. The Peruvians gazed in wonder and some fear at the richly-caparisoned horses, and their riders in shining armor: the Spaniards stared curiously back, but kept a bold and proud front.

    Then Hernando Pizarro, through an interpreter, addressed the Peruvian monarch.

    "Our commander," he said, has sent us hither to assure you of his friendship and goodwill. We are the subjects of a great and mighty prince across the ocean, who has vast and unconquerable dominions, and who seeks allies the world over. We have come to render homage to your power, and to offer you the aid of our arms in your battles."

    The Inca had sat perfectly motionless, with his eyes bent on the ground, ever since the Spaniards had made their appearance. While Hernando was speaking he did not move a muscle, or seem to hear a word that was said. There was a moment of silence after Hernando had ceased: then a tall and dark-featured noble, more gorgeously dressed than the others, advanced a step, and said,—

    Another interval of silence followed but Hernando, who shared his brother's bold spirit, would not give up thus. He again addressed the Inca, and asked what reception it was intended to give the Spaniards in Peru. At this Atahualpa slightly raised his head, and replied, in a low, measured tone,—


    "This is a feast-day with us. To-morrow I will go and visit your commander, attended by my chiefs. Let him remain in peace at Caxamalca. When I see him, we will talk of what is to be done."

    The Inca then bowed, as if to end the interview and, raising his eyes as he did so, they rested with an expression of curiosity upon the noble white war-horse upon which De Soto was mounted. Perceiving that the Inca's attention was fixed upon his steed, De Soto thought that he would exhibit his good qualities. He put spurs to the horse, which bounded, reared, and plunged about the field then wheeled around and around, and reared high upon his hind legs. De Soto then suddenly tightened the rein and brought the horse up short, so near the Inca, that the foam from the animal's mouth sprinkled the Inca's robe. But Atahualpa did not shrink a hair's breadth, and his countenance remained stolidly immovable.

    De Soto and his party were then invited in one of the larger tents to such good cheer as Peru afforded and they gazed with covetous eyes upon the heavy golden goblets, studded with emeralds, which the women brought to them foaming with "chicha," a favorite Peruvian beverage made of maize.

    They now returned to Caxamalca to tell of the things that they had seen. Their story of the mighty armament of the Inca, the sturdy frames and good discipline of his soldiers, and the suspicious reception they had met with, caused many a stalwart heart in the Spanish camp to sink with dismay.

    How could a mere handful of men, however brave, and however well-armed, cope with a host numbering thousands and tens of thousands? How could they defy such an army, arrayed on its own ground, at its base of supplies, and with which the entire surrounding population claimed kindred and brotherhood?

    That night there were somber murmurs in the squares of Caxamalca, and the mutterings of discontent could not long be kept from Pizarro's ears. For his part, he, too, had thought of the tremendous odds against him, of the folly of braving the Peruvians with his own little force, of the dangers that frowned grimly upon him from every side.

    But Pizarro knew that the art of war did not consist wholly of struggles in the open battlefield. He reflected that he had other resources in his fertile brain than a desperate trial of arms with arms. The history of his own great kinsman Cortez had not been perused and studied over and over in vain. Cortez had conquered the haughty Montezuma by a bold stratagem which only a man of genius could have conceived, and only a man of unflinching courage could have put in execution.

    Pizarro knew well he could not retreat. The avenging onset of the Peruvians would overtake and destroy him before he could reach the spurs of the Cordilleras or, if he escaped into the bleak mountain defiles, it would be to die a miserable death of exposure and starvation.

    Quickly, therefore, he made up his mind what to do but the plan he formed was so strange and daring, that he dared not at first confide it even to his officers. He went with a cheerful and confident countenance among his men. He roused their spirits by his reassuring voice and his defiant words. He told them that they were on the eve of an unlooked-for triumph, and he awoke all their pride and courage by ridiculing their fears. He reminded them that the Peruvians were heathen, while they were Christians and persuaded them, that, in conquering Peru, they would merit the approval of God, and receive the choicest blessings of the Church.

    Having thus suppressed the discontent which had begun to spread in his camp, he called De Soto, his brother Hernando, and several others, into his tent.

    A light flickered feebly on a rude table in the center of the tent. Seating himself on a stool, and motioning the others to sit down also, the intrepid chief leaned his arms upon the table, and his face assumed a serious and resolute expression.

    "My comrades," said he, "we are, as you know, in a desperate situation. To openly defy the Inca would be the greatest folly. His army outnumbers us, it may be, a thousand to one. It is fully equipped, composed of strong and brave men, who would fight desperately for their country. We cannot throw down the gage of battle. Nor can we retreat. To do so, would be, at best, to have failed in the great undertaking of our lives. Even if we got safely back to Panama, we should be despised and hooted at, and find ourselves impoverished, and perhaps outcasts. But we should not get back. We cannot leave this country safely, except as conquerors. To turn and fly would be as certain destruction as to march to-morrow, with two hundred men, against a camp containing two hundred thousand."

    "What then, commander, do you propose?" eagerly asked the fiery-hearted De Soto. "Shall we remain here at Caxamalca, and defend ourselves to the last?"

    "We shall remain here, but not to enter upon a desperate defense. I have thought of a plan, by the execution of which alone success is possible. To-morrow the Inca comes to visit us in our camp. He will come with some force, to be sure, but not a large one. He will not dream of any harm, with his great army lying but a league distant. When he comes, I shall take him prisoner."

    "Take the Inca prisoner!" exclaimed the others.

    "Why not?" retorted Pizarro, looking sternly around. Have you forgotten Hernando Cortez? He went to Mexico, as we have come to Peru, with a paltry force. He found there, as we do here, a mighty prince, surrounded by a brilliant court and a vast army. He entered a city of that prince, as we have of the Inca he decoyed Montezuma to his quarters he made him a prisoner and, spite of Montezuma's court and army and riches, Cortez became the conqueror of Mexico."

    "It is a perilous plan!" cried De Soto.

    "But is not our situation perilous?" returned Pizarro. "If Cortez succeeded, so may we. Had Cortez failed, his fate would have been what ours will be if we, too, fail. The most resolute daring alone will save us, and we might as well risk our lives in strategy as in conflict or retreat. At the least, once in possession of the Inca, we shall have the strongest pledge of our safety. The Peruvians will not dare to lay hands on us when by a single blow we can take the Inca's life."

    His comrades saw and felt the force of his words, and offered no further objection. They declared themselves ready and eager to take their share in the desperate plot, and left the commander's tent to prepare for the morrow. Sentries were mounted at every point which it was necessary to guard, and lookouts were posted on the fortress towers. The fires of Atahualpa's camp could be distinctly seen on the hill and plain three miles away. The broad high-road between the town and the camp was perfectly visible as far as the river and, had a Peruvian force ventured to approach by it, the alarm could have been given in an instant, and the Spaniards called to arms.

    But, as on the night before, nothing occurred to disturb the rest of the adventurers. The faithful sentinels, as they paced up and down, looked in vain for any signs of a hostile attack and the soldiers, lying with their arquebuses loaded at their side, forgot the terrible dangers of their situation in profound slumber.

    Pizarro alone did not close his eyes on the eve of his rash attempt. He walked to and fro in his tent, his brow knit in deep cogitation of the means by which he should put it in execution. By morning he had thought it all out and, when the trumpets called officers and men to their breakfast, he met them with a cheerful and confident mien.

    Discover the Undiscovered in Peru

    This classic 6-day program to the lost kingdom of the Chachapoyas features visits the huge mountaintop temple and fortress of Kuelap, the tombs at Karajia, the Leymebamba museum with its collection of 200 mummies, the Revash tombs and the towering waterfall of Gocta.

    Overnight accommodations are at the charming El Chillo Hacienda Lodge and at a local Chachapoyas hotel. All meals are included.

    The pre-Columbian Chachapoyas culture, conquered in the 15th century by the Incas, has left a landscape scattered with ruined settlements and burial sites which until recently has been largely overlooked by archaeologists.

    Situated in the cloud forests around the town of Chachapoyas in Peru's northern Amazonas Department, these sites are dominated by the mighty fortress-temple of Kuelap, perched majestically atop towering cliffs overlooking a verdant Andean landscape.

    The Chachapoyas region has historically been somewhat isolated from the rest of Peru. Local traditions are distinctive, daily life revolves around cattle and horses, and forest-covered remnants of a glorious past can be spotted on every ridge and cliff.

    • Overview:
    • Day 1 - Transfer to Chachapoyas
    • Day 2 - Visit the Sarcophagi of Karajia
    • Day 3 - Revash tombs + Leymebamba Museum
    • Day 4 - Kuelap Fortress
    • Day 5 - Gocta Waterfall + transfer to Jaen
    • Day 6 - Transfer to Chiclayo

    Shorter 4 and 5-day itineraries can be arranged.

    Lost World Adventures itineraries can be tailor-made according to your plans and preferences: budget, hotel selections, travel dates, optional excursions, length of trip, etc.

    Day 1: Chiclayo to Chachapoyas: Across the Andes to the Amazon

    Depart northward from Chiclayo across Peru's coastal plains, following the Pan-American Highway, then turn east onto the Trans-Andean route, ascending gently through regions of dry forest interspersed with irrigated farmland.

    The road loops towards the lowest pass of the Peruvian Andes, at 2,135m/7,000 ft, where you cross the continental divide and enter the Upper Amazon basin. Following the valley of the Huancabamba/Chamaya river system you pass broad ribbons of bright green rice terracing, forming a striking contrast with the cactus and dense thorn-scrub vegetation of the mountainsides.

    Lower downstream you pass the massive dam and intake of the Olmos irrigation project, ultimately destined to divert much of this water through a 23Km/14.2 mile long tunnel to the Pacific slope of the Andes.

    You reach the bridge over the Maranon, one of the great tributaries of the Upper Amazon, which was formerly believed to be the source of that mighty river. Here you enter the Peruvian department of Amazonas, former home of a mysterious and powerful civilization, the Chachapoyas, whose remnants you will explore during this journey.

    You follow the Utcubamba River, the main artery of the Chachapoyan heartland, first ascending a dramatic canyon then winding up the mountainous valley which leads you to the town of Chachapoyas. Overnight at a Chachapoyas hotel (La Xalca or similar).

    Lunch and dinner included today.

    *Alternately, you can fly from Lima directly to Jaen.

    Day 2: Sarcophagi of Karajia

    After breakfast, drive down to the Utcubamba River and cross over to the neighboring Province of Luya. From the village of Lamud you continue to the village of Cruz Pata, where a short walk (45 min) takes you down to Karajía. These striking sarcophagi, sculpted like humans, have become an icon of the area. For 750 years they have looked towards the rising sun and undoubtedly are the resting place for some elite members of Chachapoya warriors.

    Here you can look across a vertical cliff face to a completely inaccessible cave where the ancient Chachapoyans somehow installed nine tall clay figures, up to some 3 meters high, inside which the bodies of chieftains and perhaps their families were interred. One of the figures has been destroyed by falling rocks, and one damaged. The others are intact. The heads have angular, stylized faces, made of clay, while the bodies of the figures were made on site of wattle and clay, which was then covered in brightly painted designs.

    On top of the heads sit skulls. The figures have been left undisturbed: yet to be studied by archaeologists and untouched by looters. How the ancient Chachapoyans reached this place to create this burial site for their elites is still a mystery.

    Return to the vehicle and transfer to Estancia Chillo with stops along the way to observe other tomb sites along the way. Dinner and overnight at Estancia Chillo.

    Day 3: Journey to the Cliff Tombs of Revash and on to Leymebamba

    Depart after breakfast for the 1-hour drive to Yerbabuena. Begin the steady, uphill 2-hour walk to the spectacular and colorful cliff tombs of Revash.

    Throughout this journey you gaze up at huge cliffs that loom ever closer. These limestone formations, laid down in even layers over geological eons, tend to break away in neat collapses, often leaving extensive overhangs and protected ledges beneath them. In such places the ancient Chachapoya built the tombs where they buried their noble dead.

    A gigantic fold in the cliffs, testifying to millennia of unimaginable tectonic forces, lies ahead of you, and at the top of the fold one such cave houses a group of tombs, ruined structures still bearing their original coat of red and white pigment. But they are far off, and this is not yet Revash.

    Another hour brings you to a viewpoint much closer to the cliffs, and here you see two adjacent sets of caves, featuring cottage-sized structures covered in still-bright mineral-oxide paintwork. Some of them look like cottages, with gabled roofs, others like flat-topped apartments.

    They are adorned with red-on-white figures and geometrical symbols -- a feline, llamas, circles, ovals -- and bas-relief crosses and T-shapes, which perhaps once told the rank and lineage of the tombs' occupants. They are silent, empty, their contents long ago looted, their facades still trying to tell us a story whose meaning was lost long ago.

    Retracing our steps you continue by road around 45 minutes to Leymebamba, arriving mid-afternoon. This settlement was established by the Incas during their conquest of the region, and continued as a colonial town under the Spanish.

    It retains much of this antique charm in its balconied houses with narrow streets where more horses than cars are parked. you go a little further up the highway and pull in to the spacious garden environment of the Leymebamba Museum, where you visit a delightful collection of extraordinary artifacts recovered from another group of cliff tombs discovered as recently as 1997 at the remote Laguna de los Condores, high in the mountains east of the town.

    The exhibits, cheerfully displayed in well-lit rooms, offer a sample from the mass of artifacts recovered from this amazing discovery. In 1997 a group of undiscovered cliff tombs -- similar in style to those of Revash -- was spotted above the remote Laguna de los Condores by local farmhands.

    Although they looted and damaged the site, a mass of priceless objects and a trove of vital information was rescued. You see gourds carved with animal and geometrical symbols, an array of colorful textiles, ceramics, carved wooden beakers and portrait heads, and a selection of the dozens of quipus (Inca knotted-string recording devices) recovered from the site.

    A big picture window offers a view of the temperature- and humidity-controlled temporary "mausoleum" where more than two hundred salvaged mummies are kept.

    Archaeologists are still uncertain as to how most of this material came to be so startlingly well-preserved, in tombs that during the rainy season were actually behind a waterfall!

    But perhaps the most striking thing about the tombs is that they contain burials from all three periods of local history: the Chachapoya cultural heyday, the post-Inca invasion period, and the post-Spanish conquest. Archaeologists are continuing to study the material, seeking to learn more about the Chachapoya and their relationship with their Inca masters.

    The quipu finds have been especially valuable to scholars seeking to decode the Inca record keeping system.

    After our museum tour you can visit the Kenticafé across the street, for a cup of the best coffee in Chachapoyas, where you may see dozens of the region's exotic hummingbirds flitting among the strategically placed feeders, perhaps including the dazzling and highly endangered Marvellous Spatuletail.

    You return to Estancia Chillo for dinner and overnight.

    Day 4: Kuelap, the great walled city of Northern Peru

    Depart the estancia early for the short drive to Nuevo Tingo. Take the cable-car from Nuevo Tingo to Kuelap.

    Along with your expert guide you will explore this huge and mysterious site. The Incas, who finally conquered these fierce warriors, knew them by their Quechua sobriquet, Chachaphuyu - Cloud People - after the cloud-draped region where they lived.

    Kuelap's existence was first reported in 1843. For years it was believed to have been a Chachapoyan fortress, and when you first catch sight of it from the fossil-encrusted limestone footpath that leads there it is hard to believe it was not.

    The massive walls soar to a height of 19 m/62 ft and its few entrance passageways are narrow and tapering, ideal for defense. Yet the archaeological evidence now suggests that this was principally a religious and ceremonial site.

    Chachapoyas was not a nation, or an empire, but some sort of federation of small states centered on numerous settlements scattered across their mountainous territory. The earliest settlement dates obtained here suggest that its construction began around 500 AD and, like the Moche coastal pyramids, it was built in stages as a series of platforms, one atop the other.

    It is now a single enormous platform nearly 600m/2,000ft long, stretched along a soaring ridge top. Seen from below, its vast, blank walls give no hint of the complexity and extent of the buildings above.

    When you reach its summit you find a maze of structures in a variety of styles and sizes, some of them faced with rhomboid friezes, some ruined and some well preserved. Here you can try to imagine the lives of the Chachapoyan elite and their servants who lived here, enjoying a breathtaking view of forested Andean mountains and valleys.

    So distant and neglected was this region until recently that little archaeological research has been done at this important site, and our knowledge of it remains vague. An adjacent site named La Mallca, larger though less dramatic than Kuelap, has not been studied at all.

    You will be driven back to Chachapoyas. Dinner and overnight at a Chachapoyas hotel.

    Day 5: Gocta Waterfall

    Leaving early from the hotel you drive 1.5 hours to the village of Cocachimba where you start the trek to the waterfall of Gocta. This waterfall, though known for many years by locals, was only recently measured in 2006 and found to be the third highest in the world at 2,528 feet. The trek goes along the side of a valley through sugar cane fields and into forest that is home to the yellow-tailed woolly monkey, mountain sloth and the magnificent Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Peru's national bird. The male of this large, brilliantly colored red-and-black member of the cotinga family sports a huge crest that completely envelops its beak. When the males gather they hop from branch to branch through the trees, insulting each other with loud squawks and screeches in an attempt to attract females.. With glimpses of the waterfall along the way you arrive at the base of the highest fall after around 3 hours. You hear the thunder of Gocta before you see the falls, a huge two-stage torrent of water falling from the towering limestone cliffs characteristic of the entire region. Those brave enough may take a dip in the pool at the base.


    Necropolis of Otuzco

    Enigmatic monument known as the windows of Otuzco. Cavities excavated in a rock face, of different depths and some with carvings in high relief. Academics (among them Julio C. Tello) consider them to be funeral caves. These are spectacular relics of the Cajamarca culture.

    Inca Baths

    The Inca Baths, hot springs where Atahualpa, the last Inca, was staying when the Spaniards arrived.


    An impressive complex of enigmatic stones, which include a pre-Inca aqueduct, cut into the rock, a rock sanctuary as well as numerous petroglyphs. Although man inhabited the Cumbemayo area 9,000 years ago, hunting and using rudimentary stone tools, Cerro Consejo was modified from time to time by Huacaloma, Layzon, Cajamarca and Inca civilizations. With its terraces, tracks, caves and waterholes hewn in the rock it was the most important populated area around the canal and, as such, is perhaps one of the best places for scientists to understand the wise and ancient people who established their dominion over the water.

    Other Active Adventures to have in Peru

    White Water Rafting on the Apurimac River

    White Water Rafting in Peru

    Recommended by James from Travel Collecting

    White water rafting on the Apurimac River in Peru is considered one of the ten best river rafting trips in the world, and it is easy to see why. A four-hour drive gets you to the start of the trip. After a lesson in rafting techniques, you are off, with an experienced guide in each raft to navigate. Almost immediately you enter the Apurimac Canyon, also called the Black Canyon. Its towering walls your companion over the next three days. If you are lucky, you may see condors circling high overhead.

    This trip is not for the faint-hearted. Rapids are classified by number, with VI being unnavigable. Typical whitewater rafting trips go through Class III rapids, and this is a fun bumpy ride. Class IV rapids are about as big as most rivers get, and these require a great deal of care and experience to navigate through successfully. The Apurimac River, however, has several Class V rapids. These are serious stuff – and seriously fun if you’re looking for adventure.

    Before each of these rapids, everyone needs to pull over and take a look at the water and rocks and learn exactly what to expect and what to do at each stage of the rapid. The risk of falling overboard is very real. The actual experience is a crazy melee. Everyone is frantically paddling, water is splashing, the raft is bumping, and people are shouting. It is often impossible to see through the water all around and half the time you paddle air, as the raft bucks and dips and rises. It is pure insanity – and there is very little as exhilarating and adrenaline-inducing as this.

    Trips leave from Cusco, and are there are several companies in town, so it is easy to arrange.

    Sandboarding in Huacchina

    Sandboarding in Peru

    Recommended by Claire of Tales of a Backpacker

    One of the best adventures in Peru has to be sandboarding in Huacachina. Huacachina is an oasis in the Peruvian desert near Ica and is a mecca for backpackers who want to have fun on the dunes by day and party at night! Every hostel in Huacachina can arrange a sandboarding tour for you to include a ride on a dune buggy and a go at sandboarding.

    I took the tour arranged by my bus company Peru Hop, and the buggies picked up our group from the hostel and drove over to the dunes. The dune buggy driver clearly loved his job, speeding up and over the sand, spinning round and round and giving us the ride of a lifetime! Thankfully there are harnesses in the buggies so strap in!

    Once we’d had our fill of bouncing around in the buggy, we stopped at the top of a dune to try sandboarding. The boards were very basic, a piece of wood with a couple of straps to hold onto as we zipped down. This isn’t ‘real’ sandboarding, although if you want to give that a try with the proper gear there is a sandboarding school in town. Instead, this is really for first-timers who sit on the board and slide down.

    I was terrified at first, but the feel of the wind (and sand!) in my hair and the surge of adrenaline made me forget my fears. It was a hell of a rush! We went down another couple of dunes, each one taller and steeper than the first, and although I fell off in the sand, I had a whale of a time. Before heading back to the hostel, we drove to watch the sunset over the dunes – a perfect end to a fabulous afternoon sandboarding!

    Ps. There is more to just Huacachina then sandboarding, check out all the Huacachina tours and activities!


    The trip is planned to start Tuesday June 17, 2008. There are lots of flights into Lima, but we recommend you try to get one that gets you into LIM before 10 AM so you don't miss any of the planned activities. If you want to come in on the night of the 16th, we can reserve an additional room and arrange to have you met and taken to the hotel.

    DAY 1, Tues., June 17 : AM: Arrive Lima. You will be met at the airport and taken to the Hotel Posada Miraflores located in one of Lima's better residential and business districts, to check in, freshen up and/or rest a bit. Then you can have a bite of lunch before the afternoon excursion.

    PM: Board the group's private bus and go to Lima's fine Museo de la Nación , i.e., the Museum of the Nation. Here you will see dazzling displays of Peru's many different cultures, pre-Hispanic and present-day. This guided tour will prove invaluable in preparing you for our upcoming visits to the sites of Chavín de Huántar, Huaca de la Luna, Chan Chan, Sipán, Kuelap, and Cajamarca. You will be astounded at the incredible number of sophisticated cultures that arose along the Peruvian coast and in the Andes long before the Inkas.

    For supper, Miraflores offers a variety of good dining spots. For a special dining experience, we recommend the La Rosa Nautica or the Huaca Pucllana. The former is a wonderful rambling wood structure at the end of a pier, so you can dine in elegance, while watching the seabirds and surfers as the waves roll right under you. The latter is an archeological site with a ruined adobe temple-- the huaca -- with a fine restaurant right on the edge of the ruins (which are lit at night). Both restaurants are excellent, and you can try one tonight and the other at the end of the trip when you return to Lima. Ask the hotel to call you a cab to go to either of these great restaurants.

    DAY 2, Weds., June 18 : Today we board our private bus, with professional driver and bilingual Tour Conductor, and head north out of Lima, up the coast to visit the ancient site of Caral. This archeological site is not well-known to Peru visitors, but made worldwide news recently when archeologists declared it to be the oldest known true city in the Americas, some 4600 to possibly 5000 years old, according to radiometric dating. This unexpectedly early date is forcing revision of archeological concepts of the development of civilization in South America. The site represents a large (65 hectares, or 160 acres) urban complex of pyramids, sunken plazas, and other constructions. See Caral archeology.

    From Caral we will continue on a short distance northwards towards Huaraz, to the town of Barranca where we will overnight at the Hotel Chavín.

    Included meal: B (breakfast)

    DAY 3, Thurs., June 19 : After breakfast we continue on northward along the coast for just about 10 km, then turn northeastward, inland, to follow the valley of the Río Fortaleza for 125 km, ascending into the Cordillera Occidental of the Andes to cross a high pass at 4080 m (13,385 ft). From the Fortaleza Pass the highway descends into the valley of the Río Santa to follow this river northward 42 km to a junction where we turn eastward again, ascend to cross the Cordillera Blanca and then descend along a road clinging to the mountainside to reach the town of Chavín de Huántar. Today's route will feature many beautiful views!

    A sort drive beyond Chavín de Huántar is the Konchucos Lodge, a rustic but very pleasant lodge jointly owned by Explorandes and Rainforest Expeditions, built primarily to cater to Andean trekkers. Konchucos will be our lodging tonight.

    Included meals: B, BL (BL=box lunch), D (D=dinner)

    DAY 4, Fri., June 20 : The main treat today is the seminal archeological site of Chavín de Huántar. This archeological site has given its name to what has long been believed to be the oldest major culture in Peru, existing from approximately 1300 to 400 BC. Aside from its antiquity and longevity, the Chavín culture is considered highly important as a sort of "mother culture" due to its strong influence on succeeding cultures throughout northern Peru.

    The Chavín people worshipped first and foremost a Feline God, and secondarily condor, snake and human-like deities. [We cat-lovers are glad to see they had their priorities straight!] There is also evidence that hallucinogenic drugs, such as the San Pedro cactus, were part of their religious rituals.

    The most important feature at the archeological site is the large building known as the Castillo (castle) with its underground temple (a replica of which is in the Museo de la Nación in Lima). This temple contains the famous carved rock known as the Lanzón de Chavín (Giant Lance of Chavín). To quote from the Lonely Planet guidebook, "It is a thrilling and distinctly mysterious experience to come upon this four-metre-high dagger-like rock stuck into the ground at the intersection of four narrow passages deep within the Castillo." Be sure to bring your own flashlight for this adventure!

    After visiting Chavín, we will get en route again to Huaraz. Lunch will be a box lunch aboard the bus.

    We recross the Cordillera Blanca, descend again into the valley of the Río Santo and turn north to reach the city of Huaraz at 3091 m (10,141 ft). Just beyond the city, in the village of Monterrey, is the comfortable Hotel El Patio, home for the next two nights.

    Also at Monterrey, are the well known Baños Termales , natural hot springs baths. and, depending on the hour we arrive from today's and tomorrow's outings, you may find an opportunity for a visit to relax and enjoy the baths.

    DAY 5, Sat., June 21 : The city of Huaraz lies in the Callejón de Huaylas , a narrow valley between the Cordillera Negra --the lower, snowless western range crossed en route to Huaraz-- and the Cordillera Blanca --a high, snow-capped range. It is because of this magnificent mountain scenery, replete with glacial lakes, hot springs and numerous archeological sites, that Huaraz is the most important center for climbing, trekking and backpacking in Peru.

    Today, you will enjoy some of this splendor with a visit to the lovely turquoise Llanganuco glacial lakes, under the brow of the towering icy Nevado Huascarán (6768 m, 22,204 ft). After enjoying the dramatic and invigorating glacial scenery reminiscent of California's famed Yosemite Valley, you'll enjoy a picnic lunch.

    After lunch, a hike down an ancient trail (probably an Inka or pre-Inka road) is planned. The trail, which passes through a grove of queñua trees and alongside a rushing glacial meltwater stream, is partly stone paved, characteristic of Inka roads.

    The last stop for the day will be at the former site of the city of Yungay, where one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the Andes occurred on May 31, 1970, when an earthquake triggered a massive avalanche and landslide that fell from near the peak of Nevado Huascarán. This huge mass of snow, ice and earth became fluidized and rushed down the valley at extremely high speed (perhaps as high as 300 km/hr), to bury the town of Yungay, some 14 kilometers down-valley. With little or no warning or time to flee, almost all of Yungay's 18,000 inhabitants died. Although the town has been rebuilt in a new location, out of the way of future landslides, the path of the debris flow is still visible, and the original site of Yungay has been declared a national cemetery, marked by memorials, scattered ruins and other reminders of the dramatic tragedy.

    With a bit of luck you may witness a lovely peaceful sunset gild the Nevado Huascarán, from whence the deadly avalanche came.

    Second night in Hotel El Patio. Included meals: B, PL (PL=picnic lunch)

    DAY 6, Sun., June 22 : Today's destination is the major coastal city of Trujillo. To reach Trujillo requires another long drive, but one with much to see en route. A well-maintained gravel road heads west out of Huaraz city to re-cross the Cordillera Negra to descend back to the Pacific coast. The winding way up to the high pass features tremendous views of the snow-capped Cordillera Blanca. The long route down to the coast passes through a tremendous variety of scenery and ecological zones.

    With an early start it should be possible to reach the important archeological site of Sechín in time (around 1 PM) for a late box lunch, but bring along some snacks just in case you get hungry en route.

    Sechín features a partially restored stone temple complex, with outer walls decorated by spear-toting warriors and the dismembered bodies of sacrificial victims. heads, arms and legs, torsos, spilled intestines, and so on in gory extravagance, all portrayed in strange cartoon-like carvings. For a better idea of what this little visited site is like, click here: Sechín.

    Trujillo lies about three hours drive north of Sechín, following the Pan American Highway. Once in Trujillo you will settle into the 3-star Hotel Los Conquistadores, very close to the Plaza de Armas for tonight and tomorrow night.

    DAY 7, Mon., June 23 : Modern Trujillo, founded in colonial times, is situated near the major centers of two famous pre-Columbian cultures, the Moche (pre-Inka) and the Chimú (pre-Inka and contemporaneous with the Inka).

    The Moche culture (also called Mochica in older literature) flourished from the first to the eighth centuries AD, forming a kingdom stretching 550 km along the Pacific coast of what is now northern Peru. Their settlements were limited to a series of river valleys, and dependent on a complex system of irrigation canals that made agriculture possible in this arid region. The Moche are best known for their fantastic skill in ceramics-- and you will have already seen stunning examples of this skill in the Museo de la Nación . But here at Trujillo you will see the monumental architecture of their principal temples.

    The Moche system of irrigation made possible a food supply that supported a dense population. This, in turn, provided the necessary work force for major projects such as palaces, pyramids and temples. A short distance out of Trujillo we find the great pyramids of Huaca de la Luna and Huaca del Sol ( huaca is the general Andean term for a "sacred place"). This site was the Moche capital around 600 - 400 BC.

    The Huaca del Sol, or Pyramid of the Sun, was by some accounts the largest pre-Columbian structure in South America, rising 28 m (92 ft) above the desert floor, with a base covering some five hectares. It was constructed of large adobe bricks, estimated to exceed 130,000,000 in number. This massive construction, like the smaller, but still impressive Huaca de la Luna (Pyramid of the Moon) was built and rebuilt numerous times over the centuries. Each rebuilding was bigger and better than its predecessor, and, in fact, the previous construction was entombed by the newer version. As archeologists have excavated and tunneled into the successive pyramid-temple edifices of Huaca de la Luna , they have discovered the original, highly decorated walls of each previous temple preserved below the later additions. You will have the privilege of viewing elaborate and elegant murals molded in adobe and painted in still vivid red, white, ochre, and black. You will be genuinely astounded, as we were when we first visited this site in 2003.

    After visiting the Moche capital, the next destination is lunch on the north side of Trujillo at the beach resort town of Huanchaco for lunch (included). Ceviche or other Peruvian seafood specialties are the recommended fare!

    At Huanchaco beach you will see caballitos ("little horses"), the traditional reed fishing boats that have been used here since time out of mind. These little boats-- seen depicted in Moche pottery-- are straddled and ridden like horses out into the sea by artesanal fisherman even today.

    Like the Moche, the Chimú people were highly skilled metallurgists, who produced beautiful works of art in gold and silver. For more on Chan Chan and the Chimú culture, see National Geographic, Mar. 1973, "Chan Chan, Peru's Ancient City of Kings".

    Second overnight in the Hotel Los Conquistadores in Trujillo. Included meals: B, L

    DAY 8, Tues., June 24 : Today our trip continues up the coast to Chiclayo, an easy drive of just a little over 200 km on good paved highway most the way. En route to Chiclayo a side road leads to the Moche archeological site of Sipán, a rather un-prepossessing site --just another one of the many Moche adobe pyramid sites-- and one that would not be on the itinerary were it not for the incredible discoveries made here in the late 1980s and early 90s. Sipán can justifiably be considered the "King Tut equivalent" for South America. But whereas the fabulous treasure-filled Egyptian burial was that of a single pharoah, here a royal tomb was looted before archeologists arrived on the scene to discover and painstakingly excavate three more spectacular treasure-filled tombs. The saga of the looting, the archeological salvage work, the international black market trade in illicit treasures, and the triumphant discoveries of the three pristine tombs is all told in "Lords of Sipán, A True Story of Pre-Inca Tombs, Archeology and Crime" by Sidney D. Kirkpatrick, highly recommended reading, and a real page-turner! Also see National Geographic, Oct. 1988, "Discovering the New World's Richest Unlooted Tomb" and "Unraveling the Mystery of the Warrior-Priest" (same issue), plus June 1990, "The Moche of Ancient Peru: New Tomb of Royal Splendor".

    After a brief site visit, where reconstructions of the three royal tombs can be seen, it's on to Chiclayo for lunch, and then. one of the real highlights of this excursion: you will see the actual treasures from the Sipán burials, now preserved in a world-class museum built especially to display these eye-popping artifacts: the Museo Nacional Tumbas Reales de Sipán (National Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipán).

    The artfully planned museum is entered by walking up a ramp, just as Moche pyramid temples were entered. The displays take you gradually down into the lower levels of the museum through the series of burials unearthed at Sipán in the same order as the archeologists discovered them. This wonderful museum is the main reason for coming to Chiclayo, and you will not forget this experience. N.B.: No cameras of any kind are allowed in this museum.

    Your hotel tonight in Chiclayo will be the very comfortable Hotel Costa del Sol. Included meals: B, L

    DAY 9, Weds., June 25 : Today the bus that has served so well thus far will be traded in for a caravan of 4WD vehicles, for the excursion route once again turns inland to head back up into the mountains and will pass over some pretty exciting roads during the next five days. 4WD vehicles can handle these mountain roads better than a bus, making the trip both safer and more comfortable. and less time consuming. Today will still be a long travel day-- approximately 9 or 10 hours-- to arrive at the little-visited town of Chachapoyas, located in the center of an area once populated by the mysterious "Cloud People". The road from Chiclayo to Chachapoyas is paved most of the way, but the last part is gravel. Expect a lot of ups and downs and dramatic scenery as you cross first the Cordillera Occidental and later the Cordillera Central to arrive at last at Chachapoyas.

    Once again, as a time saver, box lunches will be supplied for this segment of the trip.

    Your resting place in Chachapoyas will be the Hotel Casona Monsante, in a colonial building in the center of town.

    DAY 10, Thurs., June 26 : Today we begin to learn about the "Cloud People" or Chachapoyas culture with a visit to the archeological site of Karajilla. One of the distinctive characteristics of the Chachapoyas culture is its cliffside cemeteries. At Karajilla bizarre sarcophagi in the form of highly stylized human figures are perched on ledges of a cliff face. The burials were constructed of clay over a framework and painted to represent human figures, then carefully placed on a sheltered ledge where they have survived the centuries since the passing of the Chachapoyas people.

    Wear your hiking boots today, as a 20 - 30 minute hike is required to reach the burial site.

    Second night at Hotel Casona Monsante. Included meal: B

    DAY 11, Fri., June 27 : Today you'll begin to appreciate more fully the use of 4WD vehicles as the caravan starts up the narrow, winding road to Kuelap, the walled mountaintop citadel of the "Cloud People".

    Kuelap is a pre-Inka mountain fortress surrounded by immense stone walls up to 20 meters high. Within the walls is a city of around 400 circular buildings. This out-of-the-way site is very impressive and one of Peru's most mysterious archeological treasures, as little is known about the Chachapoyas people. Their society developed around 800 AD, some 600 years before the Inka Empire, but the Inka overran this area around 1470, and probably gave these people the name we know them by today, the Chachapoyas, or "Cloud People". For more information, visit, or read National Geographic, Sept. 2000, "Quest for the Lost Tombs of the Peruvian Cloud People".

    After visiting the Kuelap archeological site, the caravan will continue on to the town of Leymebamba where the rustic Hostal Leymebamba will be home for the next two nights. Don't expect luxury here, but do expect a very friendly welcome from the couple that runs the place. Actually the hostal is surprisingly nice and comfortable to be so far off the beaten track. And the little town of Leymebamba is charming.

    Included meals: B, BL, D (D=dinner)

    DAY 12, Sat., June 28 : Today will be spent learning more about the Chachpoyas culture by visiting the archeological site of Revash, noted for its cliffside tombs. For detailed info about Revash, click here. Reaching Revash will require a drive followed by a hike of perhaps up to two hours duration, so wear your hiking boots and be prepared for a workout.

    We hope to return to Leymebamba in time to visit the local museum of Chachapoyas culture.

    Any travelers not wishing to hike might prefer to just relax and enjoy the little pueblo of Leymebamba and enjoy a leisurely visit to the museum.

    Second night at the Hostal Leymebamba. Included meals: B

    DAY 13, Sun., June 29 : Today is almost certainly the most spectacular road day of the trip. The distance from Leymebamba to Celendín is just 144 km (90 miles), but over some very exciting mountain roads. When we first ran this trip, using a 25-passenger bus, we managed to average 15 km per hour on this route, with some stops to help the bus through rough spots in the road, plus photo and lunch stops. Using the 4WD vehicles in 2007 we made better time, in greater comfort and security.

    The road, which crosses the valley of the Río Marañón, has been described as one of the "most spectacular routes in all Peru." After leaving Leymebamba the road first climbs through verdant valleys to reach a high pass called Abra del Barro Negro (Black Mud Pass), 3678 m (12,067 ft) above sea level. From here the road plunges into the rugged canyon of the Río Marañón, one of the deepest in South America. The road descends more than 2700 m (over 8900 ft) vertically through various ecological zones-- from cloud forest down through agricultural zones into rather arid country-- to arrive at the village of Balsas at the river's edge at 950 m (3116 ft). From the name "Balsas" you can figure that the villagers once made their living ferrying people and freight across the river, before the bridge was built. After crossing the Marañón the road starts back up on the other side, winding back and forth, seemingly forever until it once again tops out at over 3600 m, before starting back down to the town of Celendín at 2600 m (8550 ft). Yes, this road will be an adventure!

    In Celendín we will overnight at the Hostal Celendín, another pretty basic hostelry.

    DAY 14, Mon., June 30 : Today is your final day of 4WD caravaning. The drive from Celendín to Cajamarca is an easy 118 km, and arrival should be around 1 PM, as the drive is around 4 and a half hours driving time.

    Thus far the trip has focused on splendid Andean scenery and archeological sites of pre-Inka cultures. But Cajamarca, in addition featuring fascinating pre-Inka remains from the Cajamarca culture, also is the site of one of history's great and tragic moments: the capture of the Inka Atahualpa by the Conquistador Hernán Pizarro, ensuring the downfall of the most powerful of all the many Andean empires.

    Upon arrival in Cajamarca you will check into the Hotel Portal del Marques, a 3-star hotel in a colonial home.

    After lunch, a short walk through the to the central plaza, past the lovely colonial church, brings you to the ancient stone building said by some to be the very room where Atahualpa was held prisoner by Pizarro. Others assert that this is the room where Atahualpa drew a line as high as he could reach on the wall and promised to fill the room with gold and silver in exchange for his freedom. The Inka then proceeded to pay one of the greatest ransoms ever paid. treasure poured in from Cusco and all over the Inka Empire for months on end. And when Atahualpa's promise was fulfilled, he was rewarded not with his freedom (which, of course, the Spaniards could not permit without ensuring their own destruction), but with death by being garroted.

    That such a small handful of Spaniards had the audacity to attempt and succeed in the capture of Atahualpa who led an army of tens of thousands of warriors beggars the imagination. But the Spaniards' lust for gold gave them a boldness of spirit that is hard not to admire in spite of their cruelties. And Atahualpa's hubris --certain of his own invincibility-- led him to fall into a well-planned trap. For a fascinating account of the conquest of Peru, read "The Conquest of the Incas" by scholar John Hemming.

    For supper tonight you can either eat in the dining room of El Portal or choose from a variety of restaurants in town.

    DAY 15, Tues., July 1 : In the morning you will be picked up and driven by private bus will drive a short distance out of town, climbing up into the treeless high region of Cumbe Mayo where an ancient stone aqueduct, ingeniously engineered, once carried water across the continental divide! Today parts of the aqueduct continue to function and a bit of a hike through picturesque rock spires will enable you to enjoy the scenery, rock formations and interesting high-elevation plants close up, as well as visit this intriguing bit of ancient engineering.

    The afternoon will be free time, to follow your own interests. Recommended options include: 1) visiting the Cajamarca market-- an easy walk from the hotel 2) taking a cab to the hot springs just about a 10 minute drive from downtown-- it was at these springs where Atahualpa was encamped with his army when he made the fateful decision to visit the Spaniards in Cajamarca today the springs are replete with group and private bathing facilities, and you can enjoy relaxing in the waters here 3) taking a cab out to visit Las Ventanas de Otuzco (The Windows of Otuzco), a necropolis of niches carved into cliffs of volcanic tuff. Many of the tombs-- all now empty-- are simple small chambers excavated in the rock, while others are multiroom affairs. The cliffside is thoroughly pocked with the openings to the tombs, hence the name "windows".

    Second night at the Hotel Portal del Marques. Included meal: B

    DAY 16, Weds., July 2 : Today the adventures in northern Peru, come to a close. You say adiós to this fascinating region at the Cajamarca airport where you board the 10:35 AM flight back to Lima. Hope for a window seat, as the flight over the rugged Andes is spectacular!

    In Lima you will be met at the airport and taken to back to familiar digs at the Hotel Posada Miraflores.

    After settling into the Posada Miraflores, freshening up, and having a quick bite of lunch, one further outing is in the offing.

    To review and sum up all the different sites and cultures you have seen on the excursion to the north, a visit to the Museum of Archeology, Anthropology, and History is planned. While an older and less spiffy museum than the Museum of the Nation (visited on day 1), this museum exhibits many extremely important pieces: for example, here you can see the originals of the Raimundi and Tello stelae from Chavín de Huántar. The exhibit rooms are arranged according to the chronological development of human culture in Peru, making this visit an excellent way to tie together all you have seen on this trip.

    Travelers terminating their Peruvian visit now may fly out tonight, or overnight at the Posada Miraflores and fly out in the morning. (Airport transfer service is included in the cost of the trip.)

    Day 17, Thurs., July 3: For those who did not depart last night: Transfer out to Lima's international airport for your flight back home.

    END of TRIP. or is it? Read on!

    Rutahsa Adventures can arrange pre- or post-trip extensions for travelers who wish to overfly the Nasca Lines, visit the Peruvian Amazon, or go trekking in the Andes. There are plenty of options in this marvelous country.

    Write us for details and costs for these trip extensions.

    For those travelers wanting an extended Peru experience, we recommend signing up for the Rutahsa's May-June Keshwa Chaca excursion, which includes the Nasca Lines, Colca Canyon, Lake Titikaka, Cusco, Machu Picchu and much more! See the trip website Keshwa Chaca 2008.

    Whichever options you pick, the trip to Northern Peru will be a memorable experience in a league all its own!


    The trip cost depends on the group size. A minimum of 4 participants is required to make the trip go a maximum of 16 will be enrolled. The trip cost, in double occupancy accommodations, will be $2289 p/p with 16 participants $2470 p/p with 13-15 participants $2762 p/p with 10-12 participants $3057 with 7-9 participants $3597 p/p with 4-6 participants.

    Single room accommodations are available for a singles supplement of $360.

    The trip price includes all hotels, ground transportation, air fare Cajamarca to Lima, park and monument entry fees, services of a bilingual Peruvian Tour Conductor plus bilingual local guide services as needed, and meals as listed in the itinerary (continental breakfasts at most hotels, box or picnic lunches on certain outings), plus airport transportation in and out.

    The Ambivalent Tourist Town of Chachapoyas, Peru – An Off the Beaten Path Travel Gem

    It’s easy to fall into the trap of visiting only the most popular attractions at travel destinations. We’re bombarded by Top 10 lists in travel guides and websites, and the typical vacation has to fit within a 1 to 2-week time frame. Stick to these lists, and you’re guaranteed major excitement, great pictures that match the ones in the guides, and no surprises with hotels. It’s a good bet that it will also mean crowds, well-worn paths, expensive hotels, throngs of aggressive vendors, and oh so many more pleasantries that go along with going where everyone else goes.

    Like so many aspects of our lives these days, whether it’s which beach to go to, which movie to see, or what car to drive, we’re at risk of missing out completely on lifes’ subtleties, diversities, and discoveries because we’re guided by others peoples’ priorities and conclusions, and herded into paths that are predetermined and preordained. I say rebel against Top 10 lists! A travel renegade rips up the lists and heads off-the-beaten-path to make decisions for himself as to what deserves attention.

    Somewhere off-the-beaten-path, Peru.

    There are two approaches to off-the-beaten path travel, and they both have their rewards. The first is to research beyond the Top 10 lists. Spend the time to really think about what it is that you seek and then read everything you can and sift it down to locate what YOU consider to be the jewels. If you’re on a schedule, this works best because you don’t have the time to figure it out on the trip itself.

    The second approach is to just show up and let the road make the decisions for you. It’s also known as Vagabonding Travel, and you need time, time, and more time for this kind of trip to develop, ferment, and ripen. Off the beaten path travel usually delivers unexpected treasures as well as occasional disappointments and opportunities for “personal growth.” It also delivers the kind of memories that tend to stick around, and they almost always make far better stories. Would you rather hear trip details and look at pictures of someone braving the crowds of Disneyland, or someone who backpacked across Rwanda and shared a forest nook with mountain gorillas?

    On an off-the-beaten path trip to Peru, chances are pretty good that Province and City of Chachapoyas, nestled in the low Andes of northern Peru, will warrant some serious consideration.

    The large majority of the tourists who flock to Peru each year head to Cuzco and the surrounding Sacred Valley, with Machu Picchu on most itineraries. I’m one of those few who didn’t visit Machu Picchu on my first trip to Peru, but, truth be told, it was only because floods and landslides had literally shut it down for a month. The Inca ruins elsewhere in the Sacred Valley, Lake Titicaca, and a jungle trip to the Manu Biological Preserve more than kept me enthralled on that visit, and I checked Machu Picchu off the list on my second trip.

    I’m not going to tell you not to visit Machu Picchu…

    By my third visit, it definitely was time to break out of the tractor beam that sucks a traveler into the Sacred Valley and do some serious prospecting of what else Peru has to offer. It was February, so the options included wilting in the stifling dry summer heat of the desert coast or steaming in the humidity and soul sopping rain of the Amazon in the rainy season. As awesome as both those sound, they may not have been quite enough to drag me away from the merciless cold temperatures and rapid fire snow and ice storms back home in Maine this winter.

    My traveling companion and I hit the map and saw a huge unvisited (for us) chunk of northern Peru, and then focused on the part sandwiched between the coast and jungle, where the Andes Mountains were relatively narrow and not quite tall enough to be snow covered. It didn’t take long for our adventure-seeking eyes to focus on Chachapoyas.

    There isn’t much that’s run of the mill about a trip to Chachapoyas, and like all good off-the-beaten path destinations, it’s not easy to get to. (More on getting there at the end of this article.)

    A few quick facts: Chachapoyas is a city in northern Peru with a population of just over 20,000 people. Situated in the mountains at an elevation of about 2,200 meters (7,660 ft) and far from the Peruvian coast, Chachapoyas remains fairly isolated from other regions of Peru. It’s centrally located within what’s called the Amazonian Andes within the pre-Incan empire of the Chachapoyas, a name that means Warriors of the Clouds. The Chachapoyas left behind world class ruins and archaeological relicts, like the cloud fortress of Kuelap, the Sarcophagi of Karajia, and the Mausolea at Revash. Add to that the natural attractions like the 2,500-ft Gocta Falls (the 5th highest waterfall in the world), caverns, and nature reserves, and you start to wonder if Machu Whatcha-ma-call-it really needs to happen for you after all.

    Gocta Falls, above the tiny Village of Cocachimba.

    Vast areas of little-explored cloud forest surround the city of Chachapoyas, and it hides some of Peru’s most fascinating and obscure archaeological treasures. The ruins range from remarkably preserved through to barely recognizable, based on how much they’ve been impacted by weather over time or how trashed they’ve been by grave robbers and treasure seekers, but even the degraded ones hold great mystique. Kuélap is by far the most famous of these archaeological sites, though dozens of other ruins lie engulfed by jungle, at peace in their present day anonymity.

    After a long journey to get to Chachapoyas, spend a few days getting acquainted and you notice there are only a modest number of hotels and restaurants and a scattering of tour companies, almost no souvenir shops, no street hawkers, and no other evidence that tons of tourists ever throng here. There’s a modest market, no large-scale farming, and no industry. Despite this, the town is clean, tidy, laid back, and crime-free. Sprawling new housing developments are perched around the town, many of them empty, a new and unused airport capable of landing jets (and an even newer and bigger one planned), paved roads throughout the village, and more radio and TV stations than a good-sized U.S. city. The populace is friendly and largely seems content to be lodged between the cell phone and ipod state of “western civilization.”

    Chachapoyas – the big picture.

    In the air is a sense of “If you want to visit and have a great time and drop some money in Chachapoyas, that’s cool – if not….whatever.” A mystery for sure, especially in view of the feeding-frenzy practiced on tourists throughout other parts of Peru.

    It didn’t take much mixing with the locals to begin to understand this ambivalence…the secret that’s not-so-secret of Chachapoyas. In fact, the residents I spoke with were almost effusive in their willingness to talk and laugh about it, and no one I encountered seemed bothered by it. Of course, I didn’t interview the local religious representatives, and the police of Latin American countries? Well, shiny, happy crossing guards they aren’t, so I left them alone too. Second hand input had to suffice for them, and that second hand input suggested that the police were completely on board.

    The secret was hidden in the beautiful mountain vistas surrounding Chachapoyas that were overlain onto productive soils, subjected to excellent moderate rainfall and weather, and which for practical purposes were ridiculously tough to get to.

    It turns out that Chachapoyas is a poster child for a prospering 21st century sustainable community in a world where a significant portion of the people in “developed countries” have enough disposable income to support both a low level of tourism to a well-off-the-beaten-path destination, as well as….a chemical dependency.

    Sometime in the late 1970’s to early 80’s, when America started the drug war in earnest and it became lucrative for large landowners, multinational banks, Latin American drug cartels, and American military contractors to “encourage and support” a healthy drug trade, the hills around Chachapoyas began to come alive with the sound of music….the special kind of music played by the wind blowing through expansive fields of plants used to make illicit drugs – first coca for cocaine and more recently, poppies for heroin.

    (I want to make sure this doesn’t come off as another slam of coca. Coca leaves are integrally tied to the culture of the Andes they’ve been chewed and brewed for tea for centuries, and they are nothing short of a superfood. America needs to get over its persecution of this plant!!)

    Not that Chachapoyas is that unique. There are hundreds of regions like it in Latin America, the Mediterranean, and the Far East where the soils and climate, and remoteness of course, are suitable to grow what certain developed countries call the primary targets for the war on drugs.

    All signs around Chachapoyas point to business being pretty good, but I’ll leave out details like names, organizations, political parties, and more, that were shared with me. After all, I would very much like to visit Chachapoyas again!

    This source of prosperity almost certainly causes heartburn to some. Recently, the local Catholic Church began a campaign to raise “clean” money to support costs for the local school. In response, one person who is known as a well-off grower of the local cash crop, stepped up and paid school costs anticipated for the next 60 years. The church campaign quietly ended.

    What about all the new infrastructure beyond what a community this size could possibly utilize? The locals delighted in giving me a lesson on what money laundering is all about. There is a Vietnamese firm who has yearly contracts to maintain and install more equipment for the radio and television towers, most of which have never been active. Money is being poured into new housing that no one needs. The unused airport gets new equipment every year. The list is impressive. There is a huge ski lift being planned up to the ruins of Kuelap that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars – I’m sure the tens of tourists that visit Kuelap each day will make it highly profitable.

    Don’t visit Chachapoyas expecting it to be a sin city of vice. Conservatism carries the day, and it’s no party town. The plants of prosperity are sent far away for processing, and the locals apparently are way too smart to share any dependency upon the ultimate products. There is absolutely no danger in visiting Chachapoyas. Violence in the drug war only occurs when there is oppression of locals, trafficking wars, and conflicts over profits. There’s none of that here, just peaceful fields hidden in the hills.

    High on the bluffs of Revast looking out over an incredibly expansive Andean valley, where the Chachapoyas people buried their dead over 1000 years ago in mausoleum crypts chisled out of a sheer cliff face, a sublime sense of peace and solemnity prevails. As one ponders the significance of the ancients and gazes upon the grand view that the dead have gazed upon for a millennium, it’s possible to peak at two futures among the mists that cloud the upper slopes of the mountains surrounding the Utcubamba River valley.

    Hanging with the dead, pondering the living, at Revash.

    In one future, western society continues down its path of over-indulgence and over-dependence, and Chachapoyas does its share to feed the addictions, and in so doing eventually is able to pave its streets in gold to the point of fulfilling the prophecy of the long lost city of riches in Latin America, the elusive El Dorado. The other future, more hopeful but cynically less likely, is a future of moderation, where the west kicks itself in the ass and smartens up, faces its demons of dependency, moderates its thirst for consumption of all kinds, and its’ greed for profits to be made from an illegal drug trade, and poppy plants wilt in the fields, and Chachapoyas settles in to the tourism and agriculture that both hold such high potential.

    You get the sense that the community of Chachapoyas doesn’t really care either way, and will be patient while the world figures it out. It’s got world class history and natural attractions, clean abundant water and great soils, and a multitude of glistening white buildings around its’ town plaza. It’s going to be just fine, even if it never breaks into anyones Top 10 list. Maybe it’s a model that could be more widely applied? An economy based on adventure and history tourism, and illicit growing that combine to create relaxed ambiance, safety, and an all around high “happiness quotient.” They might be onto something…

    Notes on Getting There and Attractions – For the more adventurous, Chachapoyas deserves to be right up there with the Sacred Valley, and for those wanting to avoid crowds, start your planning now.

    To get to Chachapoyas, you can fly from Lima (the hub for national flights) to either Chiclayo on the coast, or Tarapoto in the Amazon. From there, the adventure begins, as it’s a long, winding, 8-hr bus ride to Chachapoyas either way. We picked Taropoto and broke the drive up with an overnight in the Village of Moyobamba, which had a great market, an annual orchid festival timed a few weeks after we were there, swarms of moto-taxis, and no other tourists. Narrow roads and blind corners kept the long drive interesting, and several “stops” along the way while landslides were cleared actually were welcome breaks to settle our stomachs.

    As I mentioned, the roads in the village are paved and well laid out. Outside of the village, the roads of the general region are another story. The roads often seemed to narrow to about a lane and a half, within which drivers somehow pass each other without slowing, and, because they beep their horns, they also speed around turns. When driving in buses and vans, I recommend you bring a distraction like music and close your eyes, because paying attention to the driver and the road will irritate any ulcers, headaches, hangnails, eye-twitches or any other condition that normally is at equilibrium. Most of the forests have been removed from the slopes and, as a result, landslides are common especially during the rainy season – expect delays. On our way to the Mausolea at Revash, it took all nine of us in the tour van to nudge a boulder to the side of the road, and allow the van to pass.

    A minor obstacle in the path.

    The tombs at Revash are amazing in their detail and in the engineering it took to site and build them on the sheer cliff walls, but what really struck me was the adventure to get to them and the location. The trail to Revash is narrow and steep with sheer dropoffs…don’t attempt it if heights aren’t your thing. Perch on the cliff next to the tombs and the sense of solitude is almost jarring eyes feast on the grandeur of the mountains and valley, and ears starve in the quiet of the thin air. The great reverence for the dead is obvious you get the sense that a good part of every living persons’ day was preparing for and working on, the details of someone elses’ death.

    The falls at Gocta are reached after about 2 and a half hours of challenging up and down hiking on a trail that’s being improved by the day by the local community. The tiny Village of Cocachimba, one row of buildings around a large grassy common, is located at the base of the trail, and here you can hire a trail guide, rent horses if you don’t want to walk, or line up a sopa de pollo (chicken soup) for when you return. You won’t get near the canyon at the base of the falls if its high water.

    I can’t say enough about the ruins of the fortress of Kuelap. I think I enjoyed them more than Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu is fully restored, so much so that you would only be half surprised if you turned a corner and intruded upon an Inca sacrifice in progress. It’s buffed and primped, and it’s….well, it’s square – the Incas you see were all about right angles and straight walls. It’s still a wonderful place to visit and share with….thousands of your closest friends. At Kuelap, there is no questioning that it’s a ruin, and the jungle that consumed the once mighty fortress has only partly surrendered its conquest. The trees, bromeliads, and parrots on and around the ruins add immeasurably to the experience.

    Unimpaired by crowds, I could feel the energy of the ages and hear the echoes of footprints that trammeled through the Kuelap compound long ago. Instead of lines and angles, the Chachapoyas built with curves homes are circular, and walls undulating and beautifully curved. Inca architecture makes me think of a lawyers office and of updating my will – Chachapoyan architecture brings to mind a sensual dinner date and a night out on the town partying. If they ever build the ski lift, I recommend you skip it and take the drive or combination drive and hike. The fortress walls are visible for a long ways, and the periodic glimpses along the journey help to build the mystique and awe.

    If you do the research for your trip, you’ll find that Kuelap is number 1 on the Top 10 list of things to do in Chachapoyas. But of course, we can discard those lists, right?


    It was Andrea Mantegna who, with his frescoes in the Ovetari Chapel of the Church of the Eremitani (executed when he was just 18-20 years old), emerged as the reference point for the rebirth of painting over much of Northern Italy and Central Europe. Andrea Mantegna (ca. 1431-September 13, 1506) has traditionally been known as an “archaeological” painter and scholar, author of pictorial statues and more or less classicist ornaments, instead of as a creator of “living” figures. However, Mantegna, like Melozzo da Forlì, was a transformer of the spatial sense in painting during the Renaissance, a painter who projected his figures and his architectural constructions on a plane of strong fantastic tension. Andrea persistently experimented with perspective in order to create a sense of greater monumentality in his works.

    Mantegna was born in Isola di Carturo, then part of the Venetian Republic, close to Padua. At the age of 11 he was put under the apprentice of the Paduan painter Francesco Squarcione, who managed a very important and popular school of painting. In consequence, many artists were attracted to Padua, between them Paolo Uccello, Filippo Lippi and Donatello. Squarcione greatly favored Mantegna, teaching him Latin as well as instructing him in the study of ancient Roman sculpture. At the age of 17, Andrea left Squarcione’s workshop.

    Fresco cycle with the Stories of St. James, Cappella Ovetari in the Chiesa degli Eremitani (Padua), by Andrea Mantegna, 1448-1457. The picture above shows a reconstruction from colored black-and-white photos. Since most of the church was destroyed during the Second World War, today we can gain an impression of these frescoes only with the help of photographs and old descriptions. These group of frescoes are Mantegna’s earliest surviving paintings. The side walls of the Ovetari chapel were dedicated to scenes from the lives of St. James and St. Christopher, and the apse wall, with its window apertures depicted the Assumption of the Virgin (see picture below). Each lateral wall included 6 episodes developed in three tiers. Mantegna (then 18 years old) painted the left wall with the scenes from the life of St. James almost on its entirety. As usual at the time, the episodes depicted were inspired by The Golden Legend of Jacopo da Varagine. The northern (left) wall with the Stories of St. James (pictured above) was entirely painted by Mantegna and included (from top to bottom and from left to right):
    Vocation of the Saints James and John, St. James Preaching, St. James Baptizes Hermogenes, Judgement of St. James, St. James Led to His Execution and Martyrdom of St. James.

    It is perhaps in his first works that the simultaneous heroic and museological appearance of his figures is most evident his somewhat stony figures reflect his fundamentally sculptural approach to painting. This can be appreciated in his frescoes in Padua, begun when he was 18 years old, later interrupted by his trip to Ferrara, and finished until ca. 1456. These series of frescoes, illustrating the life of St. James, were commissioned for the Ovetari Chapel in the church of Sant’Agostino degli Eremitani and were mostly the work of Andrea. The frescoes were almost entirely destructed in 1944 during the Allied bombings of Padua and are now in a very poor state of conservation. The most dramatic depiction of this fresco cycle is the scene set in a worm’s-eye view perspective depicting St. James Led to His Execution.

    St. James Led to His Execution, fresco from the cycle Scenes from the Life of St. James, by Andrea Mantegna, 1448-1457 (Cappella Ovetari, Chiesa degli Eremitani, Padua). Below, a colorized version of the same picture showing the original appearance of the fresco.

    Assumption of the Virgin, fresco, mostly by Andrea Mantegna, 1454-1457 (Cappella Ovetari, Chiesa degli Eremitani, Padua). This fresco is located on the altar wall of the Ovetari Chapel. Surrounded by angels, Mary floats towards God the Father, who was originally sitting above her in an oval picture. Presentation in the Temple, tempera on wood, by Andrea Mantegna, ca. 1455-1460, 67 x 86 cm (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin). The scene is set within a marble frame. The Virgin Mary holds the Child while a bearded high priest is near her ready to receive Him. The foreshortened pose of Christ Child is seen at an angle in relation to the back of the ‘pictorial cube’: by placing the Christ Child on the marble frame Mantegna gives a measure of the space behind while at the same time projecting the Child into the viewer’s space. At the center, in penumbra, is Joseph with an areola. Also in the background, at the sides, two spectators without areola have been identified as possibly Mantegna’s self-portrait (right) and a portrait of his wife (left). This assumption has led to the conclusion that this painting was somehow connected with the marriage of the painter. St. Sebastian, tempera on wood, by Andrea Mantegna, 1456-1459, 68 x 30 cm (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna). Mantegna painted three different versions of St. Sebastian during different periods of his life. That was a period of frequent plagues, and Sebastian was considered protector against this disease as he was shot through by arrows, and it was thought that plague spread through the air. Also, for Italian artists of the 15th-century, paintings of St. Sebastian offered the opportunity of depicting an idealized nude figure in a classical setting. The St. Sebastian of Vienna (pictured above) has been suggested to be made after Mantegna had recovered from the plague while in Padua (1456–1457), and it was probably commissioned by the city’s podestà to celebrate the end of the pestilence. In this version of St. Sebastian, Mantegna, instead of the classical figuration of Sebastian being tied to a pole in Rome’s Campo Marzio (“Martial Field”), tied the saint to a column of a triumphal arch both to emphasize his heroism and at the same time to stress the precise historic setting. The triumphal arch stands in a courtyard closed off by a wall. Debris from statues and a fragment of bacchanalian relief lie around, indicating the fall of the pagans and the victory of Christianity. In the cloud at the top left of the painting, a bearded horseman can be discerned images in clouds like this one were associated to the genius of nature, which could stimulate artists and inspire them to improve on nature with their creations. The vertical inscription at the right side of the saint is the signature of Mantegna in Greek. As typical of Mantegna’s work we can notice the clarity of the surface, the precision of an “archaeological” reproduction of the architectonical details, and the elegance of the martyr’s posture.

    Andrea left Padua and never returned there. He spent the rest of his life in Verona, Mantua and Rome. Between 1457-1459, while in Verona, he painted his great altarpiece of St. Zeno, whose predella is now divided between the Louvre Museum (which has the Crucifixion) and the Tours Museum (with the Agony in the Garden and the Resurrection). This painting was probably the first good example of Renaissance art in Verona. This was a period in which a new chromatic taste for warm colors adds to Mantegna’s typical solemnity in his compositions.

    San Zeno Polyptych, tempera on panel, by Andrea Mantegna, 1457-1460, 480 x 450 cm (Basilica of San Zeno, Verona). For the main altar of the church of San Zeno, Mantegna painted one of the finest and most influential altarpieces of the time. The design of the elaborate gilt wood frame is probably based upon Donatello’s high altar for the Church of St. Anthony in Padua. The predella panels (see pictures below) are copies, the originals were taken by Napoleonic troops and are now in French museums. The main scene takes place in an “open air” background. The garlands suspended from the proscenium* which appear to thread between the simulated columns of the painting and the actual wooden ones of the frame, give a wonderful sense of perspective and depth. The central part represents the Madonna and Child Enthroned and surrounded by music-making angels, seated on a marble throne decorated with Roman-inspired reliefs and covered with a decorative Oriental rug. The naturalistic trompe l’oeil garlands, seemingly affixed to the top of the picture, create a rapport with the garlands held by the putti in the marble relief painted at the top of the throne. The left part shows Saints Peter and Paul, Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Zeno, while the right part has Saints Benedict, Lawrence, Gregory and Saint John the Baptist. Andrea filled the entire composition with details referring to classical antiquity, for example: the frieze with the angels which holds two garlands, or the throne which reminds the viewer of a ancient sarcophagus. Crucifixion, tempera on panel, by Andrea Mantegna, 1457-1459, 67 x 93 cm (Musée du Louvre, Paris). This is the central panel of the predella of the San Zeno Polyptych (see above). Here, Andrea sets the Golgotha on a cracked rocky plateau. The place of execution is marked by holes in the rock, that had already been used for other crosses. At the foot of Christ’s cross lies the skull of Adam, the first man. According to legend, Adam’s grave was at Calvary and was exposed by the earthquake when Christ died. Mantegna painted the surrounding landscape with precise attention to detail. Notice the vanishing lines of the ground: they appeared curved inwards and somehow contracted, making the floor looking almost spherical. Agony in the Garden, tempera on panel, by Andrea Mantegna, 1457-1459, 72 x 94 cm (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Tours). This panel is the left hand of the predella of the San Zeno Polyptych (see above). Andrea depicts Gethsemane more as an orchard than as a garden. An angel (top right corner) is floating on high carrying the cup that symbolizes the inexorable fate reserved for Christ. Beyond the dead tree off-center, Mantegna depicted Jerusalem with accurate detail. A winding road leads through a rural scene with unrepaired boundary walls, to the main gate. The central temple towering over the rest of the buildings was modelled on the Omar Mosque, which in the Middle Ages was often taken for Solomon’s Temple. Resurrection, tempera on panel, by Andrea Mantegna, 1457-1459, 71 x 94 cm (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Tours). This is the right hand panel of the predella of the San Zeno Polyptych (see above). The strongly luminous apparition of Christ, in the center, is emphasized by the darkness of the rocky grotto. The faces of the guards show a range of reactions to the miracle of the Resurrection, from a still sleepy figure gazing in front of him to a soldier rising to his feet in amazement (to the left). The figure and posture of Christ looks very similar to the later Resurrection by Piero della Francesca.

    Mantegna’s artistic maturity began around 1460, when he was called to Mantua by Marquis Ludovico III Gonzaga, who appointed him as court artist in Mantua. Shortly afterwards (in 1461) he worked on the Death of the Virgin (Prado Museum), in whose background the acute perspective of an exquisitely painted landscape appears.

    St. George, tempera on panel, by Andrea Mantegna, ca. 1460, 66 x 32 cm (Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice). Mantegna’s St. George stands serenely impassive in the marble enclosed space to the right we see a bird’s-eye view of the walled city from which leads the road George has just travelled to engage in his battle with the dragon. St. George carries the remains of the lance he just has used to kill the dragon, who lies at his feet with the lance’s point stuck in its jaw. The hanging garland at the top is a typical decorative motive Mantegna learned while at Squarcione’s school during his formative years. These lush garlands with leaves and fruits were a typical decorative element in ancient Rome monuments (see the Ara Pacis). Death of the Virgin, oil on wood, by Andrea Mantegna, 1460-1464, 54 x 42 cm (Museo del Prado, Madrid). This painting was part of the chapel of the Castello di San Giorgio in Mantua and was part of a commission from Ludovico Gonzaga to decorate that place in the first half of the 1460s. In a room framed by somber classical pilasters, but looking out on to a view of the lake of Mantua, the Apostles gather around the dying Virgin. Mantegna perfectly coordinated the skillfully constructed perspective with the precisely drawn and colored figures. In the background there’s a lake with a detailed reproduction of the bridge and the burgh of the Castle of St. George in Mantua.

    One of Mantegna’s masterpieces was executed while his stay in Mantua, the decoration of the “Wedding Chamber” of the Ducal Palace. In these decorative frescoes, finished in 1474, in the “Camera degli Sposi”, Mantegna developed a continuous landscape, interrupted only by architectural elements, in which various scenes of the visit made, two years earlier, by the then young Cardinal Francesco Gonzaga to his father Ludovico, take place. In contrast to his old “statuesque” style, here appears a subtle concern for the relationships that are created between the individual characters and the landscape.

    Frescoes in the Camera degli Sposi in the Ducal Palace of Mantua (view of the west and north walls), by Andrea Mantegna, (1465-1474). Mantegna decorated the walls of this “bridal chapel” with contemporary representations of the Gonzaga family (his patrons). The overall design and various details of the ceiling opened the way for the illusionistic painting of later artists like Pinturicchio, Raphael, Michelangelo, and even went beyond to influence later 16th century perspective architectural wall and ceiling painting. Only two walls (the north and west walls, pictured above) have figurative narrations. The remaining two walls are painted with imitation gold brocade draperies that create the fiction that there were curtains covering all four walls and on two sides they had been opened up to reveal the events depicted. The Camera degli Sposi is widely known as a masterpiece in the use of both trompe-l’œil and di sotto in sù. The room decoration was to give the impression of a classical pavilion, thanks to the effect of Mantegna’s illusionistic painting* which included subtle shifts in vantage points that make each fictive element of the illusion seem real to the viewer. Ceiling decoration of the Camera degli Sposi, walnut oil on plaster and fresco, by Andrea Mantegna, 1465-1474 (Palazzo Ducale, Mantua). The ceiling of the Camera degli Sposi, painted resembling a tent, includes in the center the trompe-l’oeil oculus, within the diamond-shaped compartments eight busts of the first eight Roman emperors in medallions carried by winged putti, and in the side vaults scenes from the myths of Orpheus, Arion, and Hercules. The ceiling was painted first and it was executed in grisaille and imitating gold mosaics. The overall design of the ceiling painting makes it appear higher than it actually is. This implied connection between the glory of Italy’s Imperial Roman past and the Gonzaga family from Mantua through the classical references Andrea painted on the ceiling, ennobled the Gonzaga as both a military and learned might that was thus comparable to the ancient Roman Empire. The Court of Gonzaga (scene on the North wall), walnut on oil plaster, by Andrea Mantegna, 1465-1474, 805 x 807 cm (Camera degli Sposi, Palazzo Ducale, Mantua). The Camera degli Sposi is lit by two windows that on the north wall throws a ray of light onto the west wall, which is also lit directly by the east window. Mantegna took the actual lighting of the room into account when planning light and shade for these frescoes. The presence of the fireplace (on the North wall) was a major factor in the composition of the paintings. We can see that Mantegna extended the painted scene by skillfully depicting a flight of steps leading up to the mantel of the fireplace. The identity of some of the portraits in this fresco has been clarified based on existing documents. The girls beside the marchesa (with the white headdress) are her two daughters Paola and Barbara, as well as her sons, a nurse, and a female dwarf in red looking straight and making contact with the viewer. Ludovico Gonzaga is seated on a chair by the left pilaster, the family’s pet dog rests below his chair. He turns to the side to speak with his secretary Marsilio Andreasi to discuss a document, and who has just entered from the left. Beneath the right arcade, which is closed by a brocade painted curtain that is drawn aside only slightly at the outside corner, stand a number of noblemen in elegant and colorful costumes. This procession of courtiers, identified by the colors of their leggings as adherents of the Gonzaga house, is led by a young blond man who stands in front of the painted pilaster. He is flanked by associates who are in part obscured by the same pilaster. This young man with a dagger at his waist has been identified as Rodolfo Gonzaga. The Meeting (scene on the West wall), walnut oil on plaster, by Andrea Mantegna, 1465-1474, (Camera degli Sposi, Palazzo Ducale, Mantua). The three picture panels of the west wall were are also conceived as imaginary views through a curtained loggia. The painted curtains have been drawn so far to the side that we can see a landscape beneath a blue sky dotted with clouds that extends across the entire width of the wall. This panorama, consisting of rolling hills and occasional bizarre outcropping of rock, is enlivened by thriving, well-fortified cities and country people hard at work in the fields. Adorning the countryside are stone walls, dwellings aqueducts, and marble statues. The main scene of this fresco develops in the right section: at the left stands Ludovico Gonzaga, at the right his older son and successor, Federico, and in the center his second son, Cardinal Francesco, who in 1472 was made titular head of the Basilica of Sant’Andrea in Mantua, he holds two boys by the hand: Sigismondo and Ludovico Gonzaga, who would also later enter the Church. The background, possibly meant to be a symbol of Rome, with Roman ruins and statues outside its wall and a castle above. In the center three putti standing atop the cornice above the door support the painted artist’s dedication tablet. The scene beneath the left arcade shows a groom leading a saddled horse, a pair of hunting dogs, and a page holding one of the dogs on a leash. Two more men stand to the left of the door beneath the central arch, one of them holding a sealed letter in his hand. In front of them are two more leashed dogs partially obscured by the pilaster. This narrative content of the Meeting anticipates the event depicted on the north wall, for here the letter that Ludovico will later open in that fresco is being delivered. Grotesque Self-Portrait (detail of the West wall), walnut oil on plaster, by Andrea Mantegna, 1465-1474, (Camera degli Sposi, Palazzo Ducale, Mantua). In one of the painted pilasters of the West wall, Mantegna included a self-portrait disguised within the painted decorative reliefs. Ceiling Oculus, fresco, by Andrea Mantegna, 1465-1474, diameter: 270 cm (Camera degli Sposi, Palazzo Ducale, Mantua). One the most remarkable portions of the decoration of the Camera degli Sposi is the fictive oculus, or opening to the sky, located on the room’s ceiling. Created with sharp foreshortenings, the oculus is ringed with figures looking down on the room below a potted plant is precariously perched on its wooden support, seemingly ready to fall at any moment on the viewer. It is a brilliant tour de force that invariably engages the spectator, who must join in the game by standing directly beneath the circular trellis. This was the first time a rigorous sotto in sù perspective had been painted successfully. This provided a point of departure for the development of ceiling frescoes that was exploited to greatest effect during the Baroque. Mantegna, departing from the feeling of the wall scenes, shows us courtiers who playfully look down from over the balustrade directly aware of the viewer’s presence. St. Sebastian, tempera on canvas, by Andrea Mantegna, ca. 1480, 255 x 140 cm (Musée du Louvre, Paris). This large St. Sebastian was intended as an altarpiece and it seems it was originally part of the Altar of St. Zeno in Verona (see picture before), and later hung in the Sainte Chapelle at Aigueperse, a castle in the Auvergne in France. Mantegna depicted St. Sebastian standing like a piece of sculpture on a fragment of a building that looks like a pedestal, well above the archers whose heads are at the same level as that of the observer in its original setting. Our gaze is drawn upwards towards the saint, whose eyes are also looking upwards to higher things. Again, Mantegna ties the saint to a classical arch, represents ancient ruins and nature with accuracy, and describes Sebastian’s body with accurate anatomical features. In the background there are classical ruins of an antique city. The depiction of the cliffy and rocky path, the gravel and the caves are references to the difficulties of reaching the Celestial Jerusalem, the fortified city depicted on the top of the mountain.

    Between 1488 and 1490, Mantegna was in Rome at the request of Pope Innocent VIII to work in some frescoes for the Vatican (now destroyed). While in Rome, Mantegna took the opportunity to study Rome’s ancient monuments and sculptural masterpieces. In 1490 he returned to Mantua and he painted other of his major works, the canvases with the Triumph of Caesar, which he finished around 1492 and are now kept at the Royal Collection at Hampton Court Palace near London.

    The “Triumphs of Caesar” series (between 1485-1495) by Andrea Mantegna was done for the young Francesco Gonzaga. This include nine large paintings, all of them square canvases of the same size, that were hung in a large hall in the Palazzo di San Sebastiano (now the Museo Civico) in Mantua, and that in 1627 passed to the British Royal collection. The sequence of paintings show a parade of followers bearing looted trophies of war past the viewers. In these paintings, Mantegna carefully displayed an assemblage of sophistical antique references, of musical instruments, vases, arms, and standards, with horses and elephants preceding the gilded chariot carrying the victorious Caesar after his victory in the Gallic Wars. Pictured above the Canvas 1 of the Triumphs of Caesar: Picture bearers, Trumpeters, Emblems and banners, egg and glue tempera on canvas, 1485-1495, 267 x 278 cm (Royal Collection, Hampton Court). This scene shows trumpets, bearers of standards and banners. The soldiers are carrying boards with paintings of battles and views of conquered cities. Canvas 2 of the Triumphs of Caesar: Standard bearers, Colossal statues on carts, Model of a city, plaques with inscriptions and statues, egg and glue tempera on canvas, 1485-1495, 267 x 278 cm (Royal Collection, Hampton Court). This scene shows the triumphal chariot with a statue (left) and bearers of war machines, idols, shields and trophies. In the background a model of a conquered city is combined with the siege engines to make a bizarre structure. In addition, this section of the procession is mainly carrying idols and the figures of the gods of occupied countries. The scene at the center foreground shows an intense discussion between a soldier and an officer. Canvas 3 of the Triumphs of Caesar: Bearers of trophies and bullion Trophies of captured weapons, Bearers of booty and coins, egg and glue tempera on canvas, 1485-1495, 267 x 278 cm (Royal Collection, Hampton Court). This scene shows trophies and bearers of containers filled with coins. The containers filled with gold illustrate the material gains of conquest. The enormous vase on the chariot bears stylized oriental lettering, thus indicating Caesar’s conquests in the Near East. In the center of this painting stands a soldier sunk in melancholy reflection. Canvas 4 of the Triumphs of Caesar: Vase bearers, Bearers of booty and crowns, White oxen, egg and glue tempera on canvas, 1485-1495, 267 x 278 cm (Royal Collection, Hampton Court). This scene shows bearers of vases and containers filled with coins, youth leading oxen and trumpeters. The young man to the right, painted in brighter colors represents an ideal found in Mantegna’s later works. On the banners we can see the letters SPQR, the abbreviation of Senatus Populusque Romanus (the Senate and the Populace of Rome). Canvas 5 of the Triumphs of Caesar: Elephants, Trumpeters, white oxen Elephants with candelabras, egg and glue tempera on canvas, 1485-1495, 267 x 278 cm (Royal Collection, Hampton Court). This scene shows trumpeters, youth leading oxen and elephants with attendants. Some of them are carrying enormous torches intended to illuminate the scene. Canvas 6 of the Triumphs of Caesar: Corselet bearers, Bearers of booty and coins, trophies of arms, egg and glue tempera on canvas, 1485-1495, 267 x 278 cm (Royal Collection, Hampton Court). This scene shows bearers of coins and plates, trophies of royal armor. Richly worked royal weapons and body armor (trophies) are energetically hoisted on poles by the bearers. The use of contrasting red-green coloring gives the scene a penetrating glow. Canvas 7 of the Triumphs of Caesar: Captives, buffoons, egg and glue tempera on canvas, 1485-1495, 267 x 278 cm (Royal Collection, Hampton Court). This scene shows prisoners and standard bearers, buffoons and soldiers. Even as prisoners the buffoons play the fool and entertain the procession. Mantegna included an anecdotical scene around the center with a small boy who turns to his mother in pain because he has a thorn in his foot. Canvas 8 of the Triumphs of Caesar: Musicians, Signifiers, egg and glue tempera on canvas, 1485-1495, 267 x 278 cm (Royal Collection, Hampton Court). This scene shows musicians and standard bearers. A colorful band of musicians pass by carrying a wide range of instruments, including the tambourine, trumpets, bagpipes, and the lyre. Canvas 9 of the Triumphs of Caesar: Caesar in his chariot, egg and glue tempera on canvas, 1485-1495, 267 x 278 cm (Royal Collection, Hampton Court). This scene shows Julius Caesar in his triumphal chariot. The triumph of the emperor, who sits like a god in his triumphal chariot, is heralded and lauded, as shown by the presence of putti, which appear only in this canvas, the laurel wreath with which Caesar is about to be crowned, the sculptures of conquered warriors on the triumphal arch, and the images of the gods.

    Between the late 1480’s and during the 1490’s, Mantegna’s important works included his third St. Sebastian (ca. 1490), his famous Lamentation over the dead Christ (around 1480’s), the Madonna della Vittoria (1496) and the Virgin of the Cherubs (ca. 1485).

    The Lamentation over the Dead Christ, tempera on canvas, by Andrea Mantegna, ca. between 1480-1490, 68 x 81 cm (Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan). One of the most famous paintings by the artist, its most remarkable feature is its perspective construction, in where the image of the Redeemer appears to “follow” the spectator around the room through the use of an illusionistic technique. It is thought that this painting remained in Mantegna’s studio for a long time, and was probably intended for his funeral. In fact it was shown at the head of his catafalque when he died. The scene takes place in a confined, small, and somber space, indicating to be a morgue. Mantegna depicted the death body of Christ as a heavy corpse, seemingly swollen by the exaggerated foreshortening, and resting on a marble slab. At the front are two enormous feet with holes in them on the left, some tear-stained, staring faces: the Virgin Mary and Saint John and St. Mary Magdalene. The sharply drawn shroud which covers the corpse contributes to the overall dramatic effect. The composition places the central focus of the image on Christ’s genitals, an emphasis often found in figures of Jesus, especially as an infant, in this period, which according to scholars, has been related to a theological emphasis on the Humanity of Jesus. Madonna of the Cherubim, tempera on wood, by Andrea Mantegna, ca. 1485, 88 x 70 cm (Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan). This painting of the Virgin set against a sky filled with clouds and cherubs shows the influence of Giovanni Bellini’s (Mantegna’s father-in-law) palette. The intensely human face of the Madonna would be suitable in a work intended for private devotion. Christ as the Suffering Redeemer, tempera on panel, by Andrea Mantegna, 1488-1500, 78 x 48 cm (Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark). This devotional painting, intended for a private household, has been generally assigned to Mantegna’s Roman period. In it Christ, with open arms and hands, displays his wounds as a reminder that he died for us on the Cross. His body is wrapped in a metallic white shroud, and is supported by two kneeling angels (a seraphim and a cherubim). On the left part the sarcophagus’ cover is visible. The background is filled with an open landscape under the sunset light: on the right is the Calvary with the three crosses and a quarry in which two men are working a slab, a column and a statue. Two further workers can be seen in a grotto, illuminated by an internal source of light on the left are fields with shepherds and cattle and a walled city, Jerusalem, at the feet of a rocky formation, two pious women run a path to reach Jesus’ tomb. The finely painted sarcophagus on which Christ is leaning is a clear demonstration of Mantegna’s skill. The painting is signed on the right edge corner of the marble base. St. Sebastian, tempera on canvas, by Andrea Mantegna, ca. 1490? or 1506?, 213 x 95 cm (Galleria Franchetti, Ca’ d’Oro, Venice). This extraordinarily dramatic work was painted for the bishop of Mantua Ludovico Gonzaga and was still in the artist’s studio when he died. Between 1490 and 1506, the year he died, Mantegna painted several devotional paintings in which the main figures were represented as reliefs standing out against a mostly dark background. At the beginning of 1506, the plague was rife in Mantua, and again this saint was called on for protection. In this painting, Mantegna surrounds the main subject with a painted stone frame. The imposing figure of the saint, with its almost sculptural outline, emerges with dramatic sharpness from the dark background. In a way to illustrate the saint’s return from death, Mantegna broke with tradition and portrayed a St. Sebastian who is not bound to a pillar or a tree. The banderole wrapped around the extinguishing candle at the right bottom corner carries the inscription: NIHIL NISI DIVINUM STABILE EST: CAETERA FUMUS (“Nothing is eternal but God: all else is smoke”). Thus the painting becomes a representation of vanitas and warns of the transitory nature of earthly values. The “M” letter formed by the crossing arrows over the saint’s legs could stand for Morte (“Death”) or Mantegna. Madonna of Victory, tempera on canvas, by Andrea Mantegna, 1496, 280 x 166 cm (Musée du Louvre, Paris). This painting was commissioned by Francesco II Gonzaga to celebrate his victory over the French at Fornovo on 6 July 1495. On the first anniversary of the battle the altarpiece was installed with great ceremony over the high altar in the chapel of Santa Maria della Vittoria in Mantua. By the end of the 15th century, large single paintings were being used as altarpieces (contrary to the old Medieval custom of the polyptych), and this form would reached its apogee in the works of Titian and Veronese. Simultaneously, the stiffly hierarchical composition of the traditional Sacra Conversazione was also replaced. This altarpiece shows Francesco Gonzaga (to the left) paying homage to Mary, who sits on a high throne decorated with marbles intarsias and bas-reliefs. The base of the throne, with lion paws, has, within a medallion, an inscription it lies on a circular basement with a bas-relief of the “Original Sin” and other stories from the Book of Genesis. The throne’s back has a large solar disc, decorated with weavings and vitreous pearls. The child Jesus, who holds two red flowers (symbols of the Passion) and Mary look at Francesco Gonzaga, who is kneeling and receives their blessing and protection symbolized by Mary’s mantle, which partially covers his head. Opposite to the donor are baby St. John the Baptist with a cross and his mother, St. Elizabeth, protector of Isabella d’Este, wife of Francesco Gonzaga. At the sides are two couples of standing saints: in the foreground are two military saints, the archangel St. Michael with a sword and St. Longinus with a broken spear, both richly dressed with splendid armors behind them are St. Andrew, patron saint of Mantua, with a long stick with the cross and St. George, another military saint, with a helmet and a long red lance. The scene is set in an apse formed by a pergola of leaves, flowers and fruits, with several birds the pergola’s frame has at the top a shell (an attribute of the Virgin as new Venus), from which hang threads of coral pearls and rock crystal, as well as a large piece of red coral, another hint to the Passion of Jesus. The parrot is a comment on the birth of Jesus.

    The last years of Andrea’s life (between 1497 to 1506) were full of personal problems and tribulation. He died in Mantua, on September 13, 1506.

    Mantegna was also an eminent engraver*, though the chronology of these works is hard to determine since he never signed or dated any of his plates. It is believed that Andrea probably begun to engrave while still living in Padua, under the tuition of a distinguished goldsmith. Among the remarkable examples of Mantegna’s engravings are: Battle of the Sea Monsters, Virgin and Child, Bacchanal Festival, Hercules and Antaeus, Marine Gods, Judith with the Head of Holofernes, the Deposition from the Cross, the Entombment, the Resurrection, the Man of Sorrows, the Virgin in a Grotto, and several scenes taken from his paintings of the Triumph of Julius Caesar.

    Mantegna was the first major painter in Italy to involve himself in printing techniques. The copperplate, which was developed in southern Germany around 1430, made it possible to produce finer reproductions than woodcuts, which had been used until then. Printing enabled Mantegna to earn extra money, and to disseminate his creative inventions. The Battle of the Sea Gods, engraving and drypoint*, from the 1470s, 283 x 826 mm (Devonshire Collection, Chatsworth), represents an allegory on the theme of Invidia (Envy) who is standing top left as an old woman riding a sea monster. Neptune, holding his trident, is turning away from the scene: he does not want to see the bitter struggle between the sea monsters, not even as a reflection in the mirror next to him. This print is made from two plates, printed on separate sheets of paper and joined at the center. The whole composition is an exercise in wit, the powerful, classical sea gods do battle with bones and knots of fish, hardly capable of defending them. Free from existing conventions and the limitations imposed by patrons, Mantegna was able here to give free rein to his imagination, creating Bacchic processions and furious battles between sea monsters, in the hope of attracting buyers. Virgin and Child, engraving, by Andrea Mantegna, 1490-1491, 217 x 189 mm (The Hermitage, St. Petersburg). Some art scholars still differ today on whether Mantegna did engravings himself or supplied drawings to professional printmakers. Bacchanalia with a Wine Vat, copperplate engraving, by Andrea Mantegna, ca. 1470, 335 x 455 mm (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). Drunkenness, sloth, and depravity are the consequences of the bacchanalia. Even the idealized figure of Bacchus (to the left), which may have been copied from the figure of the God Mars on a Roman sarcophagus, raises doubts about his dignity. He is leaning on a large horn of plenty and reaching for grape.

    Among the artists greatly influenced by Mantegna were Albrecht Dürer, who studied his style during his two trips in Italy, and whom later reproduced several of Mantegna’s engravings, and Leonardo da Vinci who took from Mantegna the use of decorations with festoons and fruit. But Andrea Mantegna’s main legacy was the introduction of spatial illusionism in his paintings: his tradition of ceiling decoration was followed for almost three centuries. This trend started from his celebrated painted cupola of the Camera degli Sposi, which came to influence Correggio’s work in perspective constructions, and that eventually led to the production of his masterwork in the dome of the Cathedral of Parma.

    Parnassus, tempera on canvas, by Andrea Mantegna, 1497, 160 x 192 cm (Musée du Louvre, Paris). Around 1495 Isabella d’Este planned to have the most famous painters of her time contribute pictures for her studiolo in the Ducal Palace of Mantua. For this purpose Mantegna completed two paintings. One of them, the Parnassus, is considered as one of his finest works, much discussed and admired, although the exact meaning of the allegory remains elusive. In the center of the painting the nine dancing Muses are easily identifiable. On the right besides Pgasus, the winged and bejeweled horse, is Mercury, whose presence is justified by the protection which he, and Apollo, afforded the adulteress in the love affair between Mars and Venus. These two lovers hold sway over the scene from the top of Parnassus a bed is beside them. The cuckolded husband, Vulcan, springs out from the entrance of his forge (left), fulminating against the faithless pair. Apollo is seated lower down to the left, his lyre in his hands. Mantegna has integrated the landscape elements with the figures, using rocky cliffs as foils, while the central arch permits a deep vista into the rolling landscape. Parnassus (detail), tempera on canvas, by Andrea Mantegna, 1497, 160 x 192 cm (Musée du Louvre, Paris). In this detail, Mercury is engaged in conversation with Pegasus, the Muses’ winged horse who symbolizes Virtus or Purity. Pegasus has lifted his hoof which, when it struck the ground, created Hyppocrene, the spring of the Muses in the Helicon Mountains in Boeotia, this appears in the center foreground of the painting (in this detail next to the lower corner). Minerva Expelling the Vices from the Garden of Virtue, tempera on canvas, by Andrea Mantegna, 1499-1502, 160 x 192 cm (Musée du Louvre, Paris). This is the second painting Mantegna executed for Isabella d’Este’s studiolo in the Ducal Palace of Mantua (the other was Parnassus, see picture before). The painting is full with anecdotal detail and communicate allegorically rather than historically. The theological virtues (Faith, Hope, and Charity) appear in the cloud in the upper right corner of the painting. Below, in a marsh enclosed by a tall fence, the Vices have taken over. They are portrayed as hideous figures and identified by scrolls. Idleness is chased by Minerva (holding shield and spear, see detail below), who is also rescuing Diana, goddess of chastity, from being raped by a Centaur, symbol of concupiscence (next to the center). To the left is a tree with human features. Minerva Expelling the Vices from the Garden of Virtue (detail), tempera on canvas, by Andrea Mantegna, 1499-1502, 160 x 192 cm (Musée du Louvre, Paris). Ecce Homo, tempera on canvas, by Andrea Mantegna, ca. 1500, 54 x 42 cm (Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris). Between 1490 and 1506, the year he died, Mantegna painted several devotional paintings. One of the most impressive of the paintings from Mantegna’s final years include this Ecce Homo. Here, Mantegna portrayed the typical iconography of the flagellated Christ combined with a historical reference to a real event. The figure of Christ is displayed covered in scars from the flagellation, and with the crown of thorns on his head. Of the two men holding him, two (one in penumbra) are wearing a paper headband with an inscription in pseudo-Hebrew and are supposed to be Jews. The person on the right in a turban, is an old woman. Three other figures are barely visible in the background. The unfolded sheet of paper in the top left corner bears the proclamation of the crucifixion. Self-Portrait, bronze, after a clay model by Andrea Mantegna, 1504-1506, height 47 cm (Cappella di Giovanni Battista, Church of Sant’Andrea, Mantua). This bust-self-portrait in Mantegna’s funerary chapel is encircled by a laurel wreath, following the tradition of the portraits of Roman patricians. The bronze cast was created by a medallion maker after a clay model made by Mantegna himself.

    Drypoint: A printmaking technique in which an image is incised into a plate (or “matrix”) with a hard-pointed “needle” of sharp metal or diamond point. In principle, the method is practically identical to engraving. The difference is in the use of tools, and that the raised ridge along the furrow is not scraped or filed away as in engraving. Traditionally the plate was copper, but now acetate, zinc, or Plexiglas are also commonly used.

    Engraving: The practice of incising a design onto a hard, usually flat surface by cutting grooves into it with a burin. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or glass are engraved, or may provide a printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing images on paper as prints or illustrations these images are also called “engravings”. Engraving is one of the oldest and most important techniques in printmaking.

    Illusionistic ceiling painting: This painting technique includes the use of perspective in di sotto in sù and quadratura, and was traditional during the Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo art in which trompe-l’œil, perspective tools such as foreshortening, and other spatial effects are used to create the illusion of three-dimensional space on an otherwise two-dimensional or mostly flat ceiling surface above the viewer. Illusionistic ceiling painting belongs to the general class of illusionism in art, designed to create accurate representations of reality.

    Proscenium: (From the Greek: proskḗnion). The metaphorical vertical plane of space in a theatre, usually surrounded on the top and sides by a physical proscenium arch and on the bottom by the stage floor itself, which serves as the frame into which the audience observes from a more or less unified angle the events taking place upon the stage during a theatrical performance.

    Pablo’s Deer Hunt.


    The yellow cottonwoods above the Rio Grande shivered in the fresh October morning as the sun peeped over the Eagle Feather mountain into the valley of his people. Above the flat, gray pueblo of Shee-eh-huíb-bak the bluish breath of five hundred slender chimneys melted skyward in tall spirals. Upon here and there a level housetop a blanket-swathed figure stared solemnly at the great, round, blinding house of T’hoor-íd-deh, the Sun Father.

    Then a burro, heavy eared and slow of pace, rattled the gravel on the high bluff, gazed mournfully on the muddy eddies, and broke out in stentorian brays. Apparently Flojo [32] felt downcast. Across these treacherous quicksands the grass was still tall in the vega—why did not Pablo take him over too? And mustering up his ears, he trotted almost briskly down the slope to the water’s edge, where a swart young Apollo was just stepping into the swift current. Tall, sinewy, lithe as Keem-eé-deh, the mountain [180] lion that lent its tawny hide for the bow-case in his hand his six feet of glowing bronze broken only by a modest clout of white at the supple waist, his dense black hair falling straight upon broad, bare shoulders, and his dark eyes watchful of the swirling waters, the young Pueblo strode sturdily in, paying no heed to the forlorn watcher upon the shore. In a moment he was in the channel swimming easily, one hand holding the bow-case above the red bundle upon his jet crown. Sush-sh! sush-sh! splosh! splash! splash! and Flojo heaved a great sigh as his master went spattering across the farther shoals, and at last climbed the sandy eastern bank.

    Pablo unrolled the bundle from his head, wriggled, wet-skinned, into the red print shirt and snowy calzoncillos, wrapped their flapping folds about his calf with the buckskin leggings of rich maroon belted these at either knee with a wee, gay sash from the looms of Moqui, fastened the moccasins with their silver buttons, and, with the tawny sheath of bow and arrows slung across his back, started at a swift walk. Once only he stopped, after a scramble up the gravel hills that scalloped the plateau, to look back a moment. The long ribbon [181] of the valley, now faded from its summer green, banded the bare brown world from north to south, threaded with the errant silver of the river, whose farthest shimmer flashed back from under the purple mass of the Mountain of the Thieves. Midway lay the pueblo, dozing amid its orchards below the black cone of the Kú-mai, and Pablo shook his head sadly, as he turned again and strode across the broad, high llano.

    “It is not well in the village,” he muttered, “for it is full of them that have the evil road. The Cum-pah-huít-lah-wen have told me that the half of those of Shee-eh-huíb-bak are witches but not all can be punished. But it is in ill times for us. Tio Lorenzo is twisted by the Bads so that he cannot walk and many die and did not Ámparo and José Diego marry the prettiest maidens of the Tee-wahn, only to find them witches? How shall one take a wife when so many are accursed? It is better to hunt and forget the women, as do the warriors for we know not who are True Believers, and who have to do with the ghosts.”

    Across the wide, sandy plateau the young Indian walked with undiminished pace and as the house of the Sun Father stood in the middle of the sky, he entered a rocky cañon of the Eagle Feather mountain and began [182] to climb a spur of the great peak. The huddled dry leaves under a live oak caught his eye, and he turned them with deft foot. “Here Pee-íd-deh, the deer, slept last night,” he exclaimed, “for the fresh earth clings to their under side. And here is a hair, and here the footmark. If only Keem-eé-deh will help me.”

    Kneeling by the tree, he broke off a twig and stuck it in the earth in front of the footprint, the fork pointing backward, that Pee-íd-deh might trip and fall as it ran. Then, drawing the Left-Hand Pouch from his side, he opened it and reverently took out a tiny parcel in buckskin, whose folds soon disclosed a little image of the Mountain Lion, chief of hunters, carved from adamantine quartz. Its eyes were of the sacred turquoise and in the center of the belly was inlaid a turquoise heart over the hollow which held a pinch of the holy corn meal. On the right side was lashed a tiny arrow-head of moss agate—one of the precious “thunder knives” which the Horned Toad had made and had left for Pablo on the plains of the Hollow Peak of Winds. Putting the fetich to his mouth and inhaling from the stone lips, the hunter prayed aloud to Keem-eé-deh to give him true eyes and ears, and swift feet to overtake and [183] rising, gave a low, far roar to terrify the heart and loosen the knees of his prey. Then, restoring the image to its pouch, with bow in hand and three arrows held ready, he pushed rapidly up hill, with keen eyes to the dim trail. Here a trampled grass blade, there a cut leaf or overturned pebble, and again a faint scratch on the rocks, led him on. At last, just where the flat top of the mountain had been wrought to a vast arrow-point by the Giant of the Caves, he saw a sleek doe standing under a shabby aspen. Down on his belly went Pablo, and with a new breath-taking from the stone lips of the prey-god, crawled snake-like forward. The deer moved not, and within fifty yards Pablo tugged an arrow to its agate head and drove it whirring through Pee-íd-deh’s heart. The doe turned her great, soft eyes toward him, sniffed the air and went bounding up the rocky ledges as if unhurt. Yet on the left side the grey feathers of the shaft touched the skin and once on the right Pablo caught the sparkle of the gem tip.

    There was a curious ashen tint in the bronze of his cheeks, as the hunter sprang to his feet and began running in pursuit. “Truly, that was to the life,” he whispered to himself. “And why does she not fall? [184] Will it be that they of the evil road have given me the eye?” And stopping short, he fished out a bit of corn husk and a pinch of the sweet pee-én-hleh and rolled a cigarette, lighting it from his flint and steel. The first puff he blew slowly to the east, and then one to the north, and one to the west, and one south, one overhead, and one downward, all about, that the evil spirits of the Six Ways might be blinded and not see his tracks. When the sacred weer was smoked, he rose and took up the trail again. It was easy to be followed, now, in the soft wood soil of the mountain top and in the very edge of the farther grove of aspens he saw the doe again, grazing in unconcern. Worming from tree to tree, Pablo came close, and again sent a stone-tipped shaft. It struck by the very side of the first, and drank as deep but the doe, pricking up her ears as if she had but heard the whizz of the arrow, trotted easily away and disappeared over the eastern brow of the mountain, amid the somber pines.

    Pablo was very pale now, but not yet daunted. He smoked again to the Six Ways and prayed to all the Trues to help him, and with another arrow on the string, pushed forward.

    Where the tall pines dwindled to scrubby cedars he came again to his quarry. But now the doe was more alert and would not let him within bowshot. Only she looked back at him with big, sad eyes and trotted just away from range. And soon Night rolled down the mountain from behind him and filled the whispering forest and drowned the great, still plains beyond, and he lost her altogether.

    “This is no deer,” said Pablo, gloomily, as he stretched himself under a twisted savino for the night, “but one who has wahr, the Power. And her eyes, how they are as those of women sorrowing, large and wet! But I will see the end, even though I die.” And weary with the rugged forty miles of the day, he was soon asleep.

    As the blue flower of dawn bloomed from the eastern gray, Pablo rose, and smoked again the sacred smoke and inhaled the strengthful breath of Keem-eé-deh, and started anew on his awesome hunt. Soon he found the trail marked with dark blotches, and all day long he followed it. Just as the sun-house stood on the dark western ridges he came to the foot of a high swell, on whose summit gleamed the gray of strange, giant walls.

    “It will be the bones of Ta-bi-rá,” thought Pablo aloud, “for my father often told me of the great city of the Pi-ro that was beyond Cuaray in the First Times, before the lakes of the plain were accursed to be salt, before Those-of-the-Old came to dwell on the river that runs from the Dark Lake of Tears. But how shall a deer come thus into the plains, which are only of the prong-horns? [33] Yet I have walked in her road all day, and here are her marks, going”—and he stopped, for his sharp ear caught a faint, far-off chant. It seemed to come from the ruins that crowned the hill and, dropping to the earth, Pablo began to crawl from cedar to cedar, from rock to rock toward it. At the very crest of the rounded ridge was a long line of jumbled stone—the mound of fallen fortress houses—and beyond, from the gathering dusk, loomed the ragged, lofty walls of a vast temple. Under the shadows of the mound he crawled far around to the rear end of the gray wall, and then along the wall itself toward the huge buttresses that proclaimed its front. The chant was close at hand now—the singer was evidently within the ruined temple. But the tongue Pablo did not know. It was not so musical as his soft Tee-wahn, nor [187] was it like the guttural of the Quéres—for that he knew also—and yet it was some voice of the Children of the Sun, and not the outlandish babble of the Americanoodeh, nor of the Spanish Wet-Head. It was not, then, some new tonto come to dig for the fabled gold of Ta-bi-rá—whose shafts yawned black in the gray bedrock and here and there through the very base of the great wall—but some Indian, and probably a medicine man, for the song was not as those of the careless. Pablo crouched in the darkness against the eastern end of the wall, listening, forgetful of the bewitched deer and of all else. Once in a wild swell of the song he thought he discerned a familiar word.

    “Hoo-máh-no?” he kept repeating to himself. “Surely, the grandfather Desidério said me that word when he told of Them-of-the-Old, when They-with-Striped-Faces dwelt on yonder mesa. But they are all dead these many years.”

    A swift, short flash split the darkness, and a growl of far thunder rolled across the ruins. Pablo glanced at the heaven. It was sown thick with the bright sky-seeds that flew up when the Coyote disobeyed the Trues and opened the sacred bag. From horizon to horizon there was not a [188] cloud but again the flash came, and again the mighty drum-beat of Those Above. Pablo crept to a breach in the wall, and peeped into the gloomy interior of the temple. Even as he looked, the zig-zag arrow of the Trues leaped again from ghostly wall to wall and its blinding flight showed him that at which he caught his breath. For squat by a corner in the wall was a white-headed Indian waving his bare arms and facing him and Pablo a dusky maiden, with drooping head. But her face was burned into his heart.

    “Surely, such are precious to the Trues! For she is as the Evening Star, good to see!” and Pablo craned forward eagerly. “The viejo will be a Shaman,” he added, mentally, “for so our own Fathers make the lightning come at the medicine dance. [34] But she! If there were such in Shee-eh-huíb-bak, then one might take a wife—for her face is no face of a witch!”

    Just then there came another flash and then a soft, girlish cry. The magic lightning of the conjurer had betrayed Pablo and before he could spring away a heavy hand was upon his shoulder.

    Hi-ma-tu-kú-eh?” demanded a deep voice in an unknown tongue.

    Nah Tee-wah,” said the abashed hunter, trying in vain to shake off that strong grasp.

    “Tee-wah?” said the stranger, speaking in Pablo’s own language. “I, too, have the tongue of Shee-eh-huíb-bak, for my wife was of there. But now she has gone to Shee-p’ah-poón, and there lives for me only my child, and she is hurt. But what hast thou here, peeping at our medicine?”

    “It is by chance, Kah-báy-deh,” answered Pablo. “For yesterday when the sun was so, I wounded a deer, and unto here I have followed it in vain. For, perhaps, it has the Power, and I could not kill it. And when I heard thy song I came, not knowing what it was.”

    “Since yesterday when the sun was so, thou hast followed the road of a wounded deer? And how wounded?”

    “In truth, I gave it two arrows through the life, but it minded them not.”

    “Come, then, and thou shalt see thy hunting,” and he drew Pablo into the temple. In a moment a dry arm of the entraña (which the Trues gave for the first candles) was burning and by its smoky, flaring light Pablo could see his strange surroundings. [190] Beside him, that breakless hand still on his shoulder, stood an aged Indian. His hair was white as the snows of Shoo-p’ah-toó-eh, and his undimmed eyes shone from deep under snowy brows. He was naked but for the breech-clout, and upon his left arm was a great gauntlet from the forepaw of Ku-aí-deh, the bear, with all its claws. But at his wrinkled face Pablo stared in affright, for all across it ran long, savage knife-stripes, so old that they, too, were cut with wrinkles. “Rayado!” flashed through the young hunter’s mind, “even as were They-of-the-Old who dwelt in the mesa of the Hoo-máh-no! But they are all dead since long ago.”

    But even his superstitious terror could not keep his eyes from that modest figure crouched in the angle of the strange wall. Truly, she was good to look at. In the soft olive of the cheeks a sweet, deep red was spreading. Under the downcast eyes the lashes drew dark lines across the translucent skin. A flood of hair poured into her lap, and from under its heavy waves peeped a slender hand. It was plain from her dress that she was none of the bárbaros, but a Pueblo. There was the same modest black manta of his people, the same fat, boot-like leg-wraps of snowy buckskin, the same [191] dainty brown moccasins. Even the heavy silver rosary was about her neck, and from her ears hung strands of precious turquoise beads from the white, blue-veined heart of Mount Chalchihuitl. But even the white silver, and the stone that stole its color from the sky were not precious beside that sweet young face from which Pablo could not turn away.

    And as he gazed with a strange warm tickling at his heart strings, the long lashes lifted timidly toward the handsome stranger, and on a sudden the bright face turned ashen, and the girl sank back upon a heap of fallen stones. Pablo stared with wide eyes, and a dizziness ran from head to knee, for there were dark drops upon the rocks, and amid the flowing hair he saw the notched ends of two arrows—his very own, feathered from the gray quills of Koor-níd-deh, the crane. He reeled, to fall, but the strong hand held him up and the strong voice said:

    “Take the heart of a man, for it is not yet too late. Thou hast done this, unknowing for the witches filled thine eyes with smoke, to fool thee. But we will yet make medicine to heal my daughter—for I am the wizard T’bó-deh, the last of the Hoo-máh-no, and precious to Those Above, who will help us. But thou hast still arrows in the quiver—go, [192] then, till thou come to the first cliff on the west, and shoot three arrows strongly into the sky. And bring to me that which falls—for it needs that thou who hast shed her blood shouldst bring it again. Nay, tremble not, for the Trues will help thee and with this amulet of the striped stone the witches cannot come nigh. Take the heart of a man, and go!”

    Pablo looked at the pitiful little heap in the corner, and turning, manfully strode out through the broad portal and went stumbling westward in the darkness, over mounds and hollows and fallen walls. Down the long, steep ridge, across the undulant plain, knee-deep in dry and whispering grass, and up the western slope of the valley he trudged and at last in the darkness ran up against a smooth, straight face of rock. “It is the cliff,” he shivered—for he feared greatly. But plucking up his soul, he backed away a few paces from the rock and notched a shaft and drew it to the head and sent it hurtling to the sky, and another and another. For a long time he waited, and then there was a soft whish! and an arrow stood in the earth at his feet. He groped and found it and drew back his hand quickly, for shaft and feathers were wet—with that soft, warm, ticklish wetness that [193] never came from water yet. Another arrow fell and it was so, and so also was the third.

    Shaken as are the leaves of the shivering tree, [35] Pablo put to his lips the amulet of the wizard and drew a long breath from it. Then, gingerly plucking the standing arrows one by one, he started running from the haunted spot, not resting in his stumbling flight until he found himself at the foot of the hill of Ta-bi-rá. In a few moments he was groping along the great wall, and at last stood again within the roofless temple.

    Now there was a tiny fire there, and the old man was squatted by it chanting and snapping two long feathers together in rhythm with his wild refrain. And in the corner was the same dark, limp heap, which seemed to drift near or farther away on the waves of the firelight.

    “It is well!” said the old man, rising “for already I have blown away the evil ones, that we be alone. And I see that thou hast brought blood from above to pay for that which is lost.”

    Taking from Pablo’s hand the arrows, still red-wet, he broke one over the fire and one he thrust upright in the hard earth at the maiden’s feet. Then he rubbed his [194] hands with ashes and laid them upon her breast, chanting: