Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

in order of procession and took its way towards the Coricancha.?

As they entered the street of the sacred edifice, all divested themselves of their sandals, except the Inca and his family, who did the same on passing through the portals of the temple, where none but these august personages were admitted. After a decent time spent in devotion, the sovereign, attended by his 'courtly train, again appeared, and preparations were made to commence the sacrifice. This, with the Peruvians, consisted of animals, grain, flowers, and sweet-scented gums,—sometimes of human beings, on which occasions a child or beautiful maiden was usually selected as the victim. But such sacrifices were rare, being reserved to celebrate some great public event, as a coronation, the birth of a royal heir, or a great victory. They were never followed by those cannibal repasts familiar to the Mexicans and to many of the fierce tribes conquered by the Incas. Indeed, the conquests of these princes might well be deemed a blessing to the Indian nations, if it were only from their suppression of cannibalism, and the diminution, under their rule, of human sacrifices.a

29 Dec. de la Aud. Real., MS.-Sarmiento, Relacion, MS., cap. 27. -The reader will find a brilliant, and not very extravagant, account of the Peruvian festivals in Marmontel's romance of Les Incas. The French author saw in their gorgeous ceremonial a fitting introduction to his own literary pageant. Tom. i. chap. 1-4.

38 “Ningun Indio comun osaba pasar por la calle del Sol calzado; ni ninguno, aunque fuese mui grand Señor, entrava en las casas del Sol con zapatos." Conq. i Pob. del Piru, MS.

29 Garcilasso de la Vega flatly denies that the Incas were guilty of human sacrifices, and maintains, on the other hand, that they uni

At the feast of Raymi, the sacrifice usually offered was that of the llama; and the priest, after opening

formly abolished them in every country they subdued, where they had previously existed. (Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 2, cap. 9, et alibi.) But in this material fact he is unequivocally contradicted by Sarmiento, Relacion, MS., cap. 22,-Dec. de la Aud. Real., MS.,-Montesinos, Mem. antiguas, MS., lib. 2, cap. 8,–Balboa, Hist. du Pérou, chap. 5, 8,-Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 72,-Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., MS., -Acosta, lib. 5, cap. 19, -and I might add, I suspect, were I to pursue the inquiry, by nearly every ancient writer of authority; some of whom, having come into the country soon after the Conquest, while its primitive institutions were in vigor, are entitled to more deference in a matter of this kind than Garcilasso himself. It was natural that · the descendant of the Incas should desire to relieve his race from so odious an imputation; and we must have charity for him if he does show himself on some occasions, where the honor of his country is at stake, “high gravel blind." It should be added, in justice to the Peruvian government, that the best authorities concur in the admission that the sacrifices were few, both in number and in magnitude, being reserved for such extraordinary occasions as those mentioned in the text.*

[ocr errors]

[In a long. note on the passage in Garcilasso relating to the subject, Mr. Markham asserts that "the Yncas did not offer up human Sacrifices," and, complaining that “Mr. Prescott allows himself to accept Spanish testimony in preference to that of the Ynca" Garcilasso, examines the evidence adduced, and rejects it as proceeding from credulity, prejudice, and ignorance. Several of the objections he alleges would require detailed consideration if the question had not since been definitively settled by his own publication, in an English translation, of an important and trustworthy account, by Christoval de Molina, of the rites practised by the Incas. From this it appears that, while the ordinary sacrifices consisted of the "sheep” and “ lambs" of the country, the great festival called Ccapacocha or Cachahuaca was celebrated with human sacrifices, both at Cuzco and at the chief town of each province. The victims consisted of children, male and female, aged about ten years, one or two being selected from each lineage or tribe. Some were strangled; "from others they took out the hearts while yet alive, and offered them to the huacas while

Peru.VOL. I.

IO

the body of his victim, sought in the appearances which it exhibited to read the lesson of the mysterious future. If the auguries were unpropitious, a second victim was slaughtered, in the hope of receiving some more comfortable assurance. The Peruvian augur might have learned a good lesson of the Roman,--to consider every omen as favorable which served the interests of his country.30

A fire was then kindled by means of a concave mirror of polished metal, which, collecting the rays of the sun into a focus upon a quantity of dried cotton, speedily set it on fire. It was the expedient used on the like occasions in ancient Rome, at least under the reign of the pious Numa. When the sky was overcast, and the face of the good deity was hidden from his worshippers, which was esteemed a bad omen, fire was obtained by means of friction. The sacred flame was intrusted to the care of the Virgins of the Sun; and if, by any neglect, it was suffered to go out in the course of the year, the event was regarded as a calamity that boded some strange disaster to the monarchy. A burnt-offering of the victims was then made on the altars of the deity. This sacrifice was but the prelude to the slaughter of a great number of llamas, part of the flocks of the Sun, which furnished a banquet not only for the Inca and his court, but for the people, who made amends at these festivals for the frugal fare to which they were usually condemned. A fine bread or cake, kneaded of maize flour by the fair hands of the Virgins of the Sun, was also placed on the royal board, where the Inca, presiding over the feast, pledged his great nobles in generous goblets of the fermented liquor of the country, and the long revelry of the day was closed at night by music and dancing. Dancing and drinking were the favorite pastimes of the Peruvians. These amusements continued for several days, though the sacrifices terminated on the first. Such was the great festival of Raymi; and the recurrence of this and similar festivities gave relief to the monotonous routine of toil prescribed to the lower orders of the community.3

30 "Augurque cum esset, dicere ausus est, optimis auspiciis ea geri, quæ pro reipublicæ salute gererentur." (Cicero, De Senectute.) This inspection of the entrails of animals for the purposes of divination is worthy of note, as a most rare, if not a solitary, instance of the kind among the nations of the New World, though so familiar in the ceremonial of sacrifice among the pagan nations of the Old.

yet palpitating." The bodies were interred with the other sacrifices.

They also had a custom, when they conquered and subjugated any nations, of selecting some of the handsomest of the conquered people and sending them to Cuzco, where they were sacrificed to the Sun, who, as they said, had given them the victory." (Fables and Rites of the Yncas, pp. 54-59.) Mr. Markham describes the narrative of Molina as supplying “more than one incidental corroboration of the correctness of Garcilasso's statements," but omits to notice its inci. dental contradiction of them on this very important point.-ED.)

In the distribution of bread and wine at this high festival, the orthodox Spaniards who first came into the country saw a striking resemblance to the Chris

32

31 “ Vigilemque sacraverat ignem,

Excubias divûm æternas."

Plutarch, in his life of Numa, describes the reflectors used by the Romans for kindling the sacred fire, as concave instruments of brass, though not spherical like the Peruvian, but of a triangular form.

30 Acosta, lib. 5, cap. 28, 29.-Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib, 6, cap. 23.

tian communion ; 33 as in the practice of confession and penance, which, in a most irregular form indeed, seems to have been used by the Peruvians, they discerned a coincidence with another of the sacraments of the Church.34 The good fathers were fond of tracing such coincidences, which they considered as the contrivance of Satan, who thus endeavored to delude his victims by counterfeiting the blessed rites of Christianity.35 Others, in a different vein, imagined that they saw in such analogies the evidence that some of the primitive teachers of the gospel, perhaps an apostle himself, had paid a visit to these distant regions and scattered over them the seeds of religious truth.36 But

33 " That which is most admirable in the hatred and presumption of Sathan is, that he not onely counterfeited in idolatry and sacrifices, but also in certain ceremonies, our sacraments, which Jesus Christ our Lord instituted, and the holy Church uses, having especially pretended to imitate, in some sort, the sacrament of the communion, which is the most high and divine of all others.” Acosta, lib. 5, cap. 23.

34 Herrera, Hist. general, dec. 5, lib. 4, cap. 4.-Ondegardo, Kel. Prim., MS.-" The father of lies would likewise counterfeit the sacra. ment of Confession, and in his idolatries sought to be honored with ceremonies very like to the manner of Christians.” Acosta, lib. 5. cap. 25.

35 Cieza de Leon, not content with many marvellous accounts of the influence and real apparition of Satan in the Indian ceremonies, has garnished his volume with numerous wood-cuts representing the Prince of Evil in bodily presence, with the usual accompaniments of tail, claws, etc., as if to re-enforce the homilies in his text! The Peru. vian saw in his idol a god. His Christian conqueror saw in it the Devil. One may be puzzled to decide which of the two might lay claim to the grossest superstition.

36 Piedrahita, the historian of the Muyscas, is satisfied that this apostle must have been St. Bartholomew, whose travels were known to have been extensive. (Conq. de Granada, Parte 1, lib. I, cap. 3.) The Mexican antiquaries consider St. Thomas as having had charge

« ZurückWeiter »