Monday, June 29, 2015

El Dorado

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about a mythical city of gold; for other uses see El Dorado (disambiguation).
El Dorado (pronounced: [el doˈɾaðo], English /ˌɛl dəˈrɑːd/; Spanish for "the golden one"), originally El Hombre Dorado (the golden man), El Indio Dorado (the golden Indian), or El Rey Dorado (the golden king), is the term used by Europeans to describe a tribal chief of the Muisca native people of Colombia, South America, who, as an initiation rite, covered himself with gold dust and dived into Lake Guatavita. Imagined as a place, El Dorado went from a city to a kingdom and an empire of this legendary golden king.
A second location for El Dorado was inferred from rumors, which inspired several unsuccessful expeditions in the late 1500s in search of a city called Manõa on the shores of Lake Parime. The most famous of these expeditions were led by Sir Walter Raleigh. In pursuit of the legend, Spanish conquistadors and numerous others searched Colombia, Venezuela, and parts of Guyana and northern Brazil for the city and its fabulous king. In the course of these explorations, much of northern South America, including the Amazon River, was mapped. By the beginning of the 19th century most people dismissed the existence of the city as a myth.
El Dorado or Eldorado is now the name of numerous places, especially mining towns, in South America, the United States and elsewhere, as well as the name of many films and TV shows, pieces of music, sports teams, and other items.

Muisca indigenous people

Main articles: Muisca people and Muisca mythology
The Muisca occupied the highlands of Cundinamarca and Boyacá departments of Colombia in two migrations from outlying lowland areas, one starting ~1270BCE, and a second between 800BCE and 500BCE. At those times, other more ancient civilizations also flourished in the highlands.
In the mythology of the Muisca, Mnya the Gold or golden color, represents the energy contained in the trinity of Chiminigagua, which constitutes the creative power of everything that exists.[1] Chiminigagua is, along with Bachué, Cuza, Chibchacum, Bochica, and Nemcatacoa, one of the creators of the universe.

The tribal ceremony

The Zipa used to cover his body in gold dust and, from his raft, he offered treasures to the Guatavita goddess in the middle of the sacred lake. This old Muisca tradition became the origin of the El Dorado legend. This Balsa Muisca (Muisca raft) figure is on display in the Gold Museum, Bogotá, Colombia.
The original narrative can be found in the rambling chronicle, El Carnero, of Juan Rodriguez Freyle. According to Freyle, the king or chief priest of the Muisca, in a ritual at Lake Guatavita near present-day Bogotá was said to be covered with gold dust which he then washed off in the lake while his attendants threw trinkets made of gold, emeralds and precious stones into the lake.
In 1638, Freyle wrote this account of the ceremony, addressed to the cacique or governor of Guatavita:[Note 1][2]
The ceremony took place on the appointment of a new ruler. Before taking office, he spent some time secluded in a cave, without women, forbidden to eat salt, or to go out during daylight. The first journey he had to make was to go to the great lagoon of Guatavita, to make offerings and sacrifices to the demon which they worshipped as their god and lord. During the ceremony which took place at the lagoon, they made a raft of rushes, embellishing and decorating it with the most attractive things they had. They put on it four lighted braziers in which they burned much moque, which is the incense of these natives, and also resin and many other perfumes. The lagoon was large and deep, so that a ship with high sides could sail on it, all loaded with an infinity of men and women dressed in fine plumes, golden plaques and crowns.... As soon as those on the raft began to burn incense, they also lit braziers on the shore, so that the smoke hid the light of day.
At this time, they stripped the heir to his skin, and anointed him with a sticky earth on which they placed gold dust so that he was completely covered with this metal. They placed him on the raft ... and at his feet they placed a great heap of gold and emeralds for him to offer to his god. In the raft with him went four principal subject chiefs, decked in plumes, crowns, bracelets, pendants and ear rings all of gold. They, too, were naked, and each one carried his offering .... when the raft reached the centre of the lagoon, they raised a banner as a signal for silence.
The gilded Indian then ... [threw] out all the pile of gold into the middle of the lake, and the chiefs who had accompanied him did the same on their own accounts. ... After this they lowered the flag, which had remained up during the whole time of offering, and, as the raft moved towards the shore, the shouting began again, with pipes, flutes and large teams of singers and dancers. With this ceremony the new ruler was received, and was recognised as lord and king.
This is the ceremony that became the famous El Dorado, which has taken so many lives and fortunes.
We also have this account by poet-priest and historian of the Conquest Juan de Castellanos, who had served under Jimenez de Quesada in his campaign against the Muiscas, written in the mid-16th century but not published until 1850:[3]
The Quest of El Dorado
An alien Indian, hailing from afar,
Who in the town of Quito did abide.
And neighbor claimed to be of Bogata,
There having come, I know not by what way,
Did with him speak and solemnly announce
A country rich in emeralds and gold.

Also, among the things which them engaged,
A certain king he told of who, disrobed,
Upon a lake was wont, aboard a raft,
To make oblations, as himself had seen,
His regal form overspread with fragrant oil
On which was laid a coat of powdered gold
From sole of foot unto his highest brow,
Resplendent as the beaming of the sun.

Arrivals without end, he further said,
Were there to make rich votive offerings
Of golden trinkets and of emeralds rare
And divers other of their ornaments;
And worthy credence these things he affirmed;
The soldiers, light of heart and well content,
Then dubbed him El Dorado, and the name
By countless ways was spread throughout the world.
"He went about all covered with powdered gold, as casually as if it were powdered salt. For it seemed to him that to wear any other finery was less beautiful, and that to put on ornaments or arms made of gold worked by hammering, stamping, or by other means, was a vulgar and common thing." Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, Spanish Historian, 1478-1557

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