Dr. Richard Gill - 04/01/2011
They were eaters of human flesh. Cannibals.
Pedro Cieza de Leon, the famous chronicler who traveled with Francisco Pizzaro, through South America, writes the truth about his observations of the Indians throughout South America. Cieza de Leon is regarded as the best, most accurate, eyewitness account of all the Inadians as observed while with Pizarro prior to the Spanish Conquest. I will give you a very brief summary of what he said.
The Quimbaya Indians survived through cannibalism. Cieza deLeon witnessed these Indians cooking humans in large pots, "noticing their fingers and fingernails" at the top of the pots. The Indians throughout ancient Columbia live in thatched huts built up on stilts, high in the air. There were many Indians living in the huts. Their intertribal wars with other neigboring Indians resulted in mounting trophy heads on poles around their houses. the rest of the bodies were eaten. (just like the trophy heads depicted on Nazca, Paracas, etc painted ceramics and textiles)
Imagine yourself walking into a community, though the jungle, and seeing human heads mounted on many poles throughout a village! That is true. He described the males as always naked, and the women wore skirts. Cieza de leon described these long black-haired woman as the most beautiful he had seen in all his travels in the Indies. Goldwork was magnificent. Gold was traded for salt which was used for cooking human flesh.
When an elder died, he was buried, and the most beautiful cache of women, "three to five" were buried ALIVE with the dead elder.
As I was reading Cieza de Leons travels with Pizarro, I was always waiting for his comments on the pottery makers. Unfortunately, although he did comment on the great works of gold, and the beautiful textiles, not one time did he mention any slab figures. This was a disappointment to me.
To this day his observations are true. My college roommate was from Bogota and he always wore so much gold jewelry. At that time, I never really undestood why, but I do remember him telling me it was cultural tradition. The mothers who bring their children in for braces, from Columbia, are the most beautiful of all.
So, the next time you sell a Quimbaya sculpture, think about these Indians.