The past

9 11 2008

It has been difficult for me to grasp the pre-Columbian history of Peru when living only in Lima, which is ironic given that the country’s history was one of the main reasons I chose to come here. I wrote my dissertation on the Spanish conquest of the Inca empire earlier this year and it inspired me to see the ruins left by that empire and of the people who came before it. Only in Cusco, the Sacred Valley and the Colca Canyon have I been so priviliged as to see any pre-Colombian structures.

In Lima these aspects of the past are barely visible. One ruin – Huaca Pucllana – does stand out of the metropolis but it largely resembles a neatly crafted pile of dirt and it seems out of context with towering condominiums appearing whenever you turn your head. The only other remenants lie in the names of various aspects of the city. There’s Inca Kola (a bubblegum flavoured soft drink) and Inca Farma (a popular pharmacy) with some streets and universities being named after famous Inca leaders or scholars. These are just a few examples that display that people in Lima are aware of their country’s distant past.

But in truth it is of little concern to those immersed into the reality of a developing world city of eight million people in 2008. Lima is dominated by European descendants who care far more about aspiring to western values and glorifying the Peruvian republic. They seem very distant from the quechua speaking amerindians of the Andes who show much more nostalgia for Peru’s vibrant pre-Colombian heritage, or not so much nostalgia as a certain type of continuation of traditions.

Then there are the museums, which are pretty damn cool. Through these it is possible to catch a glimpse of Peru’s rich and diverse history that streches back thousands of years and contains numerous peoples and civilisations. Today I visited the Museo Nacional Antropologia, Arquelogia y Historia. This is the third of Lima’s museums that I have been to and they display an almost alien world to that of Lima’s urban sprawl. Beautifully crafted pottery with intricate colours and patterns; delicate peices of jewellery crafted from gold and silver; textiles woven with such precision; these remenants of Perus colourful past seem so far away from the unimaginative, unsubstantial and decadent cluster of buildings that constitutes most of modern Lima.

and more

cerámica chévere




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