Colombia's history:

“El Dorado”

“Gold embodied a profound meaning in the cosmogony of pre-Columbian societies as a sacred metal, a recipient the Sun’s energy, a life-giving star, and the source of fertility”

First some of history


The first populations in Bogotá were the Muiscas, members of the Chibcha language family. When the conquerors arrived, there were about half a million indigenous people from this group. Muiscas did not develop large cities, formed a disperse population occupying several small villages and hamlets. They were farmers by nature and complemented their occupations by hunting and fishing. The most fertile lands were ancient marine Pleistocene lake beds and regions irrigated by several rivers, they basically cultivated corn and potatoes, beans, pumpkins, tomatoes, “cubios”, yucca (cassava), tobacco, “arracacha”, sweet potatoes and some other fruit and vegetables. In the mining field, the salt and emeralds extraction was fundamental for their own use and for trading with other tribes for gold and cotton. Muiscas worshiped the moon and the sun and several ceremonial centers were distributed across the region. The goddess Chía was the moon and the god Zuhé was the sun, among other astral gods. For Muiscas, lakes were sacred places where they had their ceremonies. In their most important myths and legends they talk about Guatavita, Siecha, Tota, Fúquene and Iguaque lakes were gold and pottery offerings have been found. They also worshiped the dead, nobles and chiefs were mummified and buried with all their belongings. Although Muiscas had no gold, they obtained it by trading it with other tribes. They manufactured diverse pieces; the most outstanding are “tunjos”, small anthropomorphic or zoomorphic figures they offered their gods. Gold objects were used for funerary and sacred offerings. They also made necklaces, bracelets, earrings, pectorals, nose rings and other pieces as ornaments for themselves, besides of pieces of weaving and pottery. Taken from: http://www.bogotaturismo.gov.co/en/about-bogota

The legend of El Dorado


The legend talks about the nomination of a new cacique, or Indian chief, associated to the lord of Guatavita and the famous El Dorado ceremony. According to what chroniclers tell us, when the Muisca cacique passed away, his nephew was acknowledged as the new chief by his people during a ceremony that included sailing on a raft and offering gold pieces and emeralds that were thrown into the lake. Before taking on his duties, the young chief was shut up in a cave. On the day of the ceremony, four braziers were placed at the edge of the lake. An Indian incense called moque, resins, and others perfumes were burnt in the braziers for the smoke to hide the light of day. Simultaneously, priests undressed the chief and anointed him with a viscous mixture of soil and gold powder. Then, the cacique would get on the raft with large amounts of gold and emeralds at his feet. Other chiefs, decked with feathers, crowns, armlets, pendants, and earrings and carrying their offerings, sat on the raft. As soon as the raft left the edge, a music of whistles, trumpets, flutes, and songs would play until the raft reached the center of the lake. Immediately, a flag was raised as a sign of silence. The chief would throw himself into the water with his offerings. The raft would then return to the edge for the party in honor of the new heir who was now recognized as chief and prince. A gold piece of the raft represents this ceremony and lays in the Gold Museum in Bogotá. This is the most legendary piece of the Museum and has never left the country, not even on one of the almost 200 temporary itinerant exhibitions. Together with this piece, there are up to 34,000 pieces of gold and 20,000 items of bone, stone, textiles and ceramics, all heralding from 13 pre-Hispanic civilizations are waiting for you. Taken from: http://www.colombia.travel/en/international-tourist/sightseeing-what-to-do/history-and-tradition/archaeological-tourism/the-muisca-raft See more in http://www.banrepcultural.org/gold-museum/exhibition-in-bogota

Poporo Quimbaya. The Gold Museum.