Birds in Pre-Hispanic Peru

Ceremonial earplug, Mochica culture

Peru is a country with a lot of ancient history, and prior to the Spanish colonies many cultures florished all over the region.

All over the country there were ancient cultures (for example the Mochica, Chimu, Nazca or Paracas) that used their creativity and talents to represent everyday scenes, flora and fauna of their surroundings in textiles, ceramics, stones, jewelry, etc. and used the natural elements around them to create clothing, houses, weapons, etc.

Later on, the incas took over what was left of these old cultures and absorbed not only the geopraphical area, but in a way, also their customs and habits.

I found some pictures of items that I want to share with you. Some of them are representations of birds made by Peruvian cultures in everyday objects, cloths and jewelry and some are items that used feathers of birds, like Nasca or Chimu, who even though were not close to the jungle, used feathers of birds from that region to make hats for their leaders, as the feathers were precious and unique items.

I hope you enjoy these birds from the past, the titles in green are the names of the cultures they belong to.


Feather cape.


Mortuary covers for mummies, Paracas Necropolis style, with representations of the Andean Condor and other birds.


Earplugs, antropomorphic character with bird beak. Made of gold and turquoise.

Duck vessel.

Huaco-retrato, ceramic portrait representing the head of a character with a bird resting on it.


Ceremonial hat.


Duck wooden vessel.

What if we compare the maps showing the ancient Peruvian cultures with today's Peruvian birding hotspots???

Map of ancient cultures. Check out Chimu, Mochica (Moche), Nazca and Paracas... all on the coast line (left on this map), away from the Amazon jungle (top right on this map)

Birding interest map nowdays...

See any similarities? I could find a few actual birding points where the ancient cultures florished... Maybe it's just a coincidence, but what if it is not? ;)


Carlos A. Quiroz said...

Thanks for this wonderful information, I find your blog to be very informative and serious.

But I have to remind you that the expression "pre-hispanic" is intended to deny and hide the real Indigenous history.

The tittle of this post should be:
"Birds in Peru before the Hispanic invasion" or even better "Birds on the Indigenous/Native civilizations of Peru"

CheMel said...

Thank you Carlos for your comment.
I am a peruvian, proud of my country and in love with its history and culture.
I never meant to give a connotation to that title, I used it only to separate different periods of history, that's it, it doesn't mean that one is best than the other or anything like that. I just wanted to priviledge the art and culture of ancient cultures over others.
I am only using academic terminology without any intention of denying the legacy of such amazing talent, knowledge, respect for the earth and other countless adjetives I could use to talk about our ancestors.
Please bear in mind that this blog is dedicated to birding and not history alone.
Thank you again for your concern and for taking your time to read this blog, I would love to get your comments on further posts, as the intention of this is to learn from different people wordlwide.

Anonymous said...

People do tend to settle where life is rich, so birding is as natural an activity then as now. Though I'd also keep in mind that a motivation to spend time and energy merely collecting pictures and memories of birds, as opposed to wanting to eat them or their eggs, is largely a product of our luxurious age.