Far Away, Different and Similar Cultures

by Saúl Miranda Ramos

The pre-Colombian Cultures in Latin America have some counterparts in their cosmogony despite the distance, the time, and the language they have had. I ignore which one was the device, or whether it was without it, let this people to perform their Philosophies with huge differences but with several points in common. Incas, Mapuches, Aztecs and Nahuas have lots of linked topics which could be scrutinized since some symbolisms such as the “Chakana”, the “Cultrún”, the “Fejeuary-Meyer” codices and the “Voladores” dance.

The Chakana Cross
The first Cultural symbol highlighted is the Chakana which is a millenarian Inca Symbol and belongs to the ancient Andean cultures in Peru. It´s origins come from the astronomy and geometry related to the universe. Besides, the figure of the “Chakana” is a squared stepped cross with 12 sharp ends in its sides looked as a pyramid; In addition, it seems like the constellation “Cross from the South”, also makes reference to the sun. The cross indicates 4 opposite sides, 4 cardinal points, and 4 seasons, so each segment has 3 steps which represents 3 worlds: the God´s one, the human´s one and the world of the dead persons. Furthermore, the center represents the twoness and the emptiness, the unimaginable, unknown, and so on. Another, its name comes from the Quechua Language that means “Bridge to the high”, for it is the union between the under and the high, land and sun, inferior and superior. Also, it provides information about the earth cycles and the cosmogony of the Andean cultures such as heaven and earth, sun and moon, north and south, up and down, time and space, feminine and masculine. Moreover, it works as a calendar and helps people to guide them in sowing and harvest, so May 3th is the Chakana´s day; perhaps since in these days the constellation “Cross from South” are straighten in a perfect cross and it is allied with corn harvest. Finally, the Chakana has been venerated by ancient Peruvians, and nowadays lots of crops possess chakanas for the benefit of them.

The Cultrún
In the other hand, the “cultrun”, which is a Mapuche Symbol culturally produced in the South of the actual Chile and Argentina, provides an interpretation of the world addressed in the indigenous vision of Mapuche community. The Cultrún communicates the three levels of the universe: above land where gods live, in the middle lands in which we live, and under the land where is habited by the evil. Also, the interpretation of the Cultrún comes in the opposite sense of the clockwise and it is started in the lower part. The first interpretation is about the moon and its states. The starter is the crescent moon followed by the full moon, the waning moon and the new moon. Another reading of the Cultrún refers to the rising sun, the midday sun, the twilight and the dark sun read since bottom against the clock hands. The third discourse has to do with the land elements such that the lower semicircle represents earth, the second reflects fire, the third illustrates wind, and finally the last one figures water. Furthermore, people from South are represented in the centered nethermost, in the place of the full moon are the people from east, continuing with people from North at the top, and People from the sea belong to the left side. The last part is one which is placed in harmony with sowing, and matches with the sun periods. The place of dark sun matches with the outbreaks time, the next with the rains time, followed by fallow time and ending with abundance time. The relationship between the Cultrún and the Chakana is the cross figure in which both of them are based and the relevance in four points as in cardinals.

Fejéuáry-Mayer codices
Meanwhile in the Mexican Cultures the Fejéuáry-Mayer codices and the voladores dance show us the directions of the universe. In the cross displayed, the most important part is the East, also called Tlahuactlampa. This side is the origin of the light, were the sun rise; also is the place of Quetzalcoatl. Next to, at the West Cihuatlampa is the head of women, is the place where go dead women in labor. Above, to the north is Mictlampa that is the place of the dead people, the place of Mictlantecuctli and Mictlantecihuatl. Beneath, to the south is Huitziltampa also known as thorn place, that is the place of the hummingbird where rain comes and the place of silence. In the highest part are Xohuali, Ejecatl, Citlani Cueitl, Tonantzin, Coyolxauhqui whom are the population of the universe, suppliers of life, and the divinity that invent itself. Among them there are Day (Totatzin), father sun (Tonatiuh), Night (Tonantzin, Yohuali), and mother moon (Mestli). Beyond, is the existence of Tonantzin, Tlali, Coatlicue who are Mother of land, the fertile, and the woman of the jade skirt with serpent figures. Nevertherless in the current context of Mexico, voladores dance tell us how to worship to the sun asking for a good harvest in a closer place to the sun (at the top of a high tree trunk). There, a square is placed as a mechanism to descend where 4 cardinal points and a center are represented by a person. The dancers are wearing brilliant color clothes as tropical birds, so the music is produced by a little flute and a drum producing sounds close the singing of birds. Finally, each person in this ritual throw himself to the space to fly, for perform 13 turns which whether it is multiplied for the 4 persons the result is 52 (the number of years of the indigenous calendar).

Voladores Dance

Despite the distance, the time, these cultures have similarities, yet we don´t know how they have communicated each other or not; but it is true they are astronomers and check for long times the movements of the stars. As an example, the Cross of South is present un many other cultures and countries such as the flags of Australia, Brazil, New Zeland, Samoa, Santa Cruz Argentina, Tierra de Fuego Argentina, Magallanes and Tierra de Fuego Chile, between others. That is why Indigenous from Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Australia are considerate so culturally different and so similar. 

A cross in the altar of the dead people day in Mexico

Magallanes Flag, Chile

Flafg of Papua, New Guinea

Flag of tierra de Fuego, Antartida, Argentina

Flag of Samoa

Flag of New Zeland

Flag of Brazil

Flag of Australia


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