Chavin de Huantar is located in the Conchucos, in a small alluvial terrace arising from the confluence of the Mosna River with the Wachecsa, occupying an area of 2,000 square meters at 3,180 m .(10,430 ft.) of altitude. The Conchuchos are separated from the Pacific by two mountain ranges called Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negra and from the Amazon region by two others, called Cordillera Central and Cordillera Oriental. It is located in an important middle point of east-west and north-south connection. The origins of the Chavin de Huantar occupation are not very clear. Its first occupants may have descended from the Kotosh or peoples still unknown. They were farmers who may have arrived to the area in 1,200 B.C. This culture emerged at the end of the Pre-Ceramic period, and as such has features from the Amazon, Andean and Coastal regions. It is considered the capital of a great state - an empire, even. Its style spread out to the Andean region and the Coast, a spectacular beginning for the Andean civilization.

It was a culture of religious significance that applied knowledge of astronomy to agriculture. Its architecture and sculpture was of vital importance for other Andean cultures. The temple housed only priests and assistants. Pilgrims would arrive at this location bearing different types of offerings in search of oracles. The large sculpture located in the center served as oracle, which was in perfect relation to the architecture. Ridges, lintels, borders, paneling, columns and obelisks sculpted in high and low relief are found in the Chavin cemetery. This cemetery identified a religion that had as its foundation representations of the surrounding animal world or from other regions. The carvings contain abstract human creatures with animal-like features, in which humans are the central figure as members of the elite. These figures wore crowns, ear coverings, nose rings and necklaces; elements which were in accordance to the wearer's status. Certain individuals were responsible for religious activities. Various animals were portrayed, including felines with great jaws and terrible fangs, in addition to eagles, snakes, falcons, alligators, fish and birds next to vegetable motifs such as yucca, achira and red peppers. In spite of all this, the main motif that was used in the Central and Southern Andes was the God of Walking Sticks and the Smiling God, which in combination with the previously mentioned elements, formed the nucleus of the Chavin religion which later spread throughout the Central Andean territory.

These motifs have been found in over 200 carvings on this location. The best-known pieces are the Lanzon, the Tello Obelisk and the Raimondi Estela. There is a great amount of designs that are inspired in a tropical rain forest environment. This culture was not largely widespread in the central region. We also find grey and black ceramics decorated with incisions and relief. Complex conventional symbols are used as replacements for the motifs that are represented. These designs and combinations could very well find their origin in textile art, which was highly valued by priests in Chavin. Chavin iconography is a faithful reflection of a religious ideology that expanded along the North and Central regions of Peru. Later, it was also used in textiles, ceramic and objects made out of metal, wood and bone. These artifacts were commercialized in the central Andes and fostered the first cultural integration at a large scale in the area. It experienced a slow decrease towards 450 B.C., perhaps as a consequence of the flourishing of other urban cultures in the areas where it had previously been influential.

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............... Chavin Art
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