Toro Muerto Rock Carvings
Crying Viracocha’s: Ancient Engravings from a Lost Culture
By Kathy Doore
Massive Peruvian petroglyph field considered the largest of its kind in the world with over 3000 volcanic rock carvings dating to the Huari Culture; access via the lush Majes Valley, fed by the waters of the Colca, 3 1/2 hour drive from Arequipa.
THE CRYING DANCERS
Perhaps the richest rock art in the world, the rock carvings at Toro Muerto mark the passage of time etched in volcanic stone. Here one finds strange etchings — anthropomorphic characters (crying dancers with tears streaming down their cheeks and energy shooting off the top of their heads known as the “crying Viracocha’s” of Tiwanaku at nearby Lake Titicaca, location of the emergence tales of the Inka). Tici Viracocha was worshipped as god of the sun wearing rays for a crown, with thunderbolts in his hands, and tears descending from his eyes; he is remembered for his teachings, and wept for his people.. Carvings include musicians, shepherds, hunters, and semi realistic figures, zoomorphic (jaguars, condors, snakes, eagles, camels, fish), sunflowers and trees without branches, geometric symbols, zig-zags, square, diamond shapes and various ethnicities and cultures such as Wari and Collahuas, with inscriptions, intaglios, and bizarre writings all over an area of approximatley three miles. The petroglyph emerges from the rocky ridges, near the District of Uraca province of Castile. Here, the early huari buried their dead nearly 1,000 years ago and paid tribute to their gods. The stone is a rhyolitic ignimbrite or stink, the product of the eruption of a volcano, possibly the Chachani or Coropuna that would occur in the Tertiary period.
Unfortunately, this extraordinary rock art site is in great danger of being destroyed completely. The community of new settlement near the site, Candelaria, has begun irrigation of part of the zone. Moreover, an agreement exists between the INC and the settlers which allows this activity. Besides, many engraved rocks have been affected by the quarrying of stone for construction work or by vandalism.
We implore all those who value great natural treasures to please write to the following Peruvian authorities asking to stop irrigation of Toro Muerto and to start definite action to protect this site:
· Excelentísimo Señor Presidente Constitucional de la República del Perú, Ing. Don Alberto Fujimori F., Palacio de Gobierno, Plaza de Armas, Lima, Peru;
· Don Domingo Palermo Cabrejo, Ministro de Educa-ción, Calle Vandelvene 160, San Borja, Lima, Peru;
· Ing. Rodolfo Muñante S., Ministro de Agricultura, Avda. Salaverry s/n, San Borja, Lima, Peru.