Favorite recent and insightful quote I have read recently:

Favorite quote I have recently read: "The word temple comes from the Latin templum, which signifies an extended open space that has been marked out for the observation of the sky. In what manner is such a space marked out? According to Dr. Hugh Nibley, the word templum, "designates a building specifically designed for interpreting signs in the heavens--a sort of observatory where one gets one's bearings on the universe." The root "tem-" in Greek and Latin denotes a "cutting" or intersection of two lines at right angles, the point where the "cardo" and "decumanus" cross, hence where the four regions come together." Matthew Brown - "The Gate of Heaven"

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Lima Temple and Others in the Ancient Land of Peru

We are in the midst of a number of important dates in Peru. The 28th of July was Peruvian Independence Day and this year coincided with the inauguration of a new president.  June 21 is the Winter Solstice for the Southern Hemisphere and corresponds with the first month of the Incan New Year. The festival associated with this is called Inti Raymi, or festival of the sun god. The festival is held on the 24th of June as the sun appeared to stand still for several days according to the Inca. It was practiced for several years following the Spanish Conquest, but suppressed for more than 400 years. Currently recreated from early accounts of Spanish chronicles it is performed annually in Cusco having begun again in 1944.
The Inti Raymi festival being reenacted above Cusco at the fortress of Sacsayhuaman
We continue to be fascinated with the culture and sophistication with which the Inca and the previous cultures of Peru tracked their world and planned their lives around solar and stellar observations. We have arranged a tour this week to the oldest solar observatory in the Americas which dates to 400 BCE.  It is known as Chanquillo. The culture and people who built it are so far unidentified by scientists, though a number of ceramic figurines have been recovered illustrating distinct classes of the former inhabitants including warriors. Ancient weapons have also been recovered from the site. Aside from the fascinating 13 towers that dominate the skyline of one hill there, a significant fortress dominates the remains of the community with thick and high walls. Warfare then was likely known at Chanquillo. We'll be posting photos and writing about that experience.
The windows of the Temple of the Sun in Machu Picchu allow the morning
sun to bisect the altar stone.  In addition the rise of Pleiades was observed
along with other astronomical events. The Temple is still being studied by
The first of August is an important time for the people of the Andes and the Inca. A little more than a month after the rising of Pleiades, the Sapa Inca or the Incan Emperor, would ceremoniously begin to furrow the ground with his gold tipped plow putting in the first maize. The Pleiades star cluster was known amongst most all ancient cultures and is mentioned three times in the Old Testament including the 38th chapter of Job, verse 31, wherein Jehovah asks this question of Job, "Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?"
Windows marked A and B determined the solstices. The rising of Pleiades or
Collca is observed through Window A. PW is the problem window as the scientists
are still determining its function
The exterior of the Temple of the Sun with Windows A & B clearly shown.
Note the projections built into the stone walls. Experts believe these held
attachements utilized for solar or astronomical purposes. Likely they were
made of gold or some other precious metal. 

Festivals accompanied the many important dates in the Inca calendar that ordered the life of the people of the Andes as they did elsewhere in the world through the millenia. Indigenous farmers then and now still climb to the tops of the mountains to observe Pleiades or Collca or Catachillay as it is known in Quechua, (the predominant language of the Inca), to ascertain and predict with some accuracy how well their crops will do in the coming growing season.  Apparently, their success in predicting weather patterns and most importantly the rainfall during the rainey season two months ahead is accurate to at least 65% of the time, putting them on a par, or ahead of Mark Eubank's Weatherbank technology. All of this by observing the Pleiades as it rises in the early morning horizon. At the time of its rising it could appear less brilliant and fewer stars would be counted. The number of stars visible would allow the farmers to make accurate climate predictions. Scientists have concluded they were in reality measuring the water content of the upper atmosphere which was directly tied to the strength of the Humboldt Current off Peru's coast and the troublesome presence of El Niño. El Niño brings drought to the farmers of the Andes.
Subaru is the name the Japanese have given to the Pleiades. Thanks Watson 
for the discussion on this star cluster.

Temples, huacas, stones, pillars, and towers were once scattered throughout western South America, but few survived the Spanish colonial period, except in Machu Picchu. We will be visiting it again in just over a week. The Lima Temple is closed for two weeks for semiannual maintenance. High on our list will be the Intihuatana Stone and the Temple of the Sun. At the Temple of the Sun in Machu Picchu, and the remains of what is left of a similar temple in Cusco, scientists have long speculated but now confirmed their orientation and architecture was important in determining these astronomical events, such as the rising of Pleiades. Other events included the winter and summer solstices and the equinox were determinmed and more still awaiting discovery.  The very lives and survival of the Andean peoples depended on their ability to accurately determine optimum conditions to plant, tend, and harvest their crops of potatoes, maize, quinoa, peppers and other tubers in their delicate environment.
The planting of potatoes on an Andean hillside as it is done today
More than 3,000 kinds of potatoes have been identified in Peru. Many of them grow in elevations close to 12-13,000 feet.  They first seem to have been domesticated near Lake Titicaca some 8000 years ago. The conquistadores took them back to Europe on their return journeys in addition to the gold, silver and precious gems they took from the Inca.
The Temple of the Sun at Machu Picchu combines the three levels 
of the Incan cosmology, the earth beneath wherein is this lower
level which was the Royal Tomb of the Inca Emperor Pachacuti. His 
mummy would have been stored there and brought our for the 
various festivals observed by the Inca. The ground floor contains
 the altar stone with the marks for determining various astronomical
and solar events. The windows allowed observation of the heavens.

Temples performed important functions for the Inca and their predecessors as they provided bearings, dates, and connections to the events in the lives of the former inhabitants of the Andes.  Hugh Nibley, Mormon apologist, linguist, and professor of ancient scripture at BYU, has written extensively about temples, whether they were of a Babylonian Ziggurat configuration, Hopi Kivas, Egyptian or Greek Temples, or Stonehenge on the Plain of Salisbury. On this subject he wrote: "The temple is the meeting point of the three cosmic regions, heaven, earth, and the abode of the dead. From the earliest times, temples have been built as scale models of the universe. There are three temples, one in heaven, one on earth, and one beneath the earth. The three are identical, one being built exactly over the other, with the earth temple in the very middle of everything, representing the pole or axis mundi of the heavens, around which all heavenly motions revolve, the knot that ties earth and heaven together, the seat of universal dominion. Here the four cardinal directions meet, and here the three worlds make contact." That role seems to have been adequately filled by theses wonderful stone structures, huacas, and temples of the Inca. 
RA to the side of a chicha de jora pot used for the preparation 
and fermentation of the Incan corn like beer. I have read that 
once you get past the notion that the corn was previously 
chewed in the mouths of quechua women it has a very 
nice flavor. The chewing starts the breakdown of complex
starches into fermentable sugars. 

The festival associated with the first of August is known as Herranza for a number of communities in Peru.  Associated with this festival are the herding and branding of animals. Chicha de jora is shared, though in the days of the Inca if anyone got too drunk they were executed. Chicha was also poured into the earth. The smoking of tobacco, chewing of coca leaves, singing and dancing, and the consumption of good food are part of the modern festival.
A recent batch of quinoa with onions, peppers, and tomatoes.
This food was reserved for the Sapa Inca and the nobility of the empire. 
We enjoy it for breakfast and other times. RA makes hers with nuts
and raisins. 
We will be making additonal quinoa and chicaha morada, the non alcoholic variety, in honor of this festival and the beginning of the planting season of the Inca. We will drink some, and pour some into mother earth or Pachamama, which is the quechua name for this grand and wonderful place we live and share with each other. Of course, not often in harmony and peace.  We do this in honor and out of respect for those who were here before us and their descendants we associate with each day. We will do this as we plant our aji rocoto and limo peppers.
In our neighborhood of La Molina we have a Pre-Inca huaca
or temple that is aligned with the cardinal directions of the
compass. It is called Huaca Melgarejo. It dates to the Lima
culture who occupied this part of modern Peru from 100 AD
to 650 AD.

Our walks often take us by this adobe temple mound in La  Molina. I used the digital compass and determined its orientation to the cardinal directions of the compass. I am reminded of Brigham Young's comments when the cornerstones of the Salt Lake Temple were laid to the cardinal directions. President McKay changed the architect's orientation of the Los Angeles Temple and rotated it to face East to assure its proper alignment.  Architectural aspects of the Lima LDS Temple are aligned similarly.  When Brother Nibley saw the groundwork of the Provo Temple he discovered it was not correctly aligned and wrote a letter to Salt Lake about it.  It was not changed but remains in better harmony orienting it with the hill on which it stands according to the architects.
The Pleiades Star Cluster, part of the constellation of Taurus the Bull or
Collca or Catachillay as it was known among the Inca, their predecessors,
and descendants

We continue to be impressed with the knowledge of the former inhabitants of Peru, their ability to understand their environment, sustain life, and build the greatest and most advanced empire in the Americas prior to coming of the Europeans.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunday Dinner Mormon Style in Peru

Yesterday, friends from the Temple came over for Sunday dinner. Typical in Utah and the intermountain area would be roast beef or some sort of pot roast at least at our house.  In Peru things are different, but no less enjoyable and tasty.  Our friends had been promising us cuy, 'Alan Garcia' size cuy.  It is a joke, since the outgoing President Garcia of Peru is very large, hence any large size cuy are named in his honor by Brother Ramos.  This president leaves with a significant majority of Peruvians disapproving of his job for the past five years even though Peru's economy grew second only to China in the world.
President Garcia did not get this way eating cuy
Large cuy are very prized and sell first in the markets.  65 million of these creatures were consumed in Peru last year and remain an important part of the diet of the average Peruvian. Since the 17th Century these rodents, neither pigs or from Guinea, have been used as test animals for laboratory experiments, resulting in the epithet, "guinea pig" as a test subject. White mice and rats have largely replaced cuy as the vehicles for laboratory testing.

Our friends Brother and Sister Ramos with RuthAnn

No longer found in the wilds of the Andes, they appear to have been entirely domesticated beginning about 7,000 years ago. They are rodents and subsist in table scraps from any home where they are raised.  Efforts are being made to develop markets for their meat in Japan, Europe and the US. It is unlikely, at least in the US, there will be much of a market for the meat, rather they are pets for kids. Who has not had a pet guinea pig in their childhood?
Black cuy have important roles in the folklore and traditions of many
Andean peoples and cultures often used in diagnosing and treating diseases. 

In addition to the cuy we enjoyed camote or sweet potatoes, papas amarillo or yellow potatoes, and a side dish we had cooked of quinoa, black beans, chicken, onions and a little aji pepper.  We toasted our Alan Garcia cuy, our friendship, Peru's success in the America Futbol Cup, and Arequipa, with some fresh chi cha morada also supplied by our friends.
The cuy roasted in the pan along with some Peruvian potatoes
We continue to enjoy life in Peru. We appreciate the Ramos who have introduced us to many new and interesting dishes. Food from Arequipa, even among the Limeños we work with, is recognized as among the very best in all of Peru. It is definitely 'presidential.' We should note also that rumors have been floating around the Area Offices that a third temple will be announced in Peru in the relative near future. We hope it might be in Arequipa, Peru's second largest city.
Cuy on my plate. You cannot be delicate with it and it does
require picking up pieces and using one's fingers to get
the meat from the bones. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Quinoa or Kinwa, it's the same thing

Quinoa is a hot cereal that I have had only a mild interest in for some years. It can be used as a substitute for rice and couscous in which form I think I first experienced it in daughter Alice's kitchen. We have friends in the temple from Arequipa and they have prepared it several times for us.  Sister Ramos recipe is unlike any I have ever had and would like to duplicate, though I think it is heavy on the butter, cheese, and cream, maybe even having some chicken broth. In any case I have not found anything from Arequipa that I have not thoroughly enjoyed.
Cooked and waiting to cool to put into the refrigerator after
I had a couple small bowls
My experimenting for an alternative to my normal breakfast of eggs fried, or eggs scrambled is proceeding well with the quinoa.  I start with a third full blender of water and add an entire large onion, a rocoto pepper, a fresh tomato or two and let it rip. After everything is blended I add 4 ounces of mild white cheese, also from Arequipa, called queso paria.  If it were a lot stronger it might pass as a feta goat cheese, but queso paria is from the cow. Two cups of water and one of milk are being heated on the stove top and the enitre mixture is put together. When it starts to boil I add a 500 gram package of quinoa and let it cook, stirring occasionally until the seeds become a little softer. I add a little salt to taste. There is enough piquancy with one rocoto that RA does not complain too much. It is easier and faster to cook than rice and of course much healthier.
Quinoa plants in the farmer's field about to be harvested 
Quinoa is not a true grain like wheat or oats, but is more closely related to beets, spinach and tumbleweeds maybe amaranth too.  With the Inca it was esteemed as the mother of grains or "chisaya mama."   It has a very long history, like so many other things in Peru, and archaeologists have found non domesticated quinoa dating back 7,000 years among various ruins.

It is related to other similar plants of the Northern Hemisphere known as 'fat hen' or something called 'pitseed goosefoot.' This crop was important to a number of the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas before maize became the dominant crop though among the Inca of Peru it was second only to the potato in importance for their diet.  It is high in protein 12-18% and is a complete protein, unlike rice and wheat, which is very unusual among plants, according to Wiki. In addition, it is high in iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and a good source of dietary fiber. The Spanish Conquistadores forbade its planting for a time making the Inca substitute wheat in its place. For many years, even centuries, well into the colonial period, it was viewed as "indian food." So important was it to the Inca that the emperor would plant the first seeds of the new crop with a golden shovel. It was sacred to the Inca. Maybe I can find a golden spoon to enjoy our quinoa for breakfast and lunches at the temple.

One funny story I had read elsewhere, in researching quinoa, concerned efforts by genetic engineers to modify the quinoa seeds to remove the very bitter and protective coating on the seeds called saponins.  Through successful breeding and genetic modification strains of quinoa were grown without this bitter coating. It also has a serious laxative effects and some care has to be taken by the processors in removing the saponin during processing.  Several fields were planted for farmers here in Peru and with some amount of expectation with increased profits due to less processing time. A good deal of enthusiasm was exhibited as these GM crops neared harvest.  When the seeds began to change color signaling harvest time, thousands of birds also determining this quinoa had been grown for them descended on the defenseless plants.  One observer likened it to Alfred Hitchcock's movie 'The Birds.' Quinoa remains unmodified today, being the same plant that has been planted and harvested in the Andes mountains and plateaus for thousands of years.

We want to learn to prepare quinoa Arequipa style. I did find twenty+ recommended recipes for this versatile grain on a web site called allrecipes.com

Monday, July 11, 2011

100th Anniversary of Hiram Bingham's visit to Machu Picchu

Next month when the Lima Temple closes we will make our journey once again to the sacred mountain city of the Inca, Machu Picchu. We visited previously in February of this year with our friends the Cooks  and Miky.
All of us at the entrance to Machu Picchu.  We arrived during the rainy
season but had incredible weather as the clouds were lifting from above the city
There are a number of theories about what role Machu Picchu played in the life of the Inca civilization and the last Emperor Pachacuti who ruled there.  It might have been a royal residence, a resort, a fortress, a prison, a holy site or some combination of the aforementioned. In July of 1911 Hiram Bingham, the first American to visit it, announced to the world he had "discovered" Machu Picchu. Though he is credited with this, several other non native explorers had been there prior to Bingham. The artifacts and treasure removed by Bingham and lodged at Yale University for a hundred years have partially been returned to Peru with a little encouragement from the Obama Administration. The artifacts are now on display in Cusco where they should be.
The Intihuatana Stone determined the solar equinoxes and solstices. 
Recent work done by Dr. Johan Reinhard, an explorer and anthropologist in residence with National Geographic, suggests another theory not totally at odds with the others but emphasizing the religious nature of Machu Picchu.  It is based on the notion of "sacred landscape." Machu Picchu is located in mountainous terrain at about 8,000 feet in elevation surrounded by the Urubamba River. Mountains, rivers, and other natural features of the land were sacred to the Inca and known as huacas. Four adjacent mountains, one in each of the cardinal directions, align the city with this highest and perhaps most important point, the Intihuatana Stone.These stones were to be found throughout Peru before the Spanish came to aid the many cultures and civilizations prior and including the Inca to track the seasons for planting, the expected arrival of the rainy season and for harvesting.
The Temple of the Sun. Windows allow the sun to shine across
the altar stone at both solstices. The heliacal rise of Pleiades was
also observed from one of the windows. 
Machu Picchu escaped destruction by the Conquistadores because it may have been partially abandoned prior to Pizaro's conquest of the Inca.  It is postulated smallpox or typhoid fever wiped out many of the indigenous peoples of the Americas not long after Columbus set foot in the Caribbean. One scholar, Charles Mann, in his book "1491" estimates upwards of 100 million indigenous peoples inhabited the Americas prior to the arrival of the Europeans. The Inca fell to the Spanish due to their weakened state brought about by factionalism, civil war, and the European diseases which arrived well before Pizaro.
The Urubamba River nearly circumnavigates Machu Picchu
Continued studies will be made and theories will be modified as time passes but Machu Picchu will remain a place so incredible words cannot adequately describe its beauty, the skill with which it was built, and its location high in the Andes. Dr. Reinhard fittingly observed Machu Picchu is a place "where reality exceeds expectations."