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"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Human Sacrifice, Max Hall, 6,000 Years of Habitation, and Cuy Curing Cancer...

Peru has its equivalent of the National Enquirer in this newspaper cover we photoed on our recent trip to Trujillo. The sub headline reads, "Medical Science in the United States has found that an Enzyme in Guinea Pig Meat Shrinks Tumors." We have enjoyed very good cuy in Peru and some pretty mediocre plates too. A number of variety of foods and beverages are promoted for their various health benefits just as they are stateside. In traditional medicine of the Andes cuy were used and still are in the diagnosis of ailments by shamanistic healers.  We will continue to enjoy cuy from time to time, but not necessarily for its anti-cancer properties. Presently, we are arranging a 'cuy night' at our local favorite restaurant in La Molina for the other Norte Americanos who have never experienced it.
Do you suppose the Cuy Growers Association of  Peru was
behind this to get us all to eat more meat? 
In our recent trip to Trujillo we visited the Huacas del Sol, de la Luna and El Brujo. In the distance from the Huaca del Brujo we could see the Huaca la Prieta. This is a very old site, pre-ceramic, but not open to tourists. The middens or garbage dumps at this earliest site of la Prieta have interesting clues as to what early life was like on the north coast of ancient Peru. Cotton, likely native to the area, had been woven into fishing nets with the use of gourds and rocks for floats and anchors.  Remnants of crustaceans, marine creatures, and primitive stone tools have been recovered, but no projectile points. A number of new world archaeologists suggest these earliest coastal inhabitants came from the Amazon basin, crossing the Andes from the headwaters of the Amazon River.
RA's recent efforts in producing wonderful yuca based cookies. On the 
left are a cheese and butter containing variety. The others are a raisin
or oatmeal equivalent but without the oatmeal. They also contain 
kiwicha which is a popcorn popped quinoa seed. 
It is also believed from the Amazon came the yuca so widely used throughout the world today. It is also known as manioc and cassava. It is third in the world in the supply of carbohydrates as a food source. I am guessing rice is first in the world and potatoes are second. Tapioca is extracted from this yuca tuber. The question now is can we grown this in our garden in Utah when we return home? Yuca is served with nearly every meal in Peru, though our upstairs neighbor, the first counselor in the temple presidency, refers to it as "yuck-a." The Brazilians may have the best recipe for yuca or tapioca, though RA's cookies are wonderful, both types especially as they are hot from baking in the oven.  In my life I have discovered almost anything vegetable in form, swimming with real butter, a little salt and pepper is  good. The Brasileros make a tortilla from the yuca flour, fry it and while cooking sprinkle on cocoanut, banana slices, and chocolate. We have found very good yuca which is softer, maybe due to its freshness and also yuca that has about the same texture as a tree branch. Our new friend Walter, a taxi driver we met in Trujillo sent us a care package with very fresh yuca along with aji and papas, (peppers and potatoes.)  Walter is going to take us to Chiclayo and Cajamarca on our next trip to Trujillo. We would like to go back next month as soon as we know what our schedules will be in the Temple.
The very fresh yuca Walter sent is at the bottom of this
image.  He also sent two kinds of peppers that we enjoy, 
a new one called aji mochero and aji rocoto alsong with
new can chan potatoes.
Also found in these middens of the pre ceramic cultures of northern Peru have been the skins and remnants of the San Pedro cactus which grows abundantly in South America from Ecuador to Chile. It too plays and important role in traditional medicine by the shamans.  The Cusco area of Peru receives a number of young American and European tourists seeking spiritual cures or just a good high and they will visit a shaman. In addition they want to experience the power emanating from the Intihuatana Stone or other huacas that were and are important to the Inca and their predecessors. Spiritual experiences with a shaman centers around a brew or soup made from the San Pedro Cactus. It contains among other things a mescaline hallucinogen.  Traditional medicine has often been the source for genuine medical discovery and investigation. The San Pedro Cactus possesses a compound that inhibits growth and destroys a number of varieties of penicillin resistant staphylococcus.
A San Pedro Cactus next to the table where we dined in
Huanchaco, the beach city of Trujillo. It gets its name
because Saint Peter holds the keys to heaven and the 
extract of this cactus allows the shaman and his clientele
to visit heaven. 
Huaca al la Prieta is one of the earliest sites on the North Coast, dating to
about 3500 BCE. In the foreground is a field of sugar cane, not native to Peru. 
The site at El Brujo and la Prieta encompass 6,000 years of archaeological history from the earliest cultures of the area who initiated settlements through the conquest of the Chimor civilization by the Inca. It is a huge if not impossible challenge for scientists to piece together these bits of flotsam and jetsam of the past to construct the lives and activities of the former inhabitants. A written language seems to have been absent for long stretches of pre-Spanish Peru so we don't have readily accessed accounts of events in the lives of its former inhabitants. Quipu or Khipu is the very strange and complicated system of recording and conveying information. Cotton cords and knots along with alpaca wool and other fibers of varying colors were twisted into yarns and tied together in sequences that still escape the best efforts of linguists aided by complex computer programs to unravel their secrets.  Quipus were used by Andean peoples as early as these very first civilizations and found in Caral, about 3000 BCE, where we visited earlier this year. Quipu or knots tied in strings were also used by early Chinese chroniclers and other peoples as well. So far they have largely escaped decoding. A professor at Harvard, Gary Urton, is leading the effort to decode this strange record keeping medium. It is known as the Khipu Database Project. 
The knots and cords correspond to a binary system of numbers.
It is speculated that a sequence of knots and cords could be tied
together giving the number 84014, a zip code, which would mean
Centerville Utah, USA. 
Following this earliest culture who built La Prieta were the Moche. They were the first to incorporate urban construction around ceremonial centers, huacas and temples. An important component in the fabric of their religious life and society was human sacrifice.  A number of friezes have been uncovered being very well preserved showing captive after captive being lead to the place of sacrifice. Human bones found in areas adjacent to these huacas show signs of freshly broken bones that had begun to knit back together. Injuries consistent with armed combat and warfare. Skulls have been studied too with evidence of blunt force trauma, being bashed in with stone or metal club. From the friezes and studies by the archaeologists there seems to have been quite an elaborate ritual surrounding this ceremony of human sacrifice. It involved ritual or real combat in which the 'loser' or victim was a warrior who lost his hat or helmet in the combat. Imagine Max Hall, the despised former BYU QB playing at Utah. If someone knocked off his helmet instead of becoming a sacrificial victim the home team would be awarded an extra 10 points. It would have to be a one time in a game score as his head would be literally knocked off during the course of an entire game. His captured helmet could then be displayed in the trophy cabinet at the Huntsman Center.
Max Hall did have a cool helmet. Do the Coogs have better helmets than the Utes?
In Mochica society this unfortunate or fortunate victim, depending on whose perspective, would be treated royally and administered the San Pedro Cactus soup just prior to his ritualistic execution. Scientists have pieced together evidence from the friezes suggesting the victim would be bathed and given a drink of a hallucinogenic cactus. Today the shaman accompany their San Pedro cactus brew with tobacco smoking or a strong shot of tobacco and honey juice up the nose. Coca leaves were also part of the apothecary of ancient Peru. Remnants of coca plants have been found in these earliest sites through the Mochica period and to the Inca. By the time the sacrificial victim was lead or carried to the place of execution he was in a trance like and euphoric state. Whether he would be bopped on the head, have his throat cut or both, it was not clear from our guide. If his throat was cut his blood would be collected and presented to the chief Mochica sitting on his platform overseeing the entire ceremony. His body would be thrown over the side and tumble into a waiting grave area. A Peruvian archaeologist associated with a university in Lima, among others, has written about the role of sacrifice among the Moche. He observed: "The sacrifice of warriors seems to have had as its objective to choose candidates for the sacrifice among the most productive members of society. From the viewpoint of society, the sacrifice is the offering of one of its most valuable goods, while it shows unmistakably to all the state's right to exert violence and govern human life. The Mochica drawings seemingly tell us that the gods, represented by the warrior priests in the ceremonies, give life and therefore can take it away."
Sacrificial victims tied together on their way to execution. The genitals
 received special emphasis in the friezes suggesting their importance as
sacrificial victims in terms of their virility and strength. 
A fine line drawing taken from a Mochica ceramic pot. Naked victims
are being lead and carrying others to the stand where the chief sits
waiting to drink the blood of the victims.  Below the line are the dead
in the underworld. Note the ever present serpent.  This serpent was
recently unearthed along with carved stone birds in Southern Turkey
at a site known as Gobekle Tepe. That site is at least 11,000 years old.
A quick review of the cultures of the world on Wiki suggests human sacrifice was an integral part of nearly everyone's history. None seem to have been immune from it. This notion of pleasing the gods, insuring a successful harvest, bringing much needed rains, or the scapegoating of societies' shortcomings by attaching them to one or more victims of sacrifice was a common practice. From the witch trials of Salem Massachusetts, one could argue that human sacrifice is a thread in the tapestry of American history. This is a thread that lingers with us today, some would say, in state sanctioned executions, and assassinations of Muslim American US citizens living in the Middle East.
A painting of an examination of a witch from the Salem period. 
We continue to be fascinated by the history, the past, and the present of Peru. We make new friends and we experience life here a little differently. The things we see are troubling, the past is uncomfortable, and the present is often challenging.  We observe present day Peruvians and we see incredible persistence and perseverance in dealing with their obstacles in life.  We observe their faithfulness in pursuing their religious beliefs and dreams, whether it is coming to the Lima Temple, celebrating the groundbreaking of the Trujillo Temple or petitioning a Saint for intercession in one of the beautiful downtown cathedrals. I have found it comfortable to be in a Shinto Shrine of Japan or an Ottoman era Mosque of Istanbul. Likewise, it was a pleasant experience recently observing a midday Mass at the Church of Merced in Lima.
Church of the Merced built in the early 17th Century of 
imported granite from Panama. 
We add our prayers to those supplicants who seek redress, relief from pain, the privation, and the hardship of present day Peru. We love the people we have met and serve here for a time. We respect and appreciate their past, so rich in accomplishment and sacrifice.
The Huaca El Brujo or the shaman.  It is partially covered to protect recently
uncovered friezes from the sea air and scarce rains.  This huaca and others
was still being used by local shamans until near recent times for its power, 
both in healing and visionary potential. 

A frieze depicting the Mochica god Ayepec. Serpents seem to play and
important iconographic role associated with deities in the Americas. Note 
also the feline jaguar teeth. Both the serpent and the jaguar were important
symbols for the Inca a thousand years after the Moche people.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The LDS Temple in Trujillo Peru

Last weekend due to Women's Conference our Lima Temple was closed Saturday afternoon so we flew north, for less than a one hour flight, to Trujillo. We have been wanting to visit this part of Peru for some time. Prior or our leaving, and while making preparations in Utah for our mission, we were advised by several Peruvian friends to wait until the Trujillo Temple is done because the weather is better there and the food too. We found both to be the case. The food exceeded expectations and weather most pleasant. Its climate is referred to as being 'primavera eterna' or eternal spring. 
Currently a very ugly and tall red metal fence surrounds the Temple site.
ASPERSUD is the acronym of the legal name of the Church in Peru. 
Before the fence went up it was a farmer's field on what was originally the
Chimor city of Chan Chan. 
The architect's rendering of the Trujillo Temple. It is expected to be completed
in 2014. It will be a little larger than the Templo de Lima but with two
larger ordinance rooms rather than the smaller four room arrangement of Lima. 
In addition, there are some outstanding archaeological sites close by. In fact, the site of the Trujillo Temple and the surrounding businesses and development sits on the pre-Inca and Colombian site known as Chan Chan. Peru is a land of 10,000 temples and now there will be two Templos de Mormones.  We and our Peruvian member friends are all very happy.  Chan Chan is recognized as the largest of all Pre-Colombian cities in the Americas with a population ranging between 30,000 on the low end to as high as 60,000 by some accounts. Our very well educated guide believes that number to have been closer to 35,000.  According to the archaeological investigations,  it was common that areas of a city be devoted to a particular craft, skill or goods to be exchanged or sold.  That practice has carried through and is the norm in Peru today except where the modern shopping centers based on US designs have sprung up in recent years. Gamara is an example of that as is La Parada, where we have shopped respectively for clothes and fabrics, fresh fruits and vegetables. So much of Lima and the other cities are organized in this way with streets of specializing in one product or service. You can find a street with nothing but muffler and tailpipe shops. Another street will have exclusively furniture such as chairs, tables, and dressers. Not far from us in La Molina is a street with light fixtures and crystal chandeliers. The merchants seem to prefer this arrangement as it is carried on from their early history and we had this explained to us while touring the ruins of Chan Chan. Archaeologists have determined different parts of this very large city were dedicated to specific tasks, functions, and enterprise, as we find in modern day Lima, Trujillo and the other cities here.
Portions of Chan have been restored by archaeologists. Sifting through the
debris they have determined specific functions and activities in individual 
The rains brought by El Niño and the flooding of the river damaged 
much of the  adobe ruins of Chan Chan. 
Within Chan Chan are numerous religious sites known as huacas. These
are oriented and laid out like the streets of Salt Lake City and the orientation
of most Mormon Temples.  Brother Nibley wrote to the Brethren complaining
the Provo Temple was not oriented to the cardinal directions of the compass
when its foundations were being poured. 
Additionally, we visited several other sites close by to Trujillo from an earlier civilization known as the Moche or Mochica. They flourished in the northern regions of Peru from 100 CE to 800 CE. We have been impressed with the ceramics and art of this culture from our earlier visits to what has become our favorite museum in Lima, the Museo de Larco. The ceramics of the Mochica are the most lifelike and illustrate facial hair which does not seem to be as common in other portrayals among the indigenous of Peru. Their language too seems to have been unique and resists classification with other Amerindian types, but shares something in common with the Turkic and Altaic languages, that of using ablative suffixes. The Mochican language died out in its entirety early in the 20th Century. Perhaps it is not surprising that Asian DNA was discovered in bones from a tomb found in this area of Northern Peru. This DNA was identified that of the Ainu of Northern Japan, whose origins seem to be from present day Mongolia. The rise of sophisticated ceramics known as Valdivia in South America seems to correspond with the time period and style of Japanese pottery known as Jomon. I recall reading a Scientific American journal article in college about the likelihood of a Japanese settlement in present day Ecuador.
A very good example of Moche ceramic pot or vase.
Maybe it was used for storing and pouring chi cha the
fresh or fermented purple corn drink. The Mochica are
known for the very much life like features of their
ceramics. Pots like this were formed from two part molds,
a number of which have survived and are still used by
craftsmen to create replicas of which we bought one. 
We want to return to Trujillo and venture further north to Chiclayo where awaits the royal tomb of the Señor de Sipan or the Lord of Sipan. It remains the most valuable of any tomb discovered in the Americas.
A mannequin dressed in the gold finery found around
the mummy of the Lord of Sipan. 
With the new Trujillo Temple functioning so many members of the Church will no longer have to endure tedious and relatively expensive bus trips to Lima that take between 10 and 16 hours from the north of the country. A new hospedaje or housing building  is expected to be completed early next year on the Lima Temple grounds accommodating these weary and faithful travelers.
Exterior of the new hospedaje.
RA and the Presidente tour the apartments for the temple missionaries. 
There is more to write about our trip to Trujillo and the sites of El Brujo, Huaca del Sol y Luna but they must wait for another time. We continue to be fascinated with the history and people of this incredible land.