Gold Staff Finial, Zenu Culture

Gold Staff Finial, Zenu Culture

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Gold Staff Finial, Zenu Culture - History

The pre-Hispanic goldwork of Colombia is traditionally classified by archaeological zones, or regions, each with stylistic associations, varying in iconography and technology: Zenú (Sinú) and Tairona in northwestern Colombia Muisca in the central highlands southeast of Bogotá and in the southwest, Quimbaya, Calima, Tolima, and Nariño. The richly varied works were primarily objects of personal adornment. Pendants, headdress elements, pectorals, bracelets, anklets, and nose and ear ornaments probably functioned as ceremonial regalia for elite men. Sixteenth-century records and recent research indicate that Sinú gold objects derived from the Gran Zenú region, thus attributed to the Zenú people who occupied the region during the 16th century conquest and whose descendants occupy the east of the lower Sinú River today.

Zenú (Sinú) ornaments often feature delicate spirals, intricate line-work, and braided elements in cast filigree. Of the various types of gold objects associated with the Zenú culture, the best known are semi-circular openwork nose and ear ornaments and finials, often called staff heads after their presumed function. Birds are the dominant theme for the finials, and this appealing example embodies several characteristic features. It is decorated with an elaborate headdress of delicate spirals and braided gold filigree. The long beak of the bird ends in a downward curve the solid crest and beautiful openwork on the body suggest showy plumage. This finial features lost-wax casting, the use of a gold-copper alloy ("tumbaga"), and refined false-filigree decoration made by skillfully manipulating thin threads of wax. The image is flattened and bilaterally symmetrical for maximum decorative effect—craftsmen thus also cleverly adapted the natural forms of totemic creatures to the functional demands of the jewelry. Though it in unclear what type of bird is represented, the sharply hooked beak may indicate it is a bird of prey, likely an owl.

Bird ornaments are a common theme among the cultures of Intermediate Central America, depicting a variety of sizes and styles and representing a number of different bird species, though their exact meaning is unknown. Pendants and other objects of personal adornment were likely worn on ceremonial occasions, and similar pendants were still being worn at the beginning of the 16th century conquest. Bird imagery remained important to indigenous peoples of the region into the 20th century. For many peoples of the ancient Americas, birds were likely mythic figures, often considered intercessors between sky and land. Bird ornaments may have offered protection to the wearer, and when represented in gold, such as this example, they are doubly powerful.

Carol Robbins, "Bird-form finial (1976.W.438)," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection, ed. Suzanne Kotz (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1997), 180.

Bonnie Pitman, ed., "Ceremonial mask (1976.W.321)," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012), 33.

Bonnie Pitman, ed., "Headdress ornament with heads flanked by crested crocodiles (1976.W.319)," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012), 34.

Anne R. Bromberg, Dallas Museum of Art: Selected Works (Dallas, TX: Dallas Museum of Art, 1983), 45.

Carol Robbins, Label text [1976.W.298 1976.W.297 1976.W.292], A. H. Meadows Galleries.

Linguist Staff (Okyeamepoma) (Asante peoples)

This magnificent gold-covered staff was created to serve as an insignia of office for an okyeame, a high-ranking advisor to an Asante ruler. The position of okyeame encompasses a broad set of responsibilities, including mediation, judicial advocacy, political troubleshooting, and the preservation and interpretation of royal history. The okyeame’s most visible public role is as principal intermediary between the ruler and those who seek his counsel, leading to the popular characterization of his profession as being that of a linguist. Drawing upon vast knowledge and considerable oratorical and diplomatic skills, the okyeame eloquently engages in verbal discourse on behalf of the chief and his visitors. He relays the words of visitors to the king and transmits the king’s response, often with poetic or metaphorical embellishment.

Imagery on the finial of linguist staffs typically illustrates Asante proverbs about power and institutional responsibilities. Here, a spider on its web is flanked by two figures, representing the proverb: “No one goes to the house of the spider to teach it wisdom.” The spider is a fitting symbol for respect due to a person with great oratorical and diplomatic skills. In Ghana, Ananse the spider is the bringer of the wisdom of Nyame, the supreme creator god of the Asante, and is the originator of folk tales and proverbs. The staff is composed of a long wooden shaft carved in two interlocking sections and a separate finial attached to the base. It is covered entirely with gold foil, a material that alludes to the sun, and to the vital force or soul contained within all living things.

Although the institutional office of okyeame is believed to be centuries old, the use of figural wooden linguist staffs as insignia is probably a more recent development. Prior to the late nineteenth century, linguist staffs took the form of a simple cane, a tradition likely borrowed from European prototypes in the mid-seventeenth century. During the late nineteenth to early twentieth century, the British gave official staffs, often made with figural finials, to Akan chiefs who represented the colonial authorities. Since 1900, hundreds of figural linguist staffs have been carved not only for linguists but also for representatives of other institutions, such as associations of fishermen, carpenters, and musicians.

The Asante kingdom, part of the larger Akan culture, was formed around 1700 under the leadership of Osei Tutu. Osei Tutu brought together a confederation of states that had grown wealthy and powerful as a result of the area’s lucrative trade in gold, sold to both northern merchants across the Sahara and European navigators. The centralized system of government that emerged was a complex network of chiefs and court officials under a single paramount leader. A variety of gold regalia was used to distinguish rank and position within the court.


The story of Xenu is covered in OT III, part of Scientology's secret "Advanced Technology" doctrines taught only to advanced members who have undergone many hours of auditing and reached the state of Clear followed by Operating Thetan levels 1 and 2. [7] [12] It is described in more detail in the accompanying confidential "Assists" lecture of October 3, 1968, and is dramatized in Revolt in the Stars (a screen-story – in the form of a novel – written by L. Ron Hubbard in 1977). [7] [21]

Hubbard wrote that Xenu was the ruler of a Galactic Confederacy 75 million years ago, which consisted of 26 stars and 76 planets including Earth, which was then known as "Teegeeack". [5] [8] [22] The planets were overpopulated, containing an average population of 178 billion. [1] [4] [6] The Galactic Confederacy's civilization was comparable to our own, with aliens "walking around in clothes which looked very remarkably like the clothes they wear this very minute" and using cars, trains and boats looking exactly the same as those "circa 1950, 1960" on Earth. [23]

Xenu was about to be deposed from power, so he devised a plot to eliminate the excess population from his dominions. With the assistance of psychiatrists, he gathered billions [4] [5] of his citizens under the pretense of income tax inspections, then paralyzed them and froze them in a mixture of alcohol and glycol to capture their souls. The kidnapped populace was loaded into spacecraft for transport to the site of extermination, the planet of Teegeeack (Earth). [5] The appearance of these spacecraft would later be subconsciously expressed in the design of the Douglas DC-8, the only difference being "the DC8 had fans, propellers on it and the space plane didn't". [20] When they had reached Teegeeack, the paralyzed citizens were off-loaded, and placed around the bases of volcanoes across the planet. [5] [8] Hydrogen bombs were then lowered into the volcanoes and detonated simultaneously, [8] killing all but a few aliens. Hubbard described the scene in his film script, Revolt in the Stars:

'Simultaneously, the planted charges erupted. Atomic blasts ballooned from the craters of Loa, Vesuvius, Shasta, Washington, Fujiyama, Etna, and many, many others. Arching higher and higher, up and outwards, towering clouds mushroomed, shot through with flashes of flame, waste and fission. Great winds raced tumultuously across the face of Earth, spreading tales of destruction . '

The now-disembodied victims' souls, which Hubbard called thetans, were blown into the air by the blast. They were captured by Xenu's forces using an "electronic ribbon" ("which also was a type of standing wave") and sucked into "vacuum zones" around the world. The hundreds of billions [5] [24] of captured thetans were taken to a type of cinema, where they were forced to watch a "three-D, super colossal motion picture" for thirty-six days. This implanted what Hubbard termed "various misleading data"' (collectively termed the R6 implant) into the memories of the hapless thetans, "which has to do with God, the Devil, space opera, etcetera". This included all world religions Hubbard specifically attributed Roman Catholicism and the image of the Crucifixion to the influence of Xenu. The two "implant stations" cited by Hubbard were said to have been located on Hawaii and Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. [25]

In addition to implanting new beliefs in the thetans, the images deprived them of their sense of personal identity. When the thetans left the projection areas, they started to cluster together in groups of a few thousand, having lost the ability to differentiate between each other. Each cluster of thetans gathered into one of the few remaining bodies that survived the explosion. These became what are known as body thetans, which are said to be still clinging to and adversely affecting everyone except Scientologists who have performed the necessary steps to remove them. [8]

A government faction known as the Loyal Officers finally overthrew Xenu and his renegades, and locked him away in "an electronic mountain trap" from which he has not escaped. [14] [22] [26] Although the location of Xenu is sometimes said to be the Pyrenees on Earth, this is actually the location Hubbard gave elsewhere for an ancient "Martian report station". [27] [28] Teegeeack was subsequently abandoned by the Galactic Confederacy and remains a pariah "prison planet" to this day, although it has suffered repeatedly from incursions by alien "Invader Forces" since that time. [5] [29] [30]

In 1988, the cost of learning these secrets from the Church of Scientology was £3,830, or US$6,500. [10] [31] This is in addition to the cost of the prior courses which are necessary to be eligible for OT III, which is often well over US$100,000 (roughly £77,000). [14] Belief in Xenu and body thetans is a requirement for a Scientologist to progress further along the Bridge to Total Freedom. [32] Those who do not experience the benefits of the OT III course are expected to take it and pay for it again. [26]

Within Scientology, the Xenu story is referred to as "The Wall of Fire" or "Incident II". [7] [8] Hubbard attached tremendous importance to it, saying that it constituted "the secrets of a disaster which resulted in the decay of life as we know it in this sector of the galaxy". [33] The broad outlines of the story—that 75 million years ago a great catastrophe happened in this sector of the galaxy which caused profoundly negative effects for everyone since then—are told to lower-level Scientologists but the details are kept strictly confidential, within Scientology.

The OT III document asserts that Hubbard entered the Wall of Fire but emerged alive ("probably the only one ever to do so in 75,000,000 years"). [25] He first publicly announced his "breakthrough" in Ron's Journal 67 (RJ67), a taped lecture recorded on September 20, 1967, to be sent to all Scientologists. [20] According to Hubbard, his research was achieved at the cost of a broken back, knee, and arm. OT III contains a warning that the R6 implant is "calculated to kill (by pneumonia etc.) anyone who attempts to solve it". [10] [25] Hubbard claimed that his "tech development"—i.e. his OT materials—had neutralized this threat, creating a safe path to redemption. [8] [9]

The Church of Scientology forbids individuals from reading the OT III Xenu cosmogony without first having taken prerequisite courses. [34] Scientologists warn that reading the Xenu story without proper authorization could cause pneumonia. [34] [35]

In RJ67, [20] Hubbard alludes to the devastating effect of Xenu's purported genocide:

And it is very true that a great catastrophe occurred on this planet and in the other 75 planets which formed this [Galactic] Confederacy 75 million years ago. It has since that time been a desert, and it has been the lot of just a handful to try to push its technology up to a level where someone might adventure forward, penetrate the catastrophe, and undo it. We're well on our way to making this occur.

OT III also deals with Incident I, set four quadrillion [36] years ago. In Incident I, the unsuspecting thetan was subjected to a loud snapping noise followed by a flood of luminescence, then saw a chariot followed by a trumpeting cherub. After a loud set of snaps, the thetan was overwhelmed by darkness. It is described that these traumatic memories alone separate thetans from their static (natural, godlike) state.

Hubbard uses the existence of body thetans to explain many of the physical and mental ailments of humanity which, he says, prevent people from achieving their highest spiritual levels. [8] OT III tells the Scientologist to locate body thetans and release them from the effects of Incidents I and II. [8] This is accomplished in solo auditing, where the Scientologist holds both cans of an E-meter in one hand and asks questions as an auditor. The Scientologist is directed to find a cluster of body thetans, address it telepathically as a cluster, and take first the cluster, then each individual member, through Incident II, then Incident I if needed. [8] Hubbard warns that this is a painstaking procedure, and that OT levels IV to VII are necessary to continue dealing with one's body thetans.

The Church of Scientology has objected to the Xenu story being used to paint Scientology as science fiction fantasy [37] (see Space opera in Scientology). Hubbard's statements concerning the R6 implant have been a source of contention. Critics and some Christians state that Hubbard's statements regarding R6 prove that Scientology doctrine is incompatible with Christianity, [38] [39] despite the Church's statements to the contrary. [40] In "Assists", Hubbard says: [23]

Everyman is then shown to have been crucified so don't think that it's an accident that this crucifixion, they found out that this applied. Somebody somewhere on this planet, back about 600 BC, found some pieces of R6, and I don't know how they found it, either by watching madmen or something, but since that time they have used it and it became what is known as Christianity. The man on the Cross. There was no Christ. But the man on the cross is shown as Everyman.

Hubbard wrote OT III in late 1966 and early 1967 in North Africa while on his way to Las Palmas to join the Enchanter, the first vessel of his private Scientology fleet (the "Sea Org"). [33] (OT III says "In December 1967 I knew someone had to take the plunge", but the material was publicized well before this.) He emphasized later that OT III was his own personal discovery.

Critics of Scientology have suggested that other factors may have been at work. In a letter of the time to his wife Mary Sue, [41] Hubbard said that, in order to assist his research, he was drinking alcohol and taking stimulants and depressants ("I'm drinking lots of rum and popping pinks and greys"). His assistant at the time, Virginia Downsborough, said that she had to wean him off the diet of drugs to which he had become accustomed. [42] Russell Miller posits in Bare-faced Messiah that it was important for Hubbard to be found in a debilitated condition, so as to present OT III as "a research accomplishment of immense magnitude". [43]

Elements of the Xenu story appeared in Scientology before OT III. Hubbard's descriptions of extraterrestrial conflicts were put forward as early as 1950 in his book Have You Lived Before This Life?, and were enthusiastically endorsed by Scientologists who documented their past lives on other planets. [5]

The 1968 and subsequent reprints of Dianetics have had covers depicting an exploding volcano, which is reportedly a reference to OT III. [7] [25] In a 1968 lecture, and in instructions to his marketing staff, Hubbard explained that these images would "key in" the submerged memories of Incident II and impel people to buy the books. [23] [44]

A special 'Book Mission' was sent out to promote these books, now empowered and made irresistible by the addition of these overwhelming symbols or images. Organization staff were assured that if they simply held up one of the books, revealing its cover, that any bookstore owner would immediately order crateloads of them. A customs officer, seeing any of the book covers in one's luggage, would immediately pass one on through.

Since the 1980s, the volcano has also been depicted in television commercials advertising Dianetics. Scientology's "Sea Org", an elite group within the church that originated with Hubbard's personal staff aboard his fleet of ships, takes many of its symbols from the story of Xenu and OT III. It is explicitly intended to be a revival of the "Loyal Officers" who overthrew Xenu. Its logo, a wreath with 26 leaves, represents the 26 stars of Xenu's Galactic Confederacy. [46] According to an official Scientology dictionary, "the Sea Org symbol, adopted and used as the symbol of a Galactic Confederacy far back in the history of this sector, derives much of its power and authority from that association". [47]

In the Advanced Orgs in Edinburgh and Los Angeles, Scientology staff were at one time ordered to wear all-white uniforms with silver boots, to mimic Xenu's Galactic Patrol as depicted on the cover of Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science. This was reportedly done on the basis of Hubbard's declaration in his Flag Order 652 that mankind would accept regulation from that group which had last betrayed it—hence the imitation of Xenu's henchmen. In Los Angeles, a nightwatch was ordered to watch for returning spaceships. [48]

The name has been spelled both as Xenu and Xemu. [49] The Class VIII course material includes a three-page text, handwritten by Hubbard, headed "Data", in which the Xenu story is given in detail. Hubbard's indistinct handwriting makes either spelling possible, [49] particularly as the use of the name on the first page of OT III is the only known example of the name in his handwriting. In the "Assists" lecture, Hubbard speaks of "Xenu, ahhh, could be spelled X-E-M-U" and clearly says "Xemu" several times on the recording. [23] The treatment of Revolt in the Stars—which is typewritten—uses Xenu exclusively. [50]

It has been speculated that the name derives from Xemnu, an extraterrestrial comic book villain who first appeared in the story "I Was a Slave of the Living Hulk!" in Journey into Mystery #62 (November 1960). He was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Xemnu is a giant, hairy intergalactic criminal who escaped a prison planet, traveled to Earth, and hypnotized the entire human population. Upon Xemnu's defeat by electrician Joe Harper, Xemnu is imprisoned in a state of continual electric shock in orbit around the Sun, and humanity is left with no memory of Xemnu's existence. [51] [52]

In its public statements, the Church of Scientology has been reluctant to allow any mention of Xenu. A passing mention by a trial judge in 1997 prompted the Church's lawyers to have the ruling sealed, although this was reversed. [53] In the relatively few instances in which it has acknowledged Xenu, Scientology has stated the story's true meaning can only be understood after years of study. They complain of critics using it to paint the religion as a science-fiction fantasy. [37]

Senior members of the Church of Scientology have several times publicly denied or minimized the importance of the Xenu story, but others have affirmed its existence. In 1995, Scientology lawyer Earl Cooley hinted at the importance of Xenu in Scientology doctrine by stating that "thousands of articles are written about Coca-Cola, and they don't print the formula for Coca-Cola". [54] Scientology has many graduated levels through which one can progress. Many who remain at lower levels in the church are unaware of much of the Xenu story which is first revealed on Operating Thetan level three, or "OT III". [25] [55] Because the information imparted to members is to be kept secret from others who have not attained that level, the member must publicly deny its existence when asked. OT III recipients must sign an agreement promising never to reveal its contents before they are given the manila envelope containing the Xenu knowledge. [55] [56] Its knowledge is so dangerous, members are told, that anyone learning this material before they are ready could become afflicted with pneumonia. [34]

Religious Technology Center director Warren McShane testified in a 1995 court case that the Church of Scientology receives a significant amount of its revenue from fixed donations paid by Scientologists to study the OT materials. [57] McShane said that Hubbard's work "may seem weird" to those that have not yet completed the prior levels of coursework in Scientology. [57] McShane said the story had never been secret, although maintaining there were nevertheless trade secrets contained in OT III. McShane discussed the details of the story at some length and specifically attributed the authorship of the story to Hubbard. [58]

When John Carmichael, the president of the Church of Scientology of New York, was asked about the Xenu story, he said, as reported in the September 9, 2007, edition of The Daily Telegraph: "That's not what we believe". [59] When asked directly about the Xenu story by Ted Koppel on ABC's Nightline, Scientology leader David Miscavige said that he was taking things Hubbard said out of context. [20] However, in a 2006 interview with Rolling Stone, Mike Rinder, the director of the church's Office of Special Affairs, said that "It is not a story, it is an auditing level", when asked about the validity of the Xenu story. [56]

In a BBC Panorama programme that aired on May 14, 2007, senior Scientologist Tommy Davis interrupted when celebrity members were asked about Xenu, saying: "None of us know what you're talking about. It's loony. It's weird." [60] In March 2009, Davis was interviewed by investigative journalist Nathan Baca for KESQ-TV and was again asked about the OT III texts. [61] Davis told Baca "I'm familiar with the material", and called it "the confidential scriptures of the Church". [61] In an interview on ABC News Nightline, October 23, 2009, [62] Davis walked off the set when Martin Bashir asked him about Xenu. He told Bashir, "Martin, I am not going to discuss the disgusting perversions of Scientology beliefs that can be found now commonly on the internet and be put in the position of talking about things, talking about things that are so fundamentally offensive to Scientologists to discuss. . It is in violation of my religious beliefs to talk about them." When Bashir repeated a question about Xenu, Davis pulled off his microphone and left the set. [62]

In November 2009 the Church of Scientology's representative in New Zealand, Mike Ferris, was asked in a radio interview about Xenu. [63] The radio host asked, "So what you're saying is, Xenu is a part of the religion, but something that you don't want to talk about". Ferris responded, "Sure". [63] Ferris acknowledged that Xenu "is part of the esoterica of Scientology". [64]

Despite the Church of Scientology's efforts to keep the story secret, details have been leaked over the years. OT III was first revealed in Robert Kaufman's 1972 book Inside Scientology, in which Kaufman detailed his own experiences of OT III. [65] It was later described in a 1981 Clearwater Sun article, [66] and came to greater public fame in a 1985 court case brought against Scientology by Lawrence Wollersheim. The church failed to have the documents sealed [10] and attempted to keep the case file checked out by a reader at all times, but the story was summarized in the Los Angeles Times [67] and detailed in William Poundstone's Bigger Secrets (1986) from information presented in the Wollersheim case. [68] In 1987, a book by L. Ron Hubbard Jr., L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman? quoted the first page of OT III and summarized the rest of its content. [25]

Since then, news media have mentioned Xenu in coverage of Scientology or its celebrity proponents such as Tom Cruise. [69] [70] [71] In 1987, the BBC's investigative news series Panorama aired a report titled "The Road to Total Freedom?" which featured an outline of the OT III story in cartoon form. [72]

On December 24, 1994, the Xenu story was published on the Internet for the first time in a posting to the Usenet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology, through an anonymous remailer. [73] This led to an online battle between Church of Scientology lawyers and detractors. Older versions of OT levels I to VII were brought as exhibits attached to a declaration by Steven Fishman on April 9, 1993, as part of Church of Scientology International v. Fishman and Geertz. The text of this declaration and its exhibits, collectively known as the Fishman Affidavit, were posted to the Internet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology in August 1995 by Arnie Lerma and on the World Wide Web by David S. Touretzky. This was a subject of great controversy and legal battles for several years. There was a copyright raid on Lerma's house (leading to massive mirroring of the documents) [74] [75] and a suit against Dutch writer Karin Spaink—the Church bringing suit on copyright violation grounds for reproducing the source material, and also claiming rewordings would reveal a trade secret.

The Church of Scientology's attempts to keep Xenu secret have been cited in court findings against it. In September 2003, a Dutch court, in a ruling in the case against Karin Spaink, stated that one objective in keeping OT II and OT III secret was to wield power over members of the Church of Scientology and prevent discussion about its teachings and practices: [76]

Despite his claims that premature revelation of the OT III story was lethal, L. Ron Hubbard wrote a screenplay version under the title Revolt in the Stars in the 1970s. [17] This revealed that Xenu had been assisted by beings named Chi ("the Galactic Minister of Police") and Chu ("the Executive President of the Galactic Interplanetary Bank"). [77] It has not been officially published, although the treatment was circulated around Hollywood in the early 1980s. [78] Unofficial copies of the screenplay circulate on the Internet. [79] [80] [81]

On March 10, 2001, a user posted the text of OT3 to the online community Slashdot. The site owners took down the comment after the Church of Scientology issued a legal notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. [82] [83] Critics of the Church of Scientology have used public protests to spread the Xenu secret. [84] This has included creating web sites with "xenu" in the domain name, [85] [86] and displaying the name Xenu on banners [87] and protest signs. [84]

Versions of the Xenu story have appeared in both television shows and stage productions. The Off-Broadway satirical musical A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant, first staged in 2003 and winner of an Obie Award in 2004, featured children in alien costumes telling the story of Xenu. [88]

The Xenu story was also satirized in a November 2005 episode of the Comedy Central animated television series South Park titled "Trapped in the Closet". The Emmy-nominated episode, which also lampooned Scientologists Tom Cruise and John Travolta as closeted homosexuals, depicted Xenu as a vaguely humanoid alien with tentacles for arms, in a sequence that had the words "This Is What Scientologists Actually Believe" superimposed on screen. [89] The episode became the subject of controversy when musician Isaac Hayes, the voice of the character "Chef" and a Scientologist, quit the show in March 2006, just prior to the episode's first scheduled re-screening, citing South Park ' s "inappropriate ridicule" of his religion. [90] Hayes' statement did not mention the episode in particular, but expressed his view that the show's habit of parodying religion was part of a "growing insensitivity toward personal spiritual beliefs" in the media that was also reflected in the Muhammad cartoons controversy: "There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins." [91] [92] Responding to Hayes' statement, South Park co-creator Matt Stone said his resignation had "nothing to do with intolerance and bigotry and everything to do with the fact that Isaac Hayes is a Scientologist and that we recently featured Scientology in an episode of South Park . In 10 years and over 150 episodes of South Park, Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons and Jews. He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show. Of course we will release Isaac from his contract and we wish him well." [93] Comedy Central cancelled the repeat at short notice, choosing instead to screen two episodes featuring Hayes. A spokesman said that "in light of the events of earlier this week, we wanted to give Chef an appropriate tribute by airing two episodes he is most known for." [90] It did eventually rebroadcast the episode on July 19, 2006. [89] [94] Stone and South Park co-creator Trey Parker felt that Comedy Central's owners Viacom had cancelled the repeat because of the upcoming release of the Tom Cruise film Mission: Impossible III by Paramount, another Viacom company: "I only know what we were told, that people involved with MI3 wanted the episode off the air and that is why Comedy Central had to do it. I don't know why else it would have been pulled." [95]

Writing in the book Scientology published by Oxford University Press, contributor Mikael Rothstein observes that, "To my knowledge no real analysis of Scientology's Xenu myth has appeared in scholarly publications. The most sober and enlightening text about the Xenu myth is probably the article on Wikipedia (English version) and, even if brief, Andreas Grünschloss's piece on Scientology in Lewis (2000: 266–268)." [11] Rothstein places the Xenu text by L. Ron Hubbard within the context of a creation myth within the Scientology methodology, and characterizes it as "one of Scientology's more important religious narratives, the text that apparently constitutes the basic (sometimes implicit) mythology of the movement, the Xenu myth, which is basically a story of the origin of man on Earth and the human condition." [11] Rothstein describes the phenomenon within a belief system inspired by science fiction, and notes that the "myth about Xenu, . in the shape of a science fiction-inspired anthropogony, explains the basic Scientological claims about the human condition." [11]

Andreas Grünschloß analyzes the Xenu text in The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements, within the context of a discussion on UFO religions. [17] He characterizes the text as "Scientology's secret mythology (contained especially in the OT III teachings)". [17] Grünschloß points out that L. Ron Hubbard, "also wrote a science fiction story called Revolt in the Stars, where he displays this otherwise arcane story about the ancient ruler Xenu in the form of an ordinary science fiction novel". [17] Grünschloß posits, "because of the connections between several motifs in Hubbard's novels and specific Scientology teachings, one might perceive Scientology as one of the rare instances where science fiction (or fantasy literature generally) is related to the successful formation of a new spiritual movement." [17] Comparing the fusion between the two genres of Hubbard's science fiction writing and Scientology creation myth, Grünschloß writes, "Although the science fiction novels are of a different genre than other 'techno-logical' disclosures of Hubbard, they are highly appreciated by participants, and Hubbard's literary output in this realm (including the latest movie, Battlefield Earth) is also well promoted by the organization." [17] Writing in the book UFO Religions edited by Christopher Partridge, Grünschloß observes, "the enthusiasm for ufology and science fiction was cultivated in the formative phase of Scientology. Indeed, even the highly arcane story of the intergalactic ruler Xenu . is related by Hubbard in the style of a simple science fiction novel". [16]

Several authors have pointed out structural similarities between the Xenu story and the mythology of gnosticism. James A. Herrick, writing about the Xenu text in The Making of the New Spirituality: The Eclipse of the Western Religious Tradition, notes that "Hubbard's gnostic leanings are evident in his account of human origins . In Hubbard, ideas first expressed in science fiction are seamlessly transformed into a worldwide religion with affinities to gnosticism." [18] Mary Farrell Bednarowski, writing in America's Alternative Religions, similarly states that the outline of the Xenu mythology is "not totally unfamiliar to the historian acquainted with ancient gnosticism", noting that many other religious traditions have the practice of reserving certain texts to high-level initiates. [19] Nevertheless, she writes, the Xenu story arouses suspicion in the public about Scientology and adds fuel to "the claims that Hubbard's system is the product of his creativity as a science fiction writer rather than a theologian." [19]

Authors Michael McDowell and Nathan Robert Brown discuss misconceptions about the Xenu text in their book World Religions at Your Fingertips, and observe, "Probably the most controversial, misunderstood, and frequently misrepresented part of the Scientology religion has to do with a Scientology myth commonly referred to as the Legend of Xenu. While this story has now been undoubtedly proven a part of the religion (despite the fact that church representatives often deny its existence), the story's true role in Scientology is often misrepresented by its critics as proof that they 'believe in alien parasites.' While the story may indeed seem odd, this is simply not the case." [96] The authors write that "The story is actually meant to be a working myth, illustrating the Scientology belief that humans were at one time spiritual beings, existing on infinite levels of intergalactic and interdimensional realities. At some point, the beings that we once were became trapped in physical reality (where we remain to this day). This is supposed to be the underlying message of the Xenu story, not that humans are "possessed by aliens". [96] McDowell and Brown conclude that these inappropriate misconceptions about the Xenu text have had a negative impact, "Such harsh statements are the reason many Scientologists now become passionately offended at even the mention of Xenu by nonmembers." [96]

Free speech lawyer Mike Godwin analyzes actions by the Scientology organization to protect and keep secret the Xenu text, within a discussion in his book Cyber Rights about the application of trade secret law on the Internet. [97] Godwin explains, "trade secret law protects the information itself, not merely its particular expression. Trade secret law, unlike copyright, can protect ideas and facts directly." [97] He puts forth the question, "But did the material really qualify as 'trade secrets'? Among the material the church has been trying to suppress is what might be called a 'genesis myth of Scientology': a story about a galactic despot named Xenu who decided 75 million years ago to kill a bunch of people by chaining them to volcanoes and dropping nuclear bombs on them." [97] Godwin asks, "Does a 'church' normally have 'competitors' in the trade secret sense? If the Catholics got hold of the full facts about Xenu, does this mean they'll get more market share?" [97] He comments on the ability of the Scientology organization to utilize such laws in order to contain its secret texts, "It seems likely, given what we know about the case now, that even a combination of copyright and trade secret law wouldn't accomplish what the church would like to accomplish: the total suppression of any dissemination of church documents or doctrines." [97] The author concludes, "But the fact that the church was unlikely to gain any complete legal victories in its cases didn't mean that they wouldn't litigate. It's indisputable that the mere threat of litigation, or the costs of actual litigation, may accomplish what the legal theories alone do not: the effective silencing of many critics of the church." [97]


The Was and other types of staves were signs of authority in Ancient Egypt. For this reason they are often described as "sceptres", even if they are full-length staffs. One of the earliest royal sceptres was discovered in the 2nd Dynasty tomb of Khasekhemwy in Abydos. Kings were also known to carry a staff, and Pharaoh Anedjib is shown on stone vessels carrying a so-called mks-staff. The staff with the longest history seems [ clarification needed ] to be the heqa-sceptre (the "shepherd's crook").

The sceptre also assumed a central role in the Mesopotamian world, and was in most cases part of the royal insignia of sovereigns and gods. This is valid throughout the whole Mesopotamian history, as illustrated by both literary and administrative texts and iconography. The Mesopotamian sceptre was mostly called ĝidru in Sumerian and ḫaṭṭum in Akkadian. [1]

The ancient Tamil work of Tirukkural dedicates one chapter each to the ethics of the sceptre. According to Valluvar, "it was not his spear but the sceptre which bound a king to his people." [2]

Among the early Greeks, the sceptre (Ancient Greek: σκῆπτρον , skeptron, "staff, stick, baton") was a long staff, such as Agamemnon wielded (Iliad, i) or was used by respected elders (Iliad, xviii. 46 Herodotus 1. 196), and came to be used by judges, military leaders, priests, and others in authority. It is represented on painted vases as a long staff tipped with a metal ornament. When the sceptre is borne by Zeus or Hades, it is headed by a bird. It was this symbol of Zeus, the king of the gods and ruler of Olympus, that gave their inviolable status to the kerykes, the heralds, who were thus protected by the precursor of modern diplomatic immunity. When, in the Iliad, Agamemnon sends Odysseus to the leaders of the Achaeans, he lends him his sceptre.

Among the Etruscans, sceptres of great magnificence were used by kings and upper orders of the priesthood. Many representations of such sceptres occur on the walls of the painted tombs of Etruria. The British Museum, the Vatican, and the Louvre possess Etruscan sceptres of gold, most elaborately and minutely ornamented.

The Roman sceptre probably derived from the Etruscan. Under the Republic, an ivory sceptre (sceptrum eburneum) was a mark of consular rank. It was also used by victorious generals who received the title of imperator, and its use as a symbol of delegated authority to legates apparently was revived in the marshal's baton.

In the First Persian Empire, the Biblical Book of Esther mentions the sceptre of the King of Persia. Esther 5:2 "When the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. So Esther came near, and touched the top of the scepter."

Under the Roman Empire, the sceptrum Augusti was specially used by the emperors, and was often of ivory tipped with a golden eagle. It is frequently shown on medallions of the later empire, which have on the obverse a half-length figure of the emperor, holding in one hand the sceptrum Augusti, and in the other the orb surmounted by a small figure of Victory.

The codes of the right and the cruel sceptre are found in the ancient Tamil work of Tirukkural, dating back to the first century BCE. In Chapters 55 and 56, the text deals with the right and the cruel sceptre, respectively, furthering the thought on the ethical behaviour of the ruler discussed in many of the preceding and the following chapters. [3] [4] The ancient treatise says it was not the king's spear but the sceptre that bound him to his people—and to the extent that he guarded them, his own good rule would guard him. [2]


From approximately 12,000 years BP onwards, hunter-gatherer societies existed near present-day Bogotá (at El Abra and Tequendama), and they traded with one another and with cultures living in the Magdalena River valley. Due to its location, the present territory of Colombia was a corridor of early human migration from Mesoamerica and the Caribbean to the Andes and the Amazon basin. The oldest archaeological finds are from the Pubenza archaeological site and El Totumo archaeological site in the Magdalena Valley 100 kilometres (62 mi) southwest of Bogotá. [1] These sites date from the Paleoindian period (18,000–8000 BCE). At Puerto Hormiga archaeological site and other sites, traces from the Archaic period in South America (

8000–2000 BCE) have been found. Vestiges indicate that there was also early occupation in the regions of El Abra, Tibitó and Tequendama in Cundinamarca. The oldest pottery discovered in the Americas, found at San Jacinto archaeological site, dates to 5000–4000 BCE. [2] Indigenous people inhabited the territory that is now Colombia by 10,500 BCE. Nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes at the El Abra and Tequendama sites near present-day Bogotá traded with one another and with other cultures from the Magdalena River Valley. [3]

Serranía La Lindosa, a mountainous region of Guaviare Department is known for an extensive prehistoric rock art site which stretches for nearly eight miles. The site, near to the Guayabero River was discovered in 2019, but was not revealed to the public until 2020. There are tens of thousands of paintings of animals and humans created up to 12,500 BP. Images of now-extinct ice age animals, such as the mastodon, helped date the site. Other ice-age animals depicted include the palaeolama, giant sloths and ice age horses. The site has gone undiscovered because of an conflict between the government and the Farc. The remote site is a two-hour drive from San José del Guaviare, followed by a four hour trek. The site was discovered by a team from National University of Colombia, University of Antioquia and the University of Exeter as part of a project funded by European Research Council as part of the Horizon 2020 Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development. The site is to be featured in episode 2 of the Channel 4 series, Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon, on 12 December 2020. [4] [5]

Between 5000 and 1000 BCE, hunter-gatherer tribes transitioned to agrarian societies fixed settlements were established, and pottery appeared. Beginning in the 1st millennium BCE, groups of Amerindians including the Muisca, Quimbaya, Tairona, Calima, Zenú, Tierradentro, San Agustín, Tolima, and Urabá became skilled in farming, mining, and metalcraft and some developed the political system of cacicazgos with a pyramidal structure of power headed by caciques. The Muisca inhabited mainly the area of what is now the Departments of Boyacá and Cundinamarca high plateau (Altiplano Cundiboyacense) where they formed the Muisca Confederation. The Muisca had one of the most developed political systems (Muisca Confederation) in South America, surpassed only by the Incas. [6] They farmed maize, potato, quinoa and cotton, and traded gold, emeralds, blankets, ceramic handicrafts, coca and especially salt with neighboring nations. The Tairona inhabited northern Colombia in the isolated Andes mountain range of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. [7] The Quimbaya inhabited regions of the Cauca River Valley between the Western and Central Ranges. [8] The Incas expanded their empire on the southwest part of the country. [9]

The zipa used to cover his body in gold and, from his Muisca raft, he offered treasures to the Guatavita goddess in the middle of the sacred lake. This old Muisca tradition became the origin of the El Dorado legend.

A lowland Zenú cast-gold bird ornament that served as a staff head, dated 490 CE. This culture used alloys with a high gold content. The crest of the bird consists of the typical Zenú semi-filigree. Regular filigree is braided wire, but the Zenú cast theirs.

Golden statuette of a Quimbaya cacique.

San Agustín Archaeological Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site), contains the largest collection of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in Latin America [10] and is considered the world's largest necropolis.

Ciudad Perdida is a major settlement believed to have been founded around 800 CE. It consists of a series of 169 terraces carved into the mountainside, a net of tiled roads and several small circular plazas. The entrance can only be accessed by a climb up some 1,200 stone steps through dense jungle. [11]

El Infiernito, a pre-Columbian archaeoastronomical site located on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense in the outskirts of Villa de Leyva

Pre-Columbian history Edit

Europeans first visited the territory that became Colombia in 1499 when the first expedition of Alonso de Ojeda arrived at the Cabo de la Vela. The Spanish made several attempts to settle along the north coast of today's Colombia in the early 16th century, but their first permanent settlement, at Santa Marta, dates from 1525. The Spanish commander Pedro de Heredia founded Cartagena on June 1, 1533 in the former location of the indigenous Caribbean Calamarí village. Cartagena grew rapidly, fueled first by the gold in the tombs of the Sinú Culture, and later by trade. The thirst for gold and land lured Spanish explorers to visit Chibchan-speaking areas resulting in the Spanish conquest of the Chibchan Nations - the conquest by the Spanish monarchy of the Chibcha language-speaking nations, mainly the Muisca and Tairona who inhabited present-day Colombia, beginning the Spanish colonization of the Americas. [12]

The Spanish advance inland from the Caribbean coast began independently from three different directions, under Jimenéz de Quesáda, Sebastián de Benalcázar (known in Colombia as Belalcázar) and Nikolaus Federmann. Although all three were drawn by the Indian treasures, none intended to reach Muisca territory, where they finally met. [13] In August 1538, Quesáda founded Santa Fe de Bogotá on the site of Muisca village of Bacatá.

In 1549, the institution of the Spanish Royal Audiencia in Bogotá gave that city the status of capital of New Granada, which comprised in large part what is now the territory of Colombia. In 1717, the Viceroyalty of New Granada was originally created, and then it was temporarily removed, to finally be reestablished in 1739. The Viceroyalty had Santa Fé de Bogotá as its capital. This Viceroyalty included some other provinces of northwestern South America which had previously been under the jurisdiction of the Viceroyalties of New Spain or Peru and correspond mainly to today's Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama. So, Bogotá became one of the principal administrative centers of the Spanish possessions in the New World, along with Lima and Mexico City.

From then on, the long independence struggle was led mainly by Bolívar and Francisco de Paula Santander in neighboring Venezuela. Bolívar returned to New Granada only in 1819 after establishing himself as leader of the pro-independence forces in the Venezuelan llanos. From there he led an army over the Andes and captured New Granada after a quick campaign that ended at the Battle of Boyacá, on August 7, 1819. (For more information, see Military career of Simón Bolívar.)

That year, the Congress of Angostura established the Republic of Gran Colombia, which included all territories under the jurisdiction of the former Viceroyalty of New Granada. Bolívar was elected the first president of Gran Colombia [14] and Santander, vice president. [15]

As the Federation of Gran Colombia was dissolved in 1830, the Department of Cundinamarca (as established in Angostura) became a new country, the Republic of New Granada. [16]

In 1863 the name of the Republic was changed officially to "United States of Colombia", and in 1886 the country adopted its present name: "Republic of Colombia".

Two political parties grew out of conflicts between the followers of Bolívar and Santander and their political visions—the Conservatives and the Liberals – and have since dominated Colombian politics. Bolívar's supporters, who later formed the nucleus of the Conservative Party, sought strong centralized government, alliance with the Roman Catholic Church, and a limited franchise. Santander's followers, forerunners of the Liberals, wanted a decentralized government, state rather than church control over education and other civil matters, and a broadened suffrage.

Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, each party held the presidency for roughly equal periods of time. Colombia maintained a tradition of civilian government and regular, free elections. The military has seized power three times in Colombia's history: in 1830, after the dissolution of Great Colombia again in 1854 (by General José María Melo) and from 1953 to 1957 (under General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla). Civilian rule was restored within one year in the first two instances.

Not withstanding the country's commitment to democratic institutions, Colombia's history has also been characterized by widespread, violent conflict. Two civil wars resulted from bitter rivalry between the Conservative and Liberal parties. The Thousand Days' War (1899–1902) cost an estimated 100,000 lives, and up to 300,000 people died during "La Violencia" of the late 1940s and 1950s, a bipartisan confrontation which erupted after the assassination of Liberal popular candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán. United States activity to influence the area (especially the Panama Canal construction and control) led to a military uprising in the Isthmus Department in 1903, which resulted in the separation and independence of Panama.

A military coup in 1953 toppled the right-wing government of Conservative Laureano Gómez and brought General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla to power. Initially, Rojas enjoyed considerable popular support, due largely to his success in reducing "La Violencia". When he did not restore democratic rule and occasionally engaged in open repression, however, he was overthrown by the military in 1957 with the backing of both political parties, and a provisional government was installed.

In July 1957, former Conservative President Laureano Gómez (1950–1953) and former Liberal President Alberto Lleras (1945–1946, 1958–1962) issued the "Declaration of Sitges," in which they proposed a "National Front," whereby the Liberal and Conservative parties would govern jointly. The presidency would be determined by an alternating conservative and liberal president every 4 years for 16 years the two parties would have parity in all other elective offices.

The National Front ended "La Violencia", and National Front administrations attempted to institute far-reaching social and economic reforms in cooperation with the Alliance for Progress. In particular, the Liberal president Alberto Lleras Camargo (1958–1962) created the Colombian Institute for Agrarian Reform (INCORA), and Carlos Lleras Restrepo (1966–1970) further developed land entitlement. In 1968 and 1969 alone, the INCORA issued more than 60,000 land titles to farmers and workers.

In the end, the contradictions between each successive Liberal and Conservative administration made the results decidedly mixed. Despite the progress in certain sectors, many social and political injustices continued.

The National Front system itself eventually began to be seen as a form of political repression by dissidents and even many mainstream voters, and many protesters were victimized during this period. Especially after what was later confirmed [ citation needed ] as the fraudulent election of Conservative candidate Misael Pastrana in 1970, which resulted in the defeat of the relatively populist candidate and former president (dictator) Gustavo Rojas Pinilla. The M-19 guerrilla movement, "Movimiento 19 de Abril" (19 April Movement), would eventually be founded in part as a response to this particular event. The FARC was formed in 1964 by Manuel Marulanda Vélez and other Marxist–Leninist supporters, after a military attack on the community of Marquetalia.

Although the system established by the Sitges agreement was phased out by 1974, the 1886 Colombian constitution — in effect until 1991—required that the losing political party be given adequate and equitable participation in the government which, according to many observers and later analysis, eventually resulted in some increase in corruption and legal relaxation. The current 1991 constitution does not have that requirement, but subsequent administrations have tended to include members of opposition parties.

From 1974 until 1982, different presidential administrations chose to focus on ending the persistent insurgencies that sought to undermine Colombia's traditional political system. Both groups claimed to represent the poor and weak against the rich and powerful classes of the country, demanding the completion of true land and political reform, from an openly Communist perspective.

By 1974, another challenge to the state's authority and legitimacy had come from 19th of April Movement (M-19), a mostly urban guerrilla group founded in response to an alleged electoral fraud during the final National Front election of Misael Pastrana Borrero (1970–1974) and the defeat of former dictator Gustavo Rojas Pinilla. [17] Initially, the M-19 attracted a degree of attention and sympathy from mainstream Colombians that the FARC and National Liberation Army (ELN) had found largely elusive earlier due to extravagant and daring operations, such as stealing a sword that had belonged to Colombia's Independence hero Simon Bolívar. At the same time, its larger profile soon made it the focus of the state's counterinsurgency efforts.

The ELN guerrilla had been seriously crippled by military operations in the region of Anorí by 1974, but it managed to reconstitute itself and escape destruction, in part due to the administration of Alfonso López Michelsen (1974–1978) allowing it to escape encirclement, hoping to initiate a peace process with the group.

By 1982, the perceived passivity of the FARC, together with the relative success of the government's efforts against the M-19 and ELN, enabled the administration of the Liberal Party's Julio César Turbay (1978–1982) to lift a state-of-siege decree that had been in effect, on and off, for most of the previous 30 years. Under the latest such decree, president Turbay had implemented security policies that, though of some military value against the M-19 in particular, were considered highly questionable both inside and outside Colombian circles due to numerous accusations of military human rights abuses against suspects and captured guerrillas.

Citizen exhaustion due to the conflict's newfound intensity led to the election of president Belisario Betancur (1982–1986), a Conservative who won 47% of the popular vote, directed peace feelers at all the insurgents, and negotiated a 1984 cease-fire with the FARC and M-19 after a 1982 release of many guerrillas imprisoned during the previous effort to overpower them. The ELN rejected entering any negotiation and continued to recover itself through the use of extortions and threats, in particular against foreign oil companies of European and U.S. origin.

As these events were developing, the growing illegal drug trade and its consequences were also increasingly becoming a matter of widespread importance to all participants in the Colombian conflict. Guerrillas and newly wealthy drug lords had mutually uneven relations and thus numerous incidents occurred between them. Eventually, the kidnapping of drug cartel family members by guerrillas led to the creation of the 1981 Muerte a Secuestradores (MAS) death squad ("Death to Kidnappers"). Pressure from the U.S. government and critical sectors of Colombian society was met with further violence, as the Medellín Cartel and its hitmen, bribed or murdered numerous public officials, politicians and others who stood in its way by supporting the implementation of extradition of Colombian nationals to the U.S. Victims of cartel violence included Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara, whose assassination in 1984 made the Betancur administration begin to directly oppose the drug lords.

The first negotiated cease-fire with the M-19 ended when the guerrillas resumed fighting in 1985, claiming that the cease-fire had not been fully respected by official security forces, saying that several of its members had suffered threats and assaults, and also questioning the government's real willingness to implement any accords. The Betancur administration, in turn, questioned the M-19's actions and its commitment to the peace process, as it continued to advance high-profile negotiations with the FARC, which led to the creation of the Patriotic Union (Colombia) (UP), a legal and non-clandestine political organization.

On November 6, 1985, the M-19 stormed the Colombian Palace of Justice and held the Supreme Court magistrates hostage, intending to put president Betancur on trial. In the ensuing crossfire that followed the military's reaction, scores of people lost their lives, as did most of the guerrillas, including several high-ranking operatives. Both sides blamed each other for the outcome.

Meanwhile, individual FARC members initially joined the UP leadership in representation of the guerrilla command, though most of the guerrilla's chiefs and militiamen did not demobilize nor disarm, as that was not a requirement of the process at that point in time. Tension soon significantly increased, as both sides began to accuse each other of not respecting the cease-fire. Political violence against FARC and UP members (including presidential candidate Jaime Pardo) was blamed on drug lords and also on members of the security forces (to a much lesser degree on the argued inaction of Betancur administration). Members of the government and security authorities increasingly accused the FARC of continuing to recruit guerrillas, as well as kidnapping, extorting and politically intimidating voters even as the UP was already participating in politics.

The Virgilio Barco (1986–1990) administration, in addition to continuing to handle the difficulties of the complex negotiations with the guerrillas, also inherited a particularly chaotic confrontation against the drug lords, who were engaged in a campaign of terrorism and murder in response to government moves in favor of their extradition overseas. The UP also suffered an increasing number of losses during this term (including the assassination of presidential candidate Bernardo Jaramillo), which stemmed both from private proto-paramilitary organizations, increasingly powerful drug lords and a number of would-be paramilitary-sympathizers within the armed forces.

Following administrations had to contend with the guerrillas, paramilitaries, narcotics traffickers and the violence and corruption that they all perpetuated, both through force and negotiation. Narcoterrorists assassinated three presidential candidates before César Gaviria was elected in 1990. Since the death of Medellín cartel leader Pablo Escobar in a police shootout during December 1993, indiscriminate acts of violence associated with that organization have abated as the "cartels" have broken up into multiple, smaller and often-competing trafficking organizations. Nevertheless, violence continues as these drug organizations resort to violence as part of their operations but also to protest government policies, including extradition.

The M-19 and several smaller guerrilla groups were successfully incorporated into a peace process as the 1980s ended and the 1990s began, which culminated in the elections for a Constituent Assembly of Colombia that would write a new constitution, which took effect in 1991. The new Constitution, brought about a considerable number of institutional and legal reforms based on principles that the delegates considered as more modern, humanist, democratic and politically open than those in the 1886 constitution. Practical results were mixed and mingled emerged (such as the debate surrounding the constitutional prohibition of extradition, which later was reversed), but together with the reincorporation of some of the guerrilla groups to the legal political framework, the new Constitution inaugurated an era that was both a continuation and a gradual, but significant, departure from what had come before.

Political Life

Government. For almost sixteen hundred years, the nation was ruled by a monarchy with close ties to the Orthodox Church. In 1974, Haile Selassie, the last monarch, was overthrown by a communist military regime known as the Derge. In 1991, the Derge was deposed by the EPRDF (internally composed of the Tigrean People's Liberation Front, the Oromo People's Democratic Organization, and the Amhara National Democratic movement), which established a "democratic" government.

Ethiopia is currently an ethnic federation composed of eleven states that are largely ethnically based. This type of organization is intended to minimize ethnic strife. The highest official is the prime minister, and the president is a figurehead with no real power. The legislative branch consists of a bicameral legislation in which all people and ethnicities can be represented.

Ethiopia has not achieved political equality. The EPRDF is an extension of the military organization that deposed the former military dictatorship, and the government is controlled by the Tigrean People's Liberation Front. Since the government is ethnically and militarily based, it is plagued by all the problems of the previous regimes.

Leadership and Political Officials. Emperor Haile Selassie ruled from 1930 until 1974. During his lifetime, Selassie built massive infrastructure and created the first constitution (1931). Haile Selassie led Ethiopia to become the only African member of the League of Nations and was the first president of the Organization of African Unity, which is based in Addis Ababa. Micromanaging a nation caught up with the emperor in old age, and he was deposed by the communist Derge regime led by Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam. Mengistu assumed power as head of state after having his two predecessors killed. Ethiopia then became a totalitarian state financed by the Soviet Union and assisted by Cuba. Between 1977 and 1978, thousands of suspected Derge oppositionists were killed.

In May 1991, the EPRDF forcefully took Addis Ababa, forcing Mengistu into asylum in Zimbabwe. Leader of the EPRDF and current prime minister Meles Zenawi pledged to oversee the formation of a multiparty democracy. The election of a 547-member constituent assembly was held in June 1994, and the adoption of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia's constitution ensued. Elections for the national parliament and regional legislatures were held in May and June of 1995, although most opposition parties boycotted the elections. A landslide victory was achieved by the EPRDF.

The EPRDF, along with 50 other registered political parties (most of which are small and ethnically based), comprise Ethiopia's political parties. The EPRDF is dominated by the Tigrean People's Liberation Front (TPLF). Because of that, after independence

Social Problems and Control. Ethiopia is safer than the neighboring countries, particularly in urban areas. Ethnic issues play a role in political life, but this does not usually result in violence. Christians and Muslims live together peacefully.

Theft occurs infrequently in Addis Ababa and almost never involves weapons. Robbers tend to work in groups, and pickpocketing is the usual form of theft. Homelessness in the capital is a serious social problem, especially among the youth. Many street children resort to theft to feed themselves. Police officers usually apprehend thieves but rarely prosecute and often work with them, splitting the bounty.

Military Activity. The Ethiopian military is called the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) and is comprised of approximately 100,000 personnel, making it one of the largest military forces in Africa. During the Derge regime, troups numbered around one-quarter of a million. Since the early 1990s, when the Derge was overthrown, the ENDF has been in transition from a rebel force to a professional military organization trained in demining, humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, and military justice.

From June 1998 until the summer of 2000, Ethiopia was involved in the largest war on the African continent with its northern neighbor, Eritrea. The war was essentially a border conflict. Eritrea was occupying the towns of Badme and Zalambasa, which Ethiopia claimed was sovereign territory. The conflict can be traced to Emperor Menelik, who sold Eritrea to the Italians in the late nineteenth century.

Large-scale fighting occurred in 1998 and 1999 with no change in the combatants' positions. During the winter months, fighting was minimal because of the rains, which make it difficult to move armaments. In the summer of 2000, Ethiopia achieved large-scale victories and marched through the contested border area into Eritrean territory. After these victories, both nations signed a peace treaty, which called for United Nations peacekeeping troops to monitor the contested area and professional cartographers to demarcate the border. Ethiopian troops withdrew from undisputed Eritrean territory after the treaty was signed.

What’s Really Inside The Gold Ball On Top Of Military Flagpoles?

Picture this: International diplomacy fails, and the world spirals into war. Foreign armies invade America, dealing crushing blows, and you are the only person left to defend your base. Weapons are scant, but you need to keep Old Glory from falling into enemy hands. What do you do?

It’s simple. Scale the flagpole. At the top sits a little golden sphere — the finial ball. Inside is a razorblade, a match, and a bullet. You must use the razor blade to cut the stars and stripes from the flag, the match to burn the remains, and the bullet to defend the base or shoot yourself … depending on the circumstance.

At least, that’s what the legend says. And you’ll be hard pressed to find a service member who hasn’t heard that story.

The boring truth is that the finial ball is there for pole maintenance.

“Their purpose is to ornament solid flagpoles and keep water out of hollow ones,” according to Snopes. “A number of military flagpoles were at one time topped with gold-colored eagles, but these proved impractical because flags would become hopelessly entangled on them during high winds the switch to spheres eliminated this problem.”

Despite how logical that sounds, all kinds of rumors about the contents of the ball continue to swirl across the services.

Some say instead of a razor blade, there is a single grain of rice meant to give a soldier strength to burn the flag and take his or her own life. Others suggest there is a penny, so America will never truly be insolvent.

In truth, if you find yourself alone, overcome by foreign fighters on American soil, the odds of being able to perform this flag protection ritual are highly unlikely. And it’s probably worth noting that capturing the flag isn’t exactly how nations win wars.


Woodcarving includes stools, which are recognized as "seats" of power, and akua ba (wooden dolls) that are associated with fertility. There are also extensive traditions of pottery and weaving throughout Akan territory. Kente cloth, woven on behalf of royalty, has come to symbolize African power throughout the world.


Fante peoples, along with Asante, comprise two of the largest and best known ethnic groups that make up the Akan. Akan is a generic term used to refer to a large number of linguistically related peoples who live in southern Ghana and southeastern Côte d'Ivoire. The rise of the early Akan centralized states can be traced to the 13th century and is related to the opening of trade routes established to move gold throughout the region. It was not until the end of the 17th century, however, that the grand Asante Kingdom emerged in the central forest region of Ghana, when several small states united under the Chief of Kumasi in a move to achieve political freedom from the Denkyira. The Asante confederacy was dissolved by the British in 1900 and colonized in 1901. Although there is no longer a centralized Akan confederacy, Akan peoples maintain a powerful political and economic presence.


Early Akan economics revolved primarily around the trade of gold and enslaved peoples to Mande and Hausa traders within Africa and later to Europeans along the coast. This trade was dominated by the Asante who received firearms in return for their role as middlemen in the slave trade. These were used to increase their already dominant power. Various luxury goods were were also received and incorporated into Asante symbols of status and political office. Local agriculture includes cocoa cultivation for export, while yams and taro serve as the main staples. Fante, who live along the coast, rely heavily on fishing, both for local consumption and for trade with inland peoples. The depleted forests provide little opportunity for hunting. Extensive markets are run primarily by women who maintain considerable economic power, while men engage in fishing, hunting and clearing land. Both sexes participate in agricultural endeavors.

Political Systems

Each Fante family is responsible for maintaining political and social order within its confines. In the past, there was a hierarchy of leadership that extended beyond the family, first to the village headman, then to a territorial chief, then to the paramount chief of each division within the Asante confederacy. The highest level of power is reserved for the Asanthene who inherits his position along matrilineal lines. During the height of the Asante empire extensive tribute systems required Fante to contribute to the confederacy's coffers. The Asantahene still plays an important role in Ghana today, symbolically linking the past with current Ghanaian politics.


Akan believe in a supreme god who takes on various names depending upon the particular region of worship. Akan mythology claims that at one time the god freely interacted with man, but that after being continually struck by the pestle of an old woman pounding fufu, he moved far up into the sky. There are no priests that serve him directly, and people believe that they may make direct contact with him. There are also numerous abosom (gods) who receive their power from the supreme god and are connected to the natural world. These include ocean and riverine spirits and various local deities. Priests serve individual spirits and act as mediaries between the gods and mankind. Nearly everyone participates in daily prayer, which includes the pouring of libations as an offering to both the ancestors, who are buried in the land, and to the spirits who are everywhere. The earth is seen as a female deity and is directly connected to fertility and fecundity.


San Agustín Culture: The San Agustín Archaeological Park (San Agustín, Huila Department, Colombia) contains the largest collection of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in Latin America and is considered the world’s largest necropolis. The dates of the statues are uncertain, but they are believed to have been carved between 50–400 A.D. Top Left: A tomb platform with supporting statues. Top Right: Carved face with jaguar fangs. Bottom Left: A standing figure with jaguar features. Bottom Right: Fish pendant, ca. 0-900 AD in the Gold Museum (Bogotá, Colombia).

The archaeological complex of San Agustín is located in the Upper Magdalena region in the Department of Huila and is divided in two provinces by the Guacacallo river. It was an eminent ceremonial center and an important burial site for the tribal hierarchies however, there was a sedentary population that lived from agriculture, hunting and fishing.

The religious sentiment conditioned their artistic expression, embodied in exceptional stone works. The Augustinian statuary -which expressed their beliefs and faith- was conceived in function of the funerary constructions. This art strongly adhered to strict symbological canons, and freely expressed the artistic treatment of forms, making each of the sculptures different from one another, individual, despite their superficial homogeneous appearance. These sculptures had vertical and horizontal structuring, frontality, symmetry -as a consequence of their religious function- and they conformed to linear norms. Their themes included: gods, priests and shamans, warriors and great dignitaries, images of deceased -carved on the sarcophagus capstones-, symbolic animals, poles and pilasters. The most commonly used motifs were serpents and stylizations of birds. During the “Regional Classic” period stands out the monumental statuary with feline jaws and hierarchical insignia that should have been made in gold. In architecture, their essential work was the funerary temple.


Tierradentro Culture: The archaeological park of Tierradentro (Inza, Department of Cauca, Colombia) holds the largest concentration of pre-Columbian monumental shaft tombs with side chambers (hypogea) which were carved in the volcanic tuff below hilltops and mountain ridges. The structures, some measuring up to 12 m wide and 7 m deep, were made from 600 to 900 AD, and served as collective secondary burial for elite groups. Top Left: View of a hypogea, these have an entry oriented towards the west, a spiral staircase and a main chamber, usually 5 to 8 meters below the surface, with several lesser chambers around, each one containing a corpse. The walls were painted with geometric, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic patterns in red, black and white. Top Right: Tierradentro funerary urns used to contain skeletal remains, ca. 700 to 900 A.D (Archaeological Musseum of Tierradentro). Bottom Left: Zoomorphic alcarraza (Archaeological Museum of Tierradentro). Bottom Right: Alcarraza-whistle from Tierradentro (Gold Museum, Bogotá).

The artistic manifestations of the Tierradentro culture (Department of Cauca, southwest Colombia) demonstrate their relationship with the San Agustín Culture and with the Andean area in general their artistic production was related to funeral practices being characteristic of this culture the construction of hypogea*. These underground enclosures were decorated with paint applied on the rock wall by sculpting it or by a combination of both methods. They used colors of mineral origin, black, red and yellow, alone or combined, adjusting the decoration to the shapes of the site and to the hypogeum type as an indispensable complement.

The Tierradentro hypogeums were built in groups and were intended for secondary burials. The most important ones discovered up to this day are located around the depression of the San Andrés Creek being of diverse types: without niches, with niches -in the walls or at the bottom of the room- and loose columns arranged in ellipse or placed in the center forming a straight line. The Tierradentro culture had a very well developed conception of an extraterrestrial or after life building the funerary precincts following the model of their actual housing.

In ceramics they produced works of the highest quality and beauty, whose best exponents were linked to religious and funerary cults. In addition to the funerary urns, they were masters in the handcraft of alcarrazas*. A very common decorative technique of their own were dots filled with white paste.

Tumaco Culture. Top: Examples of Tumaco pottery. Bottom: Five roller seals from the Tumaco Culture, ca. 500 BC – 500 AD.

It was located in southwest Colombia (Department of Nariño) bordering Ecuador. Its art was of documentary character: it expressed with remarkable realism their housing, garments, ornaments, diseases, customs and popular beliefs without excluding the natural and mythical fauna. It was characterized by their pottery work which was especially sculptural in design with great designs and complex technique. In their trademark pottery pieces, they represented the theme of the characterization of the human head: the Tumaco ceramist captured all the expressions of the human condition and all the individual characters. By using themes involving masks they combined heterogeneous decorative elements, mainly animalistic, and showed a remarkable mastery of techniques. The complete human figures constituted an exemplary art by their sculptural values demonstrating at the same time their preference for the male figure. The erotic art was totally objective and varied being linked with the cult of fertility and fecundity. Abstract art was embodied in seals with beautiful designs.

Calima Culture. Top Left: Gold pectoral (Gold Museum, Bogotá). Top Center: Funerary mask, 5th-1st century BC. (Gold Museum). Top Right: Sea snail in gold leaf , 200 BC-1300 AD (Gold Museum). Bottom Left: Calima pottery, at the left a Ilama woman, to the right a Basket-maker, both ca. 1700-80 BC. (Archaeological Museum of Cali, Colombia). Bottom Right: Gold necklace, ca. 1500 BC. (Gold Museum, Cali).

The Calima Valley (Department of Valle del Cauca, western Colombia) is one of the main natural ways of communication of the Pacific Coast with the Cauca Valley, a fact that promoted the flourishing of a high culture characterized by its goldsmith. The Calima gold industry followed the same guidelines for handcrafting gold known in other indigenous cultures, but acquired true specialization in its manufacture being able to conceive definite and special styles. On their socioeconomic scale, there was a guild of goldsmiths they worked the silver gold with copper and other metal impurities producing the “tumbaga” -a gold and copper alloy that facilitated the work of the artisan- and they were masters of the blinking, hammering, rolling and coating of objects with gold leaf. It is a characteristic of the Calima goldsmithing the joining of pieces by means of gold threads and wires. The themes represented were mostly religious, whose artistic expression was strong and vigorous emphasizing geometry. They produced objects of personal adornment -their necklaces were their finest jewels -, masks for ritual purposes, musical instruments -snails, rattles, trumpets-, and domestic artifacts.

Pottery reached high levels of creativity, highlighted by the “basket-maker”- full-body portrait figurines that were also commonly use during the active commercial trade that should have existed in those times.

Quimbaya Culture. Top Left: Zoomorphic alcarraza. Top Center: Mother and child, Quimbaya ceramic. Top Right: Lime containers or Poporos, part of the “Quimbaya Treasure”, a collection of gold and tumbaga alloy artifacts found at two Quimbaya tombs, one of the largest and most important indigenous treasure troves to be found anywhere in the world (Museum of the Americas, Madrid). Bottom Left: The famous Poporo Quimbaya (Gold Museum, Bogotá), its primary use was as a ceremonial device for chewing of coca leaves during religious ceremonies, ca. 300 AD and made in tumbaga alloy using the lost-wax casting process. It is a national symbol of Colombia and as such has been depicted in the Colombian currency, in coins and bills. Bottom Right: Anthropomorphic poporo, ca. 500 BC – 700 AD (Gold Museum, Bogotá).

The cultural complex once located in what today is the Quindío department (western Colombia) was characterized by the ceramic production of various types and a decorative richness applied to different uses, which together with its symbolism reflects artistic qualities particular to this area. They were expert designers of seals and painting tools, they represented their houses by reproducing their actual structure and made whistling vessels as a derivative form from that of the alcarraza. Although they had a wide diffusion in the Andean area, the whistling vessels of the Quindío culture were the most characteristic and those that possessed greater aesthetic qualities.

The Quimbaya goldsmithing was of high artistic quality and refined taste. They produced a whole series of objects for personal adornment, domestic and warfare utensils, and ritual elements, specializing in the work of the tumbaga. The most typical themes were the anthropomorphic -with the representation of the human figure of admiring perfection-, zoomorphic, and the astonishing vessel-type containers or poporos*. These containers are the best gold objects produced by the Quimbaya.

Tolima Culture. Top Left: Anthropomorphic pectoral, Early Period, 1000 BC. – 800 AD. (Gold Museum). Top Right: Anthropozoomorphic pectoral, Early Period, 1000 BC. – 800 AD. (Gold Museum). Bottom Left: Funerary urn, Late Period, ca. 800 AD. (Gold Museum). Bottom Right: Tolima pottery bowl.

The typical art of the Tolima culture was forged in the valley of the current Tolima department (central Colombia) and slopes neighboring the Magdalena river: theirs was a goldsmith distinguished by its designs and peculiarities of style. They worked high-quality silver gold using the same techniques and procedures as other pre-Hispanic goldsmiths. It was an art flat in nature, smooth, with a marked geometric tendency it shows slits applied on the gold sheets in parallel lines or bars, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic motifs and a sober decoration. They made earrings, pendants and necklaces with geometric-zoomorphic designs as well as large pectorals.

The typology of their pottery coincides with that of the Quimbaya area. They produced two or three types of pottery that can be considered as characteristic: anthropomorphic representations -generally seated, naked, with ritual deformations in arms and legs-, clay seats -with a back piece whose dimensions suggest to have been used by children-, and funerary urns: those found at the town of Honda have a human figure on the lid.

Tairona Culture. Top Left: Tairona gold pendants (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). Top Right: Pectoral in the form of a Bat-Man, ca. 900 a 1600 AD. (Gold Museum of Santa Marta, Colombia). Bottom Left: Ceramic tray with bat decorations, 650-1600 AD. (Gold Museum of Santa Marta). Bottom Right: Alcarraza, ca. 600 – 1500 AD.

The Tairona occupied a great part of the area of the Santa Marta mountain range (Department of Magdalena, northern Colombia), characterized by its rugged and difficult access. This geographical environment conditioned their creative activity, which was directed to a practical end. The Tairona art is sumptuary, and except for funerary urns and ceremonial vessels, its production was destined to the sumptuous embellishment of the human body, especially amulets and necklaces, pendants and pectorals. Their jewels are among the most precious and admired of the Pre-Columbian goldsmith, surprising by its technical perfection. They used tumbaga and mostly expressed masculine subjects in addition to represent zoomorphic motifs. The ceramics was of three types distinguished by color: black -ceremonial in character, represented by the “alcarrazas”-, reddish -large funerary urns-, and dark gray or reddish-grey -ocarinas and whistles-. In addition, they manufactured small urns (some snake-shaped) and chairs.

Cultures of the Atlantic Plains

Sinú Culture. Top Left: Gold jaguar (Museum of the Zenú Gold, Cartagena, Colombia). Bottom Left: Gold jaguar. Center: Funerary urn with human lid. Right: Bird finial (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).

Located in the Lower Magdalena area (Department of Córdoba, northwest Colombia) was in the middle Sinú river where the most important archaeological sites of this area were found in Colombia. Their art included: funerary urns -crowned with anthropomorphic lids, including those found at Tamalameque-, utilitarian and ritual ceramics shaped in human figures conceived as sculptures, and goldsmith in which they combined diverse techniques, the “false filigree”, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic motifs and geometric decoration. They made nose-pieces, bra-shaped pectorals, crowns, hollow anthropomorphic figurines, necklace beads, short pins, etc.

Cultures from the Southern Colombian Andes

Nariño Culture. Top Left: Gold pendants. Top Right: Gold pendants, Late Nariño Period, 600-1700 AD. (Gold Museum). Bottom Left: Tuza footed dish with animal motifs. Bottom Right: Nariño vessel, ca. 1000-1500 AD.

Their pottery reached important artistic development the pottery from Nariño surprises by its forms and decoration emphasizing the negative painting or positive bicolor. In the area of Popayán (Department of Cauca), the sculptures and stone reliefs included cylindrical statues to be placed directly on the ground and others made in slabs with flat forms. Their jewelry work stands out for the large gold pectorals, nose rings, discs and plaques, all made with fine gold sheets and with complex geometric designs.

Muisca Culture. Left: Male effigy cache figure or Tunjo, 1100–1550 AD. (Gold Museum). Top Right: Muisca textile bag (or Mochila) found alongside a mummy (Gold Museum). Bottom Left: Múcura style Muisca vessel, 400-1800 AD. (National Museum of Colombia, Bogotá). Bottom Right: Gold pectoral (Gold Museum).

The name of the “Muisca” culture, which means “person” or “people”, applies to the indigenous society settled on the plateaus and savannas that today correspond to the Cundinamarca and Boyacá Departments of central Colombia. Its art is characterized by its pure utilitarian purposes, by its extremely schematic forms and elemental motifs evidencing an artistic activity that was performed during their free time. They excelled in the manufacturing of textiles, for which they used cotton and “wool” -the fibers of lignin and cellulose that surround the seed from the Ceiba tree fruit-, and also mixing human hair to obtain certain textures and qualities in the fabrics. They decorated their fabrics by painting or embossing them and they were of large dimensions. The blankets and the ruana (a poncho-style robe typical of this culture) were very important for the Muisca people. Excellent craftsmen of the copper and the tumbaga, the Muisca produced magnificent pectorals among other objects. Eminently typical of this culture were the “tunjos*”, mainly anthropomorphic. In its pottery stands the “múcura*“, the Muisca vessel par excellence.

The famous Muisca raft (Balsa Muisca), also known as “El Dorado Raft”, a gold votive, is one of the treasures of the Gold Museum in Bogotá. It is dated between 600 and 1600 AD and made using the lost-wax casting technique in gold with a small amount of copper. The artifact refers to the ceremony of the legend of El Dorado and represents the ceremony of investiture of the Muisca chief, which used to take place at Lake Guatavita in Colombia. During this ritual, the heir to the chieftainship (or “Zipa”) covered his body with gold dust and jumped into the lake along with gold offerings and emeralds to the gods. The piece has a base in the shape of a log boat of 19.5 cm x 10.1 cm and various figures on the raft, the largest figure that stands in the middle apparently represents the chief, which is adorned with headdresses, nose rings and earrings, his height is 10.2 cm and is surrounded by his soldiers who carry banners.

Alcarraza: (From the Arabic al-karaz, meaning a pitcher). An earthenware container.

Hypogeum: (plural hypogea or hypogaea from Greek hypo -under- and gaia -mother earth or goddess of earth-). It usually refers to an underground temple or tomb. The later Christians built similar underground shrines, crypts and tombs, which they called catacombs. But this was only a difference in name, rather than purpose and rituals, and archeological and historical research shows they were effectively the same. Hypogea will often contain niches for cremated human remains or loculi for buried remains.

Múcura: A clay pot similar to a pitcher or jug, of medium size, with a long narrow neck and spherical body. In Pre-Columbian times it was used to collect, drink and store water, chicha (a corn-based beverage), and cereals. Symbolically, it represents the feminine principle, more specifically the woman’s womb. It was also a piece of trousseau in funeral rites in various Pre-Columbian cultures.

Poporo: A device used by indigenous cultures in present and pre-Colombian South America for storage of small amounts of lime. It consists of two pieces: the receptacle, and the lid which includes a pin that is used to carry the lime to the mouth while chewing coca leaves. Since the chewing of coca is sacred for the indigenous people, the poporos are also attributed with mystical powers and social status.

Ruana: A poncho-style outer garment typical of the Andes region of Colombia, particularly in the Boyacá department and Antioquia. The word ruana comes from the Chibcha ruana meaning “Land of Blankets,” used to refer to the woolen fabrics manufactured by the Muisca culture. A ruana is basically a very thick, soft and sleeveless square or rectangular blanket with an opening in the center for the head to go through with a slit down the front to the hem. A ruana may or may not come with a hood to cover the head. The ruanas worn by the native Muisca were apparently made of wool and knee-long, well-suited to the cold temperatures of the region where they were used not only as a piece of garment but also as a blanket for use in bed or to sit on as a cushion of sorts.

Tunjo: (from Muysccubun or Muisca language: chunso), a small anthropomorphic or zoomorphic figure elaborated by the Muisca peoples of Colombia as part of their art. Tunjos were made of gold and tumbaga a gold-silver-copper alloy. The Muisca used their tunjos in various instances in their religion and as a small votive offering figures. Tunjos were used as offer pieces, to communicate with the gods and when the Muisca asked for favours from their deities.

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  1. Tyesone

    Oh thank you

  2. Samushakar

    Make mistakes. Write to me in PM.

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