Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/352

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is not surprised, therefore, to find here in great profusion a summing up in stone, both in sculpture and architecture, of all the motives scattered in clay, wood, textile and feather-work over the northern continent. Here also are seen fully developed those virile art forms and decorations of which Gushing finds among the pueblos only vestiges on pottery and basketry. The high culture of the Mexican and the Mayan broke down in Honduras, Salvador and Nicaragua, where are even now found any number of unclassed, insignificant tribes.

The Colombian area.

The extension of the Cordilleras southward need not detain the reader. Stretching from Nicaragua to the southern limits of Colombia were the Muyscas or Chibchas, metallurgists and jewelers par excellence. It was in their country that Balboa heard of the great riches farther south. Theirs was the home of 'El hombre dorado,' or Eldorado, where, on the inauguration of a chief, a procession of men richly dressed marched to the borders of their sacred lake bearing him on a splendid litter. The chief's 'naked body had been anointed with resinous gums and covered with gold dust.' He was rowed to the middle of the lake and plunged himself in to wash the gold from his body as an offering, at the same time his followers casting in enormous quantities of gold and emeralds. (Bandelier, 1893, p. 14.)

The women were farmers, potters and weavers. They cultivated maize, beans, yucca and cotton. Irrigation was practiced, the ditches, no doubt, being the result of organized, far-reaching and long-continued labor among the men. The conditions for united effort in large architectural enterprises did not exist, but commerce in salt and gold was active. It was not until a widening of the area and a lengthening of roads farther south in the inter-Andean valley made larger aggregations of men feasible that the noblest of arts discloses itself again.

The Peruvian area.

The Quichuan, or Kechuan family, including the Aymaran, occupied a strip of upland two thousand miles long on the Pacific slope of South America, all parts of which were joined by trails. Here Indian men reached their zenith. The dissemination of their culture was conterminous with their speech. The foci of this virility were Quito and Cuzco. The architecture was rock-hewn and cyclopean, wrought with tools of stone. Agriculture had passed to the artificial conditions in which metallic tools were used, in which terraced gardening, irrigation, use of guano and grain storage were practiced. The llama and paca were bred in vast numbers for food, for textile material and for pack beasts. Metallurgists wrought skilfully in bronze, silver and gold.