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Monday, April 26, 2010

Lavender Trumpet vine and more on the Inca Calendar


Here's my neighbor's lavender trumpet vine making a get away into my yard. .

Got back to the original source of the pictures from the Inca calendar--O  Internet.....blessing upon your inventors (and Al Gore.) 

 The original document was written for the edification of the Pope, by Poma de Ayala in 1580. Only one copy of the manuscript exists, ( the Pope never got it) and it's in a library in Denmark, and posted on the Internet.
The Inca agricultural calendar is a window on a lost world. The growing season for their major grain crop (maize) seems so much like our growing season in SoCal. Their maize (zara) was an irrigated crop, grown in parterres, on terraces, planted in the late summer. Seems to mirror our growing season, despite the difference in altitude, and reversal of seasons below the Equator.


Inca agricultural practices were so efficient they managed to feed a large urban population, the Inca himself, his court, the nobles and themselves. It’s been said if their terraced, irrigated agriculture were re-instated in the Andes area, poverty and hunger could be erased in that part of the world. Worth a look?  Here's August again since, thanks to translations of the ms.. it is clearer what's happening here.

In the Inca Calendar, this is the Time of Opening the Land


The story begins with (left to right) a representative of the Inca with his official costume on, with an empty seed bag in his left hand. He is the only person in the picture wearing sandals, he’s wearing a ceremonial head dress and an outfit that appears to picture the lay-out for the 2 crops these farmers are going to grow. (Reminiscent of the purpose of the stained glass windows in medieval churches—directions for the illiterate.) He’s a walking graphic lay-out.

The 2 crops are maize,(zara) in parterres at the bottom of the slope and potatoes (pope) at the top of the terracing in linked small beds. It’s c. 1580 but we can still “read” the story.

Four big parterres of maize. One for the Inca, one for the nobility, one for the bureaucracy --- priest/astronomers/ record keepers whose observatory turns up in a later month--- and one plot for the farmers.

(The Inca had to pay for a lot of servants out of his share, but I suspect the aristocracy were responsible for the roads and possibly the irrigation in their “district”. The whole story is rather like the serf system in Europe. It’s even more like the Chinese* system of government in the middle ages, in which the mandarins oversaw things like keeping the canals repaired for flood control). Irrigated terracing has to be carefully tended. Very labor intensive.


Back to our August  story: there are 3 men with digging, cultivating and harvesting tools—the farmers. The one wearing a head dress 4th in the line will appear in several other picture stories wearing his head dress (perhaps he’s a local priest/shaman/medicine man) but his major job is keeping the birds, foxes, skunks and parrots from eating the maize seed, and crop—let’s call him the Animal Control. To the right is a well-dressed lady—the quoy’s representative— a stand-in for the actual Inca Queen (the quoy) who has the seed to hand-out. At the bottom are the 3 “land girls” who are going to plant and tend the seed. They are singing. The text over the heads of the 4 men gives the song which is a kind of hymn of praise to the queen (the quoy). The girls indicate they  understand the directions for planting and tending.

The sun is at the center looking very strong (it’s hot) of the picture, and there are no streams on the mountains.It’s the dry season—no rain until January, Feb and March. No Moon. The actual planting doesn’t begin until September, just as we would do it here.The whole scene pictures a minga—a gathering of the collective for some purpose under the Inca system. August was a much loved month--- a kind of "everybody takes a vacation time" -- Paris in August.

Note: If you want to see the ms. yourself, go to W, put in Poma de Ayala and follow the yellow brick road!

Chinese. According to  Archeology Magazine's articles on recent  DNA info---:  all  the MesoAmericans originated in China and spread downward from the  Artic land bridge, drifting South as far as Terra Del Fuego.

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