[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Atawallpa was no chicken (It was Re: chicken in America: from Asia?)

(Followups limited to sci.archaeology.mesoamerican,sci.archaeology)

This note presents some data on the origin of the Kechwa (the Inca language) 
term "wallpa", which as a noun today means "chicken" o, more commonly, "hen".

For starters, the names of Atawallpa (commonly spelled Atahualpa), his brother 
Inti Titu Kusi Wallpa (who changed his name into Waskar after claiming the 
title of Inca, or emperor), and his other brother Tupac Wallpa, have 
absolutely nothing to do with chickens or any other birds.  I will ellaborate 
after remembering a part of Mr Kuchinsky's "essay about the chicken".

I do understand that this is only one of the arguments advanced by George 
Carter's article in "Man across the sea", but as Mr Kuchinsky gives every one 
of them full credence, it is important to show the level of scholarship he 
likes to depend on.

In article <58s1k6$k8b@news1.io.org>, yuku@io.org (Yuri Kuchinsky) wrote:
>The case of the Incas is extremely curious. When the Spanish arrived
>to Peru, they found chickens extremely well established and widely
>used in religious rituals. The name of the last Inca, Atahualpa is
>connected with the word "chicken". Also the name of his uncle. 

That "extremely well established" is a pure value judgment.  They found 
chickens (as I supported with a quote of a Diego de Trujillo chronicle), but 
note that they arrived in the Central Andes almost 40 years after the 
Spaniards have set foot in the mainland, i.e. plenty of time to reach, by 
local trade.

>      Either these men were named after the chicken, or the chicken
>      was named after them. Garcilaso de la Vega says that the
>      chicken was named in memory of Atahualpa so that each time the
>      cock crowed, he would be remembered. This leaves unexplained
>      the naming of Atahualpa's uncle. (p. 200)

This last sentence is illogic, as it has been shown here.

>Can we really believe that the Incas would be not only accepting
>this domesticated animal instantly -- but also integrating it into
>their religion and government instantly? This really strains the
>limits of credulity...

There is no mention of chickens being used in religion.  Originally, I 
hypothesized that they named the chicken after some other birds.  So I went to 
look for the origins of Atawallpa's name (a week ago, I found the Trujillo 
chronicle instead). This weekend,  I checked several other chronicles in my 
shelves, and, as suggested by another poster, went to look for some linguistic 
studies and found a  "smoking gun"  about the name of Atawallpa.

The reference:

Joan de Santa Cruz Pachacuti Yamqui Salcamaygua
_Relacion de antiguedades desde reyno del Piru_ (Relation of antiquities of 
this Kingdom of Peru)
Estudio etnohistorico y linguistico de Pierre Duviols y Cesar Itier, 1993
Institut Francais D'Etudes Andines
Centro "Bartolome de las Casas"

Santa Cruz Pachacuti's chronicle is one of the three "ethnohistorical and 
ethnolinguistic monuments of the Andean culture".  Part IV of Itier's study, 
"Runa Wallpaq", consists of five pages about the root "wallpa-", that appears 
in one of the prayers mentioned by the chronicler.  There is absolutely no 
mention of chickens or any birds, because the term is rather abstract and can 
be understood only in the context of the particular cosmogony of the Andes.

Itier mentions that the verbal root wallpa- has completely disappeared in 
today's Kechwa, but had been originally translated by the early missionaries 
as "create".  After presenting several different uses of the root, Itier 
advances that the common value of wallpa- would be (my translation) "to 
provide somebody or something with what is needed for a determined goal".  
Thus, the title "runa wallpaq", assigned to Wirakocha, the creating deity in 
the Andean pantheon, can be understood as "who provides [all] for men".

To this verb, there was a corresponding noun, wallpa, "known in a reduced 
number of contexts", meaning "what is given to someone for a purpose". In only 
one case, Itier follows, wallpa designs a person that is given something: ataw 
wallpa, which means "blessed in war", as ataw is "fortune in the war".  This 
is, then, the meaning of Atawallpa's name, which makes a lot of sense.

One should not be suprised at Acosta's belief that the word "wallpa" for 
chicken predated the arrival of the Spaniards.  Even though a very important 
jesuit, he was late in the Andes and was no linguist.  He was a careful 
observer and wrote extensively about his observations, and advanced many 
insightful interpretations, but in this case he was just wrong.

I do not know anything about George Carter.  I have not been able to find a 
book authored by him, nor any of his credentials.  But to take Acosta's word 
(1589-90) as an indication of chickens being in the Andes in pre-Columbian 
times reveals, at the least, carelessness, and at the most, wishful thinking 
that should not be allowed when advancing serious proposals.  All his 
"evidence" is full of interpretations without any additional research.

I hope this helps those of us that were intrigued by the Incas naming their 
important people after chickens.  After all, it seems that Garcilaso was right 
in this one: it maks a lot of sense.



Domingo Martinez Castilla