What San Miguel de Tangarará had before its Spanish foundation.
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By Nelson Peñaherrera Castillo
San Miguel de Tangarará Village is located 24 km or 15 miles NW
away Sullana City, 20 minutes by car, and this is how it looks like currently.
Photo by César Rivas for G&R.
Peru - The history of Tangarará did not begin where it is located now.
The actual town was built after an El Niño event in 1925
increased Chira River erasing the site of the Spanish foundation by
Conqueror Francisco Pizarro, maybe August 15th, but definetly 1532.
What we know now
is Pizarro never built a city. Although the foundation act was staged
and the first Mass in South America was celebrated, it was no time to
plan a city, but it was actually named San Miguel, and it was an
outpost in the conquest process of Inca empire instead, then shocked by
a deep political secession.
stayed just for two years because they did build a city in Monte de los
Padres," cultural promotor Milton Murguía Calderón remembers, who
is also in charge of a room working like a museum, which main task is
telling what happened before the Spaniards arrived into.
The project was managed with Jamer Castro Barranzuela, another neighbor of him passionated by the history of the town.
In fact, it is
known that after the foundation in Tangarará, Chira Valley, the
Spaniards moved to the site known now as Piura La Vieja, La Matanza
(Morropón), already upper Piura Valley. Before departuring, Pizarro had
to put down a pressumed rebelion of many local caciques, Tangara
Arak (possibly from Tallán "River's Rim") among them, who died
burnt alive wit other 12 others.
before 1532 has been a kind of enigma until the archeological research,
started up in 2001 by Archaeologists César santos and Cinthia
Seminario, were revealing the first pieces of a puzzle, what even today
is still incomplete, then Murguía and Castro are in charge of
Perhaps the most
interesting ones are many female and child bones, those could be 1520,
a little more than a decade before the official arrival of the
Spaniards, and three holed clay pieces, 15-18 cm or 5'9-7'9 inches
length and 15 cm or 5'9 inches contour, possibly representing a woman.
them "the figurines" because their similitude to the pure-gold
sculpture found in Callingará Mount, Frías District (Ayabaca),
in mid-20th century. The difference among both figures, after the matter,
is Frías' has two hanging earrings while Tangarara's seems
to have a diadem with two little prominences like horns.
archaeologists believe the Frías' Figurine can be Vicús origin, while
Tangarará's can be Tallán origin. The trick is between the end of Vicús
Period and Chira's pieces date could be a hole of nine centuries.
ffemale figures and molded in holed clay, found during excavations made
by Tangarará neighbors for improving their homes. The last one
seems to have a sediment block on its head and could not belong to the
FACTORTIERRA.NET's Contributing Archaeologists Daniel Davila believes they pertain to Piura Style (1100 to 1470 A.D.)
Photos by César Rivas for G&R.
The Female River
the meaning of the pottery work has not been explained until right now,
but it could be infered the ancients felt a strong
connection to femininity.
the former Turicarami [as it was named in Tallán Language], would be
similar to a woman," he tells. "The ancesttors said the water
colored in red ebery month, like a menstruation was about."
There is no
explanation to the phenomenom, but it is necessary to remember
the medium course of Chira has a mix of sandy, clayed, and silty soils.
It probably can cause the colorization.
Back to Talláns,
this representation of femininity could be linked to Moon's cult (known
as Shi), what determined the fertility. and wen you are an inhabitant in
a valley limited by a long desert strip, this is a critical spot for
"Also, it is
told the Chira falls in love to the men who take a bath into its
water until now, whom catches," Murguía tells. "All the drowned ones s
into the river are males; you don't find any woman."
But we have to
point out a habit in Rural Piura is the men go down to take a
bath alone or sometimes with other men into rivers, creeks or canals.
The women following this practice alone are very few, but it is usual
to see them in company of their male couples or their kids.
Anoter fact to
analyze is the actual name of the river was assigned by the Spaniards
-Talláns called it Turicarami- recognizing the only local cacique
whom they had pardoned the life. Until now, the Chira lastname (and the
variations La Chira and De La Chira) persists in Sullana
Area as well as a big part of Piura's Coast.
Unburied bones when a woman of Sann Miguel de Tangarará tried to build a latrine in her house.
Photo by César Rivas for G&R.
There are Huacos Wherever You Cabe
Ancient Talláns used to settle down at river's rim and leave the heights for their cemeteries," Murguía explains.
The issue is the
Talláns also had to deal with El Niño events, those bring water
overloads on. This climatologic anomalie is one of the determinant
factors of Piura's inhabitants life until now, starting with the
alteration of their spaces to live.
The actual San
Miguel de Tangarará is an almost one-century-old version, after the
heavy rains in 1925 flooded the town formed around the Spanish,
and Indian maybe, foundation. As four centuries of the fact was
observed in 1932, the authorities organized a settlement as they could
around an obelisk where is a conmemorative plate and the replica of the
replica of the cross that Pizarro used to found San Miguel.
The replica is inside the site museum and the original one is supposed
to be at the Museum of the Nation in San Borja, Lima.
And due to the
pressure of the 400th anniversary, the actual San Miguel de Tangarará
ended to build on the ancient Tallán cemetery, where pottery and bones
are buried or on exhibition at the site's museum.
when you excave in Tangarará or ¡the nearby town of] Santa Sofía, you
ever find huacos [ceremonial pottery], but more in Tangarará," one of
FACTORTIERRA.NET scientific producers watches.
And the theory
is right. Added to mummies and pottery, Murguía assures alleged Inca
stone batons were found. And if they were not Incas, what
people could use them as offensive weapons?
"What we have
got is only the decime part of what was here some time ago," he
estimates. "It's said the rest was brought by the estate-owners," who
managed the area until 1968.
And that creates
a new controversy: if all archeological area is untouchable, and
San Miguel de Tangarará is on one of them (many time before it
knew), what to do with their habitants? For the moment, they can
continue living in the zone but under committment of notifying
Murguía and Castro if they find some archeological vestige.
Main Square , that was not the site of foundation by Francisco Pizarro
(1532), but a re-staging made for the 400th anniversary of the
fact, not keeping historical rigor.
Photo by César Rivas for G&R.
But they were
not enough living close to rivers' rim. Now it is known the Talláns
were capable to dam the water of that rivers to guarantee the liquid
About 300 meters
or 984 feet away to the south of Tangarará Main Square, it exists
evidence of a dam possibly made by the Talláns, what Chira River fills
or empties with sediment according to its loads pattern. Let's remember
when the Spaniards made the ffourth foundation of San Miguel, in
1583, they located it in front of tacalá's Tallan Dam in Piura River, which no
evidence remains today.
About 100 meters
or 328 feet behind the rim, there is also a buried
structure that could be a huaca (sacred site) over what the first
Spanish estate-house was built, that was used since 1968 as the
local agricultural cooperative's headquarters, and now destroyed
by the rains and the river's overloads.
Murguía assures beneath the soil crust there is a Pre-Hispanic structure with walls and tunnels even.
It is necessary
to excave archeologically the place to confirm or discard the
fact. However the dimension of the pressumed building could
be 8-10 times bigger than reported in Chalacalá Baja, as
Only after that
procedure it wil be possible to understand what type of
legacy is here, how the pieces kept by Murguía and Castro go
together, and how they could be inserted into the value
chain based upon the tourism.
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