Burial Customs of Antient Peru`

pp. 101-111 Tarmo Kulmar : "Burial Customs and Death-related Beliefs of Ancient Peru".



interrment & grave-goods


Cabeza Larga in Paracas paeninsula (neolithic)

"grave goods of ... a small bag ... holding leaves of the coca plant"


Chilca south of Lima


"men were covered with stones and women with poles, while children were tied to the post."


Luri`n south of Lima


"a skeleton without a head and a puma jawbone lying next to it."


Chavi`n (1st mill. B.Chr.E.) & Ancashi

"leaving the dead in the building where they used to live and muring the openings."


Paracas Cavernas (1st mill. B.Chr.E.)

"cylindrical shaft ...widens into a circular sepulchre". "The mummified body was placed in the squatting position in a woven basket, which was wrapped in a thick layer of cloth. ... The topmost layer of textile was sewn with a thread to the ‘cocoon’. Finally the bundle was covered with a carpet. ... The corpses had been dressed in knee-length ... cotton shirts with predominant colours of red and black."


Paracas Necro`polis

"a series of rectangular chambers like a huge subterranean house, running parallel with the coastline." "The mummies were wrapped in sewn-up cloth, with items of gold and pottery included as grave goods. ... The ceilings were built of ... whale-bone connected with a wickerwork of reed. ... The head was wrapped in a turban, and the body wore a knee-length shirt." mummification : "the muscles from upper arms, calves and thighs were removed ... . {this removal of muscles was also Hawai>ian interrment-practice}. ... the chest was cut open, removing the bowels and intestines, internal organ of the abdomen, heart and lungs. ... eyeballs


" "

and brain were cut out. The latter procedure was either performed through the nose, or else the head was severed from the body, and the brain was removed through the lower part of the skull. Eye sockets were filled with cotton plugs."


Vicu`s nigh Ecuador (1st mill. Chr.E.)

"shafts up to 10 meters in depth ... . At the end of the shafts are sepulchres". "grave goods ... : pottery and metalwork."


Moche in north Peru` [1st mill. B.Chr.E.]

"Between the lips, the bodies have small metal disks, wrapped in cloth and made of gold, silver, or copper ... . Others were buried ... pressed in a sitting position into large earthen vessels. ... the bodies had small, upward reed tubes in their mouths. Some suggest they were meant for giving the dead drink" {which likewise a Sumerian practice}. "According to the Mochicas beliefs, the souls of the dead migrated to some islands over the sea. Their way to there had to be lined with seadogs riding the waves, while whistles, trumpets, flutes, and bells were playing ... music. Si, the moon god, was walking ahead of the dead, while Ni, the Sea god, and Guata`n, the storm god, delivered the soul". "The metal disc in the mouth suggests a parallel with the beliefs of ancient Greece, where one had to pay the ferryman on the river of death." grave-goods : "huaco pornographicos (sculptural ceramics depicting couples copulating in various positions) ..., and huacos retratos (sculptural ceramics with idiosyncratic facial features)".


Tiahuanaco (1st mill. Chr.E.) & Huari [2nd mill. Chr.E.]

"the corpse’s knees were bent under the chin and tied to the chest."


Sillustani nigh lake Titicaca ("previous millennnium")

"series of towers called chullpas that were used as burial places ... . The tombs are either circular or rectangular, but open from the top ... . In appearance, the chullpas resemble Zoroastrian funerary towers ..., even though the Sillustani towers were only used for burial of whole bodies." {Were these c^ulpa-s intended to afford the dead privacy in visits by deities descending vertically from the sky?}


Tahuantin-Suyu [= Inca empire] (2nd mill. Chr.E.)

"After death, the soul usually went to the underworld, which was seen as a ... waiting place for souls ... waiting to be reborn. The Incas believed that the soul of a dead person can be born again on earth in another body, but must wait for its turn." "The huddled body of a nobleman was wrapped with valuables into a cocoon ... . The mummies of the emperor and the imperial family were finely dressed and decorated and placed on the throne in the imperial palace, while priests and servants daily came to honour and serve them as if they were still alive. Naturally, the new ruler of Incas built another palace for himself."

FORSCHUNGEN ZUR ANTHROPOLOGIE UND RELIGIONGESCHICHTE, Band 42 = Manfried L. G. Dietrich & Tarmo Kulmar (eds.) : Body and Soul in the Conceptions of the Religions. Ugarit-Verlag, Mu:nster, 2008. pp. 101-111.