Wednesday – March 30, 2011 – Travel to and around the Sillustani Burial Grounds.
The country side getting to the Sillustani burial grounds was gorgeous and a few of the shots from the bus came out acceptable. I’m still learning to use the new camera, and found out that I didn’t have the shutter fast enough on many of the bus shots. But, that’s why you practice!
The Sillustani grounds were considerably different from any of the previous sites we had seen. Eliseo provided us an overview of the Colla people’s burial process and the construction of the chullpas (towers). Lake Umayo surrounds much of the site. (My new header image is from a panoramic of Sillustani)
Sillustani is a pre-Incanburial ground on the shores of Lake Umayo near Puno in Peru. The tombs, which are built above ground in tower-like structures called chullpas, are the vestiges of the Colla people, Aymara who were conquered by the Inca in the 15th century. The structures housed the remains of complete family groups, although they were probably limited to nobility.
Ancestor worship and kinship were integral parts of Aymara culture, and the chullpas were built to emphasize the connection between life and death. The insides of the tombs were shaped like a woman’s uterus, and corpses were mummified in a fetal position to recreate their birth. Some of the tombs also have lizards carved into the stone. Because they could regrow their tails, lizards were considered a symbol of life. The only openings to the buildings face east, where it was believed the Sun was reborn by Mother Earth each day.