This article describes the Muisca mythology; the mythology of the Muisca. Mythology is different from religion in the sense that myths are usually the combination of real events and/or people with a legendary twist, while religion is purely transcedental. The religion of the Muisca is described in Muisca religion; their deities, rituals and sacred sites.
Main contributors to the knowledge of the mythology of the Muisca have been Muisca scholars Javier Ocampo López, Pedro Simón, Lucas Fernández de Piedrahita, Juan de Castellanos and conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada who was the European making first contact with the Muisca in the 1530s.
The times before the Spanish conquest of the Muisca Confederation are filled with mythology. The first confirmed human rulers of the two capitals Hunza and Bacatá are said to have descended from mythical creatures. Apart from that other Muisca myths exist, such as the legendary El Dorado and the Monster of Lake Tota.
Several mythological creatures have been described by the chroniclers:
The Cojines del Zaque (English: "Cushions of the Zaque") is an archeological site of the Muisca located in the city of Tunja, Boyacá, which in the time of the Muisca Confederation was called Hunza. The cojines are two round stones used in the religion of the Muisca to worship Sun god Sué and his wife; Moon goddess Chía. When the Spanish conquistadores arrived, they called them Cojines del Diablo.Goranchacha
Goranchacha was a mythical cacique who was said to have been the prophet of the Muisca of South America, in particular of the zacazgo of the northern Muisca Confederation. He is considered the son of the Sun, impersonated by the Sun god Sué.Goranchacha Temple
The Goranchacha Temple (Spanish: Templo de Goranchacha) is an archeological site of the Muisca located in the city of Tunja, Boyacá, which in the time of the Muisca Confederation was called Hunza. The temple is named after the mythological Goranchacha. The remains of the temple are located on the terrain of the Pedagogical and Technological University of Colombia in Tunja. Scholar Javier Ocampo López has written about the temple and its religious meaning. Knowledge about the temple has been provided by chronicler Pedro Simón.Hunzahúa
Hunzahúa was the first zaque; ruler of the northern Muisca with capital Hunza, named after him. His contemporary zipa of the southern Muisca was Meicuchuca.Hunzahúa Well
The Hunzahúa Well (Spanish: Pozo de Hunzahúa) is an archeological site of the Muisca located in the city of Tunja, Boyacá, which in the time of the Muisca Confederation was called Hunza. The well is named after the first zaque of Hunza; Hunzahúa. The Well was called Pozo de Donato for a while, after 17th century Jerónimo Donato de Rojas. The well is located on the terrain of the Pedagogical and Technological University of Colombia in Tunja. Scholar Javier Ocampo López has written about the Well and its mythology. Knowledge about the well has been provided by scholar Pedro Simón.Idacansás
Idacansás, Idacansas, Idacanzas or Iduakanzas was a mythical cacique who was said to have been the first priest of the sacred city of Sugamuxi, present-day Sogamoso, Colombia, then part of the territories of the Muisca. He is characterized by his great magical powers as he could make rain and hail and transmit diseases and warmth.Iraca
The iraca, sometimes spelled iraka, was the ruler and high priest of Sugamuxi in the confederation of the Muisca who inhabited the Altiplano Cundiboyacense; the central highlands of the Colombian Andes. Iraca can also refer to the Iraka Valley over which they ruled. Important scholars who wrote about the iraca were Lucas Fernández de Piedrahita, Alexander von Humboldt and Ezequiel Uricoechea.Javier Ocampo López
Javier Ocampo López (Aguadas, Caldas, 19 June 1939) is a Colombian historian, writer, folklorist and professor. He has been important in the fields of Colombian folklore and history of Latin America and Colombia, especially contributing on the department of Boyacá, the homeland of the Muisca and their religion and mythology. He wrote exclusively in Spanish.Lake Guatavita
Lake Guatavita (Spanish: Laguna de Guatavita or Lago Guatavita) is located in the Cordillera Oriental of the Colombian Andes in the municipality of Sesquilé in the Almeidas Province, Cundinamarca department of Colombia, 57 km (35 mi) northeast of Bogotá, the capital of Colombia.
The lake is circular and has a surface area of 19.8 hectares. The earlier theories of the crater's origin being a meteorite impact, volcanic cinder, or limestone sinkhole are now discredited. The most likely explanation is that it resulted from the dissolution of underground salt deposits from an anticline, resulting in a kind of sinkhole.
There are hot springs nearby in the municipality of Sesquilé, which means "hot water" in the now-extinct language of Chibcha, once spoken by the local indigenous people, the Muisca.
Spanish colonizers and Conquistadors knew about the existence of a sacred lake in the Eastern Ranges of the Andes possibly as early as 1531. The lake was associated with indigenous rituals involving gold. However, the first conquistador to arrive at the actual location was Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, possibly in June 1537, while on an expedition to the highlands of the Eastern Ranges of the Andes in search of gold. This brought the Spanish into first contact with the Muisca inhabiting the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, including around Lake Guatavita.
The lake is now a focus of ecotourism, and its association with the legend of El Dorado is also a major attraction.List of knowledge deities
A knowledge deity is a deity in mythology associated with knowledge, wisdom, or intelligence.Meicuchuca
Meicuchuca (died 1470) was the first ruler (zipa) of Bacatá, currently known as the Colombian capital Bogotá, as of around 1450. His zaque counterpart ruling over the northern area of the Muisca territory was Hunzahúa.Miguel Triana
Miguel Triana Ruiz de Cote (Bogotá, Granadine Confederation, 26 November 1859 - Bogotá, Colombia, 29 April 1931) was a Colombian engineer and Muisca scholar. He is best known for his 1922 publication La Civilización Chibcha; "The Muisca civilisation". Triana wrote a number of books about the Muisca and their culture. Miguel Triana especially contributed to the knowledge of the religion, society and the creation of rock art throughout the Muisca Confederation. Triana was the first Colombian investigator relating the Muisca culture with the pictographs. He described hundreds of rock paintings and carvings in his book El jeroglífico Chibcha.Monster of Lake Tota
The Monster of Lake Tota is a legendary aquatic animal known in many works as diablo ballena (English: "devil whale") and is an inhabitant of Lake Tota in Colombia.
The Muisca, who inhabited the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, believed this monster was living in Lake Tota. The earliest reference in modern history was made by the conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada. He described the monster as "A fish with a black head like an ox and larger than a whale" (Lucas Fernández de Piedrahita, 1676) and Antonio de Alcedo, 1788 )). The monster was also defined as "a monstrous fish", "a black monster", and even as "the Dragon" and as a "divine animal archetype" (2012).Moon Temple (Chía)
The Moon Temple of Chía was a temple constructed by the Muisca as a place of worship for their Moon goddess Chía. The temple was built in Chía, Cundinamarca, Colombia, then part of the Muisca Confederation. It was one of the most important temples in the religion of the Muisca. The temple was destroyed during the Spanish conquest of the Muisca on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense. Little is known about the temple built on the Tíquiza Hill in western Chía bordering Tabio.Muisca religion
Muisca religion describes the religion of the Muisca who inhabited the central highlands of the Colombian Andes before the Spanish conquest of the Muisca. The Muisca formed a confederation of holy rulers and had a variety of deities, temples and rituals incorporated in their culture. Supreme being of the Muisca was Chiminigagua who created light and the Earth. He was not directly honoured, yet that was done through Chía, goddess of the Moon, and her husband Sué, god of the Sun. The representation of the two main celestial bodies as husband and wife showed the complementary character of man and woman and the sacred status of marriage.The Muisca worshipped their gods at sacred sites, both natural, such as Lake Guatavita, the Siecha Lakes and Lake Tota and constructed; the Sun and Moon Temples in respectively Suamox (the "Rome" or "Mecca" of the Muisca) and Chía, City of the Moon. During these rituals the priests, obgues, performed sacrifices, sometimes human in character. The last public religious ceremony of the Muisca was performed in Ubaque on December 27, 1563.Knowledge about the Muisca religion was brought to Europe by conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada and soldier Juan de Castellanos in the 16th century and by bishop Lucas Fernández de Piedrahita and friar Pedro Simón in the 17th century. Modern Muisca scholars who wrote about the religion of the inhabitants of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense are Javier Ocampo López and Eduard Londoño.Pacanchique
Pacanchique was a person in the mythology of the Muisca. He is said to have been the son of the cacique of Ramiriquí; Baganique. During that time, Ramiriquí was part of the zacazgo of Quemuenchatocha of the northern Muisca Confederation. Pacanchique's fiancé, Azay, is said to have been kidnapped by Quemuenchatocha and Pacanchique did all to get her back, eventually leading the Spanish conquistadores to Hunza to beat Quemuenchatocha.Sun Temple (Sogamoso)
The Sun Temple of Sogamoso was a temple constructed by the Muisca as a place of worship for their Sun god Sué. The temple was built in Sogamoso, Colombia, then part of the Muisca Confederation and called Sugamuxi. It was the most important temple in the religion of the Muisca. The temple was destroyed by fire brought by the Spanish conquistadores led by Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada who was eager to find the legendary El Dorado. A reconstruction has been built in the Archeology Museum of Sogamoso.Thomagata
Thomagata or Fomagata was a mythical cacique who was said to have been zaque of Hunza, present-day Tunja, Colombia, then part of the Muisca Confederation. He is remembered as one of the most religious in the history of the zaques, after Idacansás.Tunjo
A tunjo (from Muysccubun: chunso) is a small anthropomorh or zoomorph figure elaborated by the Muisca as part of their art. Tunjos were made of gold or tumbaga; a gold-silver-copper alloy. The Muisca used their tunjos in various instances in their religion and the small votive offering figures have been found in various places on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, Colombia. Tunjos were used as offer pieces, to communicate with the gods and when the Muisca asked for favours from their deities. Muisca scholar Pedro Simón wrote about the tunjos of the Muisca.