Open main menu

Wikipedia β

Guecha Warriors (Spanish: "güechas" or "gueches") were warriors of the Muisca Confederation who defended the territory of the Muisca, and inhabited the Tenza and Ubaque valleys and the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, the high plateau of the Colombian Eastern Ranges of the Andes in the time before the Spanish conquest. Neighboring tribes were Panche people, who inhabited the area to the west of the Altiplano in the hills leading to the Magdalena River, and the Pijao. From descriptions, the "güechas" seem to have been a separate endogynous caste who served as guardians of the Muisca Territory.[1]

Contents

EtymologyEdit

Güechá, in the Chibcha language of the Muisca, has a number of possible translations. The word güe- (with umlaut) can mean "people", "I killed", "house" or "place", and chá means "man" or "male"; meaning güechá can be literally translated to "man of the people", "man who causes death" - which would fit perfectly with status or rank of the warrior [1] - or "man of the house".

Güechá also stands for "the brother from another my mother", so "uncle".[2]

Selection processEdit

The Güechá Warriors were an elite troop of the Hamza soldiers. They were selected among the strongest and bravest men of the domains of the zipa, the ruler of the southern Muisca Confederation. The selection considerations did not require nobility of lineage, so any Chibcha could be enrolled and become a güechá. If one stood out for their value they could become appointed cacicas and therefore a part of the local nobility. The Güechá were reputed for valor, courage and overcoming a rigidly organized society within an absolutist monarchical system.[3]

FeaturesEdit

A privileged group, individual Guecha Warriors were esteemed for toughness, courage and bravery. Their work earned them prizes, as well as vacancies in cacicazgos (chiefdoms). Those who fell in battle received posthumous honors, meaning their corpses were adorned with certain balsams and borne on the shoulders of other fighters. Their presence was then used to infuse life into other soldiers. As undefeated Cid Ruy Diaz de Vivar, the Muisca guechas were rescued from death to go out and win battles against their enemies. The guecha status was not hereditary; dignity was not being reached by birth. It was only available to men of courage and great strength with weapons. It could be that the warriors were the only "democratic" group among the Muisca.[4]

AppearanceEdit

The Muisca rulers (zaques and zipas) wore armor made of gold.

Chroniclers from the period of the Conquest give interesting details: "Men of great bodies, bold, loose, determined and vigilant" (Simon Peter), "brave and determined men, with big beautiful arrangement, lightness and skill" (Lucas Fernández de Piedrahita). Muisca men of the above qualities were sought among the vassals of the entire zipazgo of Bogotá instructing and sending them to the strengths of its borders.

HairEdit

Warriors wore their hair very short,[5] in the words of the Chronicler "walked shorn" (Fernandez de Piedrahita) for safety and to disengage in combat. Muisca ordinary men, by contrast, wore shoulder-length hair and party "as Nazarene 'as seen in some of the chief indigenous losparientes Pedro Snuff, oil painting by Gaspar de Figueroa in 1656 and owned by the Cómbita temple in Boyacá, entitled "San Nicolas de Tolentino". Fernandez de Piedrahita writes that it was considered a great shame to cut off the hair of a cacique; the Spanish invaders used that punishment to shame them. High-ranking muiscas, such as the chief of Tunja is known Quemuenchatocha wore long hair so they could roll it over their head within a wreath of feathers that Piedrahita describes as falling onto the eyebrows. Other major lords and chieftains wore bonnets or cotton caps.

JewelryEdit

Sumptuary customs forbade common men and women from using paints, glass or jewelry. The jewels were only for men and or priests, chiefs or captains who were brave within the "hierarchies among vassals" (Fernandez de Piedrahita). The rich wore blankets and embijados bodies during processions, ceremonies and contests. Crowns were similar to mitres and tiaras, forehead crescents of gold or silver with upturned toes, masks, gold medallions, bracelets with beads of green stone, red, white or beads strung at intervals. They used fine gold in gold chagualas noses and ears, etc. Uzaques "grandees" were allowed to pierce their ears and noses and to wear neck jewelry. The "guechas" were certainly important for the trade that developed in the defense of the territory, according to Pedro Simon, and were licensed to use gold objects. They had the edge pierced ears as well as nose and lips and hung their "fine gold beads, and how many had died panches everyone in the war" (Fernández de Piedrahita).

Armament and warEdit

Weapons of the Muisca, which would use 'guechas "mentioned clubs, darts, spears, arrows, slingshots, tiraderas; Bows manipulated their slaves panches and Colimas that they had and they were taken with them to war. The Indians went into major combat "with beautiful curled feather plumes parrots and parrots, many of them in wide ribbons of fine gold, encrusted with emeralds lucid intervals, bracelets and fine coral beads, with gold beads at intervals ... " (Peter Simon). Fernández de Piedrahita mentioned in the fighting "... Vija inks and jagua for adornment and nuance of bodies ... ".

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

BibliographyEdit

  • Henderson, Hope, and Nicholas Ostler. 2005. Muisca settlement organization and chiefly authority at Suta, Valle de Leyva, Colombia: A critical appraisal of native concepts of house for studies of complex societies. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 24. 148–178.

Further readingEdit

  • Aguado, Pedro de, 1957, History Collection, Library of the Presidency of Colombia, Bogotá, National Press
  • Alcedo, Antonio, 1967, Gazetteer-History of the West Indies or America, 4 vols., Library of Spanish Authors, Madrid, Editions Atlas
  • Castellanos, Juan de, 1955, Elegías de varones ilustres de Indias, Library of the Presidency of Colombia. Bogotá, Editorial A.B.C.
  • Fernández de Oviedo, Gonzalo, 1959, General and Natural History of the Indies, 5 vols.
  • Fernáasfdasdfndez de Piedrahita, Lucas, 1881, General History of the conquest of the New Kingdom of Granada, Bogota, Printing of Medardo Rivas
  • Pérez González, Stella Maria, 1987, Chibcha dictionary and grammar, manuscript of the National Library of Colombia, transcription and study, Bogota, Instituto Caro y Cuervo
  • Simón, Pedro, 1953, New histories of the conquests of the mainland in the West Indies, 5 vols., Colombian Authors Library, Ministry of Education, Bogota Bolivar Editions
  • Uricoechea, Ezequiel, 1871, grammar, vocabulary, catechism and confessional of the Chibcha language as ancient manuscripts and unpublished anonymous, increased correjidos, Paris, Maisonneuve i Cia
  • Velandia, Robert, 1979-1982, Historical Encyclopedia of Cundinamarca, 5 vols. Authors Library Cundinamarca, Bogota, National Cooperative Graphic Arts