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Monday, September 27, 2021

The Amazing and Unique Chimu Civilization or Culture

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The Chimu civilization or Chimor Kingdom, was located in the Andes, on the northern coast of Peru. They are usually overshadowed by the Incas in history, but it is important to note that the Incas adopted many aspects of the Chimu culture. For example, the rulers inherited the title, but not the property, of their predecessor; allowing conquered people some autonomy, etc. They flourished in the 14th century until the 1470s, when the last ruler was captured by the Incas. During this period, they built large cities, which were based on agriculture with massive irrigation systems. They were great textile craftsmen; as well as with gold, silver and copper.

The center of the Chumu culture was the city of Chan Chan, the capital. It is located on the river valley of Moche or Santa Catalina. Today, nine large rectangular complexes can still be seen, with high earthen walls. In the past, these complexes were probably palaces. Within the complexes can be found temples, homes, storehouses, reservoirs and funeral platforms. The walls were usually decorated in the inside with different geometrical shapes, reliefs, animals and fish. As the palaces were built, more space was given to a storage building. Although the city used to cover around 20 square kilometers, the archeological site today is only six square kilometers, and it’s the largest earthen city in pre-Columbian America. The city planning is a masterpiece, with differentiated use of inhabited space and hierarchical construction. Today, the site is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Chimu art was mostly influenced by the Wari and Moche civilizations. They made remarkable jewelry out of carved shells, gold and silver; but also from imported amber and emeralds. The pottery was made using molds with sculptured decorations, usually the shape of double-spouted bulbous jars. The clothing and other textiles were natural colors, decorated with feathers with cotton backing, dyed in different colors. Some of the textiles, usually for the ruling class, were decorated with gold and silver. One tunic has actually survived until today. The tunic has 7000 small gold ingots individually sewn into the garment.

Not much is knownabout the rulers of the Chimu Kingdom. The first ruler was Taycanamo, who is considered to have been born from a golden egg that came from the sea. Another ruler is Guacricaur, who conquered Moche, Santa and Zana valleys. Nancinpinco conquered Lambayeque. The kingdom reached its height under Minchancaman in c. 1400, who conquered the La Leche Valley. At its highest expanse, the Chimu kingdom stretched 1300 km along the coast of northern Peru. They were a dominant regional power until the rise of the Incas. Tupac Yupanqui, an Inca ruler, captured Minchançaman in c. 1470. The king was kept as a prisoner in Cuzco until his death. This marked the end of the Chimu kingdom.

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