September 25, 2012

0341 BOLIVIA (La Paz) - Tiwanaku: Spiritual and Political Centre of the Tiwanaku Culture - Puerta del Sol (UNESCO WHS)


In ca. 750AD, when Tiwanaku (also spelled Tiahuanaco), the capital city of a powerful empire that dominated a large area of the southern Andes and beyond, reached its apogee, Iberian Peninsula had just been conquered by Moors and Spanish people hadn't been formed yet. Not even Spanish, the language in which the conquistador Pedro Cieza de Leon will write, for the first time, about the ruins of this civilization, doesn't exist yet.

Little is known about the city itself, located on the southern shore of the Lake Titicaca, along the present border between Bolivia and Peru, because its inhabitants left no written history, but the material evidences, whether it's about their monumental constructions or about pottery, prove a high level of civilization. It seems that around 400 AD, Tiwanaku went from being a locally dominant force to a predatory state, extending its domination in the ensuing centuries over the portions of what is now Peru, Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia, order for around 1000 AD to completely disappear. So when the conquering Inca arrived in this region, to the mid-15th century, the site had been mysteriously abandoned for half a millennium.

Tiwanaku monumental architecture is characterized, as that of the Incas, by large stones of exceptional workmanship, but in contrast to it, is based on rectangular ashlar blocks, laid in regular courses. The architectural appeal of the site comes from the carved images and designs on some of these blocks, carved doorways, and giant stone monoliths. The buildings that have been excavated include the Akapana, Akapana East, and Pumapunku stepped platforms, the Kalasasaya, the Kheri Kala, and Putuni enclosures, and the Semi-Subterranean Temple.

In image is a detail of The Gate of the Sun (in Spanish Puerta del Sol, in Quechua Inti Punku), constructed from a single piece of stone and having approximately 3m tall and 4m wide. When it was rediscovered by European in the mid-19th century, the megalith was lying horizontally and had a large crack. It currently stands in the same location where it was found (in the northwestern corner of the Kalasasaya), although it is believed that this isn't its original location. The lintel is carved with 48 squares surrounding a central figure, the engravings being believed to possess astronomical and/or astrological significance. Each square represents a character in the form of winged effigy, 32 with human faces and 16 with condor's heads. Regarding the central figure, a man with the head surrounded by 24 linear rays, the archaeologists believe that it is either the Sun God, or the Sky and Thunder God, Viracocha (named also Thunupa).

The Inca legends say that Viracocha rose from Lake Titicaca during the time of darkness to bring forth light. He made the sun, moon, and the stars. He made a race of giants, who built Tiwanaku. These beings enraged the God, so he destroyed them with a flood and made a new, better race, from smaller stones. This was human race.

Tiwanaku: Spiritual and Political Centre of the Tiwanaku Culture became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

About the stamp
First stamp is part of the fourth series, dedicated to La Paz, of a set named Sightseeing in Bolivia. Issued on May 28, 1997, it includes six stamps:

• Mount Chulumani in the South Yungas (0.50 BOB)
• Inca Monolith Bennet (0.80 BOB)
• Mount Illimani and La Paz by Night (1.50 BOB)
• Gate of the Sun at Tiahuanacu (Tiwanaku) (2.00 BOB)
• Folk Dances Caporales (2.50 BOB) - it's on the postcard
• The Virgin of Copacabana and Lake Titicaca and Boats (10.00 BOB)

Caporales is a traditional Bolivian dance, originating in the Department of La Paz, created and presented to the public for the first time in 1969 by the Estrada Pacheco brothers, who were inspired in the Afro-Bolivian Saya character of the Caporal, a dance that belongs to the region of the Yungas.

The second stamp is also part of the fourth series, dedicated to Cochabamba, of a set named Birds of Bolivia. Issued on August 21, 2007, it includes two stamps:
• Egretta Alba (4.00 BOB)
• Bubo Virginianus (6.50 BOB) - it's on the postcard

Tiwanaku - Wikipedia
The Bolivian Atlantis - South American Pictures
Tiwanaku Empire -
The amazing engineering designs of Tiahuanaco -
Viracocha and the coming of the Incas - 
La Paz stamps series - El Bolivariano 
Cochabamba birds stamps series - El Bolivariano

sender: Daltry Gárate (direct swap)
sent from La Paz (Bolivia), on 18.08.2012

1 comment: