More on the Legend of El Dorado

September 2, 2009 § Leave a comment

One of my first posts here was on the Muisca indians and the origin of the legend of El Dorado. The purpose was to explain that El Dorado was not a place, but a person. What follows is a video (in SP) on the legend as well as an excerpt from the book History of Colombia, written in 1938, which I am reading.

“Belalcázar could not bear the thought of being a subaltern, and, his chief Pizarro having failed to make him the governor of Quito, he conceived the idea of pushing northward beyond the frontiers of Peru to discover new lands which he could govern with royal license. In Latacunga, Ecuador, Luis de Daza met an Indian who was not a native of that region and who spoke of his country as a land filled with gold and emeralds. He also referred to a peculiar ceremony in which the chief of one of the villages would cover his body with gold dust and then bathe himself in a small lake into which the jewels offered to the gods were thrown. When Belalcázar heard this tale, he exclaimed: “Let’s go and see that Gilded Man;” hence the name El Dorado given to the region in search of which so many hardships were suffered by the Spaniards. The chroniclers say this Indian called his country Cundinamarca…”

Here’s a link to the English-language version of the Museo del Oro in Bogotá. The actual lake referenced in the tale is called the Laguna de Guatavita (pictured below) and it lies 35 miles north-east of Bogotá in the department of Cundinamarca.

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