Saturday, December 08, 2012

Peru: Inca Ritual of "Golden Shovel"

Realm of the Incas by Victor W. von Hagen on I recommend the book Realm of the Incas by Victor W. von Hagen to all interested in understanding how the Incas--the last dynasty of ancient Perú--managed to create, manage, and lose their empire, which they called Tawantinsuyu - "The Four Quarters of the World." 

Von Hagen presents and interprets archeological and historical evidence in comparison with other ancient and modern cultures in a very accessible and unconceited manner. For instance, an excerpt from pages 64-66: 
Agriculture was the soul of the Inca Empire; it determined everything. The Andean farmers' year was divided into two seasons: wet and dry. The wet season began in October and extended to May; the dry season, starting in May, although subject to considerable caprice (hence the Inca's preoccupation with obeisance to the unseen powers), continued into November.

In the autumn the lands of the commune were divided fairly between the members of the ayllu, the earth cell which controlled the communal land tenure. First the lands (chacras) assigned to the Inca, that is state lands, were cultivated communally (part of the Indians' mitta tax of service), then the lands of the sun, the state religion. The fruits thereof were harvested and stored for the use of these agencies. These state granaries were stocked, so the early Spaniard remembered, with maize, quinoa, chuñu, charqui (dried llama meat), fish, cords, hemp, wool, cotton, sandals, and military arms, stored in hampers, each item in its appropriate warehouse. They were seen by Francisco de Xerez, the first soldier-chronicler of the conquest of 1533, who remembered these storehouses as being "pilled to the roof, as the Merchants of Flanders and Medina make them."

The work of tilling these fields done, the puric then turned to his own.

August was plowing time, and work in each other's field was--like all else-communal. It began with a festival. The nobility took it all most seriously and always participated. "If," wrote the Jesuit historian Padre Cobo, "the Inca himself or his governor or some high official happened to be present, he started the work with a golden digging stick which they brought to the Inca, and following his example all the other officials and nobles who accompanied him did the same." (No different in idea today than some state official turning the soil with a gold-plated shovel or else laying a cornerstone with a golden trowel.*)
Men and women plowing the fields together. The men use the foot plow, called taclla;
the  women break up the clods of earth. Another woman brings corn chicha to drink.
From "El Primer Nueva Corónica Y Buen Gobierno" by Felipe Guamán Poma de Ayala.
They had no plow as such, and no draft animals. Men used, as they still do, the taclla, or foot plow, which was a thick pole six feet in length with a fire-hardened point; sometimes it was bronze-tipped. There was a footrest near the tip and it was driven deep into the soil by a thrust of the foot and shoulder pressure. The digging stick, like all else in the realm, was a group tool and was seldom used by only one man. His kinsmen of the ayllu formed a long line across the field to be plowed, and with a rhytmic chant "Jailli" (pronounced "whaylyi," which means "triumph"), "...they triumphed over the soil, writes Garcilaso "the Inca plowing it and disemboweling it."

Ayau jailli, ayau jailli
Kayqa thajilla, kayqa suka!
Kayqa maki; Kayqa jumpi!

Ajailli, qhari, ajailli

Free translation
Ho! Victory, ho! Victory,
Here digging stick, here the furrow!
Here the sweat, here the toil!

THE WOMEN (answering):
Huzzah, men, huzzah!

The men worked backward, the women followed facing them and breaking up the clods with a sort of hoe called lampa. Sara (corn) was planted in September, potatoes when the rains began to fall, i.e. between October and November. After plowing the fields of the Inca, the Sun, and their own, they next turned to those fields of kinsmen who were serving in the army, and then finally to those of the sick and the halt. Their principal tribute (it was part of their tax), said Garcilaso, was "the working and cultivating and harvesting of the lands of the Sun and the Inca."
Von Hagen asserts that the Inca dynasty based its absolutist power on superb organizational skills using and upgrading the great achievements of conquered cultures, creation of religious personality cult, and control of the culture by perpetuating a myth that they were the sole civilizing force. Their empire was low-tech totalitarian welfare state which fostered dogma, group-think and isolationism, as ultra-conservatives they could not cope with new concepts such as the notion that other civilizations may exist across the sea.

* Modern example from Macedonia: Top religious authorities auctioning a golden shovel while consecrating a new building. While the state is nominal secular, the politicians and leaders of religious institutions often benefit from combining their areas of competence. All construction activity paid by the state is subject to rituals involving religious blessings and obligatory photo-op of politicians throwing the first shovel of dirt &/ cutting red ribbons

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

No Memorial Service for the Victims of "Donkey Assasinations," Again

Once again, Macedonia has failed to commemorate one of the darkest days in the history of Štip: On December 4, 1911, as a consequence of the so-called "Donkey Assassinations," dozens of citizens lost their lives, and hundreds were wounded.

The goal of this terror campaign (which also included Kichevo and Dojran) was to incite inter-ethnic and inter-religious hatred resulting in physical violence - mutual slaughter of the population of Macedonia. The primary targets were Muslims, who would took revenge on the Christians, which supposed to create chaos that would invite intervention by the neighboring states, with an end result of complete division of Macedonia. Along the way, those who incited the strife would end up as feudal owners who would privatize and "independently" rule whatever piece of territory they can scoop up from Macedonia.

Štip by the end of XIX century. Photo: Wikipedia.

The Wikipedia in Macedonian article on the "Donkey Assassinations" („Магарешки атентати“) references the book "Treason and Assassinations in the Macedonian History" („Предавствата и атентатите во македонската историја“, 2004) by the state historians Violeta Achkovska and Nikola Zhezhov. They point out that the primary motive for the assassinations involved racketeering. The operations involved members of the pro-Bulgarian, "Autonomist" IMRO disguised as peasants bringing time bombs on donkeys, and leaving them in markets or near religious objects. An excerpt from the article follows, while the quotes in brackets are from the book, which covers this topic from around page 143:
As a result of such terrorist activity on December 4, 1911 in Štip in less than an hour, 20 Christians were killed by angry Muslim mobs, and hundreds were wounded. Initial reports by the Kaymakam of Štip to the Wali [Ottoman governor] of Kosovo Villayet  justified this act of violence with an alleged bomb planted near the mosque wall, which injured three Muslims, with one of them dying from the wounds.
Citizens of Štip suffered the most due to this event, regardless of their complete innocence regarding any participation or approval of the initial crime. In fact the assassination "was inspired by the desire to punish them, and to provoke an incident." British Consul noted that after the shocking "murder of six Muslims near Kiliseli, and the legal consequences and other processes in Štip, ...last year, the local elders decided to terminate any relations with the organization lead by Todor Aleksandrov, refusing to pay contributions to his funds--which they did until then--and to receive and smuggle his emissaries upon their visits to the city." After that, Aleksandrov announced his intention "to bring them to their senses."

Several months ago, several right-wing political parties including the ruling party running the Government of RM paid respects to the organizer of these assassinations, Todor Aleksandrov.  They organized several Orthodox Christian memorial services in his honor, attended by at least one governmental minister. They even built an EUR 73.000 equestrian monument dedicated to him in Skopje (unnamed at the time of erection, then amended with an inscription of the name), and sang а song about him during party celebration. However, not a word about the victims. So when authorities in Macedonia talk about honoring tradition, remembrance of the hardships of the common people does not come into play. Citizens of Štip did not make a peep.

Several years ago, Zarko Trajanoski asked the same question. Sadly, in recent times, 101 years after those loathsome events, similar modus operandi was used for several incidents to incite inter-ethnic and inter-religious hatred. History should be thought as a way to avoid repeating past disasters, not as a list of models to imitate...

Sunday, December 02, 2012

New Kind of "Russian" Spam on Twitter

This article is also available in Macedonian | Овој напис е достапен и на македонски
- на Блогерај: Нов вид „руски“ спамови на Твитер
- на Блогспот: Нов вид „руски“ спамови на Твитер 

I came across a new kind of "Russian" spam - I use the term provisionally because the senders all have Russian names. What they do is make mentions of other twitter users and include text of older tweets sent to them. I assume this is a way to make the tweets look more "legit."

I document through photos, as I also reported them to Twitter for spam, which will hopefully lead to their removal.

The first round of such tweets also have retweets from their "pals."

The text was taken from a tweet by RubinBt, who responded to my question five days before prior (related to a Global Voices post).

Possibly the sender/s who controls those profiles is not proficient in Macedonian language at all...