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[Tidbits] Inca Gold Llama


The question often arises. as some of you readers may have upon
occasion noticed. whether or not the item I am presenting is jewelry
or not. And there may be times. as some of you readers may have again
upon occasion noticed… that when delving into the world of
antiquity. I might–though quite rarely–declare a piece as fitting
into a rather nebulous arena I like to call jewelry. This is at
times. a bit of a stretch. After all. just what is it that denotes a
piece of artistic formation as being jewelry. or something else? There
are many parameters. For today. I will pick one. Size. Two feet tall.
it’s a statue. Two inches tall. it’s jewelry. I do not ask for
agreement. Just acknowledgement of possibility.

Which thrusts us–via a methodology too arcane to understand–to a
time dating back 500 years. Peru. AD 1400-1550. The Incan Empire.
bigger at that time than Ottoman Turkey and Ming China. It was in
fact–then–the largest empire in the world. It ruled over 12 million
people. Of course. around 1520 the Spanish hopped on over. and the
collapse began. The killer of empires was clearly the invasion of
self-proclaimed modern civilizations.

Domesticated animals played substantial roles on human development.
Cows for milk. Goats for cheese. Horses for war. And for the Incas.
the Llama. They don’t run well. They don’t have much power. When
they’re tired. they just stop dead in their tracks. Ah. but they can
handle high altitude. And they make for great wool. and tasty meat.
and rich manure.

Also. if gently cajoled. they can be urged to pose for a local artist
while he plies his trade and makes a likeness of the noble creature.
This is what happed to Jeremiah–the name I gave this golden
beastie–while he sat for a person I shall call Xtypopl-the-jeweler.
Jeremiah stands comfortably in the palm of one’s hand. He is 2 1/2
inches high. He is hollow. He is made of hammered-out thin leaves of
gold. And he is very light.

He is a pleasant enough fellow standing erect and smiling pleasantly
and waiting patiently as Xtypopl-the-jeweler does his thing. This by
itself is pretty amazing as Jeremiah has been known–as often as
not–to look upon Jeremiah with a sneer and–should the mood
strike–let loose with a gob of spit smack dab dead center of
Xtypopl-the-jeweler’s puss. Llamas are clearly not as friendly as
first appearances might lead one to believe. Should said spitting
llama also have a case of bad breath. I would suggest a quick
immersion into the local stream for a while. piranhas be damned.

Okay. Finito. The fact that gold was–for the Incas–a major
attribute to the supreme Inca sun god is fodder for another Tidbit at
another time. While you wait for this momentous occasion. you can
ponder and communicate with me as to whether or not
Xtypopl-the-jeweler’s creation is indeed jewelry or not.

In the meantime. you know the rest. The visit to the image… . also
known as the viewing experience. You know where. Home page. Scroll down. Left side. Tidbits. Click.
And there for your sensory optic pleasure you will see an image of
Xtypopl-the-jeweler’s creation. a 2 1/2 inch hollow gold llama.

And there ya have it. That’s it for this week folks. Catch you all
next week.

Benjamin Mark