The Curse of the Gold - 1000 Years of Inca Gold

Press Release: Exhibition at the Prague castle

The legendary treasure of gold of the Inca. Who did not dream of seeing golden cans, masks and magical pieces of jewellery from nearness – close at hand?
After autumn 2008 it will be possible: you can marvel at about 90 original objects from the treasures of the Inca at the castle of Prague.

In dark mystical rooms the exhibition „1000 years of Inca gold“ presents the most beautiful discoveries from the museum of gold in Lima/Peru to the music of the Peruvian highlands. Cans from massive gold, demoniac grinning masks and adorable ear-drops, nose jewellery and votive gifts guide the visitor on a time travel in the past. Single finds are unique copies of highest historical value, which are declared as world cultural heritage. Other exhibits are shown here the first time outside of Peru, for example the complete golden grave decoration of a sovereign. He still retrieves some secret, which can or should be discovered by the visitor.

The Inca did not just found the only empire to the south of the equator, but their empire was also the empire with the largest richness of gold. And this gold guided them to perdition:

For the Inca, gold was the symbol of the sun, of beauty and a gift of the gods without material value. For the Spanish conquerors, however, gold meant only richness – a historical misunderstanding, which finally led to the destruction of the giant Inca empire.

But it is not only the gold, which makes the exhibition that interesting. On an amazing adventure tour it makes the mysterious Indian empire of the Andes accessible to the visitors and shows on the basis of historical sources which bagatelles caused wars, which falsities the commanders were subjects to, which exertions the Spanish conquerors had to suffer and how much blood had to flow for the gold.

The exhibition opens every day (also on public holidays) starting on the 1st November 2008 until 30 may 2009 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. The admission charge is 220 Czech crowns. Pupils, students, seniors and groups get a discount.

For more information visit the homepage www.zlatoinku.cz

The curse of the gold - 1000 years of Inca gold

The exhibition „1000 years of Inca gold – The curse of the gold“ evolved into a crowd puller in Germany. From now on, this successful and sensational exhibition is shown in the Czech Republic, at the castle of Prague. 1000 years of Inca gold shows exclusive exhibits, which give an excellent overview about the traditions and ceremonials of the cultures in the Andean region to the visitors before the conquest of the Europeans. Furthermore, they are an insistent evidence for the art of the goldsmiths in the period between 400 B.C. and 600 AD.


In dark mystical rooms the exhibition presents the most beautiful discoveries from the museum of gold in Lima/Peru. Objects, texts, video clips and installations bring the history of the Andean peoples, their conquest and the baleful history of the gold closer.

Highlight of the exhibition are about 90 art historically significant and so far barely shown original gold exhibits from the Museo de Oro in Lima/Peru. A unique composition of cans, bowls, jewellery, impressive masks and other massive golden items shows the richness of the Inca peoples in a formidable manner. You will be put in the mood of the mystic world of the Inca with large-sized pictures  in the entrance area.

In the first part of the exhibition you will find informative texts and thereto adequate exhibits: amphoras, oblations, weapons, textiles and tools give a subtle impression in the Inca thinking and their traditions. Impressive: the replica of the legendary 4 meters high Lanzón sculpture.

Thereafter, the proper highlight opens up to the well informed visitor: the fantastic golden exhibits, which captivate with height, craftsmanship and rareness glisten in magical darkness. Crowns, bucklers, cans, jewellery and ceremonial knives are presented outstandingly in special showcases and framed by large-scaled pictures. Animal displays and god figures arrange for fascination and goose-skin. Koka bags and enormous golden beer cans announce of shamans and hallucinogen ceremonials. Complete burial objects leads one to suspect the meaning of the Inca sovereigns.

Video clips and a special stereoscopic laser display provide an additional insight into the mysticism of the Inca. The pre-Colombian cultures are really requicked.

The exhibition was previously shown in Leipzig, Berlin and in the Museum of ethnology Hamburg with a huge success.

The collision of the cultures

The exhibition „The curse of the gold - 1000 years of Inca gold “ shows exclusive exhibits from the fabulous gold treasure of the Inca at the castle of Prague in the Czech Republic starting in autumn 2008. At the same time the visitor gets a brilliant overview over the traditions and ceremonials of the cultures in the Andean region until the conquest by the Europeans.

The Inca regarded themselves as the rulers of the world


Amazingly, their state existed only for 90 years. This empire extended over almost 5,000 kilometres (from north to south), along the Andes and the Pacific coast.
Cuzco was the political, religious and cultural centre of the empire. Not only the ruler resided in the large town, but there was also the main shrine, the sun temple and the main place for education. During the arrival of the first Spaniards in Peru, up to 200,000 people should have lived in Cuzco.
Because of the centralist state machinery, the Inca had their power. They extended consequently their sphere of influence by annexing the surrounding area to the Inca state either with diplomacy or with conquest. Finally, the Inca ruled over the largest part of the southern Andes. They extended their empire into the northern part of Ecuador and Bolivia.
Quetchua was the official language in the Inca empire. This language was the mother tongue of the people, who had already lived in the valley of Cuzco in the past, before the Inca. Today, million of Indians speak the language in Peru and Ecuador.
As the Spaniards came into the country with around 160 people, the Incas were weakened due to illness brought to the empire and they were distracted because of wars caused by the line of successions. Therefore, the Europeans, being superior in weapons, conquered easily the empire. In 1533, the last ruler Atahualpa was murdered.

The Spanish conquerors

The last Inca ruler named Atahualpa knew nothing about the two dangers coming from the north, which threatened his empire and also himself.
At first, the Spaniards brought smallpox in the Caribbean during their wars of conquest – having fatal repercussions because the immune system of the inhabitants had no protection against the deadly epidemic.
The second danger was more important for history: caused by a group of adventurers around Francisco Pizzaro. He travelled to South America suffering from stress and making sacrifices to get all the glory for him and his country and to become rich. It went on positively: as he arrived in the empire in 1532, the Inca were in their final stage of a civil war due to succession of the ruler.

Pizzaro beat Atahualpa’s army of 5000 men with his 160 adventurers. He captured the ruler. Later, he had the ruler murdered against his promise after extorting immense golden treasures from Atahualpa. Beginning with Atahualpa’s capture and execution, the Spaniards conquered Peru. Pizarro became the most successful conqueror, but he could not enjoy his wealth. Nevertheless, he went down unusually in the annals of history: as he flooded the Inca empire and Spain with stolen gold, he caused unintentionally the first galloping inflation.

Gold, silver and platinum

are often and easy to find in Peru. Adventurers and gold-diggers fetch precious metals as nuggets and pads out of the river sand or feeder layers this very day. For the Incas, they were mythical bonded with „mother earth“ and renewed themselves frequently by the strength of the sun. They did not know iron. The Incas had a brilliant knowledge of the treatment of precious metals earlier than the Spanish. They knew how to cast, drive, braze and alloy gold and also how to define the melting points of gold. The exhibition of the Inca Treasures is a textbook of highly-developed art of goldsmithing.

For the Incas, gold was not a substantial value

They did not know the meaning of money. Gold was sacred and reserved for the gentry, similar to the fine wool of the best lama species (Vicunas). They estimated as a gift of the gods and the image of the sun, from which it was born. The brilliance and converting were important, but not the amount of the gold. Razor-thin gold masks had been regarded as precious as massive big cups or crowns. The Spanish often had to melt down hundreds of pieces of jewellery to send a gold bar to their king. The exposed treasures are evidence of this.

Gold served the Incas in life and death

Inca priests took sacred beverages from big golden cups, but they also teared the vellicating heart out of the chests of the prisoners of war with golden knives („tumis“) as gods sacrifices. Golden instruments were used in medicine, golden jewellery attended the dead in the grave. Gold earned the Inca sovereigns as sons of the sun adoration and force, gold sealed the destiny of their peoples. Not much remained, neither from the people, nor from the treasures. The shown Inca treasure gives us a feeling of the brilliance and the high culture of the Inca peoples of the Andes.

Gold and the avidity for it

drove the Spanish to Latin America. They incured enormous exertions, battled their way through forests, adversary hosts and gasped exhausted for breath in the highlands. They left their families and women behind, did not know if they would return. The located, blackmailed or stolen gold only had a substantial value for them. They distrusted the new gods and regarded themselves as the true owners of all treasures in the new spanish settlements. The gold did not bring good luck to them soever: they killed each other, were blagged by pirates, scuttled by storms on their way to Spain and caused the first and biggest inflation of Europe and the new countries: The gold treasure shown conformed in Peru to the countervalue of a few ducks produced in Spain.

Sacred gold

A short abstract of the history of metal processing in Peru

In the Inca exhibition, which starts in autumn 2008 at the castle of Prague, everything centres on gold. With its exhibits, it gives a unique insight in the superior goldsmiths of the Inca and their forefathers besides the historic classification of the pieces of jewellery and the partly unknown histories behind the history in the time of the Spanish conquest.

The artists were able to clone even every nut, bolt and screw. Chroniclers report on headhigh figurines of pure gold in the palaces and temples of the Inca. Whole gardens copied the reality of gold, silver and gemstones.

It is due to the long tradition of the metal processing in the Andean states, that the Inca and their ancestor cultures got to a true championship with the processing of the precious metal.

In Peru, there are the oldest examples for the processing of metal in whole America. It is a matter of single finds, which are approximately 4000 years old. A continuous use of metal can first be proved for the Chavin horizon (after 1200 B.C.). The multiplicity and the championship of the used techniques are a sign of a considerably longer development. In the following eras, the for a long time known techniques were simply refined. The only true improvement is the discovery of the bronze in the course of the middle horizon (about 500 – 900 AD).

While the cultures at the south coast of Peru processed the precious metal in a very small quantity, this handcraft developed mainly at the north coast. For the Chimu state (1300 – 1500 AD) specialised goldsmiths are detectable, who had been taken over by the Inca after the conquest of the north coast and whose technical traditions stood remaining in the late horizon.

With the conquest of the Inca state by the Spanish (after 1532), many certificates of the Peruvian metal handcraft irrecoverably disappeared. It is only known from the reports of the chroniclers, that also bigger objects like statues or wall coverings are made from precious metal. The spanish conquerors melted all golden items they found to bars and coins.

Prices

adults 220 Kč

reduced tickets 160 Kč
(students and trainees up to 26 years;seniors from 60 years; disabled persons (identity card ZTP)

students up to 15 years 80 Kč

children under 6 years free

registered groups 160 Kč
(from 15 people, 1 companion free of charge)

class groups (per student) 60 Kč
(10 students minimum)

families 420 Kč
two parents and children up to 15 years

Booking in advance by Ticketportal

Impress

The curse of the gold
1000 years of Inca gold


Host:
Museo de Oro del Perú

Operator:
Výstavnická PR s.r.o.

Co-host:
AGENTURA SCHOK, s. r. o.

Curators:
Prof. Dr. Wilfried Morawetz, Leipzig (departed 2007)
Doc. Markéta Křížová, PhD.

Lender:
Gold: Museo de Oro del Perú - Armas del Mundo
Fundación Mujica Gallo, Lima

Chief representative Museo de Oro:
Luis Hurtado, Sevilla

Organisation and technical administration:
PR & Ausstellungs Ltd., Leipzig

Exhibition architecture:
Urban & Urban, Leipzig
Rainer Ilg, Andreas Carl, Ruben von Ochsenstein

Space installation:
Urban & Urban, Leipzig

Texts:
Claudia Schmitz M.A., Prof. Dr. Wilfried Morawetz

Pictures:
Claudia Schmitz M.A., Prof. Dr. Wilfried Morawetz, Luis Hurtado, Sevilla

Exhibition graphics:
Andreas Carl, Leipzig, Hendrik Urban, Leipzig

Video clips:
Ali Eckert, Berlin, Prof. Dr. Wilfried Morawetz  

Sculpture (Lanzón)
Reinhard Rösler, Leipzig

Video on YouTube

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