El Dorado

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    Many of the conquistadors who came to American territory were attracted by the great wealth the natives were known to have. They knew of ceremonies and solemn rites in which the Chibchas tossed into their sacred lake offerings to the gods and from this evolved the legend of El Dorado, which is related to the worship of water.

    Lagoons were considered sacred places where ceremonies of great splender were celebrated. "Tunjos" (gold figurines) were tossed in the water as offerings to the gods. Amongst the most important sacred places is the Guatavita Lagoon where the election of the chief of that region took place. Once elected the chief, covered completely in gold dust, would go to the center of the lagoon aboard a gold raft and would sink into the water.

    It is also believed that when the Spaniards came, in order to avoid being robbed of their treasures and subjected to a culture which was not that of their ancestors, the Indians threw themselves with their belongings from the highest peaks and in doing so preserved their identity.

 

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Last updated: March 04, 2001.