Muisca rulers

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Map of the Muisca territory
Rule of zaques in yellow, zipas in green

When the Spanish arrived in the central Colombian highlands, the region was organized into the Muisca Confederation, which had two rulers; the zipa was the ruler of the southern part with capital Bacatá, what is now known as Bogotá. The zaque was the ruler of the northern area based in Hunza, known today as Tunja.[1]

Organization[edit]

Zipa and zaque were the titles given to these rulers of the ancient confederation. Neither exercised absolute power, not rigid or strict control over those whom they owed their power, so that they can be considered kings. However, these positions of power were of great honor and were surrounded by a rather elaborate ceremony. The position of the zipa was such that not even the members of the nobility dared to look him in the face, and it is said if the zipa needed to spit, someone would hold out a piece of rich cloth for him to spit on, because it would be sacrilegious for anything so precious as his saliva to touch the ground. Whoever held the cloth (all the while carefully looking the other way) then carried it off to be reverently disposed of.[1]

The zipa was also given the responsibility of offering gold to the gods. He would cover himself with gold and float out on a royal barge to the middle of the sacred Lake Guatavita, where he would offer up golden trinkets. This is widely believed to be how the legend of El Dorado started.[1]

When Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada arrived in the Muisca territories the ruling zipa was Tisquesusa and the zaque was Quemuenchatocha.

Non-patrilineal heritage of rule[edit]

The position of the ruler was inherited, but the line of succession was not patrilineal. Instead, the king was succeeded by his nephew, the oldest son of his oldest sister. There were exceptions, and the ruler's subjects, apparently, had some say in the matter, if only to confirm the successor in his post.[1]

Muisca rulers[edit]

Zaque[edit]

Muisca rulers of Hunza (zaques)
Image Name Start End Details
HUNZAHUA.jpg
Hunzahúa  ? 1470 Founded city of Hunza, now Tunja
Minchua.jpg
Michuá 1470 1490 Died in the Battle of Chocontá
QUEMUENCHATOCHA.jpg
Quemuenchatocha 1490 1537 Ruled when the Spanish arrived in Colombia
Big ugly man with huge twisted nose
AQUIMINZAQUE.jpg
Aquiminzaque 1537 1539 Last Muisca ruler

Zipa[edit]

Muisca rulers of Bacatá (zipas)
Image Name Start End Details
1Meicuchuca.JPG
Meicuchuca 1450 1470 According to legend slept with a snake
Saguamachica2.jpg
Saguamanchica 1470 1490 Died in the Battle of Chocontá
Nemequene.jpg
Nemequene 1490 1514 Introduced the brutal Nemequene Code
TISQUESUSA1.jpg
Tisquesusa 1514 1537 Ruled when the Spanish arrived in Colombia
4 Zaquesazipa.jpg
Sagipa 1537 1539 Last southern Muisca ruler

Other rulers[edit]

Muisca rulers of Tundama and Sugamuxi
Image Name Start End Details
Tundama -1539 Last ruler of Tundama
Sugamuxi.jpg
Sugamuxi -1539 Last iraca of Sugamuxi
Nompanim Second-last iraca of Sugamuxi

See also[edit]

A-Class article Spanish conquest of the Muisca
B-Class article Muisca
C-Class article Muisca Confederation

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Bushnell, David (2012). Colombia: Una nación a pesar de sí misma (in Spanish). Bogotá, Colombia: Planeta. pp. 26–27. ISBN 978-958-42-1729-5.