Chavín de huantar: the “bearers of san pedro”

Lumbreras’ excavations in the Lanzón Temple of Chavín de Huántar during the 1970s gave birth to 22 bas-reliefs, found on the spot as part of the wall of a circular plaza. One of these reliefs (70 cm wide by 80 cm high) represents an anthropomorphic character with animal attributes.

These reliefs belong to the last great extension of the Temple of Lanzón, which included the construction of the circular plaza; its antiquity, then, is of 750 years a. C. The San Pedro also appears in other reliefs of Chavín de Huantar, that are in the lítico deposit of the archaeological site. One of them, reproduced by Tello, represents four stems of the cactus, of four striae each.

Cupisnique: the theme “feline among cactus” in ceramics In the Cupisnique area of northern Peru, a series of stirrup handle ceramics have been found with representations of San Pedro. Most of them have been obtained in the Jequetepeque valley through clandestine excavations, so their exact origin and archaeological context are unknown, and their chronological location is uncertain. However, by their style, most of them are attributed to the Middle Formative (900-400 years BC).

The recurrence of columnar and feline cacti in a particular type of staggered handle ceramic has made it possible to typify the “feline cactus” theme, characteristic of the cupisnique style, also called “classic chavín” because of its similarity to the lytic art of Chavín de Huantar.

“A notable confusion among archaeologists, from the 1930s to the present day, is that it is taken as an example, to illustrate classical pottery” Chavin “, Cupìsnique stirrup handle bottles. Certain morphological features and, above all, certain iconographic representations in Cupisnique ceramics that have parallels with part of the pottery found, as well as the style of the iconographic representations of the lytic corpus of Chavín de Huantar, postulate a common cultural tradition with this site whose nature is under investigation. “(Elera, 1994: 227).

There are more than a dozen bottles with the theme “feline among cacti”, some whole, others restored and others by fragments. The characteristics shared by all are: The bottle: pottery handle stirrup; globular body; fine granular paste; gray color imitation stone; flat or semi-flat base; lip slightly flattened or rounded; sculptural designs modeled in relief and incised and dotted engraving.

The San Pedro: two or three shaped stems, with four striae and without spines (the areolas have been figured as incised points), protrude from the globular body of the bottles. It identifies the species Trichocereus pachanoi or “San Pedro female”; its representation is similar to that seen in the lytic art of Chavin de Huántar. The feline: is represented realistically in different positions – leaving a cave, sitting, cast, stopped; front or profile, lurking between the steep columns of San Pedro, showing the tusks in an aggressive attitude and decorated with concentric circles; sometimes along with boas and signs staggered in volute. These felines are remarkably similar to those of the circular plaza of Chavín de Huántar. The similarities between the representations of the theme “feline among cacti” in the Cupisnique area and the “bearers of San Pedro” in Chavín de Huántar (in both cases the cactus is represented in a similar style, with four striations or “winds”, associated to the cat, etc.), indicate that this plant was integrated to the common religious tradition that linked to the mentioned regions. In addition, in the ceramics of the Cupisnique area it is possible to find other representations of the San Pedro, which are not included in the theme “felino entre cactus”. In a bottle of stirrup handle are represented three stems of San Pedro next to a pumpkin; in another bottle of the same type you can see a San Pedro branch next to a shell Spondylus and a deer. A glass with the realistic shape of a six-rib San Pedro stem is also reported, with small spines represented by incisions.