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Chibcha(chĭb`chə), indigenous people of the eastern cordillera of the Andes of Colombia. Although trade with neighboring tribes was common, the Chibcha seem to have evolved their culture in comparative isolation. They were the most highly developed of the Colombians, practicing agriculture, melting and casting gold and copper ornaments, mining emeralds, weaving textiles, and making pottery. They evolved a stratified society of overlords and vassals, in which succession to office was matrilineal and inheritance of personal property was patrilineal. Among the commoners, or farmers, organization was patrilineal. The priesthood constituted a hereditary noble class. Religious ceremonies included human sacrifice. The source of the legend of El Dorado is attributed to them, probably because of a Chibcha ceremony, also partly legendary, in which a new ruler was covered with gold dust each year, and then washed in a sacred lake. The Chibcha were conquered by the Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de QuesadaJiménez de Quesada, Gonzalo
, c.1499–1579, Spanish conquistador in Colombia. Chief magistrate of Santa Marta, he was commissioned to explore the Magdalena in search of El Dorado.
..... Click the link for more information. between 1536 and 1541. The Chibcha languages, a separate language family, are spoken in Colombia and spread northward to other areas. Surviving Chibcha-speaking tribes, such as the Cuna and Lenca of Central America, have experienced much culture change since the Spanish conquest.
(Muisca), a group of South American Indian tribes of the Chibchan language family; creators of an advanced ancient civilization in South America.
The Chibcha lived in the high valleys in the Cordillera Oriental in present-day Colombia. The basic economy was terrace farming (potatoes, corn, beans, squash); weaving and the making of pottery and jewelry were well developed. Their religion consisted of nature and ancestor worship. Several early class states (Bogotá, Tunja, Sogamoso), headed by supreme rulers, existed among the Chibcha at the time of the Spanish conquest (1536). Lack of coordination among these states and constant civil strife prevented the Chibcha from putting up serious resistance to the Spanish conquerors, who occupied the entire country in 153641. The descendants of the Chibcha have blended into the present-day mixed population of Colombia.
REFERENCESSozina, S. A. Muiski—eshche odna tsivilizatsiia drevnei Ameriki. Moscow, 1969.
Sozina, S. A. Na gorizonte—EI’doradol Moscow, 1972.