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El Dorado(ĕl`dərä`dō, –rā`–) [Span.,=the gilded man], legendary country of the Golden Man sought by adventurers in South America. The legend supposedly originated in a custom of the ChibchaChibcha
, 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.
..... Click the link for more information. people of Colombia who each year anointed a chieftain and rolled him in gold, which he then ceremonially washed off in a sacred lake, casting offerings of emeralds and gold into the waters at the same time. This custom had apparently disappeared long before the coming of the conquistadors, but the tales lived on and grew into a legend of a land of gold and plenty. Gonzalo PizarroPizarro, Gonzalo
, c.1506–1548, Spanish conquistador, brother of Francisco Pizarro. A lieutenant of his brother in the conquest of Peru, Gonzalo aided in the defense of Cuzco (1536–37) against the Inca Manco Capac, subdued Charcas (present Bolivia), and fought
..... Click the link for more information. and Francisco de Orellana set out in quest for it, the latter drifting down the length of the Amazon River in the process. From the middle of the 16th cent. a series of adventurers searched for El Dorado and its fabulous variants—Omagua, the Land of Cinnamon, or the golden land of Manoa. El Dorado passed into European literature and found its way to the maps. The conquistadors of Venezuela and New Granada—FedermannFedermann, Nikolaus
, 1501–42, German adventurer in Venezuela and Colombia. In the service of the Welser brothers, Augsburg bankers to whom Charles V had granted rights in Venezuela, Federmann first landed at Santa Ana de Coro in 1530.
..... Click the link for more information. , BenalcázarBenalcázar or Belalcázar, Sebastián de
, c.1479–1551, Spanish conquistador. After accompanying Columbus on his third voyage (1498), Benalcázar served in Darién and Nicaragua
..... Click the link for more information. , and 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. —all searched for El Dorado. Perhaps best known to English-speaking peoples is the expedition of Sir Walter RaleighRaleigh or Ralegh, Sir Walter
, 1554?–1618, English soldier, explorer, courtier, and man of letters. Early Life
As a youth Raleigh served (1569) as a volunteer in the Huguenot army in France.
..... Click the link for more information. in 1595. The location of the mythical land shifted as new regions were explored, and similar legends appeared in W United States. Cabeza de Vaca told of the Seven Cities of Cibola; interest in these treasure-laden cities reached a peak with the stories of Fray Marcos de NizaMarcos de Niza
, c.1495–1558, missionary explorer in Spanish North America. A Franciscan friar, he served in Peru and Guatemala before going to Mexico. There he headed an expedition (1539) planned by Antonio de Mendoza, who had been excited by Cabeza de Vaca's stories of
..... Click the link for more information. and culminated in a tremendous but fruitless expedition under Francisco Vásquez de CoronadoCoronado, Francisco Vásquez de
, c.1510–1554, Spanish explorer. He went to Mexico with Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza and in 1538 was made governor of Nueva Galicia.
..... Click the link for more information. . El Dorado is used figuratively to mean any place of fabulous wealth, a utopian dream, or the land of desire.
See A. F. Bandelier, The Gilded Man (1893, repr. 1962); G. Arciniegas, The Knight of El Dorado (tr. 1942); R. Silverberg, The Golden Dream (1967); V. S. Naipaul, The Loss of El Dorado (1970).
El Dorado(ĕl dərā`də), city (1990 pop. 23,146), seat of Union co., S central Ark; inc. 1845. The discovery of oil in 1921 made it the oil center of the state. The city has oil refineries, chemical plants, and poultry-packing houses, as well as diverse manufactures.
a country rich in gold and jewels that was sought by the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th and 17th centuries in South America, mainly in the basin of the Orinoco and Amazon rivers.
According to the legend that had reached the conquistadores, the ruler of El Dorado sprinkled himself with gold dust every morning and washed it off in the waters of a sacred lake. The legend and the name of the country stem from the custom that existed among the Chibcha (Muisca) of consecrating their rulers in Lake Guatavita (Colombia).
In a figurative sense, “El Dorado” means a land of fabulous wealth.