Bartolomé Arzáns de Orsúa y Vela (1676-1736) lived in the mining town of Potosí, where fortunes could be won and lost in a day, and labor was backbreaking and cruel. His annals captures notable events, gossip, even love affairs, in vivid and amusing prose. Running from the 16th through the 18th centuries, the Historia is one of the most textured portraits of the city produced in the colonial period. This excerpt describes festivals held in Potosí upon receiving the news that Philip III had married Margarita of Austria. Although no Spanish king would ever visit during the viceregal period, elites in Spanish America celebrated events in the lives of the royal family with as much fervor as did Iberians, and these events were one way that subjects were reminded of their ties to the Spanish crown.
Visual Culture
The great series of pageants held to celebrate the marriage of the King included bullfights, dances, theatrical plays and parades. One element distinct to these ceremonies in the Viceregency of Peru was the participation of native Andeans, some of high status, others less so. One grand masque, or allegorical play, was staged by elite Andeans, some of whom would have been descendants of the Inka royal family, and it linked Inka political history to that of Spanish kings. Such a public presentation of pre-Hispanic rulers had the effect of ordering the history of the Andes, with Inka kings literally seated below their Spanish successors. As the masque visually celebrated the noble history of elite Andeans, it also reaffirmed the reigning political hierarchy of Viceregal Peru.

See portraits of Inka kings in the Vistas Gallery.

Library > 16th Century    > 17th Century    > 18th Century