In November of 1780, the elite Andean José Gabriel Condorcanqui seized control of his home town of Tinta, and executed its abusive Spanish corregidor in the main square. Condorcanqui's violent protest against a corrupt and inefficient government struck home with thousands of Andeans and Creoles alike. Within days Condorcanqui had taken the name Túpac Amaru II (after the last Inka ruler) to lead a revolt that would briefly subsume the Andean highlands, from Cuzco to La Paz.

Túpac Amaru II's chief counselor was his wife, the strong–willed mestiza Michaela Bastidas. Michaela Bastidas and her husband were captured by loyalist Spanish forces in April of 1781 and after a hasty trial, publicly executed in May.
Visual Culture
As a traitor against the Spanish crown, Michaela Bastidas's execution by strangulation and subsequent dismembering was a grisly affair, as even the dry language of this official report makes clear. It took place only after she witnessed the execution of her 20 year-old son. Later, her husband was drawn and quartered, pulled apart by horses, an event commemorated into the present in Andean textiles, as in the "Woven belt showing the execution of Tupac Amaru II" in the Vistas Gallery. Such spectacles of state-sponsored violence were not uncommon both Spanish America and Europe, where governments showed the might of their power on the bodies of their enemies. Traitors were awarded the worst of these public punishments. Clearly, the government wanted the terrible visual spectacle of Michaela Bastidas and her family to warn others of the dangers of challenging its power.

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