A Land of Wonders
Francisco Pizarro made his first voyage to the New World in November 1524. After much hardship and skirmishes with natives in Panama, he returned to Spain with empty hands. Pizarro's second voyage (November 1526 to late 1527) was much larger, with 160 men and several horses carried in two ships. After some initial probing, Pizarro's expedition split with Bartolomé Ruiz, the pilot, taking half the command.
While sailing off the coast of what is now Ecuador, Ruiz made first contact with the Incas. Aboard a balsa trading raft with a huge triangular cotton sail were 20 Inca crew and passengers. The Spanish boarded the vessel and, to their delight, saw many pieces of silver and gold, precious stones and intricately woven fabrics. Ruiz kept three of the Inca to be trained as interpreters. Through sign language, the captives told him that their gold came from a land far to the south, a land of wonders. Meanwhile unaware of Ruiz's auspicious encounter, Pizarro and his men camped on an uninhabited island just off the steamy mangrove coast of Colombia. Mutiny was in the air. Pizarro's men had grown sick of the promises of their craggy leader.
Nueva Corónica y Buen Gobierno
(Letter to a King)
by the Spanish mistreatment of the Inca people in the late sixteenth and early
seventeenth century, Don Felipe Wamán Poma de Ayala himself
of both Inca and Spanish descent sent an illustrated
letter to King Phillip III of Spain that documented Inca culture
and history. A facsimile edition of his letter was published by the Institute of Ethnology in Paris in 1936. These reproductions of his drawings appear throughout this section of the site.
Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro arriving in the New World on their ship.
Credit: Wamán Poma, Insititute of
Ethnology, Paris, 1936