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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 July 2013

Department of History, University of Konstanz E-mail:


This essay explores the journeys of Andean pre-Columbian antiquities across the Americas and the Atlantic during the late nineteenth century along the veins of intellectual networks, between Andean communities and European, North American and Creole collectors and museums. Centred on the studies and collection of José Lucas Caparó Muñíz, the essay focuses on the Creole and European practice of lifting pre-Columbian objects preserved or “still” in use in Andean communities out of their context and taking them to European and Creole private and public collections. Intellectual history has long paid scant attention to the many voices that its authors silenced, disfigured and suppressed. By looking at the journeys of Andean artefacts—at their owners, their brokers and their losers—this erssay traces the systemic hierarchies and the chasms of an expanding modern intellectual culture.

Forum: A World of Ideas: New Pathways in Global Intellectual History, c.1880–1930
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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I would like to thank my PhD supervisor Gabriela Ramos for commenting on previous drafts of this paper and for suggesting some of its main ideas to me. I have presented an earlier version of this paper at the Global Civil Society Conference held at the University of Cambridge in October 2009. In July 2011 I presented a draft version of this article at the Freie Universität in Berlin and have profited from the comments of Barbara Göbel and Paula López Caballero. I would especially like to thank José Guevara Gil for granting me access to José Lucas Caparó Muñiz's correspondence and manuscripts.


1 José Lucas Caparó Muñíz, “Colección de antigüedades peruanas”, El Comercio, 15, 17 and 18 May 1878.

2 Majluf, Natalia, “Working from Objects: Andean Studies, Museums, and Research”, Res 52 (2007), 6572, 65Google Scholar.

3 Appadurai, Arjun, “Introduction: Commodities and the Politics of Value”, in Appadurai, , ed., The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective (Cambridge, 1986), 5CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

4 Note, for instance, the Frenchman Castelnau's descriptions of the ancient artefacts Cuzco families kept in their homes. de Castelnau, Francis, Expédition dans les parties centrales de l'Amérique du Sud, de Rio de Janeiro a Lima, et de Lima au Para; exécutée par ordre du gouvernement français pendant les années 1843 à 1847 (Paris, 1851), 244Google Scholar.

5 For the 1878 catalogue see Caparó Muñíz, “Colección de antigüedades peruanas”. For the 1919 catalogue, registering 2,096 pieces, see Muñíz, J. L. Caparó, “Catálogo de las antigüedades incanas que constituyen el Museo Caparó Muñíz”, Colección Manuscritos de José Lucás Caparó Muñíz (Cuzco, 1919)Google Scholar.

6 Caparó served as district mayor, director of welfare, dean of the College of Lawyers, and—being a member of the Civil Party (Partido Civil))—as deputy for Canas between 1897 and 1902. Itier, César, El teatro quechua en el Cuzco (Lima, 2000), 24Google Scholar; José Guevara Gil, “La contribución de José Lucas Caparó Muñíz a la formación del Museo Arqueológico de la Universidad del Cuzco”, Boletín del Instituto Riva-Agüero (1997), 167–226.

7 See Caparó's report on the expedition to the Huatta Fort: Muñíz, J. L. Caparó, “El Fuerte de Huatta”, Boletín del Centro Científico 4 (1901), 3241Google Scholar.

8 For the emerging market in Andean antiquities, and the role of forgery in it see Bruhns, Karen O. and Kelker, Nancy L., Faking the Ancient Andes (Walnut Creek, 2009)Google Scholar.

9 Tristan D. López, “Antigüedades jentílicas”, El Ferrocarril (1872).

10 Caparó's niece, for instance, Concepción Saldívar de Palomino, supplied Caparó with artefacts. Muñíz, J. L. Caparó, Museo de Antigüedades peruanas precolombinas pertenecientes al D.D. José Lucas Caparó Muñíz quien las colectó con afan incesante de 15 años, en muchos pueblos del departamento, haciendo personalmente varias escavaciones de las huakas (tumbas), (Cuzco, 1891), 13Google Scholar.

11 Guevara Gil, “La contribución de José Lucas Caparó Muñíz”, 172, 183.

12 Montes formed a collection of pre-Columbian pieces from the Cuzco area between the 1860s and the 1910s. Bauer, Brian S., Avances en arqueología andina (Cuzco, 1992), 114, 130Google Scholar.

13 See Guevara Gil, “La contribución de José Lucas Caparó Muñíz”, 170–71; Muñíz, J. L. Caparó, “Khipu pre-colombiano”, Colección Manuscritos de José Lucás Caparó Muñíz. Estudios especiales de José Lucas Caparó Muñíz sobre el khipus, geroglíficos, emblemas, fijos i mudables, i avisos volantes pre-colombianos (Paruro, 1903), 34Google Scholar.

14 One of the first post-Independence “clubs” devoted to the study of Incan antiquities in Cuzco was founded in 1825, and met regularly in “Jeraldino's pharmacy”. See Variedades, 11 May 1825.

15 For an example see the account of a meeting of the Peruvian Archaeological Society, based in Cuzco: Manuel González de la Rosa, “Sociedad Arqueológica Peruana”, El Nacional, 5 Dec. 1868.

16 For a discussion of the increasing “musealization” of Incan culture and Cuzco over the nineteenth century see Majluf, Natalia, “De la rebelión al museo: genealogías y retratos de los incas, 1781–1900”, in Majluf, Natalia, Cummins, Thomas, Wuffarden, Luis Eduardo, Cárdenas, Gabriela Ramos and Phipps, Elena, eds., Los incas, reyes del Perú (Lima, 2005), 253317Google Scholar.

17 J. L. Caparó Muñíz, “Carta a D. Jorge Polar, Ministro de Justicia, Paruro, 3 de Junio”, Colección Manuscritos de José Lucás Caparó Muñíz. Libro borrador de cartas, artículos necrológicos, histórico-arqueológicos (1905). For comments by Caparó's visitors and disciples see Herrera, J. Tamayo, Historia del indigenismo cuzqueño, siglos XVI–XX (Lima, 1980) 137, 167Google Scholar.

18 The work of David Brading has opened up research on Creole discourses about the pre-Columbian past in showing how Spaniards born in the New World created an American identity through an engagement with America's pre-Columbian past as the historical foundations of their countries. Brading, David, The First America: The Spanish Monarchy, Creole Patriots, and the Liberal State 1492–1867 (Cambridge, 1991)Google Scholar. See also Lavallé, Bernard, Las promesas ambiguas: Ensayos sobre el criollismo en los Andes (Lima, 1993)Google Scholar.

19 Cahill, David, “Curas and Social Conflict in the Doctrinas of Cuzco, 1780–1814”, Journal of Latin American Studies 16 (1984), 241–76Google Scholar, refers to a wide range of European writers available to Cuzqueños already during the eighteenth century.

20 For a vivid impression of Cuzco elite family homes see Marcoy, Paul, A Journey across South America from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean (London, 1873), 262Google Scholar.

21 For a general discussion of the “aesthetic recognition” of American art see Kubler, George, Esthetic Recognition of Ancient Amerindian Art (New Haven and London, 1991)Google Scholar. The Roman Empire had had a profound influence on the Spanish understanding of the Incan Empire from the sixteenth century. MacCormack, Sabine, On the Wings of Time: Rome, the Incas, Spain, and Peru (Princeton and Oxford, 2007)Google Scholar.

22 Cuzco collectors persistently interlinked their praise of the antiquities’ purity, simple elegance and exact dimensions with references to their similarity to classical art. See, for instance, catalogue entry 302, Montes, Emilio, Catálogo del Museo de Antigüedades peruanas e inkaikas de la propiedad del Dr. D. Emilio Montes y de Aldasábal Vasquez de Velasco (Cuzco, 1892)Google Scholar.

23 For reflections on the transition from antiquarianism to archaeology see Schnapp, Alain, “Between Antiquarians and Archaeologists: Continuities and Ruptures”, in Murray, Tim and Evans, Christopher, eds., Histories of Archaeology: A Reader in the History of Archaeoloy (Oxford, 2008), 392405Google Scholar. On the Peruvian context see chaps. 1 and 3 in Stefanie Gänger, “The Collecting and Study of pre-Columbian Antiquities in Peru and Chile, c. 1830s–1910s”, unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Cambridge, 2011.

24 It was only following legislation in 1892 and 1911 that control of the export of antiquities was practically enforced in Peru. On protective legislation in Latin America see Earle, Rebecca, “Monumentos y museos: la nacionalización del pasado precolombino durante el siglo XIX”, in Gónzalez-Stephan, Beatriz and Andermann, Jens, eds., Galerías del Progreso: Museos, exposiciones y cultura visual en América Latina (Rosario, 2006), 2764Google Scholar.

25 Squier, Ephraim George, Peru: Incidents of Travel and Exploration in the Land of the Incas (London, 1877), 458Google Scholar.

26 For Squier's visit and account see ibid. The German traveller Brühl also commented on Centeno's museum, in a passage that bears close resemblance to Squier's account of his visit. Brühl, Gustav, Die Culturvölker Alt-Americas, 8 vols. (Cincinnati, 1875–87), 126Google Scholar. Francis de Castelnau published a widely read travelogue, in which he refer's to Centeno's museum, but by the name of her husband, Romainville. Francis de Castelnau, Expédition dans les parties centrales de l'Amérique du Sud, 244.

27 For the correspondence between the Ethnological Museum in Berlin and Centeno's heirs in relation to the transaction see Adolfo Romainville, “Carta a Adolf Bastian, Lima, 24 de Septiembre”, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin—Ethnologisches Museum: Sammlung Centeno Pars I b. Litt. A. (1887); A. Romainville, “Carta a Adolf Bastian, Cuzco, 1 de Marzo”, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin—Ethnologisches Museum. Sammlung Centeno Pars I b. Litt. A. (1887).

28 The stone table is described in catalogue entry number one, the dice in number two. J. L. Caparó Muñíz, “Colección de antigüedades peruanas”.

29 Caparó Muñíz, “Catálogo de las antigüedades incanas”. Caparó's collection is still at the basis of what is today Cuzco's Museo Inka. Giesecke, Albert, “Los primeros años del Museo Arqueológico de la Universidad del Cuzco, hoy Instituto Arqueológico del Cuzco”, Revista del Instituto y Museo Arqueológico de la Universidad Nacional del Cuzco 12 (1948), 3644Google Scholar.

30 Max Uhle, director of the National Museum in Lima, lamented that Caparó was selling out the collection bit by bit. Max Uhle, “Carta al Presidente del Instituto Histórico, Lima, 1 de Mayo”, Archivo del Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Antropología e Historia. Colgante 2000–6 (1907).

31 J. L. Caparó Muñíz, “Khipu pre-colombiano”.

32 See Caparó's transcription of an interview with Mariano Huamán, an Indian guide, J. L. Caparó Muñíz, “El Fuerte de Huatta”. On the stereotype of the “inscrutable Indian” see chap. 8 of N. Majluf, “The Creation of the Image of the Indian in 19th-Century Peru: The Paintings of Francisco Laso (1823–1869)”, unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Texas, 1996. Miruna Achim has pointed to the conviction among eighteenth-century Mexican naturalists that the Indians treasured knowledge of pre-Columbian medicinal cures. Achim, M., Lagartijas medicinales: Remedios americanos y debates científicos en la Ilustración (Mexico, 2008), 118–19Google Scholar.

33 Rebecca Earle, among other historians, has come to the conclusion that “while the pre-Hispanic past began slowly to be incorporated into the national heritage alongside the colonial period, contemporary indigenous peoples were declared to have lost their connection to that past”. Earle, Rebecca, The Return of the Native: Indians and Myth-Making in Spanish America, 1810–1930 (Durham, NC and London, 2007), 20CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

34 I make this argument at length in chap. 3 of Gänger, “The Collecting and Study of pre-Columbian Antiquities”.

35 For this idea see Gosden, Chris and Larson, Frances, Knowing Things: Exploring the Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum 1884–1945 (Oxford, 2007)Google Scholar.

36 For overviews of Europe's and North America's ethnographic collections see, for Germany, Penny, H. Glenn, Objects of Culture: Ethnology and Ethnographic Museums in Imperial Germany (Chapel Hill, 2002)Google Scholar. For the United States see David Jenkins, “Object Lessons and Ethnographic Displays: Museum Exhibitions and the Making of American Anthropology”, Comparative Studies in Society and History (1994), 242–70. On British collecting in India see Cohn, Bernard S., “The Transformation of Objects into Artifacts, Antiquities and Art in Nineteenth-Century India”, in Miller, Barbara Stoler, ed., The Powers of Art: Patronage in Indian Culture (Delhi, 1992), 301–29Google Scholar.

37 Bruno Latour's concept of the “centre of calculation” refers to a metropolitan centre that possesses the power to maintain a cycle of accumulation through a wide network of individuals and institutions. See Latour, B., Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers through Society (Cambridge, 1987)Google Scholar. For an application of the concept to the Indian intellectual context see Nair, Savithri Preetha, “Native Collecting and Natural Knowledge (1798–1832): Raja Serfoji II of Tanjore as a ‘Centre of Calculation’”, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 15 (2005), 279302Google Scholar.

38 Historians of science have pointed out how plants or things often moved easily from the Americas or Africa into Europe, but how the knowledge of their many uses and meanings did not necessarily follow the same path. Proctor, Robert N. and Schiebinger, Londa, Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance (Stanford, 2008)Google Scholar.

39 I examine this in Gänger, “The Collecting and Study of pre-Columbian Antiquities”.

40 Muñíz, J. L. Caparó, “Apuntes y tradiciones que se pueden utilizar para la historia del Imperio de los Incas”, Colección Manuscritos de José Lucás Caparó Muñíz (Cuzco, 1887)Google Scholar.

41 Muñíz, J. L. Caparó, “Carta a Dr. Santiago Geraldo, Paruro 6 de Noviembre”, Colección Manuscritos de José Lucás Caparó Muñíz: Libro borrador de cartas, artículos necrológicos, histórico-arqueológicos (Paruro, 1904)Google Scholar.

42 Miruna Achim shows how Mexican Creole naturalists’ collaboration with “Indian informers” and their role as mediators and translators was a way of reaffirming their belonging to transatlantic scientific networks. Achim, Lagartijas medicinales, 118–19. Marcos Cueto has discussed Andean naturalists’ belief in the failure of European scientific works to include American materials. Cueto, Marcos, “Natural History, High-Altitude Physiology and Evolutionary Ideas in Peru”, in Glick, Thomas, Puig-Samper, Miguel Angel and Ruiz, Rosaura, eds., The Reception of Darwinism in the Iberian World: Spain, Spanish America and Brazil (Dordrech, 1999), 8394Google Scholar. Natalia Majluf has made a similar point for the visual arts, in arguing that the marginalization of mid-nineteenth-century Latin American cosmopolitans has been effected primarily through the discourse of cultural authenticity. See Majluf, N., “‘Ce n'est pas le Pérou’, or the Failure of Authenticity: Marginal Cosmopolitans at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1855”, Critical Inquiry 23 (1997), 868–93Google Scholar.

43 Santiago Ordóñez Carpio, “El juego del huayru o pishca: Una aproximación a la reestructuración del cambio y la muerte en los Andes”, unpublished MA dissertation, FLACSO Ecuador/CBC Colegio Andino, 2004.

44 Gentile, Margarita, “La pichca: oráculo y juego de fortuna (su persistencia en el espacio y tiempo andinos)”, Bulletin de l'Institut Francais d’Études Andines 27 (1998), 75131Google Scholar.

46 See catalogue entries one and five. Caparó Muñíz, “Colección de antigüedades peruanas”.

47 Sillar, Bill, “The Social Agency of Things? Animism and Materiality in the Andes”, Cambridge Archaeological Journal 19 (2009), 367–77Google Scholar.

48 On the post-conquest evolution of the khipu, see Salomon, Frank, The Cord Keepers: Khipus and Cultural Life in a Peruvian Village (Durham, NC and London, 2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, Mackey, Carol, “The Continuing Khipu Traditions”, in Quilter, Jeffrey and Urton, Gary, eds., Narrative Threads: Accounting and Recounting in Andean Khipu (Austin, 2002), 320–47Google Scholar.

49 See, for instance, Cummins, Thomas, “Let Me See! Reading Is for Them: Colonial Andean Images and Objects ‘como es costumbre tener los caciques Señores’”, in Boone, Elizabeth Hill and Cummins, Thomas, eds., Native Traditions in the Postconquest World: A Symposium at Dumbarton Oaks 2nd through 4th October 1992 (Washington, DC, 1992), 91148Google Scholar.

50 On how Western collecting and museum practices made sacred, inalienable objects into museums objects, see Cohn, “The Transformation of Objects into Artifacts, Antiquities and Art”, Weiner, Annette, “Inalienable Wealth”, American Ethnologist 12 (1985), 223–30Google Scholar.

51 Caparó Muñíz, “Colección de antigüedades peruanas”.

52 For one recent critical discussion of the “mobility bias” in global history see Rockefeller, Stuart Alexander, “Flow”, Current Anthropology 52/4 (2011), 557–78Google Scholar.

53 Safier, Neil, Measuring the New World: Enlightenment Science and South America (Chicago and London, 2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. A number of historians have put forth similar claims. For a useful synthesis see Sivasundaram, Sujit, “Sciences and the Global: On Methods, Questions, and Theory”, Isis 101 (2010), 146–58Google Scholar.

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