The Legend of El Dorado: Analytical Essay
Many of us have at least once heard of an ancient legend. As kids, we have heard mention a few, and who doesn’t love a legend with a bit of mystery to it. There are some legends that date back as far as 800AD. The early creation of these legends is what makes it consequently difficult for one to trace, since it is passed on by word of mouth from one generation to the next. Like the ancient legend of El Dorado, that with no doubt would catch the attention of any treasure hunter in no time. Today the legend of El Dorado is mostly known as an unfortunate myth and a symbol of greed. Still, even till today there are treasure hunters on the hunt for it.
El Dorado, known as the lost city of gold, is an ancient legend that takes place in South America and originated in Colombia. To many it is considered a legend, a myth, a campfire story but to others like treasure hunters and explorers they still hang on to the belief that the legend is true. If you’re asking yourself why people would want to believe this ancient legend to be true, well that would be thanks to the facts and findings that have been found related to the El Dorado legend. There have been many explorers who have even lost their lives in the search of this prestigious city of gold. So, let’s take it back to the very beginning of how this legend came to life.
The Colombian legend of treasure begins with the Muisca Confederation. In the Wikipedia article of the Muisca Confederation it mentions how the Muisca tribe are known to be one of the well-organized tribes of Colombia. How they were also one of the four advanced civilizations of the Americas and they were best known for the skills they had of working gold. They were the inhabitants of the central Andean highlands of Colombia and that was before the Spanish conquest of the Northern South America. The Muisca tribe was a loose confederation with several rulers that consisted of the Zaques, Zipas, Iraca, and the Tundama. However, out of the four rulers there was one in specific that stood out the most, that was the tribal chief the Zipa.
In the article “The Muisca Raft” on the Vintage News by David Goran he gives us an idea of how the Zipas ceremony ritual took place. He explains that the very well-known ceremony ritual took place when a new Zipa ruler was crowned. When a leader died within the Muisca tribe the new chief to be acknowledged would be the nephew of the previous chief. He mentions “stories indicate that during initiation ceremonies their chiefs would be covered in gold dust and taken to the center of Lake Guatavita on a raft. Once in the center he would throw precious items made of gold and gems as an offering to the gods.” (David Goran)
However, in the article by Visit Colombia Co: Feel the Rhythm, we get more detail picture wise of the ceremony. The article mentions how on the day of the ceremony braziers with burning Indian incense would be placed at the edge of the Guatavita lake to hide the light of day. That the young chief would then get undressed and cover his body in a mixture of gold dust and soil. Once done, he would get on a raft and stand in the very center of it with immense amounts of gold and emeralds at his feet with his people circling around him. The Zipas would then sail off to the lake where the chief would throw himself into the water with his offerings and offer the gold pieces and emeralds to the Guatavita goddess in the middle of the lake. Once the ritual was done the raft would return to the edge of the lake where a party was held to honor the new chief and prince.
Even though the El Dorado legend begins in 800AD it wasn’t until the 15th century that the legend spread according to the article by Historic Mysteries “The Legend of El Dorado”. The article also mentions how the Spanish explorers where led by their greed when they heard of the stories of how the Zipa chief would submerge himself in the lake with his golden treasure. There was even a point in time where the greedy Spaniards attempted to drain Lake Guatavita in their search for this lost city of gold. However, in their attempt they failed because even though they found immense amounts of gold they were unable to reach the trove that presumably existed in the deepest end of the lake. Lastly, the article explains how just like the Spaniards others were on the hunt for example, Sir Walter Raleigh. In fact, at the end of the 1500s people thought Sir Walter had found the actual treasure. They even marked it as a location in the north on the English maps, and it remained a credible location until the 1800s when an explorer by the name of Alexander Von Humbolt proved it to be otherwise.
In 1898 a limited company of contractors from London began an exploitation of the lagoon of Guatavita. They drained the lake by a tunnel that emerged in the center of it, with the drained water there was also up to 4ft of mud and slime. This made the exploitation a bit difficult since the heat of the sun would dry up the mud, making it be like concrete. Though they had difficulties, they managed to score artifacts that were worth up to 500 euros. Later, they were auctioned off at Sotheby’s, one of the world’s largest brokers of fine art. It was not until 1965 when the Colombian government decided to act and designate the Guatavita lake as a protected area. Meaning that all attempts to drain the lake and would be considered illegal. (“El Dorado,” n.d.)
Even though the Colombian government now protected the lake, findings of the El Dorado legend continued to pop up. Exactly three years later in 1969, three farmers found a golden raft sculpture in a cave in a small village located within the municipality of Pasca, Colombia. The golden sculpture represented the ceremony of the Zipas. The piece was in a shape of a log boat that had various figures on it, and exactly in the middle stood the largest figure which represented the chief. This golden sculpture is covered in an alloy containing pure gold with native silver and a small amount of copper. Unfortunately, the three farmers they were unable to keep the representative symbol of the Muisca raft statue. It was confiscated and set to be protected by the municipality priest which was then passed on to the Gold Museum of Bogota and to this day remains one of its major exhibition pieces. (“Muisca Raft,” n.d.)
Though it appears that we have enough evidence to explain the El Dorado legend, it is still yet to be found in South America. The question is that if it was to be found one day, would the world find out? Treasure hunting in the modern age has become more about monetary gain rather than it being a discovery of historical treasures. Dr. Jago Cooper even mentioned in a BBC article that. “El Dorado-inspired looting of gold has meant that the vast majority of precious pre-Colombian gold objects have been melted down and the real value of these artefacts as clues to the workings of an ancient culture have been lost forever.” Which explains why the El Dorado legend today is more of an unfortunate myth and more of a symbol of greed. Although, I hope that the interest in finding the lost city of gold “El Dorado” remains, if that’s not the case at least we still get to enjoy the mystery that this legend of historical treasure brings us.
Everyone loves a good story, be it fiction or not. It is understandable when a storyteller has to employ some form of real-life experiences or imaginations to form an interesting tale, but there are others that are not based on experiences and imaginations. Such tales are the basis of the cultural and religious beliefs of a group of people. In this post, we would be talking about two distinct forms of stories, specifically, the difference between legend and myth. These...
In the book, Legend by Marie Lu judgment is a major theme in the book. The two characters Day and June Iparis are forced to make numerous choices that involve their own judgment. They make countless judgments about each other based on rumors they have heard and information presented to them without explanation. Day and June are adequate at reading people and understanding people’s flaws. At first glance, the two judged each other and become attracted to one another. Later...
Originally published in 1988, The Alchemist was written by the world renown and best-selling author Paulo Coelho. Being an allegorical novel, the author writes a story about a young shepherd from Andalusia who is on a journey to the pyramids in Egypt. His goal is to acquire the treasure that he keeps having recurring dreams about. Throughout his journey, he meets many influential characters and faces a multitude of situations that leads him towards searching for his personal legend- one’s...
Nandan is a legendary hero in Tamil literature, whose story is first mentioned in by one of the Saivite saints, Sundarar in the 8th century. His story has been sung by many poets down the ages. The slender skeletal story of Nandan is expanded and enhanced by Sekkizhar. According to the myth Nandan belongs to the lower caste of the society who has an ardent love for Lord Natrajar at Chidambaram temple. Owing to his lowly birth he dared not...
An urban legend that was originally spread in the early nineties through an e-mail was the legend of “Kidney Theft”. In this urban legend, a businessman visiting a new city would have a stranger offer them a drink in a lounge, and the drink would be spiked. They would “wake up later to find out their kidneys have been taken from them by organ thieves” (Mikkelson). The tale has changed over the years, but there are certain details that stay...
Ralph Waldo Emerson once declared that “Life is a journey, not a destination”. This recurring idea can be found throughout numerous works of literature. These pieces are conveying the message that one should focus on what they gain from their experiences, rather than living for the goal. In The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, the author presents a comparable idea through the use of Personal Legends and a treasure that one can find at the destination of their journey. The most...
Originated from Latin legendus, legend means “something which ought to be read.” According to J. A. Cuddon, a legend is “a story or narrative that lies somewhere between myth and historical fact and which, as a rule, is about a particular figure or person.” Traditionally, a legend is a narrative that focuses on a historically or geographically specific figure, and describes his exploits. Similar to a myth, a legend can provide an etymological narrative, often filling in historical gaps. There...
Many of the criticisms of Chaucer’s Legends of Good Women stem from his style of writing – he presents himself as a reader and wonders if he should trust the authority of the text over his own experience. In the Prologue, The God of Love is presented as a literary critic who judges Chaucer’s previous work, condemns it, and assigns the poet a new task of writing. There is a sense of authorial irony through his construction of the narrative...
The legend of Robin Hood has been around for centuries. This story of an outlaw hero, a generous criminal, the “Prince of Thieves,” is a popular story that has been told in many different ways throughout generations. This legend does not tell the story of a common criminal. The courageous, selfless Robin Hood steals from the rich and gives to the poor. The legend of Robin Hood is a tradition that has no specific location or era that it originated...
01 / 09
Fair Use Policy
EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via email@example.com.
We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.