SOUTH AMERICAN PETROGLYPHS

Where is Pusharo located?

The Petroglyphs of Pusharo, Cultural Patrimony of the Nation, are located in the Department of Madre de Dios, the basin of the Palotoa River, within the Manu National Park. They were discovered in 1921 by the Dominican father Vicente de Cenitagoya.

What means Pusharo?

In the bibliography consulted, the site appears under the names of Shinkibenia or Pantiacolla, Pantiacolla, Palotoa, Pucharo or Pusharo. In the case of Pantiacolla, the place name corresponds to the mountain chain that flanks the Palotoa River until its mouth in the Alto Madre de Dios River, but some authors also used this name in reference to the Pantiacolla River whose official name is Palotoa or Porotoa. Towards the eighties it appears in the bibliography and the name of Pusharo is finally imposed, place name used by the Matsiguenkas, and which is currently the official name of the site.

Petroglyphs of Pusharo Peru

The petroglyphs of Pusharo are an outstanding cultural testimony of the Amazonian peoples that inhabited the jungle of the current departments of Cusco and Madre de Dios many centuries ago. The large concentration of signs engraved on a panel of monumental dimensions makes these petroglyphs one of the most important rock art manifestations of the Peruvian Amazon. Although the site has been known for more than eighty years, it was recently recognized as an archaeological heritage in 2003 by the National Institute of Culture of Peru.
For many explorers, treasure seekers and followers of the esoteric and mystical current, the area of Pusharo and the rock engravings would be related to the legendary Paititi, which for several decades receives the visit, whether illegal or authorized by a special permit from the Manu National Park Headquarters, of foreign or national groups, including adventurers and treasure hunters, film producers, writers, expedition members and also members of a mystical-religious brotherhood called Rahma, who claim to have entered into contact with aliens in front of the wall of the petroglyphs, probably under the effect of hallucinogenic plants such as ayahuasca.
The members of the native community of Palotoa Teparo consider Pusharo as the territory of their ancestors and interacted with the petroglyphs until only a few years ago as part of their rituals linked to collective hunting events of wild animals. The article summarizes the advances in the study of Pusharo petroglyphs that need to be continued, deepened and extended to areas adjacent to Pusharo where other sectors with engravings currently covered by vegetation could exist.

Pusharo Petroglyphs

In the middle of the Peruvian jungle there is a rock wall with different recorded images that are part of the Cultural Patrimony of the Nation. The site is located in Madre de Dios, in the basin of the Palotoa River, within the Manu National Park.
Pusharo, view of the base of the cliff with the petroglyphs. The ancient Petroglyphs of Pusharo show a variety of anthropomorphic images, snakes, cat tracks, geometric representations, zoomorphic and astronomical motifs. They are engraved on walls of rock, the largest, measuring around 25 meters long and its height varies between 2 and 4.3 meters, in the place where the isolated figure of a sun with rays is found.
One of the faces of Pusharo. Pusharo, is a sacred place where this gigantic rock wall is found full of petroglyphs that contains different signs and figures totally unknown, this is on the right bank of the Palotoa River, a tributary of the Alto Madre de Dios River, in the same department first name.
The rocks where these symbols were engraved are located in three different sectors at different heights with respect to the level of the Palotoa River. Pusharo is located 529 meters above sea level.

Pusharo History

The petroglyphs of Pusharo seem to have been found for the first time in 1909, during a “run of Indians” by a rubber tapper, who described them as sculpted Gothic letters. (Cenitagoya, 1943: 138-140). Twelve years later, on August 14, 1921, the Dominican missionary Vicente de Cenitagoya, accompanied by the friar of his congregation Jesus Broca and priest José Rodríguez as well as three Matsiguenka guides, arrived in Pusharo from the mission located in the mouth of the Manu River and made the first drawings of some petroglyphs. He registered the place under the name of Shinkibenia River. Unfortunately, he later lost his notes and had to rework them from his memory for an article that he published twenty-two years later. He came to the conclusion that it was an Eastern and Gothic script and scenes from the Old and New Testaments, such as the creation, the first sin, the Virgin with her son, repentance and the promise of redemption.

On this peculiar interpretation of the petroglyphs, Kim Macquarrie and André Bärtschi (1998: 276), in the second edition of his work on the Manu National Park, comment that “… Satisfied with their results, the missionaries left, without never to realize that they had just participated in an authentic Rorschach test – a type of standard psychological test, in which the patient is asked to describe what he sees in a series of inkblots. , they are not inherent to the spots, but represent images that previously existed in the patient’s mind “. The absurd interpretation of the petroglyphs by the Dominican religious is not an isolated case and finds its parallel in the absurd elucidations that have been published about them in newspaper articles and sensationalist books in recent decades.

Pusharo Paititi

Since 1921 almost fifty years passed without reports of visits to Pusharo. In July of 1969, the Arequipeño doctor Carlos Neuenschwander Landa came to the site, frantic seeker of the legendary Paititi, who, being prevented from landing with the helicopter at his disposal in the Pantiacolla plateau, opted for the visit to Pusharo, together with Santiago Yábar Calvo, tour operator of Cusco, the Corisepa brothers, indigenous Huachipaeris of Shintuya, and the taxidermist Celestino Kalinowski, among others.

A year later, in 1970, the Dominican Father Adolfo Torralba photographed the panel of petroglyphs for the archives of the Dominican Missionaries. The Spanish missionary Joaquín Barriales, of the same congregation, amateur researcher of rock art (who in 1982 published the work of the German Christian Bües on the petroglyphs of the Basin of the Upper and Lower Urubamba, in the Amazon region of Cusco), made drawings to from the photographs of Torralba and included in the referred publication.

In 1975, the adventurers Nicole and Herbert Cartagena (Franco-Peruvian couple) arrived in Pusharo and in their book “On the track of the Incas” they described it as a new discovery made by them. In 1978, Fernando Aparicio Bueno from Cusco, who received a distinction from the Rolex company, for his merits in the search for Paititi, visits the site and Carlos Neuenschwander continues to go through Pusharo in several of his many expeditions during the seventies and eighty.

Gregory Deyermenjian, along with local people, a park ranger, three Matsiguenkas from Palotoa-Teparo and guided by Santiago Yábar Calvo, visited Pusharo in October 1991 during his expedition in search of Paititi, sponsored by the National Institute of Culture of Cusco. On other expeditions, he visits the Inca archaeological complex of Mameria, apparently discovered by the Peruvian explorer Ludwig Essenwanger, and publishes on the website www.paititi.com a list of his trips and some photographs of the architectural remains and artifacts found.

In the last three decades, many other explorers, treasure hunters and adventurers have visited Pusharo, looking for clues for the discovery of Paititi. The stories of their odysseys through the jungle of Manu and their descriptions of the archaeological remains found (however problematic and criticizable the majority of these incursions are, from the point of view of respect for the life of the indigenous people in voluntary isolation and the protection of the archaeological heritage of the area), while no serious scientific studies are carried out-duly authorized by the competent entity-on the archaeological evidence in the National Park and its surroundings, will continue to be the only source of information for those seeking information on vestiges of the human presence of pre-Columbian eras in this part of the Amazon rainforest.

In different web pages you can find part of this information scattered and disseminated in various languages, such as the exciting stories of Gregory Deyermenjian about his many expeditions to the interior of the Manu and the summary of an interesting article about Pusharo’s petroglyphs, published in the Athenas Review magazine in 2000. The Peruvian journalist Jorge Riveros Cayo synthesized the main discoveries of Deyermenjian in a report published in the architectural magazine ARKINKA, in October 2000, accompanied by several color photographs of archaeological remains and some ceramics and artifacts.

Pusharo Coin

The image of these petroglyphs is part of the collection “Wealth and Pride of Peru” of the Central Reserve Bank that was awarded as the best currency in Latin America, within the framework of the 7th International Numismatic Convention held in Buenos Aires.