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Ploughing the sea: Latin America observed

Theories of Mongol conquest

Engraving with six ovals containing portraits of the emperors of Peru.Emperors of Peru.Theories of Mongol settlement and conquest of South America are largely discredited now. Nevertheless, the author of this 19th century work 'ventures confidently to affirm that Peru, Mexico, and other countries in America were conquered by the Mongols, accompanied with elephants, in the thirteenth century.'

The diverse tribes which were conquered by the Mongols, including 'the savages of Quillacena, who pierce the cartilage between the nostrils, and hang thereon an ornament of gold, silver, or copper', are described, as well as the impressive building feats of the Incas. The author also explores the mythical origins of the Inca Empire that came to dominate the western part of pre-Columbian South America and these coalesce intriguingly with his assertions of Mongol heritage:

The opinion of the writer is, that Mango Capac, the first Inca of Peru, was a son of the Grand Khan Kublai, and that Montezuma’s ancestor was a Mongol grandee from Tangut, very possibly Assam.

The plates in the work are apparently derived from a 17th century document which was later reprinted. Its early format is explained below:

Their genealogical tree was painted upon an ell and a half of Chinese white taffeta, upon which the Incas are represented, in the antique stile, at half-length, with their head-dress, ear-pendants, and a partisan in the hand, in lieu of a sceptre.

On display here is an image of Mango (or Manco) Capac, the founder of the empire and the first in the Inca's mythological pantheon, along with some of his successors.

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