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Colonial Latin American Review, Vol. 11, No.

1, 2002

A Movement Misconstrued? A Response to Gabriela Ramoss Interpretation of Taki Onqoy*


Jaymie Heilman
University of WisconsinMadison

Turning the fragile pages of a set of sixteenth-century documents in Sevilles Archivo General de Indias one 1963 day, historian Luis Millones found himself reading a startling set of testimonies. The notarized words of Peruvian priests, encomenderos, and notables told of a millenarian movement among Indian peoples from the highland region of Huamanga, a movement whose adherents predicted the imminent and violent end of Spanish colonialism. Soon, very soon, Andean deities (huacas) would bring defeat to the Spaniards God and death to both Spanish colonizers and their Indian collaborators. Only those Indians who renounced all connections with Spaniards and Spanish culture would escape this deadly fate. The huacas plans were frightening, and so too was the way they announced those plans. The deities were using Huamanga Indiansmen, women, and children alikeas their mediums, invading Indians bodies to spread word of their intentions. The possessed Indians would tremble, shake, and dance insanely, preaching of the impending doom. These taquionqosthose suffering from the dancing sicknessgained a following of over 8,000 Indians over the course of the 1560s, and their rebellion threatened to overtake Lima, Jauja, and Cuzco.1 It was only because of a diligent anti-idolatry campaign under the direction of the secular priest and visitador Cristo bal de Albornoz that Spaniards nally managed to bring an end to the movement in mid-1571 (Millones 1990, 11). Luis Millones quickly published news of his discovery, nding in that set of sixteenth-century documents a powerful example of Andean resistance against Spanish colonial abuses. Historians like Pierre Duviols, Nathan Wachtel, and Steve J. Stern among numerous others soon moved to study the Taki Onqoy movement in more detail, analyzing that same set of documentsthe informaciones de servicios de Cristo bal de Albornozfor clues into the nature and meaning of the movement. Historians interpreted the informaciones testimonies as evidence of Indian agency, rebellion, and millenarian vision, and during the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s they generated nearly two dozen books, articles, and chapters pertaining to the revolt. And then in 1992, the Peruvian scholar Gabriela Ramos published her perspective on Taki Onqoy. Like so many historians before her, Ramos had also carefully examined the informaciones. But she saw in those documents something very different from what her predecessors had seen: she saw proof that much of the Taki Onqoy movement was a
1060-9164 print/1466 1802 online/02/010123-16 2002 Taylor & Francis Ltd on behalf of CLAR DOI: 10.1080/10609160220133718

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fabrication, an imaginative lie put forth by a careerist cleric and a power-hungry Catholic Church (Ramos 1992). Ramoss forcefully revisionist take on Taki Onqoy warrants a response. Her careful attention to textual problems inside the informaciones raises critical questions about the natureeven the existenceof the Taki Onqoy movement, and her interpretation of those problems as evidence of clerical cunning is far from unreasonable. This brief essay attempts such a response, looking closely at the informaciones purpose, construction, and contents to reinterpret the document sets silences and discrepancies. What Ramos reads as ecclesiastical manipulation, I regard as a product of the informaciones function and makeup. My reading suggests that traditional scholarly understandings of the Taki Onqoy rebellion are accurate. Building on earlier revisionist arguments that questioned the extent of the Taki Onqoy movement and linked Cristo bal de Albornozs struggle against the taquionqos with his careerism, Gabriela Ramos has charged that historiographical takes on Taki Onqoy suffer from their undue reliance on a thoroughly unreliable source, the informaciones.2 Ramos argues that historians were so intrigued by the exotic descriptions of millenarian revolt contained in the informaciones that they simply accepted those descriptions literally and failed to properly question their sources credibility. Had historians actually taken a critical look at the informaciones, carefully examining each of its four component documents, they would have discovered the source to be full of troubling silences, inconsistencies, and dubious claims. Four textual problems are especially prominent: a total silence on Taki Onqoy in the 1569 informacio n, witnesses failure to mention taquionqo dancing or huaca possession in the 1570 text, discrepant accounts of the movement in the 1577 informacio n, and witnesses dependence on hearsay in both the 1577 and 1584 documents. These textual problems are of serious consequence in Ramoss interpretation. To her, the differences between and within the four informaciones establish proof of ecclesiastical mischief in relation to the Taki Onqoy movement. The tremendous shifts between each successive documents depiction of the movement suggest that the informaciones compilerCristo bal de Albornozprogressively constructed a tale about Taki Onqoy, inventing ever more dramatic details about the movement as his careerist ambitions heightened. Just as important, the disconnect between the testimonies from eyewitnesses to the Taki Onqoy revolt and the statements from those who learned of the movement through ecclesiastical circulars demonstrates that the Catholic Church also exaggerated claims about the rebellion, aiming to af rm and consolidate Church power in early colonial Peru. These two factors compel Ramos to deem Taki Onqoy a quotation-marked movement and to argue that historians have misconstrued both the scale and the nature of the rebellion. Ramos stops just short of saying Taki Onqoy never happened, but that is the conclusion her argument implies (Ramos 1992, 149, 167). As I hold the informaciones in my handsmy copy not the fragile original but a typewritten transcription with neatly bound and numbered pagestwo forms of response to Gabriela Ramoss argument seem necessary. The rst form entails a look beyond this set of documents to the much larger realm of colonial 124

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Latin American religious life. Existing historiography of that massive subject area shows that, for all its strange details, the Taki Onqoy case was not overly exceptional. From Diego de Landa in the Yucata n to Juan Sarmiento de Vivero in Chancay to Hernando Ruiz de Alarco n in the New Spain parish of Atenango, colonial clerics found themselves in a continuing struggle against the religious recidivism of indigenous peoples (Clendinnen 1987; Sa nchez 1991; Taylor 1996, 63 68). In colonial Peru, ecclesiastical authorities concern about idolatry their usual term for Andean religionwas so great that they launched campaigns of extirpation that ran intermittently from 1609 to 1670. Considered in view of other colonial idolatry cases carefully examined by scholars like Pierre Duviols, Nicholas Grif ths, Pedro Guibovich, Kenneth Mills, and others, Taki Onqoy seems in keeping with the general patterns of colonial Andean religious life, distinguished from other idolatry cases mainly by its widespread popularity and its militancy. This contextualization alone helps render Albornozs claims about Taki Onqoy believable. But we can go further still. In the Peruvian parish of San Pedro de Acas, Cajatambo, idolatry investigator Bernardo de Novoa learned that local religious leaders were teaching that the malquis and huacas are angered with the Indians for worshipping the Spaniards God and these leaders predicted that if Indians continued to neglect their Andean gods they would suffer terrible illnesses and be condemned to walk poor and desolate and [] all waste away (Mills 1994, 116 17). The religious leaders message was strikingly similar to that preached by the taquionqos, but what is especially interesting is the issue of timing: Novoas investigation in Acas began in 1656, almost a century after Cristo bal de Albornoz made his claims about Taki Onqoy (Mills 1994, 28). Indeed, Albornoz compiled his informaciones decades before any of the formal extirpation investigations even began in Peru. If Albornoz in fact invented many of the details of the Taki Onqoy movement, he proved incredibly prescient in his imaginings of what an Andean religious rebellion would look like. Reference to historical context is helpful, but contextualization alone cannot adequately address the queries that Gabriela Ramos has rightly raised. A second form of response is needed, one that considers the composition and purpose of Albornozs informaciones. By thinking about what these documents were, and about how and why Cristo bal de Albornoz compiled them, I can begin to build a counter-interpretation of the textual problems that Ramos has pointed out. What I need rst is a de nition, a statement explaining what the informaciones actually were. The de nition I have arrived at is this: the informaciones were notarized testimonials from witnesses who detailed Albornozs clerical accomplishments and merits for the purpose of recommending him for ecclesiastical promotions. Rather than judicial records documenting the statements of peoples accused of religious recidivism or of cial reports detailing the situation in Huamanga, the informaciones were essentially four elaborate and legalistic letters of reference for Cristo bal de Albornoz. A consideration of the informaciones as a text makes one thing very clear: Gabriela Ramos is right, in part. Cristo bal de Albornoz was indeed desperate for a promotion and he cast his efforts at combating Taki Onqoy as grounds for that advancement. There can be no mistaking that Albornoz sent these informaciones 125

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to the Spanish Crown with the express purpose of winning a higher clerical post. The opening lines of each document carefully noted that Albornoz was supplicating the Crown to promote him to a speci c post. In 1569, Albornoz was seeking a move from his position as visitador in Huamanga to one of two recently vacated clerical posts. In 1570, he was seeking a transfer out of Huamanga and in 1577 he wanted the Crown to place him in charge of idolatry extirpation in Cuzco. By 1584, Albornoz aimed for the Cuzco bishopric (Albornoz [1569 1584] 1990, 45, 60, 167, 204). Albornoz was ready to do much to win these promotions. He was prepared to collect witnesses, hire notaries, and draft leading questions for his witnesses to answer.3 He was also prepared to lie. As Ramos correctly notes, Albornoz admitted his reliance on a Quechua-speaking translator in the 1570 document, but in the 1577 and 1584 informaciones he claimed to have spoken directly with Quechua Indians during his stay in Huamanga, so uent in Quechua was he (Ramos 1992, 151 52; Albornoz [1569 1584] 1990, 64, 169, 205). References to the Taki Onqoy movement played a primary role in Albornozs petitions for promotion. To win the advances he sought, Albornoz had to meet one or more of three Crown guidelines for ecclesiastical promotion: university education, experience in similar positions, and anti-idolatry efforts (Taylor 1996, 121 22). Albornoz, it seems, could satisfy only the last criterion.4 As such, he clearly needed Taki Onqoy to make himself appear worthy of promotion, and the more exotic and threatening the movement, the better he would look. The priests dependence upon the movement only increased as the late 1560s advanced into the 1570s and 1580s, for Albornoz was not winning his desired promotions. The Church was instead awarding him only horizontal transfers, punctuated occasionally by temporary stays as provisor in substitution of an absent bishop (Guibovich 1990, 30 34). Albornozs understandable temptation would have been to exaggerate details of the movement to bolster his careerist prospects. Other Peruvian priests in different contexts and times had certainly done as much (Acosta 1987; Grif ths 1996, 149, 170). That temptation would have been greatest in 1584, when Albornoz compiled the naland most detailed informacio n. Not only had he gone 15 years without a meaningful promotion, Albornoz had also suffered a humiliating arrest two years earlier as a consequence of a complicated power struggle between his clerical superiors (Guibovich 1990, 32 33, 37). Though Albornozs incarceration was short-lived, that jail stay was a stain on his reputation and probably made the temptation to exaggerate the scale and character of Taki Onqoy almost overwhelming. It may well be, as Ramos argues, that Albornoz actually succumbed to that temptation and fabricated details of the movement. It may also be that the Catholic Church, eager to ensconce its power, readily accepted and trumpeted that fabrication in an attempt to prove to lay Spaniards and Crown of cials alike that the Church was crucial to the success of Spains colonial project. Ramoss argument that informaciones silences and shifts represent ecclesiastical manipulations is a persuasive interpretation, but it is only thatan interpretation. By looking closer still at the informaciones, a different interpretation is possible. This counter-interpretation holds that some of the silences in the informaciones were actually intentional. Reaching this counter-interpretation 126

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requires recognition of the informaciones as a carefully constructed set of documents. We need to understand that Cristo bal de Albornoz exercised tremendous control over the informaciones; he made the choice to produce them and he decided what form they would take. The priest also determined which witnesses he would ask to speak in his defense, selecting individuals respectable enough to make their words warrant attention and cooperative enough to recommend him highly. It seems no accident that the priest Luis de Olvera was not included in Albornozs group of witnesses for the 1569, 1570, and 1584 documents, even though this priest had direct knowledge of Albornozs work against Taki Onqoy. The trouble with Olvera was twofold: the Church had recently reprimanded him for his abusive behaviors toward Indians, and Olvera believed himself the rst Spaniard to have discovered Taki Onqoy, probably making him none too eager to accept Albornozs claim of having single-handedly uncovered the movement (Albornoz [1569 1584] 1990, 178 79). The most critical source of Albornozs control over the informaciones came from the leading questions he posed to his witnesses. These questionsif they can even reasonably be called questionsdid not invite input from the witness; they invited straightforward af rmation. Questions usually began with the phrase Does the witness know that and then offered a paragraph-long burst of information that the witness was to corroborate (Albornoz [1569 1584] 1990, 45 47, 62 66, 168 70, 204 6). One typical question asked if the witness knew that Albornozs upstanding lifestyle served as an example to all Indians and Spaniards, and that he did all his work diligently and carefully as was suitable to the service of God. The same question went on to ask whether the witness knew that Albornoz had provided Indians with Christian doctrine and castigated their rituals, ceremonies, and public sins with moderate punishments. That question went further still, asking if the witness knew Albornoz did much fruitful work, all without a salary, using his indefatigable work and his exemplary behavior both to reform Indians beliefs and to hire responsible clerics who could properly tend to the Indians (Albornoz [1569 1584] 1990, 63). All of these queries appeared in just one lone sentence! Given the nature of the questions, witnesses usually replied, That which the question says is true or simply repeated the contents of the query. Rare would be those witnesses in any place or time who, having agreed to testify on someones behalf, would have the con dence to admit, No, I did not know that or No, that is not true when confronted with questions such as these. Rarer still would be the witness who asserted, Excuse me, but there is an additional issue that your questions have failed to address. Such witnesses certainly did not appear in any of Albornozs petitions.5 There were, of course, limitations to Albornozs control over the informaciones. Albornoz could invite speci c witnesses to speak in his defense, but he could not force them to accept his invitations. It is possible that Luis de Olvera failed to testify in three of the four petitions because he simply declined to do so, and not because Albornoz refused to ask him. Albornoz could also phrase his questions in a manner determined to elicit a formulaic response, but he could not compel witnesses to restrict themselves to that formula. Some broke from the formula in a most helpful way; one witness provided unsolicited information 127

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about Albornozs work in building local churches; another claimed the priest had destroyed 20,000 idols rather than the 6,000 that Albornoz himself claimed (Albornoz [1569 1584] 1990, 72, 99). A few others, however, added information that Albornoz would probably have preferred left unsaid. The priest Cristo bal de Molina stated that Albornoz was one of the rst to discover Taki Onqoy in response to a question that deemed Albornoz the rst to expose the movement (my emphasis), for Molina believed that Luis de Olvera had been the rst Spaniard to learn of Taki Onqoy (Albornoz [1569 1584] 1990, 226; Molina [1574] 1989, 129). That tiny revision in language may have upset Albornoz, but he could do little to erase it. Nor could Albornoz force his various notaries to record witnesses responses verbatim, and those notaries may well have passed over details or omitted speci c twists of speech if they were too tired, bored, or rushed to be fully attentive. But even granting such slips in his power, Albornoz retained tremendous control over what was said and what was not said in these informaciones. What matters most for my response to Ramos is a consideration of why Albornoz madeor, more accurately, may have madethe choices he did in controlling that narrative. Albornoz certainly had good reason for preferring silence on the Taki Onqoy movement when he compiled the 1569 informacio n. That reason centered on his dif cult task as a visitador. Charged by Crown of cials with the duty of inspecting lax tithe payments among Huamangas encomenderosnot, as some informaciones witnesses claimed, with studying Taki OnqoyAlbornoz headed to Huamanga in 1569 (Guibovich 1991, 209). Having just come to Peru in 1567, Albornoz had barely had time to establish himself in the country, much less in all of its diverse regions. Huamanga was an area Albornoz had never even seen before, an area where he had fewif anyconnections. He was an outsider coming into a burgeoning colonial world lled with its own set of relationships, rivalries, and con icts, and it was his task to investigate and reform the regional state of affairs, punishing those responsible for any problems or shortcomings in the process of building colonial rule (Guibovich 1990, 24 25). Learning the details of a major religious rebellion among Huamanga Indians, Albornoz found himself in a troublesome position. His responsibility as visitador was not just to punish the taquionqos and stamp out their movement; it was also to reprimand Huamanga Spaniards for allowing that movement to persist and gain strength. Those Spaniards included priests, whose primary duty was to bring Christianity to the heathen masses, and encomenderos, the individuals who won grants of Indian tribute and labor in exchange for their promise to help Christianize their newly won subjects. Even ordinary Huamanga Spaniards were technically at fault, for their responsibility as Spanish Christians was to guard their faith against recidivist offenses (Mills 1997, 26; Taylor 1996, 163 64). According to the strict dictates of his role, Albornoz had an astonishing number of Spaniards to blame and punish. Had circumstances been different, Albornoz might have wagered that the Crown would not actually expect such a sweeping indictment of Huamanga Spaniards. But circumstances did not lend themselves to generosity: the Crowns nascent colonial project in Peru had recently been endangered by threats of collective Indian violence in Charcas in 1564, instances of such violence in Jauja 128

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two years later, and a 1565 religious scandal in the Huaylas Valley (Varo n 1990, 332, 381; Wachtel 1977, 175). Economic crisis compounded this political crisis; declining colonial revenues and plummeting numbers of Indian laborers further jeopardized the survival of Spanish colonialism in Peru. The Spanish Crown was indeed so concerned about its colonial project that its foremost representative in Peru, Viceroy Don Francisco de Toledo, initiated a massive set of reforms during his 12-year rule (1569 1581) to radically reorganize the regime. Huamangas pivotal place in Spains colonial project only complicated matters. The region was crucial economicallylinking major commercial zones, holding substantial mercury and silver deposits, and housing large populations of potential Indian laborersand it was also vital militarily, bordering the Vilcabamba region where the still-unconquered rebel Inca government based itself (Stern [1982] 1993, xviii, 49). With circumstances such as these, the Crown would likely have expected Albornoz to act quickly and relentlessly against the Huamanga Spaniards. Now, Cristo bal de Albornoz might not have cared much about the fate of Spanish strangers, but he did have two pressing reasons to proceed cautiously in his efforts against them. The rst reason was linked to ecclesiastical rivalries. Tensions between the different Catholic ordersthe Dominicans, the Franciscans, the Augustinians, the Jesuits, and the secularswere ubiquitous in the Americas, and Albornoz probably wanted to guard the reputation of his own group, the seculars. Doing so would not be easy. The person who had rst found evidence of a religious rebellion among Huamanga Indians was Luis de Olvera, a secular priest, but Olvera had blundered in his efforts to combat the movement. Though he claimed to have sent word of the rebellion to Crown of cials shortly after discovering it in 1564, Olvera had failed to convey to those of cials just how serious a problem he had uncovered (Albornoz [1569 1584] 1990, 178). Had Olvera better alerted the Crown to the extent of the problem, chances seem good that the Crown would have acted quickly and forcefully to investigate and punish the taquionqos, but the Crown did no such thing. Worse still, Olvera had managed to get into considerable trouble with Crown of cials. He and his clerical assistant, Alonso Pareja, were the focus of a 1567 investigation by the visitador Francisco Toscano into complaints made by Indians from the Huamanga parish of Parinacochas. Toscanos visita lasted ten months, and at the end of those ten months he ned Olvera and Pareja for abusive behaviors toward the parishs Indian peoples. That Toscano did not reprimand any of Parinacochass many Dominican priests only made the seculars look worse (Ramos 1992, 160; Varo n 1990, 398 400). Albornoz likely worried that his own visita might irreparably damage the already suffering reputation of Huamangas secular priests. Albornoz also had himself to consider. He had no idea how long his visita would continue, unsure if it would last a few more weeks, a few more months, or a few more years. To proceed hastily with mass punishments against priests, encomenderos, and average Spaniards would risk angering and alienating a huge proportion of Huamangas Spanish population. Even encomenderos who escaped reprimand would be likely to resent Albornoz, feeling that his actions jeopardized the encomiendas tenuous future in colonial Peru. Albornoz just could not 129

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afford this risk. He needed the friendly company of his fellow Spaniards, at very least for their cooperation in proceeding with his visita , since angry Spaniards could easily have blocked his investigation with delays, obstructions, or even violence. And, of course, Albornoz needed Spaniards to speak on his behalf when he supplicated the Crown for promotion. What we see in Albornozs rst informacio n, then, is a joint exercise in caution. Petitioning the Crown in 1569, Albornoz was sanguine enough about his chances for promotion that he could exclude reference to the tricky matter of battling Taki Onqoy from his list of questions, con dent that his other merits would suf ce to advance his career. By not mentioning the movement, he would keep the Crown unaware of the rebellion and thereby grant himself more time and freedom to determine which Spaniards to punish and how to punish them. The local priests, encomenderos, and Huamanga residents who testi ed on Albornozs behalf shared the visitadors con dence and avoided any mention of Taki Onqoy. Doing so, they spared themselves from the potentially hostile response of Crown of cials upset by their failures among Huamangas Indians. But Albornoz did not win either of the two positions he was seeking in 1569. That failure made it clear that reference to his general merits alone would not be suf cient to earn him a promotion. So Albornoz dramatically revised the shape of his next informacio n, compiling this subsequent document just one year after the rst informacio n. Not only did he mobilize three times more witnesses for the 1570 informacio n than for the 1569 one, making for a text that was seven times longer than its predecessor, but Albornoz also asked his witnesses to speak of his role in combating the Taki Onqoy movement. He posed questions pertaining to his discovery of Taki Onqoy and his ght against the movement, and he used those questions to describe the rebellion at length, detailing taquionqos renunciations of Christianity, their fasts, their millenarian predictions, and their other abominable vices (Albornoz [1569 1584] 1990, 63 64). Possibly grateful to Albornoz for his extirpation efforts and for his yearlong effort to avoid implicating them, two dozen Huamanga Spaniards agreed to answer those questions. Faced with a choice between risking the wrath of local Spaniards or sti ing his career, Albornoz chose the former. His careerist ends pushed him to inform the Crown of Taki Onqoy, even if that information imperiled Huamangas Spaniards. Just as silence had been a strategy in 1569, so too was the 1570 turn to discussing Taki Onqoy. Other silences remain for me to explore. One such silence is the 1570 informacio ns failure to reference huaca possession and taquionqo dancing. An explanation for this silence rests with questions of timing. Albornoz pulled the informaciones together at moments he deemed expedient for his careerist ends, moments that hardly coincided with pivotal points in his investigation into Taki Onqoy. The 1569 and 1570 informaciones came while Albornozs visita was still underway, still incomplete. The 1577 and 1584 informaciones, in turn, came well after the visita s 1571 end. The peculiar timing of the informaciones leads me to suspect that the 1570 witnesses failed to mention huaca possession and dancing simply because they had yet to comprehend that those were major elements of the movement. This incomprehension about Taki Onqoy could have had either of two 130

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sources. The rst possible source was the frenzy of Albornozs visita . Albornoz had been a busy man from the moment he arrived in Huamanga. Along with his translators, notaries, and clerical assistants, he had set about inspecting tithe problems andsomewhere, somehowhad learned of the Taki Onqoy movement. Putting aside the original purpose of his visita , Albornoz and his entourage began investigating Taki Onqoy, castigating its adherents, and working to stamp out all vestiges of the movement. This was no small task. Walking from dwelling to dwelling in numerous villages, Albornoz and his assistants carried out hundreds, maybe thousands, of interviews, heard dozens of tearful confessions and angry denunciations, and interrogated countless Indians. Beyond investigating, Albornoz was also in charge of punishingpublicly humiliating religious deviants, smashing and burning their idols, and sentencing taquionqos to corporal punishments and/or incarceration.6 Added to the sheer volume of Albornozs work was a probable sense of desperation. Albornoz was new to Huamanganew even to Peruand he consequently had little familiarity with Andean religion and cosmology. In ghting Taki Onqoy, Albornoz was ghting a movement he lacked the experience to understand, and he may even have feared a connection between the taquionqos and the neo-Inca rebels situated in nearby Vilcabamba.7 Worse still, Albornoz and his entourage did not have the comfort of precedent; as theirs was essentially the rst major anti-idolatry campaign in Peru, they could not look to previous efforts for ideas about procedure or for consolation about their chances for success. Even visitas were still only a nascent institution at this point (Grif ths 1996, 9, 31 32; Guevara-Gil and Salomon 1994, 23). Albornoz had only had one year to wage this rather frantic battle against Taki Onqoy when he compiled his 1570 informacio n, a time period too short to have allowed him to step back from the urry of his visita activities and thoroughly analyze what he had learned of the movement. That Albornoz had not yet been able to build his own consolidated interpretation of the Taki Onqoy rebellionmuch less share his formulations with worried Huamanga Spaniardscan be seen from the diverse character of the 1570 witnesses testimonies. Though most witnesses gave standard, formulaic responses repeating the contents of Albornozs question about Taki Onqoy, several witnesses added crucial details that Albornoz had left out of his paragraph-long question. Two witnesses spoke of how certain female taquionqos carried the names of Christian saints like Mar a and Mar a Magdalena; another witness detailed how taquionqos gained new adherents by besmirching Christianity. The translator Gero nimo Mart n, in turn, alluded to taquionqo shaking and falling, explaining that the huacas intended to punish Hispanized Indians by making them walk around with their heads on the ground and their feet in the air and tumble down foolishly (Albornoz [1569 1584] 1990, 128, 89, 99, 147). The disparate nature of these testimonies suggests that Huamanga Spaniards, including Albornoz, had only a partial, fragmented, and unconsolidated knowledge of the Taki Onqoy movement. It would be no surprise, then, that some detailseven seemingly critical ones like dancing and possession would get left out of the 1570 informacio n. A second possible explanation for why no witness spoke of taquionqo dancing 131

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or huaca possession is that Albornoz had not yet discovered those elements of the movement when he compiled the 1570 informacio n. Albornozs investigation into Taki Onqoy was far from complete in 1570; he carried out almost a full year-and-a-half of further inquiry into the movement. It could well be that Albornoz simply had not yet discovered information about taquiongo dancing or huaca possession when he drafted the 1570 informacio n. This possibility seems all the more likely when we look to the 1577 testimony of Luis de Olvera. Olvera explained that Huamanga Indians had carefully guarded those individuals possessed by the huacas, sheltering them in enclosed areas where their adherents could come and adore them. Just as colonized peoples in other times and places took care to hide idolatrous elements of their religions, taquionqos took pains to hide and protect those Indians possessed by huacas (Albornoz [1569 1584] 1990, 178; Grif ths 1996, 157, 190). It seems reasonable, then, to wager that Albornoz and his entourage had yet to discover evidence of huaca possession and the consequent dancing when the visitador compiled his 1570 informacio n. Still more silences are attributable to the informaciones function and purpose. Moving through the pages of the informaciones and studying their testimonies, the careful reader will notice inconsistencies not just in the 1569 and 1570 texts, but in the later ones as well. Though Albornoz and his witnesses had had several years to consolidate their understandings of the Taki Onqoy movement by the time of the 1577 informacio n, discrepancies still appeared in the document. One witness would mention a critical detail or point about Taki Onqoy; another witness speaking to the same notary just a few days later would say nothing of that all-important piece of information. Recognizing the informaciones as elaborate letters of reference makes these later inconsistencies seem almost trivial. Because witnesses were speaking of Taki Onqoy only to establish Albornozs merits as a cleric, it was easy for them to leave out details about the movement, to skip over some issues and to neglect to mention others. Those details were simply not crucial for answering Albornozs questions, questions that did nothing more than ask witnesses if they were aware that Albornoz had battled the Taki Onqoy movement (Albornoz [1569 1584] 1990, 169). Had witnesses been testifying about Taki Onqoy in and of itself, purposefully telling all that they knew of the rebellion and its various characteristics, then inconsistencies between testimonies would be much more important, much more revealing of serious discrepancies in different witnesses understandings of Taki Onqoy. Such testimony, though, lay outside the informaciones intended purposes. This attention to the informaciones function leads me to disagree with Ramoss interpretation of the textual discrepancies she sees in the 1577 testimonies of three different witnesses: the priests Luis Olvera, Cristo bal Xime nez, and Cristo bal de Molina. Ramos correctly points out that although Olvera and Xime nez claimed that taquionqos believed themselves possessed by huacas, Molina made no mention of such possession. To Ramos, this inconsistency is a telling one. Molina had much knowledge of Andean religionhe had spent most of his life in Cuzco, had carried out two visitas, and was versed in the Quechua language, Andean cosmology, and Incaic history.8 Ramos argues that Molinas 1577 testimony re ected his knowledge, for he spoke in detail of things consistent with Andean religious practices: preachers, idols, and the belief that 132

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those who disobeyed the huacas would be transformed into animals as a punishment. Molina did not speak of huaca possession because such bodily invasions lay outside the Andean religious frameworks that he understood so wellnotions of possession were far more in keeping with European beliefs about the Devil than with Andean cosmology. His 1577 testimony should cast doubt, then, on the veracity of the con icting testimonies from Olvera and Xime nez (Ramos 1992, 158 59). Ramoss reading of the inconsistencies between these three clerical testimonies is interesting, but it is also riddled with problems that center on the key gure of Molina. The rst such problem is one of experience. Though Molina did know much about Andean religion, he had not traveled to Huamanga during the Taki Onqoy revolt and he had not seen evidence of the movement rst-hand, as Ramos herself notes (Ramos 1992, 159). Why, then, ought we privilege an experts perceptions of a movement he had not actually witnessed over the testimonies of two priests who had direct, personal knowledge of the Taki Onqoy rebellion? Ramoss assertion that huaca possession was a Christian rather than Andean concept is likewise problematic. Though it is clear that sixteenthcentury Spaniards placed their own Christian conceptions of demonic possession at the forefront of their religious consciousness, at times misinterpreting Andean religious frameworks because of their own European convictions about the Devil, this does not necessarily mean that huaca possession was foreign to Andean religion (Mills 1997, 218 19, 227; Ram rez 1996, 135). Andean deities had long delivered oracles through the voices of human beings, using human mediums in a way akin to the Christian concept of possession (MacCormack 1991, 183; Curatola 1978). Most importantly, we need to recognize that Andean religion was a dynamic, exible system of beliefs, able to incorporate foreign religious concepts into its frameworks. Scholars like Tristan Platt, Frank Salomon, and Kenneth Mills, among others, have treated this point in convincing detail (Platt 1987, Salomon 1990, Mills 1997). By the 1560s, Huamanga Indians could easily have begun assimilating Christian ideas about demonic possession into their own cosmologies. The most pressing limitation of Ramoss argument about Molinas words relates to the inconsistencies in the priests own statements. Though he was silent on the issue of huaca possession in 1577, his 1574 book Relacio n de las fa bulas y ritos de los incas contained detailed references to deities bodily invasions of the taquionqos (Molina [1574] 1989, 130 31). Ramos accounts for this inconsistency by suggesting that Molina came to accept popular and Church interpretations of Taki Onqoy and huaca possession at some point after his 1577 testimony, and that he wrote the Relacio n passage on Taki Onqoy much later than the presumed date of 1574 (Ramos 1992, 162). But even if we agree with Ramoss revision of the Relacio ns publication date, her argument is ultimately self-defeating, for it fails to explain why a gure so knowledgeable about Andean religion would come to believe those ideas about demonic possession that Ramos deems to be incompatible with Andean religious frameworks. Ramoss reading of the inconsistencies in the 1577 informaciones is just too complex and contradictory to satisfy. A simpler and more convincing explanation for those inconsistencies is to suggest they do not matter muchMolina 133

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had no reason to mention huaca possession in his 1577 testimony because he was only responding to a speci c question about Albornozs role in ghting Taki Onqoy. Molina certainly did not deny that taquionqos believed themselves possessed by Andean deities, and his silence on the question of possession in no way amounts to anything more telling or revealing than simple silence. Noses buried inside Albornozs informaciones, we will probably never nd a de nitive answer to questions about Taki Onqoys existence. Gabriela Ramos has produced a reasonable argument based on her careful reading of this sources; I have produced a reasonable counter-argument based on my reading of this same source. The witnesses inside the text certainly do not offer clear answers. Ramos can point to the numerous witnesses who had never even been to Huamanga and who spoke only from hearsay, admitting throughout their testimonies that they knew of Taki Onqoy because it was public and wellknown information, or because they had received a Church circular informing them of the movement (Ramos 1992, 154 55). I can counter with the assertion that distance from Huamanga was actually an asset, for witnesses without connections to the region had few reasons to censor their commentary. They would not be the ones punished by angry Crown of cials or alienated by their neighbors for revealing troubling information about Taki Onqoy. I can also make reference to witnesses who claimed direct knowledge of Taki Onqoy, witnesses who testi ed that they knew speci c individuals caught up in the movement or who had actually seen Huamanga Indians engaged in Andean religious behaviors (Albornoz [1569 1584] 1990, 147, 76, 157, 75, 100, 121, 103, 144, 89). All we are left with, then, is an unresolved debate between academic perspectives. This lack of resolution inclines me to turn my attention away from the informaciones and look elsewhere for clues and insights about the movement. I am hardly the rst scholar to be so inclinedhistorians have been seeking out different sources and materials on Taki Onqoy since Luis Millones rst published news of his ndings in 1964 (Varo n 1990, 336). Some of the materials that scholars have found bolster Ramoss argument. Gabriela Ramos herself looked past the informaciones and found evidence to question the credibility of certain key witnesses. The encomendero Diego de Gavila nthe rst witness to testify in 1570had actually been excommunicated from the Catholic Church one year earlier for his failure to pay the tithe (Ramos 1992, 153). That Albornoz would ask such a witness to testify, and that such a witness would agree to assist Albornoz by testifying on his behalf, suggests the possibility of a rather shady alliance between the two men. Perhaps Albornoz agreed to work to reinstate Gavila n in the Church if the encomendero spoke well of Albornoz in the informacio n. Whatever the relationship, there is reason to doubt Gavila ns reliability as a witness. Ramos has found other sources that similarly compromise different witnesses credibility (Ramos 1992, 156, 160 61). But some of the evidence scholars have found also supports my counter-argument that Taki Onqoy did indeed exist. Historians have looked to correspondence from the in uential Viceroy Francisco de Toledo, who traveled to Huamanga in 1570 as part of his own inspection tour. Like so many informaciones witnesses, Toledo referenced the dangerous links between Indian dancing and religious recidivism (Guibovich 1991, 231; 1990, 29). Scholars have also 134

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turned to the writings of Fel pe Guaman Poma de Ayala, the renowned indigenous chronicler and critic of colonialism. Though Guaman Poma held little esteem for most Spanish priests, deeming them violent, hypocritical, and arrogantly proud, he had much regard for Cristo bal de Albornoz, whom he had assisted in the 1569 1571 visita of Huamanga. It seems unlikely that Guaman Poma would have cast Albornoz as honest, holy, and fearless had the priest built his reputation on a lie about Andean millenarianism (Adorno 1986, 162). Guaman Poma also explicitly addressed the Taki Onqoy movement in his writings, condemning the movement and accusing its preachers of speaking with demons (Adorno 1991, 242 43). Historians need to keep searching for more information of this kind, adding to the academic arsenals of the revisionist and post-revisionist sides. Inquiring historians, though, may not nd much. Those documents most pertinent to the Taki Onqoy movementAlbornozs visita reports, testimonies of the thousands of Huamanga Indians arrested for participation in the movement, and correspondence about the Taki Onqoy that various informaciones witnesses refer toremain hidden despite numerous searches by scholars (Varo n 1990, 336). We cannot yet know what happened to these documents or what these documents said, but we should still continue looking. The 1569 informacio n, after all, did not surface until the late 1980s (Albornoz [1569 1584] 1990, 43). That key discovery suggests that further searches remain worthwhile. The Taki Onqoy movement facilitates a history that many scholars and activists very much want to believe ina history of Indian agency, cultural survival, and rebellion against colonial abuses. By publishing an article that questioned the very existence of the Taki Onqoy revolt, Gabriela Ramos took a brave academic risk. Though there had been other revisionist assessments of the movement prior to Ramoss piece, her take on Taki Onqoy was easily the most radical. Because she cast the informaciones the document upon which studies of Taki Onqoy have necessarily reliedas a thoroughly unreliable source, Ramos gave reason to doubt that the Taki Onqoy revolt ever even happened. My response to Ramoss argument does not aim to defensively champion those dearly held pre-revisionist understandings of Taki Onqoy, but rather to develop a plausible counter-interpretation of the textual problems Ramos has rightly highlighted. By looking at how, when, and why Cristo bal de Albornoz compiled his informaciones, I have argued that the four component documents manifold silences and discrepancies are a consequence of the informaciones peculiar form and function, and not the products of ecclesiastical mischief. This re-reading matters. On the most basic level, its counter-interpretations of the informaciones textual problems, like its discussion of the colonial Andean context of idolaters and extirpators, suggest that traditional interpretations of Taki Onqoy movement remain valid and that the movement did indeed exist. But this brief essay also has two larger implications. First, it offers a twist on the question of careerism. Gabriela Ramos is absolutely right in arguing that the informaciones are clear proof of Albornozs desire for a clerical promotion. Yet my reconsideration of the text shows that Albornozs ambitions do not undermine the historical legitimacy of his assertions about the Taki Onqoy movement. Because both careerism and corruption were commonplace among colonial Latin 135

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American priests, and because discoveries of idolatry facilitated ecclesiastical promotion, it is easy to doubt the validity of any clerics claims about idolatry. (See Acosta 1987; Duviols 1977, 1986; Sa nchez 1991; Urbano 1993, 26 27.) This essay puts a check on such doubts, showing that historical invention was not a necessary consequence of careerist ends. This essays second implication stretches into questions of historical evidence: it helps demonstrate that problematic sources are not useless sources. Gabriela Ramos is in no way the only scholar to question the validity of information gleaned from texts laden with silences, biases, and contradictions. Iris Gareis has raised concerns about documents produced by other idolatry extirpators, Steven Haber has questioned the sources favored by the New Cultural History school, and other examples are legion (Gareis 1990; Haber 1999). The frequency of such concerns suggests that perhaps the trouble lies less with the sources and more with the standards that academics have expected them to meet. As Kenneth Mills has asserted, there is virtue in adding to the mix of our requisite caution and suspicion a certain alertness to prospectsan openness to how apparent inconsistencies and contradictions got pulled together by colonial writers who (not surprisingly) often trip their way across the categories we and our historian predecessors have erected for them (Mills forthcoming, 4). This essays consideration of the informaciones shows that while a problematic sources information about subalterns has to be treated both cautiously and creatively, that information is still there for the mining if scholars are willing to spend the time and energy necessary to effectively extract it. Notes
* I would like to thank Steve J. Stern and the two anonymous readers for their especially generous comments on an earlier version of this article. 1 Taki Onqoy has been translated several ways, including the dancing sickness and the singing sickness. I utilize the more traditional dancing sickness. (See Varo n [1990, 357 58] for a discussion of Taki Onqoys Quechua meaning.) 2 Previous revisionist arguments include Urbano (1990), Guibovich (1991), and Varo n (1990). 3 Even after the Consejo de Indios examined Albornozs case for promotion in 1586 and turned him down, the priest kept on trying, writing a lengthy letter to the king in 1602 to urge the creation of a bishopric in Arequipa, which he, of course, could head (Guibovich 1990, 38 39). 4 I have inferred Albornozs lack of university education from his failure to reference his educational background in the informaciones. Several scholars have lamented our general lack of knowledge of Albornozs intellectual formation (see Ramos 1992, 156; Guibovich 1990, 35). 5 Varo n suggests one exception may be Damia n de la Bandera, who failed to provide detailed responses and would not answer ve of Albornozs eleven questions. Varo n also suggests that Banderas previous conviction for perjury can perhaps explain his reticence to testify (Varo n 1990, 342). 6 That Albornoz carried out the type of visita that involved walking is suggested from his 1584 Relacio n de la visita, where he lists the villages he visited and the people whom he punished (Albornoz [1584] 1990, 255 96). Albornoz also described his work efforts in his work Instruccio n para descubrir todas las guacas del Piru con sus camayos y haziendas (Albornoz [1584?] 1989, 196 97). 7 Sabine MacCormack notes just how dif cult it was for Spaniards who lacked familiarity with a region to understand the subtleties of local religious beliefs (1991, 143). That Albornoz did n fear such a connection is suggested from his reference to Vilcabamba in his Instruccio (Albornoz [1584?] 1989, 193 94). There do not, however, seem to have been any tangible ties between taquionqos and the rebel Incas (Varo n 1990, 350).

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8

Discussions of Molina appear in Guibovich (1990, 28); MacCormack (1991, 200); Grif ths (1996, 54); and Varo n (1990, 334).

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