Human and animal sacrifices have been practiced since ancient times. Whether it be to Gods or kings, both human and animals were killed and sacrificed in honor of something. The 1tumi was used to decapitate and kill animals and humans for a religious sacrifice to the Sun gods as a thank you for the good harvest and ask for yet another one. Tumis were also used in burials of the elite members of the society such as the high priests. It is said that hanging a tumi up on a wall in your home will bring you good luck and good fortune.
The tumi is not only my country’s national symbol and publicity for tourists but it is also a very significant cultural artifact to my country and myself.
The tumi is a sacrificial knife, “usually made from solid gold, though sometimes bronze or copper, these metals representing the sun, from which Andean cultures believed all human life descended” (The Tumi).
At one end there is a blade in a crescent shape at one end. The other end of the tumi contains the face of Naylamp, “a supposedly mythical ruler that according to oral legend was the founder of the post-Moche Lambayeque civilization” (Sandoval). The tumi as a whole looks like a knife morphed between an axe and a human body. I believe it is a representation of its meaning. One half is a weapon and is used as such, however the other half is not a weapon. It is part of a human being.
This part represents its use in the burial of the elite in the ancient times as well as a part of Andean myths.
“In Andean mythology, the Moche, Chimu and Incas were descendants of the Sun, and had to be worshipped annually with an extravagant celebration, Init Rayari. The festival took place at the end of the potato and maize harvest in order to thank the Sun for the abundant crops or to ask for better crops during the next season. During this important religious ceremony, the High Priest would sacrifice a completely black or white llama. Using a tumi, he would open the animal’s chest and with his hands pull out its throbbing heart, lungs and viscera, so that observing those elements he could foretell the future” (Peruvian Incan Ritual). As well as being used in sacrifices, “tumis were also used to heal – being used in medical operations, specifically in trepanation” (The Tumi). Trepanation is when a hole is made in your skull. This is used for neurological procedures. From what I have learned in the past, these ancient civilizations seemed to be extremely advanced.
Today, the tumi is not used for sacrificial or medical purposes. It is solely used as decor; whether it be a keychain or an ornament or wall art, the tumi is seen in people’s homes as a good luck charm of a sort. It is very popular among tourists and artisans and many archaeologists simply because of the myth behind it. The one I have presented in class hangs on my wall for good luck and prosper. The Peruvian culture today highly respects the tumi and it is seen as a cultural symbol because of the history, the myth and the ancestry. The tumi shall always hold a very special acknowledgment in the Peruvian culture.