Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. My Nazca Cat

 

Researchers in Peru have found a previously unrecognized 120-foot-long geoglyph (that was a new word for me) in the shape of a cat that was etched into a Peruvian hillside about 2,200 years ago. Kitty was uncovered during research for a project to create new visitor observation sites along the Pan-American Highway which stretches from Alaska to Argentina.

The story and photos are in the Daily Mail.

Kitty is part of an archeological phenomenon called the Nazca Lines, a series of geoglyphs made on the Peruvian desert floor somewhere between 500 BC and 200 AD by digging shallow trenches in the ground and then filling in the depression with different-colored dirt. They’re an artifact of the Nazca culture, one of which, at the moment, I know only what I’ve read in this Wikipedia article (gotta start somewhere, right?), in which I see that the Nazca were farmers and artisans (some of their ceramics and textiles are beautiful), with some quite advanced ideas on the subject of agriculture and irrigation (some of the aqueducts they constructed are still in use today).

It appears that during the 500 or so years that it flourished, the culture gradually moved its center of influence from the coast into the thickly forested mountains, becoming more warlike over time, until most of it was destroyed in catastrophic floods, whose effects may have been magnified by over-clearing and over-farming, leaving what was arid land to start with even more desertified. Still, much of the culture, as described, seems quite idyllic. That is, with the exception of that lengthy dissertation on the rather unsettling number of gruesome severed heads found and depicted, both in burial sites and in art. Still, de gustibus non est disputandum. On the whole, based on the very little I’ve read, I find myself rather liking the Nazca.

Speaking of de gustibuses, I see that the Spanish, after conquering the territory in the 16th century, set up very successful vineyards in the region (none of whose success, I’m sure, accrued to the benefit of what was left of the indigenous population), which became famous for their grape and brandy production. (The largest and most successful of the vineyards was owned by the Jesuits. Go figure.) The nearby port of Pisco gave its name to the eponymous brandy, and lives on in the popular cocktail, Pisco Sour.

But back to the Nazca cat. I think she’s quite charming. And when I saw her (the Nazca might be described, religiously, as something of a fertility cult, so I’m calling Kitty a “she”), I was transported back in time to 1992 and a visit to the Sackler Gallery in Washington, DC. I went with a friend, to a special exhibition of Mesopotamian Art on loan from The Louvre. I found myself looking at the exquisite little carvings and pots, and the beautiful art, and the likenesses of animals and birds lovingly etched and painted, and I suddenly reached across four thousand years or so, and felt completely at home. I felt completely connected to those artists in a way that I almost never do when I visit a museum of modern art.

I felt as if I knew, and understood, those people.

I feel as if I know, and understand, that cat.

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  1. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSulJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    “The past is a foreign country.”

    “History doesn’t repeat, but it sometimes rhymes.”

    There are so very many ways we are estranged from our forebears – we think and act and emote in ways they could not understand. But we have points of contact too, and it is beautiful when we can see them.

    • #1
    • October 19, 2020, at 6:14 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  2. Hang On Member
    Hang OnJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    That’s some tail on that cat. 

     

    • #2
    • October 19, 2020, at 6:19 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. She Reagan
    SheJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Hang On (View Comment):

    That’s some tail on that cat.

    Indeed. I think it is a tail, though.

    • #3
    • October 19, 2020, at 6:21 AM PDT
    • Like
  4. Front Seat Cat Member

    It’s still so fascinating that these aerial carvings in South America are so huge, and why did they do it and how, since they had to be created for and viewed from the air? Notice they didn’t pick a pooch………

    • #4
    • October 19, 2020, at 6:27 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. KentForrester Moderator

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    It’s still so fascinating that these aerial carvings in South America are so huge, and why did they do it and how, since they had to be created for and viewed from the air? Notice they didn’t pick a pooch………

    That only shows how primitive they were.

    The Pussycat People just doesn’t make them sound very ferocious, does it?

    • #5
    • October 19, 2020, at 6:50 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  6. KentForrester Moderator

    This cat was “previously unrecognized”? What were they, blind?

    • #6
    • October 19, 2020, at 6:52 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  7. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. StephensJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    This cat was “previously unrecognized”? What were they, blind?

    That is the part I don’t get

    • #7
    • October 19, 2020, at 7:15 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. She Reagan
    SheJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng… (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    This cat was “previously unrecognized”? What were they, blind?

    That is the part I don’t get.

    You can only see the full outlines from the air, and I think it’s a very sparsely populated part of the continent. There are tons of them. Many of them are just “lines” (the significance and use (if there is one) of which researchers are still trying to figure out) and are not actual representations of creatures or things. Apparently they are using drones to photograph the area in high definition now. This is what the “Nazca Lines” look like from a satellite:

    Líneas de Nazca, Nazca, Perú, 2015-07-29, DD 49.JPG

    Here’s “The Monkey” at fairly close range. I suppose if you’re not expecting to see them, or you’re not interested, or you’re not looking for them at rather close range, you don’t really see them. When they’re pointed out, it’s like, “Well. Duh.”

    • #8
    • October 19, 2020, at 7:24 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Isn’t it wonderful when we see art that we can deeply connect to, the way you described? There’s no other experience like it. Thanks for a fascinating post!

    • #9
    • October 19, 2020, at 7:30 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  10. Front Seat Cat Member

    She (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng… (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    This cat was “previously unrecognized”? What were they, blind?

    That is the part I don’t get.

    You can only see the full outlines from the air, and I think it’s a very sparsely populated part of the continent. There are tons of them. Many of them are just “lines” (the significance and use (if there is one) of which researchers are still trying to figure out) and are not actual representations of creatures or things. Apparently they are using drones to photograph the area in high definition now. This is what the “Nazca Lines” look like from a satellite:

    Líneas de Nazca, Nazca, Perú, 2015-07-29, DD 49.JPG

    Here’s “The Monkey” at fairly close range. I suppose if you’re not expecting to see them, or you’re not interested, or you’re not looking for them at rather close range, you don’t really see them. When they’re pointed out, it’s like, “Well. Duh.”

    That is just wild – why would they do that and how did they do it?? The top picture looks like a grid map – aliens?

    • #10
    • October 19, 2020, at 8:17 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    That is just wild – why would they do that

    Dunno.

    and how did they do it??

    Pegs and string. Laid out in reduced size on a small patch of ground.

    They were primitive. That is not synonymous with stupid. They were every bit as smart as we are.

     

    • #11
    • October 19, 2020, at 8:40 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  12. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. StephensJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The human drive for art is part of our divine nature coming through. This is how we are in His image. 

     

    • #12
    • October 19, 2020, at 10:48 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  13. Hoyacon Member

    Even ancient aliens liked cats.

    • #13
    • October 19, 2020, at 11:23 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  14. kylez Member
    kylezJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Their cemetery is a bit of a horror show.

    • #14
    • October 19, 2020, at 11:38 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. Ontheleftcoast Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    It’s still so fascinating that these aerial carvings in South America are so huge, and why did they do it and how, since they had to be created for and viewed from the air? Notice they didn’t pick a pooch………

    That only shows how primitive they were.

    The Pussycat People just doesn’t make them sound very ferocious, does it?

    Nazca Cat was probably inspired by one of the 10 South American wild cat species. Pick a species, any species and I bet it’s even more ferocious than the little ambush killers that have caused or contributed to the extinction of dozens of bird and mammal populations worldwide—and there weren’t any of them in South America until they arrived with the Spanish and Portuguese. Cats were domesticated (for certain values of “domesticated”) in the Middle East, or maybe East Asia, but any felines in the pre-Columbian Americas were, as far as we know, wild.

    I met a pair of ocelots one Halloween when I was young. They certainly weren’t pussycats. They cruised the periphery of the room like, well, trapped wild animals, though they were well enough socialized that there wasn’t blood on the floor.

     

    • #15
    • October 19, 2020, at 1:04 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. She Reagan
    SheJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    I met a pair of ocelots one Halloween when I was young. They certainly weren’t pussycats. They cruised the periphery of the room like, well, trapped wild animals, though they were well enough socialized that there wasn’t blood on the floor.

    We raised a pair of orphaned serval in Nigeria when I was a child, and then, somehow, Dad managed to place them in a British zoo. There’s a photo somewhere. Lord knows where. They were rather aggressive as they grew up. Here’s the Wikipedia photo of an adult:

    Leptailurus serval -Serengeti National Park, Tanzania-8.jpg

     

    • #16
    • October 19, 2020, at 1:27 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  17. She Reagan
    SheJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):
    I met a pair of ocelots one Halloween …

    A month too early, apparently:

    There once was a finicky ocelot
    Who all the yearlong was cross a lot
    Except at Thanksgiving
    When he enjoyed living
    For he liked to eat Cranberry sauce a lot–Ogden Nash

    Time for some cat limericks?

    Or even just the start of my favorite cat poem by poor Kit Smart:

    For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
    For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
    For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
    For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
    For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
    For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
    For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
    For this he performs in ten degrees.
    For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.
    For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
    For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.
    For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
    For fifthly he washes himself.
    For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
    For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
    For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
    For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
    For tenthly he goes in quest of food–Jubilate Agno, Christopher Smart

    I love cats. Especially this one.

    • #17
    • October 19, 2020, at 1:34 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  18. She Reagan
    SheJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I sent the friend who took the trip to DC with me (the one I mention in the post) the link to this, now it’s on the main feed. She remembers our adventure to see the Mesopotamian art fondly too. One of the high points, aside from the cultural experience (although in its way, I suppose this was one too), was the meal we had in the Adams Morgan district one evening at a simply wonderful Ethiopian restaurant. I think she and I were the only white people in the building. There was a staircase to the side of the room, up and down which a steady stream of what I supposed at the time must be Ethiopian men were proceeding. I have no idea what was going on, and perhaps it’s just as well. We sat on the floor Ethiopian style, and the food was absolutely delicious.

    • #18
    • October 19, 2020, at 1:39 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. She Reagan
    SheJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    kylez (View Comment):

    Their cemetery is a bit of a horror show.

    Indeed.

    https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/chauchilla-cemetery

     

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Even ancient aliens liked cats.

    I think in many cases, ancient aliens were cats.

    • #19
    • October 19, 2020, at 1:50 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. John H. Member
    John H.Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    She (View Comment):

    Or even just the start of my favorite cat poem by poor Kit Smart:

    For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
    For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
    For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
    For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
    For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
    For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
    For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
    For this he performs in ten degrees.
    For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.
    For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
    For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.
    For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
    For fifthly he washes himself.
    For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
    For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
    For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
    For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
    For tenthly he goes in quest of food–Jubilate Agno, Christopher Smart

    One of my favorite poems. 

     

    • #20
    • October 19, 2020, at 5:06 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. Steven Seward Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    That is just wild – why would they do that

    Dunno.

    and how did they do it??

    Pegs and string. Laid out in reduced size on a small patch of ground.

    They were primitive. That is not synonymous with stupid. They were every bit as smart as we are.

    Being an artist all my life and using grids drawn to scale to enlarge pictures, I’ve always laughed at the idea that there is no way the Nazca could have drawn those pictures without seeing them from high above. Ask any art student.

    The only question is “Why.”

    • #21
    • October 19, 2020, at 9:28 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  22. Arahant Member

    Steven Seward (View Comment):
    Being an artist all my life and using grids drawn to scale to enlarge pictures, I’ve always laughed at the idea that there is no way the Nazca could have drawn those pictures without seeing them from high above. Ask any art student.

    Exactly.

    • #22
    • October 23, 2020, at 12:39 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. KentForrester Moderator

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):
    Being an artist all my life and using grids drawn to scale to enlarge pictures, I’ve always laughed at the idea that there is no way the Nazca could have drawn those pictures without seeing them from high above. Ask any art student.

    Exactly.

    Steven, why don’t you do a post on your art some day? I’d love to see it. 

    • #23
    • October 23, 2020, at 1:33 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  24. Steven Seward Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):
    Being an artist all my life and using grids drawn to scale to enlarge pictures, I’ve always laughed at the idea that there is no way the Nazca could have drawn those pictures without seeing them from high above. Ask any art student.

    Exactly.

    Steven, why don’t you do a post on your art some day? I’d love to see it.

    I was going to do a post on my portraits of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton that I did for a calendar company back in the election season of 2016 but the fast pace of real life got in the way. Maybe someday…..

    • #24
    • October 23, 2020, at 9:30 AM PDT
    • 2 likes