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Muisca rulers: Wikis

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When the Spanish arrived in the central Colombia highlands, the region was organized into the Muisca Confederation, which had two kings; the Zipa, was the ruler of the southern part including what is now known as Bogotá. The Zaque was the ruler or king of the northern area in Hunza, known today as Tunja.

The Zipa was the title of the king. The Zipa didn’t exercise a tight control over those he ruled, it was a position of great honor and surrounded by elaborate court ceremony. The position of the Zipa was such that not even the members of the nobility dare to look him in the face, and it is said if the Zipa needed to spit, someone would hold out a piece of rich cloth for him to spit on, because it would be sacrilegious for anything so precious as his saliva to touch the ground. Whoever held the cloth (all the while carefully looking the other way) then carried it off to be reverently disposed of.

The Zipa was also given the responsibility of offering gold to the gods. He would cover himself with gold and float out on a royal barge to the middle of a sacred lake, where he would offer up golden trinkets. This is widely believed to be how the legend of El Dorado started.

When Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada arrived in Bogotá the ruling Zipa was Tisquesusa and the Zaque was Nemequene

The position of the ruler was inherited, but the line of succession was not patrilineal. Instead, the king was succeeded by his nephew, the oldest son of his oldest sister. There were exceptions, and the ruler's subjects, apparently, had some say in the matter, if only to confirm the successor in his post.


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