It most likely had eight legs, one of which is still wielding a knife. That’s according to archaeologists in northern Peru, who discovered a 50-foot Peruvian mosaic that was once the focal point of a pre-Columbian altar.
In November of 2020, a Peruvian spidey mural was discovered by chance. Farmers in the Vir province were reportedly demolishing land for new crops when they came across the 3,200-year-old Huaca. (Huaca refers to a sacred Peruvian item that is thousands of years old.)
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Among the first archaeologists on the scene, Régulo Franco Jordán, was the one to notice the artwork. In an interview with the Peruvian newspaper La Repblica, he explained the process of finding the mural—which shows fading signs of once-vivid ocher, yellow, gray, and white colors—noting that it’s inside of what was possibly a Cupisnique temple. In fact, Jordán’s colleague Feren Castillo believes there were at least three structures on the site, all of which were linked to religious ceremonies in some way.
Cupisnique culture flourished between 2,600 and 3,600 years ago throughout what is now Peru’s northern pacific coastline, and spiders were evidently a favorite of theirs. In reality, the Peruvian culture worshiped a spider god, who was honored through multiple modalities.
Jordán suggested that the mural was about 3,200 years old and that about 60% of the Huaca had been lost. The Huaca and mural are credited to the Peruvian Cupisnique culture, which used spiders as a sacred emblem. For most of the Iron Age, the Cupisnique existed in the region that is now known as the Vir Valley. A mosaic of a holy spider was found in a nearby Cupisnique shrine in 2008, and other Cupisnique sites have yielded ceramics with arachnids.
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This place, dubbed Tombalito by Jordán, is located on Peru’s northwestern coast, close to the Vir River. Just a few of the arachnid’s legs and the knife it wields in one “hand” can be seen. The crimson, white, yellow, and grey hues blend in with the khaki colored soil just barely.
“The spider on the holy place represents water and was an absolutely crucial animal in pre-Hispanic cultures that followed a ritual calendar,” Jordán explained to La Libertad. “When the rains came down from the higher elevations between January and March, it’s likely that an unique, sacred water ritual was held.”
Aside from the sprawling spider, there are additional information at the corners of the uncovered mural that suggest there is more Cupisnique artwork to be found. However, the group will briefly cover the site before returning to do further excavation work while the pandemic continues.
A Little Bit Of Spider Mythology & Folklore Knowledge For Your Geek Brain
We will briefly cover these cultures though probably wanted more Peruvian Info:
The Hopi Native Americans – Spider-Woman is the earth goddess in the Hopi creation myth. She creates the first living beings with Tawa, the god of the sun. Tawa designs First Man and First Woman, while Spider-Woman creates them out of the earth.
Ancient Greece – According to Greek mythology, there once was a woman called Arachne who boasted of being the greatest weaver in the world. This irritated Athena, who was certain that her own performance was superior. Athena saw that Arachne’s work was still of higher quality after a contest, so she violently destroyed it. Arachne hung herself out of despair, but Athena intervened and transformed the string into a cobweb, and Arachne into a spider. Arachne can now weave her beautiful tapestries indefinitely, and it is from her name that we get the word arachnid.
Africa – The spider is worshipped in West Africa as a trickster deity, similar to Coyote in Native American mythology. He’s named Anansi, and he’s always up to mischief to get the best of other creatures. In many myths, he is a god who is connected to the development of intelligence or narrative. His stories were passed down through the generations and made their way to Jamaica and the Caribbean through the colonialism. Anansi stories can still be found in Africa nowadays.
Cherokee – Grandmother Spider is credited with introducing light to the universe in a popular Cherokee legend. As per legend, everything was dark and no one could see because the sun would be on the other side of the planet in the beginning. The animals decided that somebody wanted to steal some light and restore the sun so that humans could see. Both the Possum and the Buzzard tried, but failed, resulting in a charred tail and burned feathers, respectively. Grandmother Spider eventually mentioned that she would try to catch the sun. She made a container of clay and transported it to the location where the sun stood, weaving a web as she went.
She gently rolled the sun home, dropping it in the ceramic container and following her web. She moved from east to west, taking the light with her and bringing the sun to those who needed it.
Celtic – According to Sharon Sinn of Living Library Blog, the spider was traditionally a helpful species in Celtic mythology. She goes on to claim that the spider has connections to the spinning loom and weaving, suggesting that there is an ancient, goddess-focused link that has yet to be thoroughly explored. In her function as a weaver of mankind’s destiny, the goddess Arianrhod is often connected with spiders.
Featured Image By Peruvian Twitter User Antiguo_Peru