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The Candire Myth, the Inka, and the Guarani-Chiriguanos Migrations

As documented in Colonial accounts, around the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Guarani expansion into the Andean foothills intensified. These population movements triggered harsh cycles of intertribal conflict with already settled populations. The Inka arrival into the southeastern piedmont was certainly crucial in exacerbating these intertribal confrontations. One of the events eliciting a major conflict was the sixteenth- century pan-regional Guarani movement into the Cordillera—perhaps instigated by the Portuguese explorer Alejo Garcia, also known as Mara- tya (Julien 2005; Susnik 1968, 1975). In these intrusions, the invading Guarani-Chiriguano groups penetrated deep into the Inka province of Charcas and moved far to the west, reaching Tarabuco, Mizque, Tomina, and Inkallajta (Figure 3.3) (Susnik 1968:168-169). At least three main Tupi-Guarani migration episodes are documented (Figure 3.4). The first group of Guaranies from Parana ventured into the Pilcomayo River area, and some of their descendants settled in Tarija, Bolivia. A second group from Asuncion, in Paraguay, took a central route following the Paraguay and Caaguazu Rivers. A third group of Hieruquizaba and Carayazapera migrated to the north, following the Guapay waterway (Combes 2005; Diaz de Guzman 1979 [1612], 1980 [1612]; Julien 2007; Susnik 1968).

Of particular importance for this study is the Guarani migration into southern Bolivia. Ideologically justified by the search for the mythical Candire, a sort of earthly paradise and “land of all kinds of riches," it was assumed that in this legendary land existed an abundance of resources, food, and metals that any Guarani could appropriate (Combes and Saignes 1991; Julien 1997; Metraux 1963, 1974; Saignes 1985, 1990; Susnik 1968). To some others, the Candire was the “lord of true metal and all things," a wealthy regional chief residing in such a paradise (Julien 2007:255).

Whatever the situation, the search for the Candire was certainly exacerbated by the circulation of valuable Inka imperial goods across the frontier region (Julien 2007; Susnik 1968). One of these enclaves was the Inka frontier center of Samaipata, supported by the bountiful mineral exploitation in Saipuru. For the Chiriguanos, these riches helped sustain the idea that the mythical Candire was close (Susnik 1968:66). For one local Xaraje chief, the Candire was the utopia of “white and yellow metals, axes, people dressed in wool and music produced with flutes in the Candire, lord of all good things" (in Susnik 1968:170; see also Julien 2007). This description certainly matches the idealized Inka mode of life. Although it is likely that the circulation of Inka imperial goods served to build local allegiances and alliances, some of the Inka materials were transferred from tribe to tribe and even from person to person farther east. Cognizant of these valuables, some groups decided to temporarily migrate into the Andean foothills to have the chance to exchange directly with the Inka lords. Others, like the Guarani, decided to acquire them in a more violent fashion.

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