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The Nazca Flamingo Desert Figure

Clifford C. Richey April 201 !a Re"#rite of the original paper #ritten in 200$%

&t #ould 'e helpful to refer to( http())###.scri'd.com)doc)12*0+, 1.*) -ni.ersal"/rehistoric"Depicted" 0ign"1anguage #hen reading this paper. &t e2plains the use of Form3 &magery3 4esture 0igns3 0tance3 allusion. and position among other compositional rules used in the creation of many ancient compositions.

Illustration 1: Snake ir! or American Darter This paper was originally written in 2009. Since that time there have been a number of new findings related to how various ancient compositions were organized. These more recent findings have led to the ability to provide a more detailed translation of the Flamingo composition. The general meaning of the composition remains unchanged: the flight of a stream of moving water particles, in other words evaporation. !any ancient cosmologies were based on an understanding of the water cycle and their sign language depictions used many metaphors related to this as a way of e"plaining the cycle of life death and rebirth. The uni#ue composition of a $ird li%e figure and a Serpent is referred to in the literature as the Flamingo &azca desert figure. 't is obviously not a Flamingo as the $ea% is too straight and the (egs are too short relative to both the tail and the body. The Sna%e $ird or )merican *arter +scientifically %nown as )nhinga , is a better fit in regard to these proportions as well as the linguistic association made with the actual bird-s appearance. This bird does not have the oil glands of many other water fowl. Therefore its feathers become wet and it sits low in the water with only its nec% and head appearing above the waterline. This gives it the appearance of a sna%e. ) non.realistic aspect of the depiction is that the bird-s bea% as e"tremely long. The Sna%e $ird-s bea% is normally only twice the length of this bird-s head. The e"aggerated bea% appears to be more a function of the gesture sign element used in the composition than any attempt to depict the bird realistically. !any compositions based on depicted sign language use the Form of the material upon which the compositions were made +such as the Form of the roc% chosen for a petroglyph, as the sub/ect or topic of the composition. 'n this specific case the composition was drawn on the &azca desert floor and thus the 'nitial Form must be sought in the composition itself.

Illustration 2: Initial Form: A Water Drop

The Form is one of a +blue.green, *rop of 0ater. The topic of the composition is then one of a part of water or a particle of water. The relatively large size of the water.particle indicates its importance, the great water-particle. The +green, nearly 1orizontal 2ectangle is a place sign and while we cannot be sure that it was created at the same time as the composition its meaning does not at least contradict the composition-s message. The angle or Stance of the sign +rightward leaning indicates a waiting-place, ) 1orizontal 2ectangle means a horizontal-place. The water.particle is also horizontal and the (ong (ine attached to it is the sign for a surface such as the ground-s surface. The waiting place, for The great water-particle, at The land's surface. 0e are now prepared to learn more about the significance of the water.particle lying at the land-s surface.

Illustration ": reak!own of the Form of the #omposition

Illustration $: %a&ca #eramic Shar!: 'he o!( as a )essel 'n the above illustration of a &azca ceramic fragment The $ody can be seen as that of a 3essel +color coded green, This composition spea%s to the Face of the male-spirit appearing at the !outh of the +a water-source, 3essel. The !outh of the Face +his appearance, is a 1orizontal 2ectangle indicating a

horizontal-place that alludes to the !outh +a water-source,. The 1air is is the 4onical gesture sign for a mountain-peak with the +color coded blue, !ultiple (ines that refer to the gesture sign for flowing (water) positioned on the mountainside. The compound flowing.water sign and the allusion to the 1air creates a new sign meaning a cleansing or a purification. The )rms +association warriors, and 1ands +association stewards of the Sun, were positioned as on the sides of the vessel. The Form of the )rms were made in the shape of a Steep )ngle that was the sign for a cliff or edge of the surface +earth,. The 1ands were depicted in the 4urved 1ead 5utline +based on the Form of the glans penis. The Form for female was based on the Triangular female genital area, that indicated a male-spirit. The )rms and 1ands stem from the Throat +a tube or connecting tunnel, of the 3essel. 6ven in this fragment of a composition we can see the relationship between water vessels and the cosmology. The Forms found within the Total Form of the $ird.Serpent composition are a mi"ture of gesture signs and further Forms. The Serpent Form can be bro%en down into even more signs. The Tail of the $ird-s $ody when viewed as a total can be seen as the 7esture Sign for into an opening, This is followed by the Form of a 3essel an earthen-container whose !outh meaning a water-source, is facing the opening sign. $oth the opening sign and the vessel are positioned as on the side. &e"t we see the Form of a Severed Finger its 8nuc%le was integrated into the rounded base of the vessel. The Finger points a direction downward, here or here, below. The earthen.vessel was used as an analog for the earth The 8nuc%le of the Finger alludes to the 1inge li%e function of that /oint. Thus here on the side of the earth is an area that opens and closes. The Serpent Form was used as the sign for a stream of water. This stream emanates from the 1inge area that opens and closes and was also positioned as on the side. Thus a steam of moving water from an area on the side of the earth that opens and closes. The 1ead of the Serpent connects to a Straight line that was used to indicate a surface usually the surface of the earth. The e"treme (ength of the (ine was related to the 7esture Sign for a sprea! out place, a broad surface of the earth a great plain.
nto, The opening, !n the side, of The "od#-The $essel-The container, The %outh-The water source, of The earthen vessel. &ere, "elow, at The &inge-an area, that !pens and closes, where The Serpent-The stream of water, meets The wide surface, The great plain.

Illustration *: Snake ir! or American Darter The template for many ancient compositions was based on an underlying $ody template The $ody may be human animal or even that of a plant or an ob/ect. The $ody template provided areas that could be alluded to both for the meaning of their respective bodily areas as well a providing a spatial or positional reference. Such allusions become part of the message even when they were not overtly depicted in the composition. 'n 'llustration 9 we see the 'magery of the +pin%, $ody of the $ird indicating flight and the +blue.green, :ndulating sign that indicates movement compounded with the Saw.toothed or ;igzag sign for water. This created the +blue.green, Form of a Serpent. The association with the Serpent was one of a stream of water. The compounding of these signs provides us with the message a stream of moving water.

Illustration 2: Serpent3 ir! Form, ,eru

Illustration +: ,etrogl(ph of a Similar Serpent Form -.tah, %orth America/ #op(right: 0ark 1a&el http'((ime)cursions.files.wordpress.com 'n 'llustrations 9.< we can ma%e the comparison between the Serpent that ma%es up the Sna%e.$ird-s &ec% or Throat and a very similar Serpent depiction on a petroglyph from &orth )merica. This and many other Serpent depictions world wide are found in similar compositional conte"ts which demonstrates the wide distribution of the sign as an association for a steam of moving water. 't could hardly be otherwise because in order for the signs to maintain their communicative value they had to be meticulously preserved through time and space. The (ong $ea% of the $ird Form provides a (ong Straight (ine that was used to indicate a broad surface. This sign was made by using both flat hands with their bac%s up and thumbs touching. The

hands were then moved apart from each other horizontally creating for the viewer this drew a long horizontal line in the air. This gesture sign was used to indicate a 4roa! plain. The *ouble (ines of the entire composition indicated something that was hidden or unseen. The 1ead of the Serpent was composed of the 4onve" and 4oncave 4urved signs that indicate respectively covered and held (as in a bowl). The *aiting +lace, of The great water-particle, at The land's surface. ,nseen, The "ird-The -light, of )s a depiction of a $ird we can see the $ody parts such as the Tail of the $ird 't (egs and Feet The Trun% of the $ody as well as its 0ings &ec% or Throat and its 1ead and $ea%. 6ach of these $ody parts had its own associational meaning. )nimals also held an associational meaning in terms of the animal-s spirit or behavioral essence. This created an image of a $ird whose association was the one that flies. 'n gesture sign language the use of the signer-s hands placed together at the wrist ma%ing a flapping motion was both the sign for a bird and flying or flight. The meaning of a Tail positional area is not entirely clear but appears to indicate a past tense, something that is behind one. The (egs and Feet indicated a long walk or .ourne#. The Trun% of the $ody was often depicted as a container while the 0ings or 1ands of the $ird represented a steward. The steward was a title for the steward of the Sun 5a Sun3priest. The &ec% or Throat represented a connecting tu'e or tunnel often used in the sense of connecting the bowels of the earth to her surface. 0e see an e"ample of this in the =uechua language> The 1ead indicated a directional heading. The $ird-s (arge $ea% is its !outh represented a source of water. 'n this case its relative size a great source of water. The &and-The steward of the Sun, The ones (/)-0ver#where, 1bove and below, 0e have seen above how the $ody was conceptualized as a 3essel a container +normally of fluid or water,. 't was also used to metaphorically describe the $ody of the 6arth.female which was viewed as containing the waters of the underworld. ) clay vessel made from the earth is an easily understood analog for an earthen-container. The $ody of the $ird seems to be in the Form of such a $ody.vessel. The vessel, The earthen-container. -rom it, >Tungurahua which in the =uechua language means ?throat of fire? a volcano that has been erupting since >999.
http:@@www.smh.com.au@world@eruption.fears.as.ecuadors.throat.of.fire.volcano.spews.ash.smo%e.20>A0A09. z#rBs.htmlCi"zz2yDp78Es%

The Serpent-1 stream, of %oving, water. )s mentioned earlier it is thought that the Tail was used to represent something behind or in the past. The Tail being composed of Feathers is part of a $ird thus representing parts in flight. The Form of the +blue, Feathers is one representing long +the red color is used to indicate the F:G shaped turning sign, turnings. The 2ectangular portion of the sign indicates place2a turning-place. Their 4ount is Three indicating by associative number the man#.

Illustration 6: Sign 7lements of the ir!8s o!( The Tail -eathers-The parts in flight, The (3)-The man#, 4ong Turning-places, "ehind, The Form of the (egs and Feet create the Form of Two Small $irds that represent flights and by their relative position above and below. The Stance of the $ird-s Form is one of 2ightward (eaning indicating stopped. $y the $ird-s $ody shape and the shape of the $ea% this would seem to be a *uc%. The *uc% bears the behavioral essence of the one who puts his head under the water. The area of the (egs and Feet is alluded to by their position on the $ird. The (egs indicate length or long while the Feet are an association for a walk or .ourne# Hin this case by flight. The count of Two $irds represents the plural. The $ird Form can be bro%en down into further signs. The Tail as a long turnings signs The 0ings as the 1ands of the $ird represent the 1ands of the Sun the stewards of the Sun. The "ird (5)-The flights, of The 6uck-The one that puts his head under the water.

The 4egs, the feet-The long .ourne#s, 1bove and below, !n the sides,

Illustration 9: Signs within the ir!8s o!( The one, The flight above, The turning-place, at The $essel's %outh-The water source, Stopped Turning, &ere. at The Small $ird in the upper position has a Stance that is (eftward (eaning indicating stopped. The 0ing@1and +the steward of the Sun, of the $ird is in the Form of a +tan, Finger pointing a direction here. This appears to be pointing at the +blue, (ong Straight (ine (the surface) made by the Form of the Tail Feather below it. The +green, &ec%@Throat of the $ird is a place sign that alludes to the tube or tunnel that connects the Trun% of the $ody to the +yellow, !outh +in this case the $ird-s $ea%, as a water source. The Throat-The Tunnel, The place, The 1ead of the $ird has a Form that is in the shape of an 6ye from photographs there appears to be a 4ircle or 1ole within the 1eads of $oth of the Small $irds. 0hether or not this is the case the Form is that of an 6ye +the 0#e of the Sun,. The 6ye of the Sun referred to $enus as it arises in the east before the Sun as a sort of Scout. The !ayans referred to 3enus as the wasp.star a warrior or defender.star based on the metaphor of wasps flying out to protect their nest when disturbed. The closer to home !oche culture referred to 3enus as the 0olf.star +scout.star, which was the association made with the wolf as it stands on its hind legs in tall grass to better see what is ahead. The basic idea was that the

Illustration 1:: Signs within the ir!8s o!( stewards and warriors of the Sun continued to serve the Sun in their afterlife. The 1ead of the $ird was composed of two gesture signs an :pper 4urved +conve", (ine that represented covered and a lower 4urved +concave, sign that represented held as in a bowl. The 4ircle found in the 1eads of the $irds represented the blac% or dar% Iupil of the 6ye. The one, his location, within the darkness. &e"t we find the +yellow $ea% of the $ird@!outh of the $ird positionally on the, slanted side of the 3essel-s !outh. $oth of which mean a water source. The one, The flight below, The turning-place, at The $essel's %outh-The water source, *aiting, Turning, &ere. at The Small (ower $ird positionally below the Tail has a Stance of 2ightward (eaning meaning waiting. The 0ings@1ands of the $ird are made up of +tan, Two Fingers pointing a direction here. They also form the F3G shaped sign that indicates an opening. )nd the its position which refers to being held-down. The +blue and red, tail of the $ird forms a turning-place sign. The opening, &eld down, within The opening. The Throat-The Tunnel, The place, of

The +green, &ec%@Throat of the $ird is a place sign. The rest of the Small $ird Form is the same as the one above it. The 0#e of the Sun, $enus, 7overed, &eld as in a bowl, The one, &is location, *ithin the darkness. of The water source.

Illustration 11: 'he Wings;1an!s of the ir! )s we have seen earlier in this paper the 0ings of the $ird $ody Form a large Finger pointing downward here, below. The compounding of the +red, F:G shaped turning sign and the long 3ertical 2ectangles +vertical-places, refer to vertical.turning.places. These places are positioned above and below the 0arthen-vessel. There are Four such 3ertical.places above and below. The 4ount of Four was based on an association with the four directions or four corners of the earth. This was a way of saying in all directions or ever#where. The &ands,-The stewards of the Sun, 0ver#where, 1bove and *aiting below, The earthen-vessel. 0e have now rotated bac% to the beginning of this non.linear composition. So we will include the Finger Form as the topic of this Fparagraph.G 't s relatively large size as mentioned earlier indicates importance or great. ) single Finger 4ounts as as the &umber one or the singular. The Finger is pointing a direction here, below, with its 8nuc%le forming the bottom of the 3essel. The 8nuc%le alludes to the 1inge.li%e /oint area that opens and closes.

The great one, &ere, "elow at The &inge-an area, that !pens and closes, where

Illustration 12: 'he Wings;1an!s of the ir!

Illustration 1": Serpent3 ir! Form, ,eru

The Serpent-The stream, of %oving, water, in The Throat-The tunnel, That connects. Thee earthen-vessel with ts surface. The &ead-The 0#e of the Sun, $enus, 7overed,

&eld as in a "owl, meets, The wide surface, The great plain. The 8reat "eak-The great %outh-The great water source.

Summary: The compounded $ird.Serpent 'magery is related to the concept of the flight of water particles or evaporation. There are many such compounds found that in one way or another paraphrase this idea. Irobably the most famous depiction is that of the Feathered Serpent as a stream of water with its parts +feathers as parts of the one that flies, in flight. $ut in many other cultures there is Form and 'magery that depicts in one way or another Serpents with 0ings. The significance of this particular desert figure is probably related to the seasonal appearance of water at or /ust below the desert floor. The composition-s message tells us that this was used to support a cosmological belief system. 'f the 2ectangular waiting-place sign was made at the same time as the desert figure then what the people were waiting for was the seasonal arising of the water table due to the snow melt in the mountains. 5ne can envision a large group of people Sitting +another sign for waiting, within the 2ectangle waiting for a sign of this event. The message of this Serpent.$ird composition involves the dual flights of 3enus in the east and west. The 1ead.ing and $ea% of the Sna%e.$ird points east so there is the untested possibility that 3enus arising in the east somehow was coordinated with and signaled the arising water table. This would have been important for farmers in planting their crops. )dditionally we should not forget the cosmological aspect of such an event. The water arsing to the surface of the desert floor would have been a sign that the spirits of the deceased were arising within the drops of water accumulating on the surface of the plain. Such areas were considered as doorways or portals for the spirits on their way to the male.s%y. 3enus was considered the abode of the spirits of warrior.stewards +warrior.priests, in many ancient societies. 't would seem that some of the desert figures were drawn large on the desert floor and directed as messages to the star.spirit.ancestors. 'n this paper we have tried to %eep the signs and their meaning as literal as possible in order that the structure of the depiction could be followed more easily. This has resulted in some redundancy in presenting the message. The attempt to e"plain the basis for the signs while at the same time trying to translate a non.linear message into a linear one is somewhat aw%ward. 5f course the message would have been interpreted more elo#uently in the original verbal language of the composer. 6ven persons from other cultures might have been e#ually elo#uent due to their being fluent in the use and interpretation of depicted sign language.

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