The Dominance of the Past
The Indian of the plateau -- the Quechua -- is a very clearly marked physical type. Short in stature, stocky, solidly built, as D'Orbigny described him;1 with a complexion that is neither red, as is generally believed, nor bronze, as Humboldt has written,2 nor copper, as P. Bouguer asserts,3 but olive-brown; the skin tough in texture, the face oval-shaped and wide, the head large, the brow slightly bulging; a wide mouth, strong jaws, thin lips, very white and even teeth; dark, arched eyebrows; small, dark, sunken eyes with long lashes and the whites of a yellowish cast; high cheekbones; a rather long nose, with wide nostrils; thick, black, long, glossy hair, but a sparse beard -- all in all, his features are regular, but lacking in delicacy. His prominent muscles, broad chest, and well-set shoulders make him seem rather strong and heavy in spite of his small hands and feet and slender ankles.
The women, of a similar build, lack the grace and suppleness of their taller and slenderer rivals of the forest tribes. On the other hand, both men and women give an impression of physical wellbeing; few are hunchbacked, bandy-legged, or bald.4
Where did this Indian come from? This is an important problem, for societies are not built in a day, and the one we are about to study was preceded by a long evolution that at least partially explains it. It is a difficult problem to solve because of the ignorance of the Indians themselves and the accumulated errors of the Spanish chroniclers, who, with the exception of Montesinos