Cuzco School

Archangel Eliel with Harquebus by Cuzco School

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Rolled Canvas
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The theme of archangels had a surprising development in the art of the southern highlands of the viceroyalty of Peru. Replacing classic suits of armor and bladed weapons, depictions emerged of these heavenly emissaries with harquebuses and the elegant attire of artillery officers. They were grouped in series, like military companies led by soldiers adorned with flags and drummers, and they adopted the poses of men performing firearms drills. Among their names, in addition to those of the traditional seven archangels, there appear mysterious names from ancient prophetic or hermetic Judeo-Christian texts. Such is the case with this Archangel Eliel, who is symbolized by a key. Eliel is an angel depicted in Aramaic texts as a spirit invoked through magical rituals. It has been suggested that the intention of this type of representation was to establish a bridge between the worship in pre-Hispanic Peru of winged deities and the religion imposed upon the indigenous population by the Spanish. Certainly, the natives associated the harquebus with Illapa, their old god of thunder and lightning.