Museo de las Culturas Aborigenes, (Museum of Aboriginal Culture)
We paid $4 entrance each and walked into a cozy, small and privately owned museum. The clerk requested that my shoulder bag and J.J.s camera bag be left with her. In turn she loaned us a do-it-yourself mimeographed guide pamphlet. Once we entered Room 1, we immediately sensed why it is considered to be one of Ecuador's best archaeology museums.
The items are from the private collection of Juan Cordero Iñiguez. He was a historian, professor, former provincial governor and former director of Cuenca's Banco Central Museum. We could appreciate the collector's passion, love and great knowledge. Years ago, J.J. and I had the opportunity of designing and photographing a ceramic collection of Dr. Arturo Santos for the Central Bank of the Philippines. I clearly recall Dr. Santos's words, "To be a truly excellent collector, you have to have time, money and knowledge."
Of the 13 rooms where the collections are displayed, I was mesmerized with the first human artifacts dating back 13,000 years when Ecuador was first inhabited. Some artifacts curiously resemble that of Haniwa excavated in Japan. They are terra cotta clay figures which were made for ritual use and buried with people of importance as funerary objects. J.J. and I talked about trans-oceanic movements of people from South-American continent to Asia. Some faces in particular almost resembles that of Buddha.
It was an extraordinary exhibit and I noted in my travel/sketch book to do additional reading and research about different ancient cultures of Ecuador.
The Museo Pumapungo
This second museum is located in Cuenca's Banco Central complex. The exhibits are elaborate with professionally displayed dioramas to illustrate the various cultures in Ecuador. However reading the captions and walking through bigger than life photo exhibits, J.J. and I could not but feel that it was a part of the central government showcasing their part in protecting and maintaining the various ethnic cultures.
We enjoyed the outdoor exhibit of the Inca ruins. We were told that the Ingapirca was the religious center for Incas while Pumapungo was the administrative center.
Our lunch was at a small restaurant in El Centro. We had a delightful meeting with Sandra from Basel, Switzerland who sat at the next table. She works for a multi-national company and enjoys traveling. She promised to send me photos from Galapagos as J.J. and I have decided to save Galapagos for our next trip to Ecuador.
Aloha -- Cathi