Francisco Pisarro and Athabaliba, ultimus rex Peruanorum

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These are two engravings by a British mapmaker by the name of John Ogilby. One is of the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pisarro, the conqueror of the Peruvian indigenous peoples. And the other is the Incan leader, Athabaliba[1], who was the unhappy monarch deposed by the Spaniards when they invaded and asserted their control over that part of South America. The engravings are beautiful, they’re clear, they almost seem fresh off the press, but are in fact, over two hundred years old, and they have been magnificently colored again to catch the eye. If we look at each of them in turn, we see certain of the items that signal the role or the fate of the two characters in question – Pisarro on the one hand and Athabaliba on the other. In the case of Pisarro, he’s dressed with a magnificently plumed hat, he is in shining armor, the hilt of a sword shown, and behind him are scenes of the invading Spaniards taking on and ultimately capturing the Incan leader, and working their way on the peoples of the day. On the other hand, the picture of Athabaliba tells his story all too graphically. There are chains around his body, there are chains in the graphics below him. Gold appears here and there. Above the picture of the Incan monarch there is a face – perhaps a face to be found in the Incan traditions – but it looks at us and it looks over the hapless king with a menacing view, signifying that the days of Incan leadership are close to over.

[1] The name of this ruler has been rendered with many different spellings, now most commonly spelled Atahualpa. Accessed 12 Apr. 2021.




For more details, view the catalog record for Francisco Pisarro:

For more details, view the catalog record for Athabaliba: