Gambito Atahualpa


Size: 40x100cm; 16in by 3ft

Weaver: Belen Bautista

Price: 140USD 
Materials and methods: criollo sheep wool spun in the mills of Tianguistengo. Hand dyed yarns by Leonor Lazo using natural dyes: Yauhtli (Tagetes lucida) and natural wool colors. Handwoven on a Zapotec style loom of the 16th century adapted from European styles. Woven using a 7 threads per inch reed and wool rayon blend for warp.
Design, patterns and symbols.
This checkered pattern tells us the story of Atahualpa, the last Inca emperor and his curiosity for the chess game. Even though, the accounts veracity remain unclear (Morilla 2016), it is believed that Atahualpa learned to play chess during his nine month  imprisonment during the Spanish invasion of Cajamarca, Perú, in 1532. Kim MacQuarrie writes: 
"During the many months of Atahualpa’s captivity, a number of the Spaniards grew fond of the native emperor, especially Hernando de Soto and Hernando Pizarro.
The two Spanish captains even taught the Inca emperor how to play chess and spent hours with him enjoying a game originally invented in India. Atahualpa soon became proficient and gave chess the name of taptana, or ‘surprise attack,’ thoroughly enjoying the game’s obvious parallels with military strategy.

...One afternoon, in the final moves of a match between Soto and Riquelme, Hernando made a move toward putting the knight into play, and the Inca, touching him lightly on the arm, said to him in a low voice:

No, captain, no… the rook!

Everyone was surprised. After a few brief seconds of reflection, Hernando played the castle, as Atahualpa had advised him, and a few moves later, Riquelme experienced the inevitable checkmate.

After that afternoon, and always giving him the white pieces to play as a sign of respect and courtesy, Captain Hernando de Soto invited the Inca to play just one match with him, and after a couple of months the disciple was already a credit to his teacher,  playing as his equal."

Popular tradition assures us that the Inca would not have been condemned to death had he remained untutored in chess. The people say that Atahualpa paid with his life for the checkmate that Riquelme suffered because of his advice on that memorable afternoon. In the famous council of 24 judges called together by Pizarro, Atahualpa was sentenced to the death penalty by 13 votes for and 11 against. Riquelme was one of the 13 who signed the death sentence (Rick Vecchio 2016).

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