I am delighted to be using one of Paul Andruss’s photographs as a prompt this week and he has kindly provided some background to this beautiful plant.
The sacred flower of the incas (Cantua Bbuxifolia) is something the Inca Atahualpa might have contemplated as he waited for the conquistador Pizarro’s ransom to be paid by his people. Pizarro demanded the Indians fill a large room with gold and also fill it twice over with silver.
Atahualpa believe the Spaniard would release him if his demand was met, but Pizarro gave no such undertaking. Before the ransom was paid Pizarro, unnerved by continued unrest, had Atahualpa condemned by a kangaroo court (although to be fair neither had ever seen a kangaroo in the 1500s) and sentenced him to be burned alive.
Atahualpa was horrified. If his body was burned his soul would also perish. A catholic priest struck a deal with him. If Atahualpa converted he would have the sentence commuted. Atahualpa was baptised and was garrotted.
It is said the people we call Incas (after Atahualpa’s title of Inca meaning ‘Ruler’) dumped the collected gold into a lake in disgust. Giving rise to the legend of El Dorado, which though believed to be a golden city actually means ‘The Golden Man.’
Here is my Haiku..