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Map of the Muisca territory
Rule of zaques in yellow, zipas in green

When the Spanish arrived in the central Colombian highlands, the region was organized into the Muisca Confederation, which had two rulers; the zipa was the ruler of the southern part and based in Bacatá, now known as Bogotá. The zaque was the ruler of the northern area and based in Hunza, known today as Tunja.[1]


Zipa and zaque were the titles given to these rulers of the ancient confederation. Neither exercised absolute power, not rigid or strict control over those to whom they owed their power, so that they can be considered kings. However, these positions of power were of great honor and were surrounded by a rather elaborate ceremony. The position of the zipa was such that not even the members of the nobility dared to look him in the face, and it is said if the zipa needed to spit, someone would hold out a piece of rich cloth for him to spit on, because it would be sacrilegious for anything so precious as his saliva to touch the ground. Whoever held the cloth (all the while carefully looking the other way) then carried it off to be reverently disposed of.[1]

The zipa was also given the responsibility of offering gold to the gods. He would cover himself with gold and float out on a royal barge to the middle of the sacred Lake Guatavita, where he would offer up golden trinkets. This is widely believed to be how the legend of El Dorado started.[1]

When Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada arrived in the Muisca territories the ruling zipa was Tisquesusa and the zaque was Quemuenchatocha.

Non-patrilineal heritage of rule

The position of the ruler was inherited, but the line of succession was not patrilineal. Instead, the king was succeeded by his nephew, the oldest son of his oldest sister. There were exceptions, and the ruler's subjects, apparently, had some say in the matter, if only to confirm the successor in his post.[1]


Muisca rulers of Hunza (zaques)
Image Name Start End Details
Hunzahúa ? 1470 Founded city of Hunza, now Tunja
Michuá 1470 1490 Died in the Battle of Chocontá
Quemuenchatocha 1490 1537 Ruled when the Spanish arrived in Colombia
Aquiminzaque 1537 1539 Last Muisca ruler


Muisca rulers of Bacatá (zipas)
Image Name Start End Details
Meicuchuca 1450 1470 According to legend slept with a snake
Saguamanchica 1470 1490 Died in the Battle of Chocontá
Nemequene 1490 1514 Introduced the brutal Nemequene Code
Tisquesusa 1514 1537 Ruled when the Spanish arrived in Colombia
4 Zaquesazipa.jpg
Sagipa 1537 1539 Last southern Muisca ruler

Other rulers

Muisca rulers of Tundama, Sugamuxi and Turmequé
Image Name Start End Details
Tundama -1539 Last ruler of Tundama
Sugamuxi -1539 Last iraca of Sugamuxi
Nompanim Second-last iraca of Sugamuxi
Turmequé "Jefe vigoroso", significado en el lenguaje Muisca.JPG
Diego de Torres y Moyachoque 1571 1590 Mestizo cacique of Turmequé

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Bushnell, David (2012). Colombia: Una nación a pesar de sí misma (in Spanish). Bogotá, Colombia: Planeta. pp. 26-27. ISBN 978-958-42-1729-5.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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