Group of Rocks with Hieroglyphs near Pandi, Province of Bogotá


This watercolor by Manuel María Paz (1820–1902) depicts a scene in the province of Bogotá (present-day Cundinamarca Department), Colombia. The caption on the painting identifies the subject as a “group of stones near the town of Pandi, with hieroglyphs made by the Indians, facing the Boqueron, close to the old lake of Fusagasuga, probably when the upper lake of Sumapaz fell, which led to the discovery of an underground river, on top of which sits the natural bridge of Icononzo. It could be said that the Indians wanted to commemorate this remarkable event.” Whether or not this explanation is correct, the petroglyphs were made by the Muisca people, who long inhabited this region. The watercolor is typical of Paz’s work, which captured the diversity of the population of Colombia and depicted the daily activities and traditional customs of the country’s different ethnic, racial, and social groups. Paz was born in Almaguer in the province of Cauca. He joined the Colombian army at a young age and showed exceptional skills as a cartographer and painter. In 1853 he took over the role of draftsman of the Comisión Corográfica (Chorographic Commission) formerly held by Henry Price (1819–63). The commission, which began work in 1850, was tasked with studying the geography, cartography, natural resources, natural history, regional culture, and agriculture of the Republic of New Granada (present-day Colombia and Panama). Paz worked under Agustín Codazzi (1793–1859), the Italian-born geographer and engineer who co-founded and directed the commission. In 1859, at Codazzi’s death, Paz was among the collaborators who took on the task of reviewing, completing, and publishing the work that the Comisión Corográfica had undertaken since 1850. As a draftsman, Paz executed watercolors and drawings that were very exact and strove to represent the places and people of Colombia in a naturalistic and objective style. These pictures constitute invaluable documentary records for the history and culture of Colombia. They also provided information pertinent to drawing up the maps that were one of the main objectives of the Comisión Corográfica. More than 90 paintings by Paz are preserved at the National Library of Colombia.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

Grupo de piedras cerca del pueblo de Pandi, con jeroglíficos de los indios, volteados hacia el Boqueron por donde se desaguo el antiguo lago de Fusagasuga, probablemente cuando cayo sobre el lago superior de Sumapax, cuya catastofe acaso descubrio el rio etonces subterraneo, sobre el cual esta el puente natural de Icononzo

Type of Item

Physical Description

Watercolor on paper ; 42 x 28 centimeters

Last updated: November 16, 2016