Surprisingly it isn't difficult to ascertain the design criteria of the Nazca lines, their form is readily understandable, their function requires a
little investigation of Nazcan and the Paracas culture that preceded them.
The basic design then of the Nazcan lines is this;
And the design criteria is this, they are based on the San Pedro cactus.
Here is a designer of the Nazcan lines, a Shaman, to his left you see a San Pedro cactus, note also the pointed 'stellar/cactus' motifs scattered
around the black, probably cosmic, background.
It seems likely an analogy was made between stars and the spines of the cactus as focal points within space, and as i have suggested also upon the
landscape, which had the cosmological geomorphs created upon it by Paracas culture.
Heres another one of the Shaman, we can also note the grid design cross hatching of his headgear, a concern then with focal points and a grid
And here's a ceramic cactus.
To understand the function of the Nazca we must consider the other most important aspect of their culture, which in conjunction with the
hallucinogenic cactus was head hunting.
I'll be quoting from this paper on Naca Headhunting
One ofthe most common representationsin early Nasca art
wasthe Anthropomorphic Mythical Being, a human male dressed in elaborate ritual
paraphernalia, holding a severed human head in one hand and a club in the other.
Scholars have argued whetherthis creature represents a shaman or "masked
impersonator", or a supernaturalfigure
Trophy heads were first associated with a Paracas motif known asthe "Oculate Being", a wide-eyed creature holding a trophy head in one hand
and a knife, which was used to remove the head
I really like the name 'The Oculate Being', eventually though he lost his job;
. The Oculate Being was replaced by the Anthropomorphic Mythical Being. Like the Oculate Being, this
creature also displayed severed heads in its hand, attached to the belt, and appended tothe cape.
The Mythical Being seems to have maintained his tradition of weirdness though...
But anyway the author of the paper considers the reason for collecting severed heads in conjunction with the use of hallucigenics;
The Jivaro believed that these souls protected them against sorcery, disease and death, but that they must be periodically replenished with
new, more powerful souls as the power drained from the older ones
The ritual killing of another individual was seen as the primary means of gaining accessto a new arutam.Jivaro males formed raiding parties and
attacked an isolated household in the early morning hours. Emboldened by the taking of hallucinogenic drugs, the Jivaro murdered as many people as
possible, removing their heads in the process.
An important point is that the Nazca took the heads of other members of their society in ritual conflicts;
In addition, other trophy heads found within Nasca cemeteries were treated the same as full-bodied Nasca burialsin terms of grave goods and
preparation, leading to the conclusion that ritual fighting took place within Nasca society
It's these ritual conflicts involving head hunting which i think marks the function of the Nazca lines, they provided the setting for the staging of
The rituals taking place across the land also served to regenerate the land;
The strongest evidence linking head taking with agricultural fertility is a number of depictions of
trophy heads with plants growing out of their mouths. There seems to be a direct link between death/decapitation/blood
There seems to be a link between a Mother Goddess figure who could represent the land, and the focal points and grid lines upon it, related to the
She also bears the sign of 'The Mythical Being', the Deity of Head Hunting.
Her association with grid networking also lent itself to her becoming a Deity of fishing;
The 'Mythical Being' itself looks aquatic, like some form of squid, and its possible the headhunting activies within the land network could have had
association with the catching of fish.
There is evidence for warriors wearing the ritual costume of sharks, so perhaps these were worn as they hunted down the victim.
The rituals would certainly have taken place with the participants under the influence of hallucinogenics, which entailed that they were not only a
test of physical prowess, but the ability to function within the spiritual realm at the same time, and that the terrestial and spiritual realm would
be co-joined during the rituals, what was being played out upon the landscape reflecting celestial themes.
During the rituals it would probably transpire that the people gathered upon the broad avenues, making such activities as dance and music, adding to
the disorientation of the participants and the difficulties involved in the ritual.
The rituals would have been looked forward to as exciting seasonal events explaining the extensive and intricate creation of the settings that they
would have been staged upon, the most important social event.