Honduras: A cigar history spanning two thousand years

May 4, 2020

It was during the first voyage of Christopher Columbus, in 1492, that Europeans discovered tobacco and first tried the ancestor of our current cigars. Columbus himself took no interest in the discovery: gold was what he was after. But these “muskets” or “firearms”, of which the natives seemed to breathe in the smoke, the leaves they crushed and snuffed greatly intrigued the scholars in his crew. The chronicles of Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas and Don Salvador de Madariaga described and tried to interpret these strange rituals. When on his fourth voyage, ten years later, Columbus discovered Honduras (the fourth jewel of the navigator), the native’s taste for tobacco no longer came as a surprise.

We now know that tobacco is native to the Andes. In Honduras, the Mayans, “Survivors of yesterday’s suns, owners of an indefinable eternity” (according to M-A Asturias) – centuries before the Europeans arrived – were growing and smoking it. This is represented in sculptures and carvings, dating from the third century BC, found at Copán, one of the most important sites of the Mayan civilization which is located in western Honduras. Here you´ll find for example a representation of Yum Kaax, the harvest deity, making an offering of tobacco to the Gods. As a matter of fact, the remains of a long-filled small corona cigar were discovered at Copan´s archaeological site, probably left there over 1,500 years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

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