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The Incas where one of the conquerors of the the Tiahuancu Empire, but recent discoveris found that the Chancas was also a great warriors who lived at Kuelap close to the amazonian rain forests
the pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica developed systems
of writing, their Andean counterparts did not. As a result,
only two Inca ancient cultures accounts by Native American authors survive.
Both authors wrote in the second decade of the 17th century,
in a mixture of Spanish and native languages. Neither man was
ethnically Incas; both traced their ancestry to tribes that
had been conquered by the Incas. Nueva Coronica y Buen Gobierno
(translated as Letter to a King, 1978), by Felipe Guaman Poma
de Ayala, is a 1200-page letter addressed to the King of Spain,
illustrated with the author's own line drawings. It was lost
for nearly 300 years and was discovered in the royal library
of Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1906.
The second work is Relación de Antigüedades Regno
del Pirú (about 1615; An Account of the Antiquities of
Peru, 1873), by Joan de Santacruz Pachacuti Yamqui Salcamaygua,
much of which is virtually incomprehensible because the author
was only semiliterate. A third figure who could be considered
a native author is Garcilaso de la Vega, called El Inca (Spanish
for "The Inca"). He was born in Peru, the son of a
Spanish father and an Incas mother. However, he went to Spain
at the age of 21 and did not write Comentarios Reales de los
Incas (1609; Royal Commentaries of the Incas and General History
of Peru, 1966), an account of Incas culture and history, until
he was an old man.
The Nature of the Universe:
Like the Mayas and Aztecs, the Incas believed in previous creations
and destructions of the universe. However, the division of cosmological
time into major epochs of creation was not a central concern
of Incas religion. Instead, the Incas emphasized the arrangement
of space into a sacred geography. A crucial aspect of this sacred
geography was the concept of huaca. This term referred to any
person, place, or thing with supernatural power; almost anything
unusual was considered a huaca. Examples ranged from prominent
features of the landscape (mountain peaks, stone outcroppings,
springs) to oddly shaped or colored pebbles and plants such
as the Coca, Caigua Yacon and Maca, Camu Camu, Pruple Corn.and
many other more. There were countless huacas in the Incas world,
Cusco, the Incas' capital, was the center of their universe.
More than 300 of the most important huacas in the area around
Cusco were conceived of as lying along 41 lines called ceques.
These lines radiated outward from the Coricancha, the principal
temple of Incas state religion, and extended to the horizon
or beyond. Like the Mayas and Aztecs, the Incas also saw the
earth as being composed of four quarters, whose dividing lines
intersected in Cusco. The ceques subdivided the four quarters.
Each ceque belonged to one of the quarters, and the care of
each huaca on each ceque was assigned to a particular group
of people. In this way the ceques helped to coordinate social
relations among people, as well as to organize sacred space.
Above the earth were the heavens, while the underworld lay below.
Neither the heavens nor the underworld seems to have had the
elaborate vertical layering common in Mesoamerican conceptions,
but the heavens had a complex geography. Like the earth, the
heavens were divided into four quarters, separated by a giant
cross formed by the Milky Way as it passed through its zenith.
The movement of astronomical bodies through the four quadrants
determined the Incas agricultural and ceremonial calendars,
and the ceques also served as sight lines for astronomical observations.
Gods and Goddesses
As in other pre-Columbian religions, Incas gods and godnesses
actually represented a number of shifting and overlapping divine
powers. The upper pantheon contained a creator-sky-weather complex
with three principal components: Viracocha, the creator; Inti,
the sun god and ancestor of the ruling dynasty; and Illapa,
the thunder or weather god. The most important female supernaturals
were Pachamama, the earth; Mamacocha, the sea; and Mamaquilla,
the moon. The core of Incas religion was ancestor worship. Ancestors
were venerated as protective spirits, and the bodies and tombs
of the dead were treated as sacred objects. Many other important
huacas were also explicitly identified with the ancestors. For
example, some of the most important shrines around Cusco were
believed to be the petrified forebears of the Inkas. The bodies
of dead rulers were among the holiest huacas in the Inca realm.
As sons of Inti and embodiments of Illapa, the mummies of past
rulers were the direct, visible links between the Incas and
their pantheon. Maintaining these links, and through them the
proper order of the universe, required perpetual care of the
royal mummies.Religious Leadership and Rituals
The Inka ruler and the mummies of his predecessors were the
most important religious leaders. They were assisted by a hierarchical
priesthood headed by the high priest of the Coricancha. Important
shrines also had staffs of female attendants who wove cloth
and brewed chicha (maize beer) for use in festivals. Most ceremonies
involved sacrifices of cloth, chicha, plants, or animals. Human
sacrifice was practiced, but only on the most solemn occasions
and in times of disaster. An elaborate ritual life surrounded
the mummies of deceased rulers, who were treated as if they
were still alive. They were maintained in state in their palaces,
and they continued to own the property they had accumulated
during their lifetimes. Their descendants managed the mummies'
property for them, consulted them as oracles (bearers of messages
from the gods), made sacrifices to them, ate and drank with
them, took them to visit one another, and brought them out of
their palaces to participate in major ceremonies. Much simpler
rituals of ancestor worship were practiced in rural areas.
The Destination of Souls
The Incas had a more optimistic view of the afterlife than the
Mayas or Aztecs. As protective ancestral spirits, dead Incas
continued to play an active role in the world of the living.
They revealed themselves through the huacas and were cared for
and worshipped by their descendants. The Incas were strongly
moralistic, and they believed the souls of virtuous people joined
the sun in heaven. Those souls had plenty to eat and drink.
They remained connected to their descendants, and their lives
continued much as they had on earth. The souls of evildoers
went to the underworld, a cold and barren place where there
was nothing to eat but stones.
Native Religions today
In the centuries following the Spanish conquests of Mexico and
Peru most Native Americans were at least nominally converted
to Catholicism (see Roman Catholic Church). The blending of
native and Catholic beliefs was a complicated process, and it
followed different courses in different areas. In general, the
Aztecs made Catholicism the core of a new religion that also
incorporated native beliefs, while the Mayas retained native
beliefs as the core of their religion and added Catholic elements.
The Incas case, perhaps the most complicated of the three, represented
an intricate blending of native and Catholic beliefs, aided
by certain parallels between the two. In essence, the Spanish
conquest of 1519-1521 destroyed the core of Aztec religion—the
cult of warfare and human sacrifice. The Aztecs were no longer
able to feed the sun, yet the universe survived, and Huitzilopochtli
was discredited. Aztec religion had lost its focus by 1531,
when, according to Catholic tradition, the Virgin of Guadalupe
appeared to an Aztec man named Juan Diego. Devotion to the Virgin
spread rapidly, and within six years 9 million Indians had been
baptized as Catholics in central Mexico. Worship of some Aztec
gods and goddesses, most notably ancient agricultural deities,
persisted. These deities were blended with Catholic saints in
the new religion. In contrast to the Aztec case, when the Spanish
began their conquest of the Maya area, Maya religion was already
fragmented. The great religious and political centers of the
Classic period had been abandoned more than 600 years earlier,
and even the Post-Classic centers were in decline.
The magic religion practiced in hamlets and villages emphasized ancient
agricultural deities—such as the rain gods (Chacs)—who proved
to endure. Maya folk religion still centers on these agricultural
deities, and Catholic and native beliefs are more distinct from
each other than they are among the descendants of the Aztecs.
The Incas, like the Aztecs, had a central imperial cult: the
worship of the royal mummies. However, the Inca Magic imperial cult,
like the Mesoamerican worship of agricultural deities, was an
expression of the ancient and widespread religious tradition
of ancestor worship. The Spanish destroyed the royal Incas mummies
and their cult, but not the underlying tradition of ancestor
worship. During the 16th and 17th centuries, Incas and Catholic
beliefs were blended, revealing parallels between the two traditions.
For example, both the Incas and their Spanish conquerors made
special commemoration of the dead during the month of November
and had penitential rites that involved confessing sins to priests.
In recent decades evangelical Protestantism, especially in the
form of Pentecostalism (see Pentecostal Churches), has been
spreading rapidly among Latin American Indians. At the same
time, community-based social action movements are a growing
force within Latin American Catholicism. Whether these are short-
or long-term trends, and what effects they will have on native
religious traditions, are unresolved questions.
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