Francisco Pizzaro and his brothers (Gonzalo, Juan, and Hernando ) heard of a fabulous riches in the Inca kingdom. They were migrants from Extremadura. An impoverished area of Spain. In 1529 Francisco obtained permission the Spanish monarchy to conquer the land they knew as Peru. Peru was already being devastated by smallpox. Introduced by the Spanish during earlier explorations.
Francisco Pizarro arrived in Peru in 1532 but this was not the Peru he had come to known. Much had changed in just five years. The city of Tumbes was in ruins. Two local boys whom the Spaniards had taught Spanish in order to translate for him shared the story of civil war and disease that had been destroying the Inca Empire. It took Francisco and his brothers 4 expeditions to establish a settlement in northern Peru. This settlement was named San Miguel de Piura in July 1532.
The civil war between Huascar and Atahualpa followed the death of their father Huayna Capac in 1527. The civil war began two years later in 1529 and would not end until 1532. From 1524 – 1526 Spaniards under command of Francisco Pizzaro explored South America. Pizarro’s company consisted of 62 horsemen, 106 foot soldiers, and smallpox.
Although Huayna Capac never met any Spaniards he contracted smallpox and died n 1527. His eldest son and rightful heir Ninan Cuyochi died of smallpox shortly after. There was now no true heir and an empty throne. But as we all know, there can only be one.
Huascar had been appointed king by Huayna Capac and was largely supported by the nobility, political authorities , and religious figures. Huayna Capac and Chincha Ocllo were siblings and also his parents. Making Huascar the eldest “pure blooded” Inca. Despite having the support of the nobility , Huascar was said to be ill-tempered , suspicious , and disrespectful of the laws and customs.
Atahualpa’s Mother, Paccha was born into the Shyri royal family. She was not of royal Inca blood though. Noblemen considered him a bastard though and an illegitimate heir to the throne. Atahualpa was well respected in the North. His mother was the daughter of Cacha Shyi Duchicela , the former leader against the Inca conquest in the North. Despite his age, he was known to be level headed , cunning , and brutal.
Inca Emperors were viewed as divine beings. Direct descendants from the Gods. Their empire spread from the Lake Titicaca area quickly. They conquered the lands spanning from modern-day Chile to southern Columbia. This included modern-day Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia. This royal lineage resulted in many Emperors marrying their own sisters. Concubines were common though and Inca emperors usually had many sons. In the event of the death of an emperor or succession, every son was seen as a viable replacement. Seniority or “pure” blood was not an issue to the Inca as all sons of an emperor were believed to be of divine heritage. This allowed for only the strongest and most ruthless of Inca to rule but would eventually be the downfall of the entire empire.
The most tumultuous civil war for the Inca was fought between two brothers. The sons of Inca Huayna, Huáscar and Atahualpa. Initially, Inca Huayna had allowed both brothers to rule their own parts of the empire but when he died in 1527 both brothers went to war. The civil war lasted from 1527 to 1532. What neither brother was aware of though was that Spanish conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro were approaching and far more dangerous.
As a mostly agriculture-based society, the Inca worshipped what was important to them. They worshipped Inti the Sun-God who provided sunlight and enlightenment. Mama Quilla the Moon-god who provided the seasons, protection from the dark, and was a protector of women. The third God would be the essential piece missing for an agricultural society to thrive and that God’s name was Illapa, Master of Clouds Rain and Hail.
The Inca believed that when it rained it was because a jug of water had been spilled from a broken water jug high in the sky. This water jug contained water from the Milk Way Galaxy.
Viracocha was considered to be the father of all other Inca gods. He created the earth, heavens, sun, moon, and all things living. After Viracocha finished his work he traveled the world teaching humanity and introducing civilized arts. It was believed that after Viracocha was finished creating the world that he traveled far and wide teaching and influencing his creations. His next step would be to move west across the Pacific. Never to be seen again but promising to return. In his absence, lesser gods were assigned to the duty of managing the human race.
Inca lore surrounding Viracocha states that humans were his second attempt at creating life. He originally created a race of giants , made of stone , in the age of darkness. The ogre race was found to be unruly and Viracocha found it suitable to punish them with a great flood. The giants that survived were eventually returned to their natural stone form. Some of these stone giants can still be seen today at sites such as Tiahuanaco and Pukara.
For his second attempt Viracocha tried using clay. He also gifted them clothes, language , agriculutre, and arts. It was during this time he created the Sun , moon , and stars. It’s believed that all of these creations were created from the islands in Lake Titicaca. Viracocha was satisfied and felt he could he continue this path around the world. It is believed he ended in Manta (near Ecuador), then Viracocha walked across the waters of the Pacific heading west. He promised to return one day to the Inca.
Inti was concerned for the Tiawanako people. Living along the shores of Lake Titicaca, the Tiawanako people were mostly fishermen. Inti felt his people deserved more.
The son and daughter of Inti and Mama Quilla; Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo were created to civilize the Inca people and guide them to enlightenment. Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo were told by their parents to search for fertile land upon which their empire would be built. Inti gifted Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo a golden stick. Inti instructed them that the stick would sink if the wielder was standing in the promised land. The promised land they found was a region near Lake Titicaca.
The shores of Lake Titicaca were inhabited by the Tiawanako people. Because of the gold stick, the fancy clothes, and jewelry Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo wore they were perceived as Gods by the Tiawanako people. Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo taught the men how to create a society and worship the Sun God. Mama Ocllo taught the women domestic tasks such as textile and provisioning.
Mama Quilla or Mother Moon governed the festival calendar of the Inca. She represented the seasonal cycles, health, prosperity, divination, and time. Mama Quilla was insightful to the Inca. She could warn of impending danger through the means of eclipses and provide guidance through divination. She was the sister and wife of Inti, daughter of Viracocha and mother of Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo ( the founders of the Inca empire and culture). She was widely viewed as a defender of women and was the Goddess of marriage and the menstrual cycle.
Divination was common in Inca society. While the Sun is shining, sit beneath the shade of a tree and watch closely as the Sun’s light shines through the branches and leaves. While observing the shadows cast and the patterns it would make one should keep a question in their mind. Mama Quilla’s response would be written in the patterns and changes of light in the shadows. Another common divination ritual was for unfavorable weather. In the event of unfavorable weather, place any yellow-colored herbs on a fire source and watch what unfolds. Popping or flying indicates lots of energy and positive response. Smouldering indicated anger and an iffy response. Finally, if the flames died out completely then this was understood as a definite negative and one should not proceed.
Lore suggests that Mama Quilla cried tears of pure silver and that Lunar eclipses were caused when Mama Quilla was under attack by an animal ( usually a supernatural jaguar, mountain lion, or serpent ). The Incas feared lunar eclipses as they believed that during the eclipse if Mama Quilla was not protected by the Inca and the attack was successful then the entire world would be left in total darkness. The method of defending Mama Quilla was to make as much noise as possible. This would frighten the attacker and ultimately save the entire world. This tradition continued even after the Inca were converted to Catholicism by the Conquistadors. Unfortunately for the Inca, the Spanish could predict when eclipses would take place; thus using it to their advantage against the Inca.
Inti God of The Sun and Patron of Empire and Conquest was all-powerful. Inti was married to the goddess of the moon Quilla ( or Mama Quilla ). The original leader and founder of the Inca civilization, Manco Capac and his wife Mama Ocllo were believed to be guided by Inti or may have even been the son and daughter of Inti and Mama Quilla. This connection to humans allowed Inca rulers to claim divinity and act as translators between the Gods and the Inca people.
It wasn’t until the Wiraqocha Inca (1425 CE) or the 9th Inca ruler Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui (1438-1471 CE) that the cult of Inti really became established and helped promote Inti to an all-powerful ruler. Inti was not the divine ruler though. This burden weighed on Viracocha. Viracocha was higher in status than all the other Gods and lived on a private island in Lake Titicaca. Viracocha usually remained in the background regarding worldly affairs and allowed the other gods to govern the Incas. With the expansion of the Inca empire and a fixation on Inti and sun worship; It was not long until every city in the Inca empire contained a shrine to Inti. Sun worship was quickly integrated into the religions of the conquered peoples and used as imperial propaganda that the Inca were the people with a divine right to rule.
The greatest of these temples dedicated to Inti was the Coricancha Temple or “House of The Sun”. The temple was located in the sacred district of the capital of Cusco. It was at the Coricancha that the most senior High Priest of The Sun (Villac Umu) presided over rites in honour of Inti. The High Priest of the Sun was exclusively assisted by young virgin priestesses. Both female and male priests were allowed to carry out sun ceremonies but only virgin priestesses were allowed to assist The High Priest of The Sun.
Inti was usually represented through art. A gold statue, a sun disk, or a golden mask. Gold ( or the sweat of the sun as sun worshipers believed ) was his gift and he should be honored through it. The Temple of The Sun interior was exactly that. It’s walls lined with a thick gold plate ( 700 half-meter panels of beaten gold whilst outside the temple was a life-size scene of a field of corn with llamas and shepherds all made from gold and silver. Inside the shrine held the most sacred statue of Inti. The statue was of Inti but as a small seated boy, called Punchao (Day or Midday Sun). From head to shoulders sun rays protruded from him. His head wrapped in a royal headband and also had snakes and lions coming out of his body. The stomach of the statue was hollow and used to contain the vital organs of previous Inca rulers. Every day this statue would be moved outside and into the golden field so that Inti could absorb the sun’s rays.
It’s important to understand that the Andreans (Aboriginal inhabitants of the area of the Central Andes in South America) didn’t have a written language, they hadn’t developed the wheel, money, buying and selling, or even the concept of an economy. Imagine a world with no economy and a strong religious presence but with an excess of gold.
The Inca civilization arose from the Peruvian highlands sometime in the early 13th century. The Inca created one of the largest and cohesive empires the world has ever known in under a century. Every aspect of Inca culture was encompassed by religion. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was located in the city of Cusco. Success or failure in any form was considered to be directly influenced by their gods. For the Inca, Gold was a gift from the Inti and it should be used to honor him along with the other Inca gods. If Inti was not honored there could be severe consequences.
Inti was the God of The Sun and The Patron of Empire and Conquest. Inti was revered and held in prestige by his devoted. He gave and he took away as he saw fit. Every city had temples devoted to Inti. The most significant temple of the Inca empire was Coricancha in Cusco city. Coricancha means “house of gold” in Quechua ( Inca official language). Its walls were covered in thick gold layers. Innumerable amounts of gold coins, jewelry, and religious artifacts dedicated to Inti were inside. Where’s all the gold now? What happened to it? What happened to the people who supposedly recovered it? We’ll explore these topics in more in the following weeks!
A Little Lane, the brook runs close beside And spangles in the sunshine while the fish glide swiftly by And hedges leafing with the green spring tide From out their greenery the old birds fly And chirp and whistle in the morning sun The pilewort glitters ‘neath the pale blue sky The little robin has its nest begun And grass green linnets round the bushes fly How Mild the Spring Comes in; the daisy buds Lift up their golden blossoms to the sky How lovely are the pingles and the woods Here a beetle runs; and there a fly Rests on the Arum leaf in bottle green And all the Spring in this Sweet lane is seen