• Monday April 6,2020

Inca Culture

We explain to you what the Inca culture was, its social and political organization, its religion, economy, location and other characteristics.

The Inca culture dominated its empire from Cusco, where Machu Picchu still exists.
  1. What was the Inca culture?

It was known as the Inca civilization, Quechua civilization or Inca culture (sometimes also written inka ), one of the most important pre-Columbian cultures. This civilization ruled a powerful Empire in South America when the Spanish conquerors arrived in 1532.

This Inca Empire was the largest pre-Columbian political organization in America, and flourished between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It extended from the South American Pacific coast to the Andean peaks, and from the current territories of Ecuador, Colombia and Peru, to those of Bolivia and part of Chile and Argentina.

Its capital was the sacred city of Cusco, in the current Peruvian territory. From there, they dominated the region until its fall against the Spaniards in 1540, who headed by Francisco Pizarro ended the Quechua way of life and began the Viceroyalty of Peru. There were pockets of Inca resistance (the so-called Incas of Villacabamba) until 1572.

The Incas were the latest descendants of one of the cradles of humanity, located in Norte Chico, between Chile and Peru. Together with the Mesoamerican, this was the most important human original expression of America.

Much of its culture still survives, in South American regions of important indigenous presence. It is also preserved in stories and treasures recovered during the colonial era that continued to conquer.

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  1. Origin of the Inca culture

The Inca civilization arose formally towards the twelfth century AD. C., with the settlement of the founding families in the Cusco valley, coming from the Tiahuanaco or Tiwanaku culture under siege of their Aymara enemies. After two stops in Huanacancha and Pallata, these groups found refuge in Cuzco.

The first settlements forcibly assimilated the pre-Inca tribes of the region, incorporating them into what the Incas called the Tawantinsuyu (in Quechua "the four parts"), which is what they called the nascent empire in their language. Thus they developed a powerful pre-Hispanic city that came to house several thousand inhabitants .

According to the Inca tradition, the warrior Manco Cápac was the organizer and first regent of the Incas in Cuzco, protagonist of one of the main Inca foundational myths, in which he and his wife Mama Ocllo are described as the result of union in Lake Titicaca of the goddess Quilla, the Moon, and the god Inti, the Sun.

  1. Inca culture location

Inca culture spread along the western coast of South America.

The Inca civilization flourished in the center-west of South America. In its moments of greatest power it came to control the territories of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, part of Colombia, northern Argentina and Chile, especially in the coastal region and in the Andean foothills.

There they enjoyed the enormous ecological variety of the Andes. In addition, they knew how to dominate the sometimes hard conditions of life to build a series of flourishing civilizations, of which the Inca Empire was its last and maximum expression.

  1. Characteristics of the Inca culture

In addition to Machu Picchu, Inca architecture is observed in places like Ollantaytambo.

The Incas were the last great pre-Columbian civilization of America, largely because they knew how to collect and integrate the scientific, artistic and technological knowledge of their ancestors, and empower them.

Its language, Quechua ( kechwa or kichwa ) still persists among the ancient populations of its Empire, and was part of its official or vehicular languages, along with Aymara, Mochica and Poquina, which suggests that its culture He had important deals with his neighboring towns.

At its height they built an architectural work of importance, of which there are still ruins such as the Machu Picchu, among other vestiges in their main cities such as P sac, Ollantaytambo, or the fortress ceremonial of Sacsayhuam n, two kilometers from Cuzco.

Sculpture, music, literature and painting were arts very cultivated by the Incas, along with texturing, goldsmithing and ceramics, for practical purposes and also No ceremonial It highlights its mummification ritual, especially to preserve bodies of dead kings and nobles, which were exhibited during ritual ceremonies to receive the veneration of their people.

  1. Social organization of the Inca culture

Inca society was structured on the basis of Ayllu, a concept that could be translated as lineage, community, genealogy, kinship or caste. That is, the possession of a common, real or mythological ancestor twinned citizens and organized them to undertake work, such as communal agriculture, military service, etc.

Each Ayllu had a curaca or chief, who led the rest for being a wise old man, and a Sinchi, warrior and commander chosen among the strongest villagers.

This does not mean that there were no social classes. In fact, the nobility and the people were well differentiated in Inca society, each having different hierarchical levels, as follows:

Nobility Formed by military heroes, priests or illustrious citizens, as well as by the curacas of defeated nationalities, who obeyed the Empire and represented the local aristocracy, submitted by the Incas. The nobility distinguished between:

  • The royalty or imperial court, including the monarch ( Inca ) and his wife ( coya ), and the legitimate princes ( auquis ).
  • Blood nobles, descendants of Inca kings and high-ranking officials of the Empire, such as governors, priests, etc.
  • The nobility by privilege, where were the citizens whose outstanding performance in the war, the priesthood or other arts had earned them the title of noble citizen.

Town . The common of the inhabitants of the Inca empire, dedicated to pedestrian work such as sowing, fishing, handicrafts or commerce. Depending on their trade or condition they could be called

  • Huatunrunas : farmers and ranchers.
  • Mitmaqkunas : colonizers and conquerors of new lands.
  • Yanas : servants and prisoners of war.
  • Mamaconas : textile and cook women who could be secondary wives of the Inca or other authorities.
  • Pampayrunas : prisoners forced into prostitution.
  • Pinas : slaves and prisoners of war submitted to the State for agricultural work.
  1. Political organization of the Inca culture

The Incas had one of the most advanced political organizations in all of pre-Columbian America. It was a monarchy, but with a very high level of commitment to the welfare of its subjects, guaranteeing in one way or another the satisfaction of all basic needs: food, housing, clothing, health and sex.

Far from being an absolutist European monarchy, the Inca Empire was ruled by a diarchy, that is, two monarchs, one in Cuzco Alto ( Hanan Cuzco ) and another in Cuzco Bajo ( Harin Cuzco ).

The first especially controlled civic, political, economic and military aspects (the Sapa Inca ), and the other concentrated priestly power (the Willaq Umu ), and although its hierarchy was slightly lower, it was also influential in imperial decisions.

The other political positions, occupied by the nobility, were organized as follows:

  • The Auqui This is the crown prince, who exercised co-government with his father as a form of preparation for office. He was chosen among all the male children of the Inca and Coya, so he was appointed by merit and not by leadership.
  • The Tahuantinsuyo Camachic . The Imperial Council was composed of four apus, who governed each of their four or regions of the Empire: Chinchansuyu, Cuntinsuyu, Antisuyu and Collasuyyu. These were backed by 12 secondary counselors.
  • The Apunchic . That is, the governors, with political-military powers, who responded directly to the council or the Inca, and were guarantors of stability in their regions.
  • The Tucuir cuc . His name meant The one who saw everything, and was a kind of seer and imperial supervisor, who controlled the officials of each province and was empowered to assume, if necessary, the local authority.
  • The curaca The head of each ayllu or community, was equivalent to a cacique. He was generally the oldest and wisest of his people, although he could be designated by the authorities expressly. He was the one who dealt with justice, collecting tribute and maintaining order.
  1. Economy of the Inca culture

In addition to agriculture, the Incas developed cattle raising of camelids.

Its productive apparatus was mainly agricultural. It was assigned by community or ayllu, taking turns in the solidarity cultivation of the plots (in a very particular terrace system), the cultivation of the King's lands and the care of their herds, and the work for the State that consisted of working on public works: roads, bridges, temples, palaces, etc.

The economy of the Quechuas was strictly and diligently controlled by the State. The work was mandatory and proportional to age . In addition to agriculture, there was the military service, mandatory for all men, and the work of messaging or chasquis, which could communicate different regions of the empire quickly through a relay system.

It is estimated that they cultivated more than eighty plant species, such as potatoes (almost 200 varieties), corn (domesticated independently of the Mesoamerican), sweet potato, quinoa, ruba, tomato, man, cassava, avocado and beans.

They also cultivated textile plants such as cotton and magéey, or recreational plants such as tobacco and coca. Livestock work consisted of the breeding of Andean camelids such as alpaca, llama or vicu a, and fishing was done in lakes and especially on the Pacific coast .

On the other hand, bartering was a fundamental activity, both within the Empire and with neighboring communities, and its exchange routes extended beyond the imperial borders. It is thought that the Inca commercial navigation would have reached lands as far away as the current Panama and Costa Rica.

  1. Religion of the Inca culture

Like other pre-Columbian peoples, Quechua was deeply religious and its rites were an important part of everyday life and its festivities . Unlike European religions, they did not have a central father god, although a prominent place of their worship was dedicated to Wiracocha.

They were polytheists and panthers . They had a pantheon of local, regional and imperial divinities, to which natural phenomena such as the sun ( Inti ), the moon ( Mama Quilla ), the lightning ( Chuqui ) corresponded illa )

Other deities represented much more complex ideas such as Pachamama (goddess mother of the earth and fertility), Pachac mac (god fertilizing the earth and causing earthquakes and cultivation).

His understanding of the divine revolved around the concept of shrimp, a kind of vital force that animated everything that exists, including even in the dead, mountains and sacred beings.

In addition, they had places of worship known as huacas, in charge of the priests who also fulfilled oracular functions, organized offerings, celebrations and sacrifices. The latter generally involved animals, coca leaves and rarely humans.

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