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Religion in the Inca Empire

In the heterogeneous Inca Empire, polytheistic religions were practiced. Some deities, such as Pachamama and Viracocha, were known throughout the empire, while others were localized.

Contents

DeitiesEdit

 
Inti or Sun of May of the flag of Argentina, 1818

Inca deities occupied the three realms:

Deities of the Official PantheonEdit

  •  
    Viracocha depicted in the wall as a man
    Viracocha:[1] He was typically seen as a white male human and known as the creator of humanity and everything else in the world.[2] In Inca Water Worship and Religion, it states, "He created humanity on an island in Lake Titicaca on the border between modern Peru and Bolivia and taught people how to live, assigning them tribal dress and customs and determining where they should live."[3] After this occurred, Viracocha gave control over humanity to lower gods then disappeared. When the Spaniards came to the Inca territory, the Inca thought they were god like because of their similarities in appearance with Viracocha.[2]
  • Inti: Inti was one of the most important gods to the Inca people and known as the sun god. He is typically viewed as a boy from the Inca society and was also known as a golden disk with fire like rays coming and a face in the middle.[2][4] The Inca believed the sun was a key element for agriculture by protecting and helping with the growth of their crops.[4] The temple dedicated to Inti was the Coricancha[1] (aka The Golden Enclosure), which was one of the most important temples for the Inca people.[3] Inside Coricancha was a miniature field of corn and the corn was made out of gold. Annually, the emperor would "farm" this as a tradition.[2] Viracocha did not start out as the top deity in Inca religion, Inti was the first original and most powerful god. The transition from Inti to Virachocha has a couple of theories including: 1. The Inca society and people developed intellectually and started to question Inti's power. They questioned why an all powerful god did the same thing everyday.[2] 2. The society moved forward and they started going more towards monotheism (one god ruled over everything else, not that there was only one god). Since Viracocha was seen as a human, they saw this as being more powerful.[2]
  • Illapa (Inti-Illapa): The name of this god means thunder and controls things like weather, rain, and lightning.[5] The Inca valued this god because Illapa was in control of the weather and the growth of their crops.[2] Many of the Inca society saw the image of this deity as a man wearing a sling.[4][5] Every time that Illapa would use the sling it would create the thunder heard by the Inca people.[2][4]
  • Mamaquilla (Kilyamama[2]): The name of this god in the Inca language can be translated into Mother Moon.[5] All of the Inca society recognized this deity as female and was also seen as a silver disk with a face in the middle.[2] She was the wife of the deity Inti and was also in control of calendars.[4][5] This god was in charge of calendars because of the moons cycle which the Inca could track. All the temples that worshiped Mamaquilla were worked on by priestesses.[5]
  • Pachamama: The name of this god translates to Earth Mother and is known as a female among the Inca society.[5] The Inca saw her as a protector of their crops/fields and a god of fertility to help their crops grow.[5]
  • Mamacocha: The meaning of this gods name from the Inca language is Mother of Lakes and is widely known as a female.[5] The job of this deity is to keep the world strong and provide sources of water.[5]
  • Stella Deities: These are deities formed using constellations or other cosmology features and are mostly believed to be of animals or activities.[3] In the book Inca Water Worship and Religion, an example would be "Urcuchillay, which is known to western astronomers as Lira, [who] was thought to protect llamas and alpacas."[3]
  • Huacas[1]: Anything, including people, places, and objects, in the world that the Inca believed had a supernatural spirit, were called Huacas.[3] The size of the Huaca determined how much power it had. For example, mountains were considered some of the more powerful Huacas. The Inca worshiped and cared for them similar to the other deities.[3]

OriginEdit

Many ancient Andean peoples traced their origins to ancestral deities. Multiple clans could share similar ancestral origins. The Inca claimed descent from the Sun and the Moon, their Father and Mother. Many clans claimed descent from early proto-humans that emerged from local sites in nature called pacarinas.

The earliest ancestors of the Inca were known as Ayar, the first of which was Manco Capac or Ayar Manco. Inca mythology tells of his travels, in which he and the Ayar shaped and marked the land and introduced the cultivation of maize.

Religious expansionEdit

Religious traditions in the Andes tended to vary among different ayllus. While the Inca generally allowed or even incorporated local deities and heroes of the ayllus they conquered, they did bring their gods to those peoples by incorporating them in law such as required sacrifice. The Inca attempted to combine their deities with conquered ones in ways that raised the status of their own. One example of this is Pachamama, the goddess of Earth, who was worshiped long before the rise of the Inca. In the Inca mythology Pachamama having been integrated was placed below the Moon who the Inca believed ruled over all female gods.[6]

DualityEdit

A theme in Inca mythology is the duality of the Cosmos. The realms were separated into the upper and lower realms, the hanan pacha and the ukhu pacha and urin pacha. Hanan pacha, the upper world, consisted of the deities of the sun, moon, stars, rainbow, and lightning while ukhu pacha and urin pacha were the realms of Pachamama, the earth mother, and the ancestors and heroes of the Inca or other ayllus. Kay pacha, the realm of the outer earth, where humans resided was viewed as an intermediary realm between hanan pacha and ukhu pacha. The realms were represented by the condor (upper world), puma (outer earth) and snake (inner earth).

Sacred sites or things named wak'a were spread around the Inca Empire. In Andean mythology a wak'a was a deific entity which resided in natural objects such as mountains, boulders, streams, battle fields, other meeting places, and any type of place that was connected with past Incan rulers. A wak'a could also be an inanimate object such as pottery which was believed to be a deity-carrying vessel. Spiritual leaders in a community would use prayer and offerings to communicate with a wak'a for advice or assistance. Human sacrifice was part of Incan rituals in which they usually sacrificed a child (qhapaq hucha) or a slave. The Incan people thought it was an honor to die as an offering.[citation needed]

Archaeological remains confirm such human sacrificial practices, according to Reinhard and Ceruti: "Archaeological evidence found on distant mountain summits has established that the burial of offerings was a common practice among the Incas and that human sacrifice took place at several of the sites. The excellent preservation of the bodies and other material in the cold and dry environment of the high Andes provides revealing details about the rituals that were performed at these ceremonial complexes."[7]

DivinationEdit

The Incas also used divination. Divination was used to inform people in the city of social events, predict battle outcomes, and ask for metaphysical intervention.

Divination was an important part of Inca religion, as reflected in the following quote:

The native elements are more obvious in the case of the sunrise divination. Apachetas, coca and the sun were major elements in pre-Conquest religion, and divination, the worship of sacred mountains and the bringing retribution against enemies were important ritual practices.[8]:292–314

FestivalsEdit

 
Inti Raymi, Saksaywaman, Cusco
 
Inti Raymi, Cusco, Huacaypata, 2005

The Inca calendar had 12 months of 30 days, with each month having its own festival, and a five-day feast at the end, before the new year began. The Incan year started in December, and began with Qhapaq Raymi, the magnificent festival.[9]

Gregorian month Inca month Translation
January Camay Fasting and Penitence
February Hatun-pucuy Great Ripening
March Pacha-puchuy[clarification needed] Earth Ripening
April Ayrihua or Camay Inca Raymi Festival of the Inca
May Aymoray qu or Hatun Cuzqui Harvesting
June Inti Raymi Feast of the Sun and the great festival in honour of the sun for the harvest
July Chahua-huarquiz, Chacra Ricuichi or Chacra Cona The Harvest Festival
August Yapaquis, Chacra Ayaqui or Capac Siquis Sowing month
September Coya Raymi and Citua Festival of the Moon
October K'antaray or Uma Raymi Month of crop watching
November Ayamarca Festival of the dead
December Capac Raymi Magnificent festival

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c 1532-1592., Sarmiento de Gamboa, Pedro, (2007). The history of the Incas. Bauer, Brian S., Smith-Oka, Vania, 1975- (1st ed.). Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 9780292714137. OCLC 156911932. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Gods, goddesses, and mythology. Littleton, C. Scott. New York: Marshall Cavendish. 2005. ISBN 0761475656. OCLC 708564500. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Gibaja Oviedo, Arminda M.; et al. (2016). Inca Water Worship and Religion. Reston, VA: American Society of Civil Engineers. pp. 11–17. ISBN 9780784414163. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Greg., Roza, (2008). Incan mythology and other myths of the Andes (1st ed.). New York: Rosen Central. ISBN 1404207392. OCLC 62805010. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i N.,, D'Altroy, Terence (2002). The Incas. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell. ISBN 1405116765. OCLC 46449340. 
  6. ^ Steele, Paul Richar d (2004). Handbook of World Mythology. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1576073544. 
  7. ^ Reinhard, Johan; Ceruti, Constanza (2005). "Sacred Mountains, Ceremonial Sites, and Human Sacrifice Among the Incas". Archaeoastronomy: The Journal of Astronomy in Culture. 19: 2. ISSN 0190-9940. 
  8. ^ Rowe, John H. (1946). Julian H. Steward, ed. Handbook of South American Indians Vol. 2 The Andean Civilizations (PDF). Washington: Smithsonian Institution. pp. 183–330. 
  9. ^ Kendall, Ann (1989). Everyday life of the Incas. New York: Dorset Press. ISBN 9780880293501. 

External linksEdit