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The Inca Culture

The Tahuantisuyo The four parts of the world

 

Was the territory that the Incas dominated since its foundation by Manco Capac, during the XII century. It was divided in four big "suyos" (counties or sectors) called Antisuyo (east area, forest or wild area), Chinchaysuyo (northwest area), Contisuyo (west area) and the Collasuyo (south area). The four "suyos" converged in the Koricancha, the most important sacred temple of the Incas in the city of Cuzco, to where all the roads arrived.

 

In 1531, to the arrival of the Spaniards, the limits to the north were Pasto (Colombia), to the east the amazon forest, to the south the river Maule in Chile and the pampas of Tucumán in Argentina, and to the west the Pacific Ocean, reaching more than 2 million square kilometers, with a superior population to the 10 million inhabitants.

 

Their cultural and religious center was the city of Cuzco (the navel of the world) where the "Zapa Inca" resided with his real court. They made use of all the knowledge they had acquired during millennia and the nations that conquered, what allowed them to have their remarkable organization and development.

 

Political Organization
The Zapa Inca, absolute king, advised by a real consultative committee governed the town. The Zapa Inca rigorously administered by laws, was considered infallible and fair for being son of the god Inti (the sun). He didn't abuse, being example of virtue; he had for dogma to increase territories through new conquests. Government of socialist type, the poverty didn't exist, and the town had the obligation to work. Administratively he had for basic unit the ayllu, group of 10 families.

 

Religion
Polytheistic, they had for gods the Inti (sun), Pachacámac and Viracocha or Wiracocha, and as divinities to Quilla (moon), Illapa (lightning or ray), Pirúa (protector of the treasures and provisions - the planet Jupiter), among others. They considered the man like a body being and soul, and the existence of another physical life after death. They built temples to Inti and Quilla, acllahuasis (Temples of the Virgins) directed by royal blood priests in Cusco and for noblemen in the "suyos"; the temples were very adorned in gold, silver and beautiful stones. (See Koricancha)

 

Language
They made obligatory use of the Quechua for the unification of the citizens; they only had a dialect known by those of royal blood.

 

Education
Only imparted to those of royal blood; they attended schools (Yachayhuasi, the house of the knowledge) directed by the Amautas (wise men). They didn't knew the writing. They dominated the mathematics by the quipus, mnemonic artifice, made of wool threads of one or combined colors of 60 cm. length, connected by an end to another thread. They were good to register numeric quantities according to the position of the knot on the thread. The color or combination of colors indicated the object or taken a census of item. When being added knotted small objects to a thread they could register laws emanated by the Zapa Inca, legends, replacing the writing lack partially. Their use also allowed them to take control of the crops, tributes to pay, population's census, etc. The interpreters of the quipus were called quipucamáyoc.

 

Armies
They had military organization, electing captains to the most valiant and loyal, commanded by generals. In the conquest campaigns they tried not to fight battles in the towns, intimidating the enemy to their rendition, since their end was the subjection for the improvement of their conditions of life, and not the ambition of the power.

 

Feeding
Practically vegetarian, using meat very little in their diet; they had forbidden the hunt of animals; they used warehouses to conserve the grains (colcas and pirúas).

 

Agriculture and Cattle raising
They developed a high technology in the Andean area, by means of the andenerías construction and extraordinary and complex systems of artificial irrigation. They had big sow extensions, and a great variety of domesticated plants, they used fertilizers, achieving a production that allowed to feed more than 10 million inhabitants (see Písac and Moray). They dominated the technique of potato and corn production, being the biggest contribution from the Inca culture to the humanity, being the plants that constitute the alimentary base of many nations of the orb at the moment. In cattle raising, they were able to tame the llama and the vicuña.

 

Constructions
They traced perfectly organized cities, built in refined stone, ignored the vault, didn't use tools for the cut of the stone, neither cement for the union of stones, achieving almost perfect junctures. They built temples, fortresses, buildings, houses, and bridges. (See Machu Picchu, Choquequirao, Ollantaytambo, Sacsahuamán, Koricancha).

 

They traced royal roads that communicated the main cities of the four suyos, preparing in their margins "tambos" (place of rest and provisioning) where the chasquis (running messengers) moved around.

 

Arts
They didn't reach the perfection of the pre-Inca ceramic; their characteristic piece "the aribalo". The textile art was developed with rigor and uniformity, they used in their decoration abstract and geometric drawings sometimes showing plants, snakes and birds. The work in metals was of Chimu influence, but with embossed decoration and simplified, they achieved beautiful pieces in gold and silver, combined with precious stones. The music and the dance were highly cultivated.

 

 

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