Inca culture was the last of the pre-Columbian civilizations that maintained its state independence through the Inca Empire until the conquest of Peru by the Spanish during the conquest of America.
Inca culture began in the city of Cusco in the country of Peru, which over time spread to other cities incorporating new territories of Peru and other countries such as Bolivia, Chile and Argentina in the south, and Ecuador and Colombia for the north, where in addition to only extending lands they were adopting new cultural expressions of the peoples they were conquering in a mixture of cultures.
Origin of the Inca Empire Culture
The Inca culture took as a base the knowledge of the pre-Inca predecessor cultures achieving great scientific, technological and artistic advances, the latter still remain very present as part of the traditional Peruvian, Ecuadorian and Bolivian culture.
The Tahuantinsuyo is the name given to the territory of the Inca empire, this name is made up of two Quechua words: “tahua” which means four, and “theirs” which means region. This name is due to the fact that this territory was divided into four regions, which were called: Collasuyo to the southeast, Chinchaysuyo to the northwest, Antisuyo to the northeast and finally Contisuyo to the west. In Quechua it is called “tawantinsuyu“.
The Conquest of new territories by the Inca Empire Culture
For the conquest of new territories, the Incas used diplomacy, a peaceful side that is actually threatening with a message: “I am powerful, join me and avoid a war in which you and your people can die.”
However, when that does not work, then the war comes, when diplomacy was used, alliances were generated that were sealed with marriage, where the Inca married a woman from each ethnic group or two and also gave the curaca, the chief ethnic, an Aclla Cusqueña to establish the alliance, once these marriages are celebrated there is already a political alliance of subordination by the subject.
The conquests of the lordships of chincha on the coast are examples of peaceful conquests where even the Incas respected the powerful divinity that dominated the “Pachacámac” region. When the Incas arrived in this territory, they respected the cult of Pachacámac. In addition, they decided to build the most important Inca institutions here, for example “the temple of the sun”, a sanctuary located in a strategic site in the highest part of the area, they also asked to build the “Acllahuasi” or also called the “house of the chosen women” and the “great plaza of the pilgrims” in general are the three Inca institutions that we find in almost all places. The Incas respected what was built on which they made other buildings or improved them.
Inca Empire Culture art
The Incas excelled in ceramics, goldsmiths and textiles but without reaching the levels of other cultures such as the Chimú, whose artisans were transferred to Cusco to transmit their knowledge.
A characteristic piece of Inca pottery is the Aríbalo, which was used to store and transport drinks and foods such as corn chicha and quinoa.
Gods and religion of the Inca Culture
Among the main divinities of Tahuantinsuyo we have the Sun, Wiracocha, Pachacamac and the Keel or moon. The maximum priest of the sun was Villac Umu and also the worship of the gods was destined for the dead or the Malquis or mummified bodies of the ancestors, over time these mummies acquired so much power that they even competed with the same sovereign.
There is a very dramatic phrase that is attributed to huáscar that says that he is sick of this world being ruled by the dead and he wants to bury and kill the dead so that the Tahuantinsuyo belongs to the living, and this because the Inca panacas, the Royal ayllus had many lands and these were associated with the dead who presided in the worship of each of these gods.
History of the Inca Empire Culture
The Inca Pachacútec
The Tahuantinsuyo began to become an empire during the government of the Inca Pachacútec in the middle of the 15th century, it was at that moment of the transformation that it became from one more lordship of the Cusco region to being a Pan-Andean state.
The arrival of Pachacutec to power is described in various chronicles, they are legendary stories but based on real events, the truth is that in the first decades of the 15th century an elite emerged among the Inca culture capable of directing the explosive expansion of this lordship and taking party of the favorable circumstances, in this interest to conquer and to expand the Incas collided with another macro ethnic group that had the same pretensions “the chancas”.
The Chancas were the ones who put up the greatest resistance against the Incas, the history of the Chancas has a series of interesting nuances such as for example that archaeologists have not found that great Chanca culture, only a very small culture in Ayacucho who were ceramic producers but not of that great culture that was opposed and of which the Inca empire was afraid. So there is probably a difference between these mythical chancas and the historical chancas, the chancas were determined to crush the Cusco people, the Inca who was ruling at that time was the Inca Wiracocha.
When the Chancas advanced on Cusco, the Inca Wiracocha fled the city accompanied by two of his sons Urco and Socso who took refuge in a nearby fortress, at that moment of confusion another son of Wiracocha took over the defense of the city, he did he was brave and called himself a Yupanqui Cusi.
The cathedral of Cusco was built on the house of the Inca Wiracocha.
Supported by his generals Cusi Yupanqui ordered the defense, some neighboring towns did not want to support the Incas for fear of retaliation by the Chancas, others however decided to side with the Cusco people. With furious war cries the Chancas fell down in a rush towards Cusco, the Inca defenders dug large trenches covered with branches and earth where many Chancas fell in their speedy career.
Among the Cusco defense, the courageous Chañan Cori Coca stood out, who like Mama Huaco is the archetype of the Inca warrior, in the case of Chañan Cori Coca she was a woman who was dedicated to daily rituals but who can also take other roles and so It shows when she is portrayed in a painting in Cusco with the head of a decapitated and bloody chanca, then she is a woman who has also carried out this type of warlike actions.
The forces led by Cusi Yupanqui rejected the advance of the Chanca warriors, taking away the image of their deity, the fight was epic and the legend says that the rocks became warriors who ended up inclining victory for the Incas.
There is speculation out there that the war against the Chancas is as real as the Trojan war, due to fantasy actions such as the transformation of the stones into soldiers, as well as the dream of Pachacutec to whom God appears.
Wiracocha wanted to award the victory to his son Urco and both conspired against Cusi Yupanqui, from which Cusi Yupanqui was able to successfully emerge from this conspiracy and ended up being crowned Inca with the name of Pachacútec “the transformer of the earth”.
After being defeated, the Chancas went to live in Andahuaylas, where they currently maintain a great tradition for the Chancas, they are proud to descend from the Chancas because it was the only state that could cope with the Incas.
Pachacútec was born in Cusicancha room that until now we can identify because it is in front of the Coricancha, his parents were the Inca Wiracocha and Mama Runto who lived in the “Casana”, the house of the Inca Pachacútec.
Pachacútec had great intelligence and a very clear vision about what is the state, the army, politics, the people and well-being, taking inspiration from a previous empire called Tiahuanaco and restoring the Andean glories of the past, due to this it owes its name of “The transformer or restorer of the earth.
Pachacútec rebuilt Cusco, which was just a village, and transformed it into a “Llacta”, that is, an imposing Andean city full of palaces and magnificent temples. Pachacútec was responsible for the creation of the state so on the one hand he is credited with the beginning of the expansion beyond Cusco, which begins to conquer other settlers assimilating them to Tahuantinsuyo, the origin of the empire but is also the reformer of its own nobility.
The Inca Pachacútec was the one who rebuilt the old temple of the sun called “Inti Cancha” or also called “enclosure of the sun”, he ordered to place ornaments of gold and silver making the name of the temple change to “enclosure of gold” or Coricancha . Pachacútec ordered that the sun will occupy the main site with the representation of Wiracocha on the right, thus the sun became the main object of worship of the Tahuantinsuyo.
One of the works attributed to the Inca Pachacútec is Machu Picchu, a majestic llacta that took many years to get up and where the efficient work system was applied for two or three month shifts, who worked with pleasure because they received good food, dressed and chicha.
Machu Picchu was a small city for approximately 50 thousand inhabitants that served as an urban center to take refuge in case there was an invasion, including it is said that it was the place where the Incas took refuge at the time of the conquest.
Pachacútec was a great statesman who carried out an efficient handling of the basic principles of the Inca economy of reciprocity and redistribution.
It had herds of camelids that were an enormous wealth for the Andean people in the highlands, because a large part of the fabrics are made with camel fiber and the fabrics were of extraordinary importance as they served as exchanges and to establish reciprocity.
Pachacutec in any way was a great according to the tradition in Inca narrations, he was a great organizer, he conquered fundamentally, he conquered two areas: The highlands, especially the area of Puno and the Mantaro Valley, transforming a small regional lordship into a quite powerful kingdom.
With Pachacútec the system of panacas and halves was defined: Hanan Cusco and Hurin Cusco, the state was divided into Huamaníes or provinces, jails were also installed and the terraces and state warehouses expanded, Pachacútec established the role of the curacas, the army and of the officials, he reformed the priesthood and the calendar trying to diminish the power of the priests of the sun, on the other hand a tradition began to be created: the founding myths took shape reinforcing the sacred character assigned to the Inca rulers. In addition, he managed to subdue ethnic groups located in Ica and Lima and sent an expedition to Collao, a region where the “Collasuyo” would later be established.
The Inca Succession
Unlike in Europe, where the eldest son succeeded the king, in Tahuantinsuyo the Inca rulers chose one of their sons to take command. In the Inca there was a period of coordination that served as a test or preparation for the successor. This process begins during the life of the ruler himself and the different candidates for Inca within the rank of the nobility are being tested, these young aspiring rulers are sent to war, to make constructions, to enter into alliances and if they do not work then You must make conquests, in some cases they return dead or fail, but finally there is one who begins to succeed in all these campaigns and is chosen as the successor, so that when the Inca dies the transition is already a process.
When Pachacútec was 60 years old and 30 years of ruler, he chose his son Amaru Yupanqui to succeed him, during the co-reign Amaru did not demonstrate the military virtues necessary to assume the throne, so he was soon replaced by his brother Túpac Yupanqui. The co-reign between Pachacútec and Túpac Yupanqui meant a stage of expansion and splendor of the Tahuantinsuyo, the young Túpac Yupanqui was an extraordinary warrior who conquered vast regions from the north coast to the jungle in Chachapoyas.
When Túpac Yupanqui conquered the opulent kingdom of Chimú, he brought with him captive not only his lords but also expert craftsmen in ceramics, textiles, metallurgy and plumeria, where thanks to this influence of these extraordinary artisans on the north coast, the empire reached Great admiration later for the Spanish and later of course for the whole world. The Tahuantinsuyo was growing and a working class with exclusive dedication to handicrafts became necessary, the government ordered that they be established by artisans in Cusco and in other administrative centers.
When Pachacútec died, his son Túpac Yupanqui assumed the absolute power of the Inca culture, with him the borders of the Tahuantinsuyo reached as many as 6 countries today, many times the conquests went hand in hand with the transfer of mitimaes, which were the people sent to newly conquered provinces to fulfill state tasks.
The great conqueror who exponentially expanded the empire of the Incas without a doubt was Túpac Yupanqui and created many administrative centers of the Qhapaq Ñan and among his many conquests the forces of Túpac Yupanqui took possession of Incahuasi in the Lunahuaná valley in Cañete. On the religious level, Tupac Yupanqui had the sun shrine built on an island in Lake Titicaca. It was a complement to the divinity of the coast called “Pachacámac”.
Túpac Yupanqui died poisoned by one of his Chuqui Ocllo secondary wives. Before he died, he chose his son “Cusihuallpa” as his successor, whose mother was Mama Ocllo. After several attempts at rebellion, Cusihuallpa was recognized as Inca and was called “Huayna Cápac”.
Sacsayhuamán is an imposing stone structure that dominates Cusco from above, it was Túpac Yupanqui who began to build this great work that was probably completed in the following years by his successors. It is still not known for sure if sacsayhuamán was designed to be a fortress or was a monument to the victory of the Incas over the Chancas and that it was also a stage to carry out ritual battles or simulated attacks in which even Huayna once participated. Cápac, favorite son of Túpac Yupanqui.
In Sacsayhuamán, there are calendrical control structures, water mirrors to see the positions of the sun and it is probably the ceremonial center of an Inca group, the one belonging to Hana Cusco, the Inca warriors who worship in Sacsayhuamán as opposed to the group belonging to the Hurin Cusco that worshiped in the Coricancha. Sacsayhuamán was probably the most important ceremonial center of the Hanan Cusco.
Inca Huayna Capac
Huayna Cápac was a notable Inca who consolidated the plans outlined by his grandfather Pachacútec and preserved the territories conquered by his father Túpac Yupanqui, his empire was great and he faced many attempts at rebellion by the conquered peoples, however he managed to stifle every one of them and preserve the unity of the Tahuantinsuyo in its maximum expansion.
Huayna capac who was an emperor who part of his life spent in the equator and the empire expanded its maximum expansion due to this established another Cusco, where he spread in Ecuador the worship of an oracle in Huamachuco.
When Huayna Cápac conquered southern Colombia, he took possession and even founded a city that gave him the name of “Incano” despite advisers advising him to leave that area because it cost Cusco more than those inhabitants paid.
The Acllas or chosen women had a very important role in the administration of the Inca.Huayna Cápac was given a large number of Acllas to help him not only in the rituals, but also as part of the exchanges that were fundamental in the Tahuantinsuyo in reciprocity and redistribution relationships. They also helped him as weavers, preparers of the people who prepare chicha and other foods in addition to participating in the rituals of the cult of the dead.
It is known that each Inca had many women and it is said that Huayna Cápac obtained the largest number of women, reaching approximately 200 women in each saya, however, not in the sense of traditional marriage, but they were women who were part of a marriage politician who traveled to different regions to become a ramification of the Inca. Where the children became the best link in the province dominated by Cusco.
Subsequently, they say that strangers appeared in the sea in large wooden houses (boats) from where they spread unknown diseases that caused great mortality in the population, of which Huayna Cápac and his successor Ninan Cuyuchi fell victims of these epidemics, so the succession to the throne she became confused.
Huáscar, who was also the son of Huayna Cápac, seized Cusco, meanwhile his brother Atahualpa thought that the north belonged to him as it was the land of his mother and his ancestors, it would not take long for the civil war to break out between the two brothers and the powerful one to crumble. Pan-Andean state that had been built by Pachacútec, Túpac Yupanqui and Huayna Cápac, “the imperial Incas”.