Sacred Texts  Native American  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

The Myths of Mexico and Peru, by Lewis Spence, [1913], at

CHAPTER VI: The Civilisation of Old Peru

Old Peru

IF the civilisation of ancient Peru did not achieve the standard of general culture reached by the Mexicans and Maya, it did not fall far short of the attainment of these peoples. But the degrading despotism under which the peasantry groaned in Inca times, and the brutal and sanguinary tyranny of the Apu-Ccapac Incas, make the rulers of Mexico at their worst appear as enlightened when compared with the Peruvian governing classes. The Quichua-Aymara race which inhabited Peru was inferior to the Mexican in general mental culture, if not in mental capacity, is is proved by its inability to invent any method of written communication or any adequate time-reckoning. In imitative art, too, the Peruvians were weak, save in pottery and rude modelling, and their religion savoured much more of the materialistic, and was altogether of a lower cultus.

The Country

The country in which the interesting civilisation of the Inca race was evolved presents physical features which profoundly affected the history of the race. In fact, it is probable that in no country in the world has the configuration of the land so modified the events in the life of the people dwelling within its borders. The chain of the Andes divides into two branches near the boundary between Bolivia and Chile, and, with the Cordillera de la Costa, encloses at a height of over 3000 feet the Desaguadero, a vast tableland with an area equal to France. To the north of this is Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Incas, to the south Potosi, the most elevated town in the world, whilst between them lies Lake Titicaca, the largest body of fresh water in South America. The whole country is dreary and desolate in the extreme. Cereals cannot ripen, and animals arc rare. Yet it was in these desolate regions that the powerful and highly organised empire of Peru arose-an empire extending over an area 3000 miles long by 400 broad.

The Andeans

The prehistoric natives of the Andean region had evolved a civilisation long before the days of the Inca dynasties, and the cyclopean ruins of their edifices are to be found at intervals scattered over a wide field on the slopes of the range under the shadow of which they dwelt. Their most extraordinary achievement was probably the city of Tiahuanaco, on the southern shore of Lake Titicaca, built at a level 13,000 feet above the sea, occupying nearly half an acre in extent, and constructed of enormous megalithic blocks of trachytic rock. The great doorway, carved out of a single block of rock, is 7 feet in height by 131 feet wide, and 1½ feet thick. The upper portion of this massive portal is carved with symbolic figures. In the centre is a figure in high relief, the head surrounded by solar rays, and in each hand a sceptre, the end of which terminates in the head of a condor. This figure is flanked on either side by three tiers of kneeling suppliants, each of whom is winged and bears a sceptre similar in design to the central ones. Elsewhere are mighty blocks of stone, some 36 feet long, remains of enormous walls, standing monoliths, and in earlier times colossal statues were seen on the site. When the Spanish conquerors arrived no tradition remained regarding the founders of these structures, and their origin still remains a mystery; but that they represent the remains of the capital of some mighty prehistoric kingdom is practically admitted.

A Strange Site

The greatest mystery of all regarding the ruins at Tiahuanaco is the selection of the site. For what reason did the prehistoric rulers of Peru build here? The surroundings are totally unsuitable for the raising of such edifices, and the tableland upon which they are placed is at once desolate and difficult of access. The snow-line is contiguous, and breathing at such a height is no easy matter. There is no reason to suppose that climatic conditions in the day of these colossal builders were different from those which obtain at the present time. In face of these facts the position of Tiahuanaco remains an insoluble riddle.

Sacsahuaman and Ollantay

Other remains of these prehistoric people are found in various parts of Peru. At Sacsahuaman, perched on a hill above the city of Cuzco, is an immense fortified work six hundred yards long, built in three lines of wall consisting of enormous stones, some of which are twen tyseven feet in length. Pissac is also the site of wonderful ruined masonry and an ancient observatory. At Ollantay-tampu, forty-five miles to the north of Cuzco, is another of these gigantic fortresses, built to defend the valley of the Yucay. This stronghold is constructed for the most part of red porphyry, and its walls average twenty-five feet in height. The great cliff on which Ollantay is perched is covered from end to end with stupendous walls which zigzag from point to point of it like the salient angles of some modern fortalice. At intervals are placed round towers of stone provided with loopholes, from which doubtless arrows were discharged at the enemy. This outwork embraces a series of terraces, world-famous because of their gigantic outline and the problem of the use to which they were put. It is now practically agreed that these terraces were employed for the production of maize, in order that during a prolonged investment the beleaguered troops and country-folk might not want for a sufficiency of provender. The stone of which this fortress was built was quarried at a distance of seven miles, in a spot upwards of three thousand feet above the valley, and was dragged up the steep declivity of Ollantay by sheer human strength. The nicety with which the stones were fitted is marvellous.

The Dramatic Legend of Ollantay

Among the dramatic works with which the ancient Incas were credited is that of Apu-Ollanta, which may recount the veritable story of a chieftain after whom the great stronghold was named. It was probably divided into scenes and supplied with stage directions at a later period, but the dialogue and son-as are truly aboriginal. The period is that of the reign of the Inca Yupanqui Pachacutic, one of the most celebrated of the Peruvian monarchs. The central figure of the drama is a chieftain named Ollanta, who conceived a violent passion for a daughter of the Inca named Curi-Coyllur (Joyful Star). This passion was deemed unlawful, as no mere subject who was not of the blood-royal might aspire to the hand of a daughter of the Inca. As the play opens we overhear a dialogue between Ollanta and his man-servant Piqui-Chaqui (Flea-footed), who supplies what modern stage-managers would designate the "comic relief" They are talking of Ollanta's love for the princess, when they are confronted by the high-priest of the Sun, who tries to dissuade the rash chieftain from the dangerous course he is taking by means of a miracle. In the next scene Curi-Coyllur is seen in company with her mother, sorrowing over the absence of her lover. A harvest song is here followed by a love ditty of undoubtedly ancient origin. The third scene represents Ollanta's interview with the Inca in which he pleads his suit and is slighted by the scornful monarch. Ollanta defies the king in a resounding speech, with which the first act concludes. In the first scene of the second act we are informed that the disappointed chieftain has raised the standard of rebellion, and the second scene is taken up with the military preparations consequent upon the announcement of a general rising. In the third scene Rumihaui as general of the royal forces admits defeat by the rebels.

The Love Story of Curi-Coyllur

Curi-Coyllur gives birth to a daughter, and is imprisoned in the darksome Convent of Virgins. Her child, Yma Sumac (How Beautiful), is brought up in the same building, but is ignorant of the near presence of her mother. The little girl tells her guardian of groans and lamentations which she has heard in the convent garden, and of the tumultuous emotions with which these sad sounds fill her heart. The Inca Pachacutic's death is announced, and the accession of his son, Yupanqui. Rebellion breaks out once more, and the suppression of the malcontents is again entrusted to Rumi-fiaui. That leader, having tasted defeat already, resorts to cunning. He conceals his men in a valley close by, and presents himself covered with blood before Ollanta, who is at the head of the rebels. He states that he has been barbarously used by the royal troops, and that he desires to join the rebels. He takes part with Ollanta and his men in a drunken frolic, in which he incites them to drink heavily, and when they arc overcome with liquor he brings up his troops and makes them prisoners.

Mother and Child

Yma Sumac, the beautiful little daughter of CuriCoyllur, requests her guardian, Pitu Salla, so pitifully to be allowed to visit her mother in her dungeon that the woman consents, and mother and child are united. Ollanta is brought as a prisoner before the new Inca, who pardons him. At that juncture Yma Sumac enters hurriedly, and begs the monarch to free her mother, Curi-Coyllur. The Inca proceeds to the prison, restores the princess to her lover, and the drama concludes with the Inca bestowing his blessing upon the pair.

The play was first put into written form in the seventeenth century, has often been printed, and is now recognised as a genuine aboriginal production.

The Races of Peru

Many races went to make up the Peruvian people as they existed when first discovered by the conquering Spaniards. From the south came a civilising race which probably found a number of allied tribes, each existing separately in its own little valley, speaking a different dialect, or even language, from its neighbours, and in many instances employing different customs. Although tradition alleged that these invaders came from the north by sea within historical times, the more probable theory of their origin is one which states that they had followed the course of the affluents of the Amazon to the valleys where they dwelt when the more enlightened folk from the south came upon them. The remains of this aboriginal people-for, though they spoke diverse languages, the probability is that they were of one or not more than two stocks-are still found scattered over the coastal valleys in pyramidal mounds and adobe-built dwellings.

The Coming of the Incas

The arrival of the dominant race rudely broke in upon the peaceful existence of the aboriginal folk. This race, the Quichua-Aymara, probably had its place of origin in the Altaplanicie highlands of Bolivia, the eastern cordillera of the Andes. This they designated Tucuman (World's End), just as the Kiche of Guatemala were wont to describe the land of their origin as Ki Pixab (Corner of the Earth). The present republic of Argentina was at a remote period covered by a vast, partially land-locked sea, and beside the shores of this the ancestors of the Quichua-Aymara race may have settled as fishers and fowlers. They found a more permanent settlement on the shores of Lake Titicaca, where their traditions state that they made considerable advances in the arts of civilisation. It was, indeed, from Titicaca that the sun emerged from the sacred rock where he had erstwhile hidden himself. Here, too, the llama and paco were domesticated and agricultural life initiated, or perfected. The arts of irrigation and terrace-building-so marked as features of Peruvian civilisation-were also invented in this region, and the basis of a composite advancement laid.

The Quichua-Aymara

This people consisted of two groups, the Quichua and Aymara, so called from the two kindred tongues spoken by each respectively. These possess a common grammatical structure, and a great number of words are common to both. They are in reality varying forms of one speech. From the valley of Titicaca the Aymara spread from the source of the Amazon river to the higher parts of the Andes range, so that in course of time they exhibited those qualities which stamp the mountaineer in every age and clime. The Quichua, on the other hand, occupied the warm valleys beyond the river Apurimac, to the north-west of the Aymara-speaking people-a tract equal to the central portion of the modern republic of Peru. The name "Quichua " implies a warm valley or sphere, in contradistinction to the "Yunca," or tropical districts of the coast and low lands.

The Four Peoples

The metropolitan folk or Cuzco considered Peru to be divided into four sections-that of the Colla-suyu, with the valley of Titicaca as its centre, and stretching from the Bolivian highlands to Cuzco; the Conti-suyu, between the Colla-suyu and the ocean; the Quichua Chinchay-suyu, of the north-west; and the Anti-suyu, of the montaña region. The Inca people, coming suddenly into these lands, annexed them with surprising rapidity, and, making the aboriginal tribes dependent upon their rule, spread themselves over the face of the country. Thus the ancient chroniclers. But it is obvious that such rapid conquest was a practical impossibility, and it is now understood that the Inca power was consolidated only some hundred years before the coming of Pizarro.

The Coming of Manco Ccapac

Peruvian myth has its Quetzalcoatl in Manco Ccapac, a veritable son of the sun. The Life-aiver. observing the deplorable condition of mankind, who seemed to exist for war and feasting alone, despatched his son, Manco Ccapac, and his sister-wife, Mama Oullo Huaca, to earth for the purpose of instructing the degraded peoples in the arts of civilised life. The heavenly pair came to earth in the neighbourhood of Lake Titicaca, and were provided with a golden wedge which they were assured would sink into the earth at the precise spot on which they should commence their missionary labours. This phenomenon occurred at Cuzco, where the wedge disappeared. The derivation of the name Cuzco, which means "Navel" or, in more modern terms, "Hub of the Universe," proves that it was regarded as a great culture-centre. On this spot the civilising a ents pitched their camp, gathering the uncultured folk ofthe country around them. Whilst Manco taught the men the arts of agriculture, Mama Oullo instructed the women in those of weaving and spinning. Great numbers gathered in the vicinity of Cuzco, and the foundations of a city were laid. Under the mild rule of the heavenly pair the land of Peru abounded in every desirable thing, like the Eden of Genesis. The legend of Manco Ccapac as we have it from an old Spanish source is worth giving. It is as follows: "There [in Tiahuanaco] the creator began to raise up the people and nations that are in that region, making one of each nation in clay, and painting the dresses that each one was to wear; those that were to wear their hair, with hair, and those that were to be shorn, with hair cut. And to each nation was given the language that was to be spoken, and the songs to be sung, and the seeds and food that they were to sow. When the creator had finished painting and making the said nations and figures of clay, he gave life and soul to each one, as well man as woman, and ordered that they should pass under the earth. Thence each nation came up in the places to which he ordered them to go. Thus they say that some came out of caves, others issued from hills, others from fountains, others from the trunks of trees. From this cause and others, and owing to having come forth and multiplied from those places, and to having had the beginning of their lineage in them, they made huacas [sacred things] and places of worship of them, in memory of the origin of their lineage. Thus each nation uses the dress with which they invest their huana; and they say that the first that was born in that place was there turned into stone. Others say that they were turned into falcons, condors, and other animals and birds. Hence the huacas they use are in different shapes."

The Peruvian Creation-Story

The Incan Peruvians believed that all things emanated from Pachacamac, the all-pervading spirit, who provided the plants and animals (which they believed to be pro. duced from the earth) with "souls." The earth itself they designated Pachacamama (Earth-Mother). Here we observe that Pachacamac was more the maker and moulder than the originator of matter, a view common to many American mythologies. Pachacamac it was who breathed the breath of life into man, but the Peruvian conception of him was only evolved in later Inca times, and by no means existed in the early days of Inca rule, although he was probably worshipped before this under another and less exalted shape. The mere exercise of will or thought was sufficient, according to the Peruvians, to accomplish the creative act. In the prayers to the creator, and in other portions of Inca rite, we read such expressions as "Let a man be," "Let a woman be," and "The creative word," which go to prove that the Peruvian consciousness had fully grasped the idea of a creator capable of evolving matter out of nothingness. Occasionally we find the sun acting as a kind of demiurge or sub-creator. He it is who in later legend founds the city of Cuzco, and sends thither three eggs composed of gold, silver, and copper, from which spring the three classes of Peruvians, kings, priests, and slaves. The inevitable deluge occurs, after which we find the prehistoric town of Tiahuanaco regarded as the theatre of a new creation of man. Here the creator made man, and separated him into nations, making one of each nation out of the clay of the earth, painting the dresses that each was to wear, and endowing them with national songs, languages, seeds to sow suitable to the environment of each, and food such as they would require. Then he gave the peoples life and soul, and commanded them to enter the bowels of the earth, whence they came upward in the places where be ordered them to go. Perhaps this is one of the most complete ("wholesale" would be a better word) creation myths in existence, and we can glean from its very completeness that it is by no means of simple origin, but of great complexity. It is obviously an attempt to harmonise several conflicting creation-stories, notably those in which the people are spoken of as emanating from caves, and the later one of the creation of men at Tiahuanaco, probably suggested to the Incas by the immense ruins at that place, for which they could not otherwise account.

Local Creation-Myths

In some of the more isolated valleys of Peru we discover local creation-myths. For example, in the coastal valley of Irma Pachacamac was not considered to be the creator of the sun, but to be himself a descendant of it. The first human beings created by him were speedily separated, as the man died of hunger, but the woman supported herself by living on roots. The sun took compassion upon her and gave her a son whom Pachacamac slew and buried. But from his teeth there grew maize, from his ribs the long white roots of the manioc plant, and from his flesh various esculent plants.

The Character of Inca Civilisation

Apart from the treatment which they meted out to the subject races under their sway, the rule of the Inca monarchs was enlightened and contained the elements of high civilisation. It is scarcely clear whether the Inca race arrived in the country at such a date as would have permitted them to profit by adopting the arts and sciences of the Andean people who preceded them. But it may be affirmed that their arrival considerably post-dated the fall of the megalithic empire of the Andeans, so that in reality their civilisation was of their own manufacture. As architects they were by no means the inferiors of the prehistoric race, if the examples of their art did not bulk so massively, and the engineering skill with which they pushed long, straight tunnels through vast mountains and bridged seemingly impassable gorges still excites the wonder of modern expcrts. They also made long, straight roads after the most improved macadamised model. Their temples and palaces were adorned with gold and silver images and ornaments; sumptuous baths supplied witb hot and cold water by means of pipes laid in the earth were to be found in the mansions of the nobility, and much luxury and real comfort prevailed.

An Absolute Theocracy

The empire of Peru was the most absolute theocracy the world has ever seen. The Inca was the direct representative of the sun upon earth, the head of a socio-religious edifice intricate and highly organised. This colossal bureaucracy had ramifications into the very homes of the people. The Inca was represented in the provinces by governors of the blood-royal. Officials were placea above ten thousand families, a thousand families, and even ten families, upon the principle that the rays of the sun enter everywhere, and that therefore the light of the Inca must penetrate to every corner of the empire. There was no such thing as personal freedom. Every man, woman, and child was numbered, branded, and under surveillance as much as were the llamas in the royal herds. Individual effort or enterprise was unheard of. Some writers have stated that a system of state socialism obtained in Peru. If so, then state surveillance in Central Russia might also be branded as socialism. A man's life was planned for him by the authorities from the age of five years, and even the woman whom he was to marry was selected for him by the Government officials. The age at which the people should marry was fixed at not earlier than twenty-four years for a man and eighteen for a woman. Coloured ribbons worn round the head indicated the place of a person's birth or the province to which he belonged.

A Golden Temple

One of the most remarkable monuments of the Peruvian civilisation was the Coricancha (Town of Gold) at Cuzco, the principal fane of the sun-god. Its inner and outer walls were covered with plates of pure gold. Situated upon an eminence eighty feet high, the temple looked down upon gardens filled, according to the conquering Spaniards, with treasures of gold and silver. The animals, insects, the very trees, say the chroniclers, were of the precious metals, as were the spades, hoes, and other implements employed for keeping the ground in cultivation. Through the pleasances rippled the river Huatenay. Such was the glittering Intipampa (Field of the Sun). That the story is true, at least in part, is proved by the traveller Squier, who speaks of having seen in several houses in Cuzco sheets of gold preserved as relics which came from the Temple of the Sun. These, he says, were scarcely as thick as paper, and were stripped off the walls of the Coricancha by the exultant Spanish soldiery.

The Great Altar

But this house of gold had but a roof of thatch! The Peruvians were ignorant of the principle of the arch, or else considered the feature unsuitable, for some reason best known to their architects. The doorways were formed of huge monoliths, and the entire aspect of the building was cyclopean. The interior displayed an ornate richness which impressed even the Spaniards, who had seen the wealth of many lands and Oriental kingdoms, and the gold-lust must have swelled within their hearts at sight of the great altar, behind which was a huge plate of the shining metal engraved with the features of the sun-god. The surface of this plate was enriched by a thousand gems, the scintillation of which was, according to eye-witnesses, almost insupportable. Around this dazzling sphere were seated the mummified corpses of the Inca kings, each on his throne, with sceptre in hand.

Planetary Temples

Surrounding the Coricancha several lesser temples clustered, all of them dedicated to one or other of the planetary bodies-to the moon, to Cuycha, the rainbow, to Chasca, the planet Venus. In the temple of the moon, the mythic mother of the Inca dynasty, a great plate of silver, like the golden one which represented the face of the sun-god, depicted the features of the moon-goddess, and around this the mummies of the Inca queens sat in a semicircle, like their spouses in the greater neighbouring fane. In the rainbow temple of Cuycha the seven-hued arch of heaven was depicted by a great arc of gold skilfully tempered or painted in suitable colours. All the utensils in these temples were of gold or silver. In the principal building twelve large jars of silver held the sacred grain, and even the pipes which conducted the water-supply through the earth to the sanctuary were of silver. Pedro Pizarro himself, besides other credible eye-witnesses, vouched for these facts. The colossal representation of the sun became the property of a certain Mancio Serra de Leguicano, a reckless cavalier and noted gambler, who lost it on a single throw of the dice! Such was the spirit of the adventurers who conquered this golden realm for the crown of Spain. The walls of the Coricancha arc still standing, and this marvellous shrine of the chief luminary of heaven, the great god of the Peruvians, is now a Christian church.

The Mummies of Peru

The fact that the ancient Peruvians had a method of mummification has tempted many "antiquarians " to infer therefrom that they had some connection with ancient Egypt. These theories are so numerous as to give the unsophisticated reader the idea that a regular system of immigration was carried on between Egypt and America. As a matter of fact the method of mummification in vogue in Peru was entirely different from that employed by the ancient Egyptians.

Peruvian mummies arc met with at apparently all stages of the history of the native races. Megalithic tombs and monuments contain them in the doubled-up posture so common among early peoples all over the world. These megalithic tombs, or chulpas, as they are termed, are composed of a mass of rough stones and clay, faced with huge blocks of trachyte or basalt, so put together as to form a cist, in which the mummy was placed. The door invariably faces the east, so that it may catch the gleams of the rising sun-a proof of the prevalence of sun-worship. Squier alludes to one more than 24 feet high. An opening 18 inches square gave access to the sepulchral chamber, which was 11 feet square by 13 feet high. But the tomb had been entered before, and after getting in with much difficulty the explorer was forced to retreat empty-handed.

Many of these chulpas are circular, and painted in gay primary colours. They. are very numerous in Bolivia, an old Peruvian province, and in the basin of Lake Titicaca they abound. The dead were wrapped in llama-skins, on which the outlines of the eyes and mouth were carefully marked. The corpse was then arrayed in other garments, and the door of the tomb walled up. In some parts of Peru the dead were mummified and placed in the dwelling-houses beside the living. In the rarefied air of the plateaus the bodies rapidly became innocuous, and the custom was not the insanitary one we might imagine it to be.

On the Pacific coast the method of mummification was somewhat different. The body was reduced to a complete state of desiccation, and was deposited in a tomb constructed of stone or adobe. Vases intended to hold maize or chicha liquor were placed beside the corpse, and copper hatchets, mirrors of polished stone, earrings, and bracelets have been discovered in these burial-places. Some of the remains are wrapped in rich cloth, and vases of gold and silver were placed beside them. Golden plaques are often discovered in the mouths, probably symbolic of the sun. The bodies exhibit no traces of embalming, and are usually in a sitting posture. Some of them have evidently been dried before inhumation, whilst others are covered with a resinous substance. They are generally accompanied by the various articles used during life; the men have their weapons and ornaments, women their household implements, and children their toys. The dryness of the climate, as in Egypt, keeps these relics in a wonderful state of preservation. In the grave of a woman were found not only vases of every shape, but also some cloth she had commenced to weave, which her death had perhaps prevented her from completing. Herlight brown hair was carefully combed and plaited, and the legs from the ankle to the knee were painted red, after the fashion in vogue among Peruvian beauties, while little bladders of toilet-powder and gums were thoughtfully placed beside her for her use in the life to come.

Laws and Customs

The legal code of the Incas was severe in the extreme. Murderers and adulterers were punished by death, and the unpardonable sin appears to have been blasphemy against the sun, or his earthly representative, the Inca. The Virgin of the Sun (or nun) who broke her vow was buried alive, and the village from whence she came was razed to the ground. Flogging was administered for minor offences. A peculiar and very trying punishment must have been that of carrying a heavy stone for a certain time.

On marriage a home was aportioned to each couple, and land assigned to them sufficient for their support. When a child was born a separate allowance was given it-one fanega for a boy, and half that amount for a girl, the fanega being equal to the area which could be sown with a hundred pounds of maize. There is something repulsive in the Inca code, with its grandmotherly legislation; and if this tyranny was beneficent, it was devised merely to serve its own ends and hound on the unhappy people under its control like dumb, driven cattle. The outlook of the average native was limited in the extreme. The Inca class of priests and warriors retained every vestige of authority; and that they employed their power unmercifully to grind down the millions beneath them was a sufficient excuse for the Spanish Conquistadores in dispossessing them of the empire they had so harshly administered.

The public ground was divided afresh every year according to the number of the members of each family, and agrarian laws were strictly fixed. Private property did not exist among the people of the lower classes, who merely farmed the lot which each year was placed at their disposal. Besides this, the people had perforce to cultivate the lands sacred to the Inca, and only the aged and the sick could evade this duty.

The Peruvian Calendar

The standard chronology known to the Peru of the Incas was a simple lunar reckoning. But the four principal points in the sun's course were denoted by means of the intihuatana, a device consisting of a large rock surmounted by a small cone, the shadow of which, falling on certain notches on the stone below, marked the date of the great sun-festivals. The Peruvians, however, had no definite calendar. At Cuzco, the capital, the solstices were gauged by pillars called pachacta unanchac, or indicators-of time, which were placed in four groups (two pillars to a group) on promontories, two in the direction of sunrise and two in that of sunset, to mark the extreme points of the sun's rising and setting. By this means they were enabled to distinguish the arrival and departure of the solstices, during which the sun never went beyond the middle pair of pillars. The Inca astronomer's approximation to the year was 360 days, which were divided into twelve moons of thirty days each. These moons were not calendar months in the correct sense, but simply a succession of lunations, which commenced with the winter solstice. This method, which must ultimately have proved confusing, does not seem to have been altered to co-ordinate with the reckoning of the succession of years. The names of the twelve moons, which had some reference to the daily life of the Peruvian, were as follows:

Huchuy Pucuy Quilla (Small Growing Moon), approximately January.

Hatun Pucuy Quilla (Great Growing Moon), approximately February.

Pancar Pucuy Quilla (Flower-growing Moon), approximately March.

Ayrihua Quilla (Twin Ears Moon), approximately April.

Aymuray Quilla (Harvest Moon), approximately May.

Auray Cusqui Quilla (Breaking Soil), approximately June.

Chahua Huarqui Quilia (Irrigation Moon), approximately July.

Tarpuy Quilla (Sowing Moon), approximately August.

Ccoya Raymi Quilla (Moon of the Moon Feast), approximately September.

Uma Raymi Quilla (Moon of the Feast of the Province of Uma), approximately October.

Ayamarca Raymi Quilla (Moon of the Feast of the Province of Ayamarca), approximately November.

Ccapac Raymi Quilla (Moon of the Great Feast of the Sun), approximately December.

The Festivals

That the Peruvian standard of time, as with all American people, was taken from the natural course of the moon is known chiefly from the fact that the principal religious festivals began on the new moon following a solstice or equinox. The ceremonies conncctcd with the greatest festival, the Ccapac Raymi, were made to date near the lunar phases, the two stages commencing with the ninth day of the December moon and twenty-first day, or last quarter. But while these lunar phases indicated certain festivals, it very often happened that the civil authorities followed a reckoning of their own, in preference to accepting ecclesiastical rule. Considerable significance was attached to each month by the Peruvians regarding the nature of their festivals. The solstices and cquinoxes were the occasions of established ceremonies. The arrival of the winter solstice, which in Peru occurs in June, was celebrated by the Intip Raymi (Great Feast of the Sun). The principal Peruvian feast, which took place at the summer solstice, when the new year was supposed to begin, was the national feast of the great god Pachacamac, and was called capac Raymi. Molina, Fernandez, and Garcilasso, however, date the new year from the winter solstice. The third festival of the Inca year, the Ccapac Situa, or Ccoya Raymi (Moon Feast), which is signalled by the beginning of the rainy season, occurred in September. In general character these festivals appear to have been simple, and even childlike. The sacrifice of animals taken from sacred herds of llamas was doubtless a principal feature of the ceremony, accompanied by the offering up of maguey, or maize spirit, and followed by the performance of symbolic dances.

The Llama

The llama was the chief domestic animal of Peru. All llamas were the property of the Inca. Like the camel, its distant relative, this creature can subsist for long periods upon little nourishment, and it is suitable for the carriage of moderate loads. Each year a certain amount of llama wool was given to the Peruvian family, according to the number of women it contained, and these wove it into garments, whatever was over being stored away in the public cloth-magazines for the general use. The large flocks of llamas and alpacas also afforded a supply of meat for the people such as the Mexicans never possessed. Naturally much attention was given to the breeding of these animals, and the alpaca was as carefully regarded by the Peruvian as the sheep by the farmer of to-day. The guanacos and vicuñas, wild animals of the llama or auchenia family, were also sources of food- and wool-supply.

Architecture of the Incas

The art in which the Incan Peruvians displayed the greatest advance was that of architecture. The earlier style of Inca building shows that it was closely modelled, as has already been pointed out, on that of the megalithic masons of the Tiahuanaco district, but the later style shows stones laid in regular courses, varying in length. No cement or mortar of any kind was employed, the structure depending for stability upon the accuracy with which the stones were fitted to each other. An enormous amount of labour must have been expended upon this part of the work, for in the monuments of Peruvian architecture which still exist it is impossible to insert even a needle between the stones of which they are composed. The palaces and temples were built around a courtyard, and most of the principal buildings had a hall of considerable dimensions attached to them, which, like the baronial halls of the England of the Middle Ages, served for feasting or ceremony. In this style is built the front of the palace on the Colcampata, overlooking the city of Cuzco, under the fortress which is supposed to have been the dwelling of Manco Ccapac, the first Inca. Palaces at Yucay and Chinchero are also of this type.

Unsurpassed Workmanship

In an illuminating passage upon Inca architecture Sir Clements Markham, the greatest living authority upon matters Peruvian, says:

"In Cuzco the stone used is a dark trachyte, and the coarse grain secured greater adhesion between the blocks. The workmanship is unsurpassed, and the world has nothing to show in the way of stone-cutting and fitting to equal the skill and accuracy displayed in the Ynca structures of Cuzco. No cement is used, and the larger stones are in the lowest row, each ascending course being narrower, which presents a most pleasing effect. The edifices were built round a court, upon which the rooms opened, and some of the great halls were 200 paces long by 60 wide, the height being 35 to 40 feet, besides the spring of the roof. The roofs were thatch; and we are able to form an idea of their construction from one which is still preserved, after a lapse of three centuries. This is on a circular building called the Sondor-huasi, at Azangaro, and it shows that even thatch in the hands of tasteful builders will make a sightly roof for imposing edifices, and that the interior ornament of such a roo may be exceedingly beautiful."

The Temple of Viracocha

The temple of Viracocha, at Cacha, in the valley of the Vilcamayu, is built on a plan different from that of any other sacred building in Peru. Its ruins consist of a wall of adobe or clay 40 feet high and 330 long, built on stone foundations 8 feet in height. The roof was supported on twenty-five columns, and the width of the structure was 87 feet. It was a place of pilgrimage, and the caravanserais where the Faithful were wont to be housed still stand around the ruined fane.


The most sacred of the Peruvian shrines, however, was Titicaca, an island on the lake of that name. The island of Coati, hard by, enjoyed an equal reverence. Terraced platforms on the ormer, reached by flights of steps, support two buildings provided for the use of pilgrims about to proceed to Coati. On Titicaca there are the ruins of an extensive palace which commands a splendid view of the surrounding barren country. A great bath or tank is situated half-way down a long range of terraces supported by cut stone masonry, and the Pool, 40 feet long by 10, and 5 feet deep, has similar walls on three sides. Below this tank the water is made to irrigate terrace after terrace until it falls into the lake.


The island of Coati is about six miles distant. The principal building is on one of the loftiest of seven terraces, once radiant with flowers and shrubs, and filled with rich loam transported from a more fertile region. It is placed on three sides of a square, 183 feet long by 80, and is of stone laid in clay and coated with plaster. "It has," says Markham, "thirty-five chambers, only one of which is faced with hewn stones. The ornament on the faqade consists of elaborate niches, which agreeably break the monotony of the wall, and above them runs a projecting cornice. The walls were painted yellow, and the niches red; and there was a high-pitched roof, broken here and there by gables. The two largest chambers are 20 long by 12, and loftier than the rest, each with a great niche in the wall facing the entrance. These were probably the holy places or shrines of the temple. The beautiful series of terraces falls ofF from the esplanade of the temple to the shores of the lake."

Mysterious Chimu

The coast folk, of a different race from the Incas, had their centre of civilisation near the city of Truxillo, on the plain of Chimu. Here the ruins of a great city litter the plain for many acres. Arising from the mass of ruin, at intervals stand huacas, or artificial hills. The city was supplied with water by means of small canals, which also served to irrigate the gardens. The mounds alluded to were used for sepulture, and the largest, at Moche, is 800 feet long by 470 feet in breadth, and 200 feet in height. It is constructed of adobes. Besides serving the purpose of a cemetery, this mound probably supported a large temple on its summit.

The Palace

A vast palace occupied a commanding position. Its great hall was ioo feet long by 52 broad, and its walls were covered with a highly ornate series of arabesques in relief done in stucco, like the fretwork on the walls of Palenque. Another hall close at hand is ornamented in coloured stucco, and from it branch off many small rooms, which were evidently dormitories. From the first hall a long corridor leads to secret storehouses, where many vessels of gold and silver have been discovered hidden away, as if to secure them either from rnarauding bands or the gaze of the vulgar. All of these structures are hollowed out of a vast mound covering several acres, so that the entire building may be said to be partially subterranean in character. "About a hundred yards to the westward of this palace there was a sepulchral mound where many relics were discovered. The bodies were wrapped in cloths, woven in ornamental figures and patterns of different colours. On some of the cloths were sewn plates of silver, and they were edged with borders of feathers, the silver being occasionally cut in the shape of fishes. Among the ruins of the city there are great rectangular areas enclosed by massive walls, and containing courts, streets, dwellings, and reservoirs for water. The largest is about a mile south of the mound-palace, and is 550 yards long by 400. The outer wall is about 30 feet high, io feet thick at the base, with sides inclining toward each other. Some of the interior walls are highly ornamented in stuccoed patterns; and in one part there is an edifice containing forty-five chambers or cells, in five rows of nine each, which is supposed to have been a prison. The enclosure also contained a reservoir 450 feet long by 195 broad, and 60 feet deep."

The Civilisation of Chimu

The ruins of Chimu are undoubtedly the outcome of a superior standard of civilisation. The buildings are elaborate, as are their internal arrangements. The extent of the city is great, and the art displayed in the manufacture of the utensils discovered within it and the taste evinced in the numerous wall-patterns show that a people of advanced culture inhabited it. The jeweller's work is in high relief, and the pottery and plaques found exhibit much artistic excellence.


The famous ruins of the temple and city of Pachacamac, near the valley of Lurin, to the south of Lima, overlook the Pacific Ocean from a height of 500 feet. Four vast terraces still bear mighty perpendicular walls, at one time painted red. Here was found the only perfect Peruvian arch, built of large adobe bricks-a proof that the Peruvian mind did not stand still in matters architectural at least.

Irrigation Works

It was in works of irrigation, however, that the race exhibited its greatest engineering genius. In the valley of Nasca the Incas cut deep trenches to reinforce the irrigating power of a small river, and carried the system high up into the mountains, in order that the rainfall coming therefrom might be conducted into the needful channel. Lower down the valley the main watercourse is deflected into many branches, which irrigate each estate by feeding the small surface streams. This system adequately serves the fifteen estates of Nasca to-day! Another high-level canal for the irrigation of pasture-lands was led for more than a hundred and fifty miles along the eastern slope of the central cordillera.

A Singular Discovery

In Peru, as in Mexico, it is probable that the cross was employed as a symbol of the four winds. An account of the expedition of Fuentes to the valley of Chichas recounts the discovery of a wooden cross as follows: [Skinner's State of Perm, p. 313 (1805).]

"When the settlers who accompanied Fuentes in his glorious expedition approached the valley they found a wooden cross, hidden, as if purposely, in the most intricate part of the mountains. As there is not anything more flattering to the vanity of a credulous man than to be enabled to bring forward his testimony in the relation of a prodigy, the devotion of these good conquerors was kindled to such a degree by the discovery of this sacred memorial that they instantly hailed it as miraculous and divine. They accordingly carried it in procession to the town, and placed it in the church belonging to the convent of San Francisco ) where it is still worshipped. It appears next to impossible that there should not, at that time, have been any individual among them sufficiently enlightened to combat such a persuasion, since, in reality, there was nothing miraculous in the finding of this cross, there having been other Christian settlers, before the arrival of Fuentes, in the same valley. The opinion, notwithstanding, that the discovery was altogether miraculous, instead of having been abandoned at the commencement, was confirmed still more and more with the progress of time. The Jesuits Antonio Ruiz and Pedro Lozano, in their respective histories of the missions of Paraguay, &c, undertook to demonstrate that the Apostle St. Thomas had been in America. This thesis, which was so novel, and so well calculated to draw the public attention, required, more than any other, the aid of the most power of reasons, and of the most irrefragable documents, to be able to maintain itself, even in an hypothetical sense; but nothing of all this was brought forward. Certain miserable conjectures, prepossession, and personal interest, supplied the place of truth and criticism. The form of a human foot, which they fancied they saw imprinted on the rock, and the different fables of this description invented by ignorance at every step, were the sole foundations on which all the relations on this subject were made to repose. The one touching the peregrinations of St. Thomas from Brazil to Quito must be deemed apocryphal, when it is considered that the above reverend fathers describe the Apostle with the staff in the hand, the black cassock girt about the waist, and all the other trappings which distinguish the missionaries of the society. The credit which these histories obtained at the commencement was equal to that bestowed on the cross of Tarija, which remained in the predicament of being the one St. Thomas had planted in person, in the continent of America."

The Chibchas

A people called the Chibchas dwelt at a very high point of the Andes range. They were brave and industrious, and possessed a culture of their own. They defended themselves against much stronger native races, but after the Spanish conquest their country was included in New Granada, and is now part or the United States of Colombia. Less experienced than the Peruvians or Aztecs, they could, however, weave and dye, carve and engrave, make roads, build temples, and work in stone, wood, and metals. They also worked in pottery and jewellery, making silver pendants and collars of shells and collars of precious stones. They were a wealthy folk, and their Spanish conquerors obtained much spoil. Little is known concerning them or their language, and there is not much of interest in the traditions relating to them.

Their mythology was simple. They believed the moon was the wife of Bochica, who represented the sun, and as she tried to destroy men Bochica only allowed her to give light during the night. When the aborigines were in a condition of barbarism Bochica taught them and civilised them. The legends about Bochica resemble in many points those about Quetzalcoad or Manco Ccapac, as well as those relating to the founder of Buddhism and the first Inca of Peru. The Chibchas offered human sacrifices to their gods at certain intervals, and kept the wretched victim for some years in preparation for his doom. They venerated greatly the Lake of Quatavita, and are supposed to have flung their treasures into it when they were conquered. Although many attempts have been made to recover these, little of value has been found.

The Chibchas appear to have given allegiance to two leaders, one the Zippa, who lived at Bogota, the other the Zoque, who lived at Hunsa, now Tunja. These chiefs ruled supreme. Like the Incas, they could only have one lawful wife, and their sons did not succeed them-their power passed, as in some Central African tribes, to the eldest son of the sister.

When the Zippa died, sweet-smelling resin took the place of his internal parts, and the body was put in a wooden coffin, with sheets of gold for ornamentation. The coffin was hidden in an unknown sepulchre, and these tombs have never been discovered-at least, so say the Spaniards. Their weapons, garments, objects of daily use, even jars of chicha, were buried with these chiefs. It is very likely that a cave where rows of mummies richly dressed were found, and many jewels, was the secret burying-place of the Zippas and the Zoques. To these folk death meant only a continuation of the life on earth.

A Severe Legal Code

The laws of the Chibchas were severe-death was meted out to the murderer, and bodily punishment for stealing. A coward was made to look like a woman and do her work while to an unfaithful wife was administered a dose of red pepper, which, if swallowed, released the culprit from the penalty of death and entitled her to an apology from her husband. The Chibchas made no use of cattle, and lived on honey. Their houses were built of clay, and were set in the midst of an enclosure guarded by watch-towers. The roofs were of a conical shape, covered with reed mats, and skilfully interlaced rushes were used to close the openings.

The Chibchas were skilful in working bronze, lead, copper, tin, gold, and silver, but not iron. The Saint Germain Museum has many specimens of gold and silver articles made by these people. M. Uricaechea, has still more uncommon specimens in his collection, such as two golden masks of the human face larger than life, and a great number of statuettes of men, and images of monkeys and frogs.

The Chibchas traded with what they made, exporting the rock salt they found in their own country and receiving in exchange cereals with which to cultivate their own poor soil. They also made curious little ornaments which might have passed for money, but they are not supposed to have understood coinage. They had few stone columns-only large granite rocks covered with huge figures of tigers and crocodiles. Humboldt mentions these, and two very high columns, covered with sculpture, at the junction of the Carare and Magdalena, greatly revered by the natives, were raised probably by the Chibchas.

A Strange Mnemonic System

On the arrival of the Spaniards the Peruvians were unacquainted with any system of writing or numeration. The only means of recording events they possessed was that provided by quipos, knotted pieces of string or hide of varying length and colour. According to the length or colour of these cords the significance of the record varied; it was sometimes historical and sometimes mathematical. Quipos relating to the history of the Incas were carefully preserved by an officer called Quipo Camayol-literally, "The Guardian of the Quipos." The greater number were destroyed as monuments of idolatry by the fanatical Spanish monks who came over with the Conquistadores, but their loss is by no means important, as no study, however profound, could possibly unriddle the system upon which they were based. The Peruvians, however, long continued to use them in secret.

Practical Use of the Quipos

The Marquis de Nadaillac has placed on record a use to which the quipos were put in more modern times. He says: "A great revolt against the Spaniards was organised in 1792. As was found out later, the revolt had been organised by means of messengers carrying a piece of wood in which were enclosed threads the ends of which were formed of red, black, blue, or white fringes. The black thread had four knots, which signified that the messenger had started from Vladura, the residence of the chief of the conspiracy, four days after full moon. The white thread had ten knots, which signified that the revolt would break out ten days after the arrival of the messenger. The person to whom the keeper was sent had in his turn to make a knot in the red thread if he agreed to join the confederates; in the red and blue threads, on the contrary, if he refused." It was by means of these quipos that the Incas transmitted their instructions. On all the roads starting from the capital, at distances rarely exceeding five miles, rose tambos, or stations for the chasquis or couriers, who went from one post to another. The orders of the Inca thus became disseminated with great rapidity. Orders which emanated directly from the sovereign were marked with a red thread of the royal llantu (mantle), and nothing, as historians assure us, could equal the respect with which these messages were received.

The Incas as Craftsmen

The Incan Peruvians had made some progress in the metallurgic, ceramic, and textile arts. By washing the sands of the rivers of Caravaya they obtained large quantities of gold, and they extracted silver from the ore by means of blast-furnaces. Copper also was abundant, and was employed to manufacture bronze, of which most of their implements were made. Although it is difficult to know at what period their mining operations were carried on, it is evident that they could only have learned the art through long experience. Many proofs are to be found of their skill in jewellery, and amongst these are wonderful statuettes which they made from an amalgam of gold and mercury, afterwards exposed to great heat. A number of curious little ornaments made of various substances, with a little hole bored through them, were frequently found under the huacas-probably talismans. The finest handiwork of the Incas was undoubtedly in jewellery; but unfortunately most of the examples of their work in this craft were melted down to assuage the insatiable avarice of the Spanish conquerors, and are therefore for ever lost to us. The spade and chisel employed in olden times by the Peruvians are much the same as the people use now, but some of their tools were clumsy. Their javelins, tomahawks, and other military arms were very futile weapons. Some found near the mines of Pasco were made of stone.

The spinning, weaving, and dyeing of the Peruvians were unequalled in aboriginal America, their cloths and tapestries being both graceful in design and strong in texture.

Stamps of bark or earthenware were employed to fix designs upon their woollen stuffs, and feathers were added to the garments made from these, the combination producing a gay effect much admired by the Spaniards. The British Museum possesses some good specimens of these manufactures.


The Peruvians excelled in the potter's art. The pottery was baked in a kiln, and was varied in colour, red, black, and grey being the favourite shades. It was varnished outside, and the vases were moulded in two pieces and joined before heating. Much of the work is of great grace and elegance, and the shapes of animals were very skilfully imitated. Many drinking cups of elegant design have been discovered, and some vases are of considerable size, measuring over three feet in height. A simple geometric pattern is usually employed for decoration, but sometimes rows of birds and insects figure in the ceramics. The pottery of the coast veople is more rich and varied than that of the Inca race proper, and among its types we find vases moulded in the form of human faces, many of them exhibiting so much character that we are forced to conclude that they arc veritable portraits. Fine stone dishes are often found as well as platters of wood, and these frequently bear as ornament tasteful carvings representing serpents. On several cups and vases are painted representations of battles between the Inca forces and the savages of the eastern forests using bows and arrows; below wander the animals of the forest region, a brightly painted group.

The Archæological Museum of Madrid gives a representation of very varied kinds of Peruvian pottery, including some specimens modelled upon a series of plants, interesting to botanists. The Louvre collections have one or two interesting examples ot earthenware, as well as the Ethnographical Museum of St. Petersburg, and in all these collections there are types which are believed to be peculiar to the Old World.

The Trocadero Museum has a very curious specimen with two necks called the "Salvador." A drawing on the vase represents a man with a tomahawk. The Peruvians, like the Mexicans, also made musical instruments out of earthenware, and heavy ornaments, principally for the ear.

Historical Sketch of the Incan Peruvians

The Inca dominion, as the Spaniards found it, was instituted only about a century before the coming ot the white man. Before that time Inca sway held good over scattered portions of the country, but had not extended over the entire territory which in later times was connected with the Inca name. That it was founded on the wreck of a more ancient power which once existed in the district of Chinchay-suyu there can be little doubt. This power was wielded over a space bounded by the lake of Chinchay-cocha on the north and Abancay on the south, and extended to the Pacific at the valley of Chincha. It was constituted by an alliance of tribes under the leadership of the chief of Pucara, in the Huanca country. A branch of this confederacy, the Chanca, pushing southward in a general movement, encountered the Inca people or Colla-suyu, who, under their leader, Pachacutic, a young but determined chieftain, defeated the invaders in a decisive battle near Cuzco. In consequence of this defeat the Chanca deserted their former allies and made common cause with their victors. Together the armies made a determined attack on the Huanca alliance, which they broke up, and conquered the northern districts of the Chinchay-suyu. Thus Central Peru fell to the Inca arms.

The Inca Monarchs

Inca history, or rather tradition, as we must call it in the light of an unparalleled lack of original documentary evidence, spoke of a series of eleven monarchs from Manco Ccapac to Huaina Ccapac, who died shortly before the Spanish conquest. These had reigned for a collective period of nearly 350 years. The evidence that these chiefs had reigned was of the best, for their mummified bodies were preserved in the great Temple of the Sun at Cuzco, already described. There they received the same daily service as when in the flesh. Their private herds of llamas and slaves were still understood to belong to them, and food and drink were placed before them at stated intervals. Clothes were made for them, and they were carried about in palanquins as if for daily exercise. The descendants of each at periodical intervals feasted on the produce of their ancestor's private estate, and his mummy was set in the ccntre of the diners and treated as the principal guest.

The First Incas

After Manco Ccapac and his immediate successor, Sinchi Roca (Wise Chief), Lloque Yupanqui comes third in the series. He died while his son was still a child. Concerning Mayta Ccapac, who commenced his reign while yet a minor, but little is known. He was followed by Ccapac Yupanqui, who defeated the Conti-suyu, who had grown alarmed at the great power recently attained by Cuzco. The Inca and his men were attacked whilst about to offer sacrifice. A second attempt to sack Cuzco and divide its spoil and the women attached to the great Temple of the Sun likewise ended in the total discomfiture of the jealous invaders. With Inca Roca, the next Inca, a new dynasty commences, but it is well-nigh impossible to trace the connection between it and the preceding one. Of the origin of Inca Roca nothing is related save that he claimed descent from Manco Ccapac. Roca, instead of waiting to be attacked in his own dominions, boldly confronted the Conti-suyu in their own territory, defeated them decisively at Pumatampu, and compelled them to yield him tribute. His successor, Yahuarhuaccac, initiated a similar campaign against the Colla. suyu people, against whom he had the assistance of the conquered Conti-suyu. But at a feast which he held in Cuzco before setting out he was attacked by his allies, and fled to the Coricancha, or Golden Temple of the Sun, for refuge, along with his wives. Resistance was unavailing, and the Inca and many of his favourites were slaughtered. The allied tribes which had overrun Central Peru now threatened Cuzco, and had they advanced with promptitude the Inca dynasty would have been wiped out and the city reduced to ruins. A strong man was at hand, however, who was capable of dealing with the extremely dangerous situation which had arisen. This was Viracocha, a chieftain chosen by the vote of the assembled warriors of Cuzco. By a prudent conciliation of the Conti-suyu and Collasuyu he established a confederation which not only put an end to all threats of invasion, but so menaced the invaders that they were glad to return to their own territory and place it in a suitable state of defence.

Viracocha the Great

With Viracocha the Great, or "Godlike," the period of true Inca ascendancy commences. He was the real founder of the enlarged Inca dominion. He was elected Inca on his personal merits, and during a vigorous reign succeeded in making the influence or Cuzco felt in the contiguous southern regions. In his old age he retired to his country seats at Yucay and Xaquixahuana, and left the conduct of the realm to his son and successor, Urco-Inca, a weak-minded voluptuary, who neglected his royal duties, and was superseded by his younger brother, Pachacutic, a famous character in Inca history.

The Plain of Blood

The commencement of Pachacutic's reign witnessed one of the most sanguinary battles in the history of Peru. Hastu-huaraca, chief of the Antahuayllas, in the Chanca country, invaded the Inca territory, and encamped on the hills of Carmenca, which overlooks Cuzco. Pachacutic held a parley with him, but all to no purpose, for the powerful invader was deter. mined to humble the Inca dynasty to the dust. Battle was speedily joined. The first day's figbt was indecisive, but on the succeeding day Pachacutic won a great victory, the larger part of the invading force being left dead on the field of battle, and Hastuhuaraca retreating with five hundred followers only. The battle of Yahuar-pampa (Plain of Blood) was the turning-point in Peruvian history. The young Inca, formerly known as Yupanqui, was now called Pachacutic (He who changes the World). The warriors of the south made full submission to him, and came in crowds to offer him their services and seek his alliance and friendship, and he shortly found himself supreme in the territories over which his predecessors had exercised merely a nominal control.

The Conquest of Middle Peru

Hastu-huaraca, who had been commissioned by the allied tribesmen of Chinchay-suyu to reduce the Incas, now threw in his lot with them, and together conqueror and conquered proceeded to the liberation of the district of Chinchay-suyu from the tyranny of the Huanca alliance. The reduction of the southern portion of that territory was speedily accomplished. In the valley of Xauxa the invaders came upon the army of the Huanca, on which they inflicted a final defeat. The Inca spared and liberated the prisoners of war, who were numerous. Once more, at Tarma, were the Huanca beaten, after which all resistance appears to have been overcome. The city-state of Cuzco was now the dominant power throughout the whole of Central Peru, a territory 300 miles in length, whilst it exercised a kind of suzerainty over a district of equal extent toward the south-east, which it shortly converted into actual dominion.

Fusion of Races

This conquest of Central Peru led to the fusing of the Quichua-speaking tribes on the left bank of the Apurimac with the Aymara-speaking folk on the right bank, with the result that the more numerous Quichua speedily gained linguistic ascendancy over their brethren the Aymara. Subsequently to this the peoples of Southern and Central Peru, led by Inca headmen, swept in a great wave of migration over Cerro de Pasco, where they met with little or no resistance, and Pachacutic lived to be lord over a dominion extending for a thousand miles to the northward, and founder of a great Inca colony south of the equator almost identical in outline with the republic of Ecuador.

Two Branches of the Incas

These conquests, or rather race-movements, split up the Inca people into two separate portions, the respective centres of which were well-nigh a thousand miles apart. The centre of the northern district was at Turnipampa, Riopampa, and Quito at different periods. The political separation of these areas was only a question of time. Geographical conditions almost totally divided the two portions of the empire, a sparsely populated stretch of country 400 miles in extent lying between them (see map, P. 333.)

The Laws of Pachacutic

Pachacutic united to his fame as a warrior the reputation of a wise and liberal ruler. He built the great Temple of the Sun at Cuzco, probably on the site of a still older building, and established in its walls the convent in which five hundred maidens were set apart for the service of the god. He also, it is said ' instituted the great rite of the Ccapac-cocha, at which maize, cloth, llamas, and children were sacrificed in honour of the sun-god. He devised a kind of census, by which governors were compelled periodically to render an account of the population under their rule. This statement was made by means of quipos. Agriculture was his peculiar care, and he was stringent in the enforcement of laws regarding the tilling of the soil, the foundation and upkeep of stores and granaries, and the regulation of labour in general. As an architect he took upon himself the task of personally designing the principal buildings of the city of Cuzco, which were rebuilt under his instructions and in accordance with models moulded from clay by his own hands. He appears to have had a passion for order, and to him we may be justified in tracing the rigorous and almost grandmotherly system under which the Peruvians were living at the time of the arrival of their Spanish conquerors. To Pachacutic, too, is assigned the raising of the immense fortress of Sacsahuaman, already described. He further instituted the order of knighthood known as Auqui, or "Warrior,"' entrance to which was granted to suitable applicants at the great feast of Ccapac Raymi, or Festival of the Sun. He also named the succession of moons, and erected the pillars on the hill of Carmenca by which the season of solstice was found. In short, all law and order which had a place in the Peruvian social economy were attributed to him, and we may designate him the Alfred of his race.


Pachacutic's son, Tupac-Yupanqui, for some time before his father's death acted as his lieutenant. His name signifies " Bright " or "Shining." His activity extended to every portion of the Inca dominion, the borders of which he enlarged, suppressing revolts, sub. jugating tribes not wholly brought within the pale of Inca influence, and generally completing the work so ably begun bv his father.

"The Gibbet"

A spirit of cruelty, and excess such as was unknown to Pachacutic marked the military exploits of Tupac. In the valley of Huarco, near the Pacific coast, for example, he was repulsed by the natives, who were well supplied with food and stores of all sorts, and whose town was well fortified and very strongly situated. Tupac constructed an immense camp, or rather town, the outlines of which recalled those of his capital of Cuzco, on a hill opposite the city, and here he calmly sat down to watch the gradual starvation of the enemy. This siege continued for three years, until the wretched defenders, driven to despair through want of food, capitulated, relying on the assurance of their conqueror that they should become a part of the Inca nation and that their daughters should become the wives of Inca youths. The submission of their chiefs having been made, Tupac ordered a general massacre of the warriors and principal civilians. At the conquest the Spaniardr could still see the immense heaps of bones which littered the spot where this heartless holocaust took place, and the name Huarco (The Gibbet) became indissolubly associated with the district.

Huaina Ccapac

Tupac died in 1493, and was succeeded by his son Huaina Ccapac (The Young Chief). Huaina was about twenty-two years of age at the time of his father's death, and although the late Inca had named Ccapac-Huari, his son by another wife, as his successor, the claims of Huaina were recognised. His reign was peaceful, and was marked by wise administrative improvements and engineering effort. At the same time he was busily employed in holding the savage peoples who surrounded his empire in check. He favoured the northern colony, and rebuilt Tumipampa, but resided at Quito. Here he dwelt for some years with a favourite son by a wife of the lower class, named Tupac-atau-huallpa (The Sun makes Good Fortune). Huaina was the victim of an epidemic raging in Peru at the time. He was greatly feared by his subjects, and was the last Inca who held undisputed sway over the entire dominion. Like Nezahualcoyotl in Mexico, he attempted to set up the worship of one god in Peru, to the detriment of all other huacas, or sacred beings.

The Inca Civil War

On the death of Huaina his two sons, Huascar and Atauhuallpa, [This is the name by which he is generally alluded to in Peruvian history.] strove for the crown. Before his demise Huaina had divided his dominion between his two sons, but it was said that he had wrested Quito from a certain chieftain whose daughter he had married, and by whom he had Atauhuallpa, who was therefore rightful heir to that province. The other son, Huascar, or Tupac-cusi-huallpa (The Sun makes Joy), was born to his principal sister-wife-for, according to Inca custom, the monarchs of Peru, like those of certain Egyptian dynasties, filled with pride of race, and unwilling to mingle their blood with that of plebeians, took spouses from among their sisters. This is the story as given by many Spanish chroniclers, but it has no foundation in fact. Atauhuallpa was in reality the son of a woman of the people, and Huascar was not the son of Huaina's sister-wife, but of a wife of less intimate relationship. Therefore both sons were on an equality as regards descent. Huascar, however, was nearer the throne by virtue of his mother's status, which was that of a royal princess, whereas the mother of Atauhuallpa was not officially recognised. Huascar by his excesses and his outrages on religion and public decency aroused the people to revolt against his power, and Atauhuallpa, discerning his opportunity in this émeute, made a determined attack on the royal forces, and succeeded in driving them slowly back, until at last Turnipampa was razed to the ground, and shortly afterwards the important southerly fortress of Caxamarca fell into the hands of the rebels.

A Dramatic Situation

Atauhuallpa. remained at Caxamarca, and despatched the bulk of his forces into the enemy's country. These drove the warriors of Huascar back until the upper courses of the Apurimac were reached. Huascar fled from Cuzco, but was captured, and carried a prisoner with his mother, wife, and children to Atauhuallpa. Not many days afterwards news of the landing of the Spaniards was received by the rebel Inca. The downfall of the Peruvian Empire was at hand.

A Worthless Despotism

If the blessings of a well-regulated government were dispensed by the Incas, these benefits were assuredly counterbalanced by the degrading despotism which accompanied them. The political organisation of the Peruvian Empire was in every sense more complete than that of Mexico. But in a state where individual effort and liberty are entirely crushed even such an effective organisation as the Peruvian can avail the people little, and is merely a device for the support of a calculated tyranny.

Next: Chapter VII: The Mythology of Peru