South America

Peru Spiritual Culture and Organization

According to listofusnewspapers, the foundation and cell of every social entity was – and still is – in Peru the ayllu, a nucleus presided over by a curaca. The various descriptions that have come down to us, being contradictory, oppose a certain difficulty in understanding what the ayllu essentially was: by some sources it is defined as a noble group, comparable to the Roman gens, by others as a numerical group of 100 families, capable of giving the army a hundred men-at-arms; also for this interpretation the commentators refer to the Roman century. Currently the ayllu it is rather an economic and juridical group held together by the unity of the agricultural land used in common. However, if the different entities described by the chroniclers are arranged in a chronological succession, the problem arises historically, with great advantage for clarity: it seems in fact that the ayllu was in the beginning a distinct noble clan with the name of the putative ancestor (totem?), which later underwent the influence of the administrative organization operated by the Inca, and especially by the reformer Pachacutec, who fervently supported the consolidation of a new superfamily body, made up of one hundred nominal families (pachaca). The reform was fully applied in the reconstruction – done precisely by Pachacutec – of the “Inca nation”, centered in Cuzco, on the basis of the old traditional Inca ayllu. Groups of 5 centuries or pachaca constituted the pichca – pachaca ; of 10, the huaranca, and so on, up to the multiple of 10,000 families (hunu) ruled by a curaca. Generally four superior curacas formed, with their subjects, each of the four constituent provinces, as we have seen, the empire, and the Sapa Inca occupied the top of the pyramid.

The Inca’s intent was primarily to create, through the interposed control centers, an extreme manageability of the single units or cells, without disturbing each of them more than necessary in its internal structure, and at the same time to use the total organization for the purposes of monarchy, that is, for military service and for the economic maintenance of the ruling class. More than the ancient regime of the totemic ayllu, the recognition of a nucleus linked to the territory and the village was useful to the Inca. The usable land that was proper to each community, called the brand, was divided into three portions: the product of the first belonged to the priesthood, that of the second to the Inca and the bureaucracy, and the third to the village. The ownership of the land was legally kept in the hands of the Inca, and one of his officers distributed the parcels to each head of the family. There were two sources that made it possible to finance – instead of money – the maintenance of the dynasty and the immense administrative machine: the confiscation of goods and raw materials or manufactured goods produced by the vulgar class, and the corvée system, or compulsory work performance; both strictly controlled by a swarm of officers. The product pertaining to the Inca and the priesthood was kept in special state warehouses scattered everywhere. All citizens were obliged to material work, except officials and priests; the Inca himself did not disdain showing himself, on special occasions, to work the land, to preserve an honorific and religious significance for cultivation.

The religion of the empire was a syncretism of great complexity, such as is often found in nations brought together by military conquest. The official religion of the state was the cult of the Sun, Inti, progenitor of the ruling family and clan, and the first source of the juridical origin of the monarchy, as well as of the theocratic character of its acts, considered by all as an emanation of the divine or solar will. In his name had been erected from the first day, by the founders of Cuzco, the first building of the city, Inti Cancha, or enclosure of the Sun, which later became Cori Cancha, or golden temple, due to the accumulated golden riches.

The expansion of the cult of the Sun was the work of the Inca clan, simultaneously with its conquest march, but the pre-existing cults could not be eradicated, and always continued their existence, in the shadow of the state cult. We therefore also find in later times residues of the ancient cult of the ayllu, who more often venerated the snake, the condor and the puma; other ayllu honored stones, rocks, rivers and lakes as their ancestors, that is, pacarisca. Less precise is the application of the word huaca, widely used by natives and historians, and used to designate very different objects: temples, idols, hills, mummies, funeral vessels and burials: finally, everything that is mysterious or feared or sacred; It is an indication of remote institutions or beliefs related to mana, and even a cult of the dead already fixed ab antique in Peru. Salient features are the drying in caves, sometimes after a brief extraction of the bowels and exposure to fire, and deposit of the body in special sepulchres, bundled together with the furnishings in funeral “packages”, often ventilated in busts.

It is undoubtedly difficult to order the various components of the final syncretism in a historical succession of religious ethnic influences. Some modern critics have claimed that, since the dominance of the solar religion was the effect of the hegemony of the Inca clan, which is undisputed, originally the Sun was nothing more than the totem of that clan, no more or less like the puma was of the Chanca and the Manta Emerald. We observe that the solar ontology of the Incas does not present a structure as simple as that of a totem, but a true astrological construction, and the Sun appears there surrounded by a court composed of the Moon, stars, planets and various figurative constellations. We must therefore admit in Peru the existence of a form of totemic aspect, on which a true astrological religion is superimposed. But also the other groups of a more or less national character, in any case superior to the organization of the totemic clan, which had managed to develop, on the coast and on the plateau, in the epoch prior to the Inca hegemony, had developed religious forms superior to the totemic. I Colla, with the creator and thesmophore Viracocha, who was then attracted and incorporated into the pantheon of Cuzco; the theocracy of the coast, with the creator and patron Pachacamac. There were also various spiritualizations of natural phenomena who was then attracted and incorporated into the pantheon of Cuzco; the theocracy of the coast, with the creator and patron Pachacamac. There were also various spiritualizations of natural phenomena who was then attracted and incorporated into the pantheon of Cuzco; the theocracy of the coast, with the creator and patron Pachacamac. There were also various spiritualizations of natural phenomena mama: Pachamama (Mother Earth), Mamacocha (the Sea), Chu comama (the Fire); Illa, Katekil, Pihuarao and Tonapa they represented different meteorological entities. A series of mythical inventions, based on divine genealogies, was based on the imagination of the Inca priests in order to weld together the various entities in a compact construction, to the extent that the so different origins of the systems allowed. Where they could not subordinate the ancient cults, the Incas contented themselves with imposing the concomitance of their own, and we still find next to the ancient sanctuary of Pachacamac the relatively modern temple of the Sun with an adjoining convent of the Virgins of Inti.

A series of priestly dignities, which descends from the high Villac Humu to the modest Yana, Villac, administers the cult. There were also fortune-tellers, also for the interpretation of lightning and for the birds. The confession of sins was practiced, probably dating back to the pre-Inca civilization. Monkism was rather a female institution. While for men only one kind of anchorite is known, for women there were real convents, where the most beautiful or noblest girls were imprisoned, chosen by the office from all the provinces, and governed by matrons or instructors (mamacuna); they were called “virgins or servants of the Sun”. Three thousand were counted in the city of Cuzco alone. On many occasions those houses of the Sun were converted into places of relaxation for the Sapa Inca and his family. Generally, in the convents it was expected feminine works and cult practices, but it is evident that in the details (keeping the fire, punishments against shameless virgins, manufacturing of ceremonial food and drink, etc.) the written tradition of the chroniclers turns out to be strictly modeled on that of the vestals of ancient Rome.

In conclusion, we must believe false the vision of a Peruvian civilization built all of a sudden, from scratch, by the rulers of Cuzco. Old authors, such as Robertson and VH Prescott, relying on chroniclers, argued precisely that it was the Incas who established not only religion, state and civilization, after having subjected a population that was in a state of absolute barbarism, but also the regime of agrarian and economic communism found by the Spaniards, and that therefore this was their exclusive invention and creation. We have seen, however, that religion presents a complex aspect in the extreme, a true syncretism with regard to worship and ontology: in the mythical part one can speak, at most, of a more or less solid composition a posteriori. of pre-existing mythical materials. As for collectivism, talented specialists have shown that it did not arise from an act of will or from the speculation of economists, for the simple fact that the first communities that inhabited the region already practiced, like other peoples, a life in common., economically limited by the borders and resources of the land used by the noble nucleus.

But now we must not fall into the opposite excess, exaggerating the significance of these negative facts, by not assigning any value to the task of the Incas. In the religious field we will remember that the domination of the astrological cult is presented as a real conquest, in the sense of universality, capable of overcoming the closed forrne of the clan and opening minds to wider aspirations. In the economic and state field, we must not overlook the fact that the Incas were able to profit from the elementary institutions already existing in the ayllu., to the advantage of an infinitely vaster and more complicated constitution, and this is an indication of a broad vision and energy of realization, even admitting that they found some state organisms already established somewhere, such as the kingdoms and theocracies of the coast and the problematic nation glue. In other words, if it is undeniable that the collective economy was already peculiar to the original cells of civil life, the ayllu, the intention and the enterprise of creating a powerful and coherent state, capable of exploiting this form of yield.

To this end, the technical provisions devised to make the human masses of such an immense territory maneuverable and to facilitate the circulation of orders, provisions and armies are admirable. First of all, the viability: large roads well maintained by stable staff opened like a fan from Cuzco and reached the extreme borders of the empire; surprising is the coastal path that goes from Quito to Chile, and the internal one that follows the inter-Andean corridor, up to Tucumán. Many sections of the Inca roads are still passable; the passage of rivers and mountainous gorges was practiced by means of suspension bridges. A courier system (chasqui) arranged in pairs, at fixed intervals, along these roads, allowed the transmission of orders and news with marvelous speed; moreover, periodic shelters and forts (tampu) were scattered along the great arteries.

Peru Spiritual Culture