Inca mythology

Inca mythology includes many stories and legends that attempt to explain or symbolize Inca beliefs.[1]

Basic beliefs

Scholarly research demonstrates that Incan belief systems were integrated with their view of the cosmos, especially in regard to the way that the Inca observed the motions of the Milky Way and the solar system as seen from Cuzco; the Inca capital whose name meant the centre of the earth. From this perspective, their stories depict the movements of constellations, planets, and planetary formations, which are all connected to their agricultural cycles. This was especially important for the Inca, as they relied on cyclical agricultural seasons, which were not only connected to annual cycles, but to a much wider cycle of time (every 800 years at a time). This way of keeping time was deployed in order to ensure the cultural transmission of key information, in spite of regime change or social catastrophes.

Many Inca myths have been interpreted from Eurocentric perspectives, which detaches the myths from Inca cosmology and agriculture, depriving these myths of their richness and practical ancient functionality.

After the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire by Francisco Pizarro, colonial officials burned the records kept by the Inca. There is currently a theory put forward by Gary Urton that the Quipus could have been a binary system capable of recording phonological or logographic data. Still, to date, all that is known is based on what was recorded by priests, from the iconography on Inca pottery and architecture, and from the myths and legends that have survived among the native peoples of the Andes.

Inca foundation legends

Wiracocha, is the great creator god in Inca mythology

Manco Cápac was the legendary founder of the Inca Dynasty in Peru and the Cusco Dynasty at Cusco. The legends and history surrounding him are very contradictory, especially those concerning his rule at Cuzco and his origins. In one legend, he was the son of Wiracocha. In another, he was brought up from the depths of Lake Titicaca by the sun god Inti. However, commoners were not allowed to speak the name of Viracocha, which is possibly an explanation for the need for three foundation legends rather than just one.[2]

There were also many myths about Manco Cápac and his coming to power. In one myth, Manco Cápac and his brother Pacha Kamaq were sons of the sun god Inti. Manco Cápac was worshiped as a fire and sun god. In another myth, Manco Cápac was sent with Mama Ocllo (others even mention numerous siblings) to Lake Titicaca where they resurfaced and settled on the Isla Del Sol. According to this legend, Manco Cápac and his siblings were sent up to the earth by the sun god and emerged from the cave of Puma Orco at Paqariq Tampu carrying a golden staff called ‘tapac-yauri’. They were instructed to create a Temple of the Sun in the spot where the staff sank into the earth to honor the sun god Inti, their father. During the journey, one of Manco's brothers (Ayar Cachi) was tricked into returning to Puma Urqu and sealed inside, or alternatively was turned to ice, because his reckless and cruel behavior angered the tribes that they were attempting to rule. (huaca).

In another version of this legend, instead of emerging from a cave in Cuzco, the siblings emerged from the waters of Lake Titicaca. Since this was a later origin myth than that of Pacaritambo it may have been created as a ploy to bring the powerful Aymara tribes into the fold of the Tawantinsuyo.

In the Inca Virachocha legend, Manco Cápac was the son of Inca Viracocha of Paqariq Tampu which is 25 km (16 mi) south of Cuzco. He and his brothers (Ayar Auca, Ayar Cachi, and Ayar Uchu); and sisters (Mama Ocllo, Mama Huaco, Mama Raua, and Mama Cura) lived near Cusco at Paqariq Tampu, and uniting their people and the ten ayllu they encountered in their travels to conquer the tribes of the Cusco Valley. This legend also incorporates the golden staff, which is thought to have been given to Manco Cápac by his father. Accounts vary, but according to some versions of the legend, the young Manco jealously betrayed his older brothers, killed them, and then became Cusco.


Diablo puneño
Supay, god of death, as interpreted in a Bolivian carnival festival

Like the Romans, the Incas permitted the cultures they integrated into their empire to keep their individual religions. Below are some of the various gods worshiped by the peoples of the Incan empire, many of which have overlapping responsibilities and domains. Unless otherwise noted, it can safely be assumed these were worshipped by different ayllus or worshipped in particular former states.[3]

  • Apu was a god or spirit of mountains. All of the important mountains have their own Apu, and some of them receive sacrifices to bring out certain aspects of their being. Some rocks and caves also are credited as having their own apu.[4]
  • Ataguchu was a god who assisted in creation myth.
  • Catequil was a god of thunder and lightning.
  • Cavillace was a virgin goddess who ate a fruit, which was actually the sperm of Coniraya, the moon god. When she gave birth to a son, she demanded that the father step forward. No one did, so she put the baby on the ground and it crawled towards Coniraya. She was ashamed because of Coniraya's low stature among the gods, and ran to the coast of Peru, where she changed herself and her son into rocks.
  • Ch'aska ("Venus") or Ch'aska Quyllur ("Venus star") was the goddess of dawn and twilight, the planet
  • Coniraya was the moon deity who fashioned his sperm into a fruit, which Cavillaca then ate.
  • Copacati was a lake goddess.
  • Ekeko was a god of the hearth and wealth. The ancients made dolls that represented him and placed a miniature version of their desires onto the doll; this was believed to caused the user to receive what he desired.
  • Illapa ("thunder and lightning"; a.k.a. Apu Illapu, Ilyap'a, Katoylla) was a very popular weather god. His holiday was on July 25. He was said to keep the Milky Way in a jug and use it to create rain. He appeared as a man in shining clothes, carrying a club and stones. He was formerly the main god of the Kingdom of Qulla after which the Qullasuyu province of the Inca Empire was named.
  • Inti was the sun god. Source of warmth and light and a protector of the people. Inti was considered the most important god. The Inca Emperors were believed to be the lineal descendants of the sun god.
  • Kon was the god of rain and wind that came from the south. He was a son of Inti and Mama Killa.
  • Mama Allpa was a fertility goddess depicted with multiple breasts.
  • Mama Qucha ("sea mother") was the sea and fish goddess, protectress of sailors and fishermen. In one legend she mothered Inti and Mama Killa with Wiraqucha.
Santa Cruz Pachacuti Yamqui es
Representation of the cosmology of the Incas, according to Juan de Santa Cruz Pachacuti Yamqui Salcamayhua (1613), after a picture in the Sun Temple Qurikancha in Cusco, with Inti (the Sun), Killa (the Moon), Pachamama (Mother Earth), Mama Qucha (Mother Sea), and Chakana (Southern Cross) with Saramama (Mother Corn) and Kukamama (Mother Coca).
  • Mama Pacha (a.k.a. Pachamama) literally translates to "mother nature" and was the most important figure in mythology, second only to the Sun. She was the wife of Pacha Kamaq, a dragon, and a fertility deity who presided over planting and harvesting. She caused earthquakes.
  • Mama Killa ("mother moon" or "golden mother") was a marriage, festival and moon goddess and daughter of Wiraqucha and Mama Qucha, as well as wife and sister of Inti. She was the mother of Manqu Qhapaq, Pacha Kamaq, Kon and Mama Uqllu.
  • Mama Sara ("maize mother", a.k.a. Saramama) was the goddess of grain. She was associated with maize that grew in multiples or were similarly strange. These strange plants were sometimes dressed as dolls of Mama Sara. She was also associated with willow trees.
  • Pacha Kamaq ("Earth-maker") was a chthonic creator god, earlier worshiped by the Ichma but later adopted into the creation myth of the Inca.
  • Paryaqaqa was a god of water in pre-Inca mythology that was adopted by the Inca. He was a god of rainstorms and a creator-god. He was born a falcon but later became human.
  • Paricia was a god who sent a flood to kill humans who did not respect him adequately. Possibly another name for Pacha Kamaq.
  • Supay was both the god of death and ruler of the Uku Pacha as well as a race of demons.
  • Urcaguary was the god of metals, jewels and other underground items of great value.
  • Urquchillay was a deity that watched over animals.
  • Viracocha was the god of everything. In the beginning he was the main god, but when Pachakuti became Inca emperor, he changed this god's importance, pointing out that the most important god was Inti.

Important beliefs

  • Mama Uqllu was the sister and wife of Manqu Qhapaq. She was thought to have taught the Inca the art of spinning.
  • Mamaconas were similar to nuns and lived in temple sanctuaries. They dedicated their lives to Inti, and served the Inca and priests. Young girls of the nobility or of exceptional beauty were trained for four years as acllas and then had the option of becoming mamaconas or marrying Inca nobles. They are comparable to the Roman Vestal Virgins, though Inca society did not value virginity as a virtue the way Western societies have done throughout history.
  • In one legend, Unu Pachakuti was a great flood sent by Virachocha to destroy the giants that built Tiwanaku.
  • A Wak'a was a sacred object such as a mountain or a mummy.

Important places

Inca cosmology was ordered in three spatio-temporal levels or Pachas.[5] These included:

  • Uku Pacha ("the lower world") was located within the earth's surface.
  • Kay Pacha was the world in which we live.
  • Hanan Pacha ("higher world") was the world above us where the sun and moon lived.[6]

The environment and geography were integral part of Inca mythology as well. Many prominent natural features within the Inca Empire were tied to important myths and legends amongst the Inca[7]. For example, Lake Titicaca, an important body of water on the Altiplano, was incorporated into Inca myths, as the lake of origins from which the world began[7]. Similarly, many of prominent Andean peaks played special roles within the mythology of the Incas. This is reflected in myths about the Paxil mountain, from which people were alleged to have been created from corn kernels that were scattered by the gods[7]. Terrestrial environments were not the only type of environment that was important to mythology. The Incas often incorporated the stars into legends and myths[8]. For example, many constellations were given names and were incorporated into stories, such as the star formations of the Great Llama and the Fox[8]. While perhaps not relating to a single physical feature per se, environmental sound was extremely important in Incan mythology. For example, in the creation myth of Viracocha the sound of the god’s voice is particularly important. Additionally, myths were transmitted orally, so the acoustics and sound of a location were important for Incan mythology[9]. These examples demonstrate the power that environment held in creating and experiencing Incan myths.

Inca symbols

Chakana or tree of life
  • Chakana (or Inca Cross, Chakana) is - according to some modern authors - the three-stepped cross equivalent symbolic of what is known in other mythologies as the Tree of Life, World Tree and so on. Through a central axis a shaman journeyed in trance to the lower plane or Underworld and the higher levels inhabited by the superior gods to enquire into the causes of misfortune on the Earth plane. The snake, puma, and condor are totemic representatives of the three levels. The alleged meaning of the chakana symbol is not supported by scholarly literature.


Mythology served many purposes within the Incan Empire. While mythology could often be used to explain natural phenomena or to give the many denizens of the empire a way of thinking about the world, it was also utilized to support the social inequalities of the elite over the commoners within the empire. For example, there is a well-known origin myth that describes how the Incan Empire began at its center in Cusco. In this origin myth, four men and women emerged from a cave near Cusco, and began to settle within the Valley of Cusco, much to the chagrin of the Hualla people who had already been inhabiting the land[10]. The Hualla subsided by growing coca and chili peppers, which the Incans associated with the peoples of the Amazon, whom were perceived to be inferior and wild[10]. The Inca engaged in battle with the Hualla, fighting quite viciously, and eventually the Inca emerged victorious. The myth alleges these first Inca people would plant corn, a mainstay of the Inca diet, on the location where they viciously defeated the Hualla[10]. Thus, the myth continues, the Inca came to rule over the entire Cusco Valley, before eventually going on to conquer much of the Andean world[10]. While this mythical account of the settlement of the Cusco Valley may seem like an innocuous tall tale, myths like these reinforced social inequalities throughout the Inca Empire.

In creating this myth, the Incans reinforced their authority over the empire. Firstly, by associating the Hualla with plants from the jungle, the Inca’s origin myth would have likely caused the listener to think that the Hualla were primordial heathens compared to supposedly superior Inca. Thus, the Inca’s defeat of the Hualla and their supposed development of maize based agriculture, supported the notion that the Inca were the rightful stewards of the land, as they were able to make the land productive and tame[10]. These myths were reinforced in the many festivals and rites that were observed throughout the Incan Empire. For example, there were corn festivals that were observed annually during the harvest. During these festivals the Inca elite were celebrated alongside the corn and the main deity of the Inca, Inti[10]. As such, the myth of original Inca’s planting of the corn crop was utilized to associate the ruling Inca elite with the gods, as well as portraying them as being the bringers of the harvest. In this way, the origin myths of the Inca were used to justify the elite position of the Inca within their vast, multiethnic empire. Within the Inca Empire, the Inca held a special status of “Inca by Blood”, that granted them significant privileges over non-Inca peoples[11]. The ability of the Inca to support their elite position was no small feat, given that less than fifty thousand Inca were able to rule over millions of non-Inca peoples. Mythology was an important way by which the Inca were able to justify both the legitimacy of the Inca state, as well as their privileged position with the state.

The strategic deployment of Incan mythology did not end after the Incan empire was colonized by the Spanish. In fact, Incan mythology was utilized in order to resist and challenge the authority of the Spanish colonial authorities. Many Incan myths were utilized to criticize the wanton greed and ignorance of European imperialism. There was widespread killing and rape of women and children in South America by the European soldiers. For example, there are myths among the indigenous people of the former Inca empire that tell the stories of foreigners who come into the Andes and destroy valuable objects[12]. One such myth is the tale of Atoqhuarco amongst the Quechua, which describes how an indigenous woman is destroyed in an act of rebellion against a lascivious foreigner, whom eventually is transformed into a predatory fox[12]. Powerful colonial institutions are also critiqued in some of these myths, with the Catholic Church being frequently lambasted. For example, the story of the Priest and Sexton highlights the hypocrisy and abusive nature of a Catholic Priest and his callous treatment of his indigenous parishioners[12]. As such, these myths show that Inca mythology was strategically deployed for subvert and rebel against Spanish rule in the former Incan Empire.

Incan mythology continues to be a powerful force in contemporary Andean communities. After the nations that were once a part of the Incan Empire gained their independence from Spain, many of these nations struggled to find a suitable origin myth to support the legitimacy of their state[13]. In the early twentieth century, there was a resurgence of interest about the indigenous heritage of these new nations. While these references to Inca mythology can be more overt, such as the presence of Inti on the Argentine flag, other references to the Inca mythology can be subtler[14]. For example, in the late twentieth century the Peruvian Revolutionary government made reference to Inca myths about Pachamama, an Inca Mother Earth figure, in order to justify their land distribution programs[13]. Additionally, modern governments continue to make reference to the former Inca Empire in order to support their claims of legitimacy, to the point that there are municipally funded observances of rituals referencing Inca mythology, especially in and around Cusco[13]. The power of Incan mythology resonates in contemporary politics, with politicians like Alejandro Toledo making references to Inca mythology and imagery during their candidacies and tenures[15]. While the Inca Empire may have ceased to exist hundreds of years ago, its vibrant mythology continues to influence life throughout South America today.

Animals in Inca Mythology

Like other Native American cultures, the Inca society was heavily influenced by the local animal populations, both as food, textile, and transportational sources as well as religious and cultural cornerstones. Many myths and legends of the Inca include or are solely about an animal or a mix of animals and their interactions with the gods, humans, and or natural surroundings.


The Inca bred dogs for hunting and scavenging but rarely for religious purposes. The Huanca people, however, had a much more religious basis for their consumption of dog meat as in Inca mythology Paria Caca, their god, was pictured as feeding solely on dog after he defeated another god, Huallallo Carhuincho, in a skirmish. In some parts of South America the Huanca are referred to as “the dog-eating Huanca”. This behaviour of eating dog was looked down upon in other parts of the empire.[16]

There also exists a city named Alqollacta, or “Dog town”, which contains statues of dogs and are thought to represent the souls of dogs that have passed away. The people would often save up bones and leave them at the statues so that it would give them a better standing in the afterlife.

Dogs were sometimes believed to be able of moving between life and death and also see the soul of the dead. In addition, the Inca believed that unhappy dead souls could visit people in the form of black dogs.The Aymara people of Bolivia were reported to believe that dogs were associated with death and incest. They believed that those who die must cross an ocean to the afterlife in the ear of, or on the nose of, a black dog. Additionally, some sources report that women who sleep alone at night were capable of being impregnated by ghosts which would yield a baby with dog feet.[16]


Despite there only being one bear species in South America (the spectacled bear, Tremarctus ornatus), the story of The Bear’s Wife and Children is a prominent story among the Inca.[16] The Andean people believed that bears represented the sexual habits of men and women and the girls were warned of “bear-rape”. This story details a bear who disguises himself as a man who subdues a girl and takes her to his cave where he feeds her and takes care of her. Soon after, she bares two half bear half human children. With the help of the children the three are able to escape the cave and return to human society. The bear children are given to the town’s priest who attempts to kill the cubs several times (by throwing them off buildings, sending them into the wild, sending them to fight officers) but is only capable of getting the younger bear-child killed[16]. The older bear beats the trials and is sent to fight a damned soul, which he defeats and saves from damnation. The soul gives the bear his estate and wealth and the now fully grown bear man leaves human society as a white dove. This tale could be interpreted as a Native American’s plight story against the Hispanic society in which they find them in, which becomes more believable as this folklore become more prominent after the Spanish Conquest.[16]

In addition to this story, half bear half human beings called Ukuku are thought to be the only being that are able to bring ice from the top of mountains as they have the intelligence of men but the strength of bears. Ukuku clowns can be seen in the Corpus Christi celebrations of Cuzco where they undergo pilgrimage to a nearby glacier and spend the night on the ice as an initiation of manhood.[17]


The fox did not generally have a good reputation among the Inca or people of the Andes and was seen as an omen. Sacrifices to the gods included a variety of goods and animals, including humans, but were never seen to ever include foxes. Inca mythology contains references to gods being deceived by foxes. In one encounter, the deity Cuniraya Viracocha was angered by a fox and stated that “As for you, even when you skilk around keeping your distance, people will thoroughly despise you and say ‘That fox is a thief!’. When they kill you they’ll carelessly throw you away and your skin too”[18]. In other narratives, the fox is said to have tried to steal the moon but the moon hugged the fox close which resulted in the spots on the moon. Finally, the fox still plays a role in current Andean society where the howling of a fox in the month of August is perceived as a sign of good luck.[16]

The Inca had indigenous names for constellations as well as interstellar clouds (dark nebulae) visible from the Southern hemisphere. The fox (Atoq in quechua) is the name for one dark nebulae in the milky way, and Andean narratives, including Inca ones, may refer to the dark nebulae rather than the animal.

Pre-Inca Andean Beliefs

Prior to the founding of the Inca Empire, there were several other cultures in various areas of Peru with their own beliefs, including cultures of the Chavín, Paracas, Moche, and Nazca. Additional pre-Inca beliefs can be found in the Huarochirí Manuscript, a 17th century text that records the myths, culture, and beliefs of people in the Huarochirí Province of the Western Andes[19].

See also


  1. ^ Handbook of Inca Mythology by Paul Richard Steele, Catherine J. Allen
  2. ^ The History of the Incas by Pedro Sarmiento De Gamboa, Brian S. Bauer, Vania Smith
  3. ^ Roza, Greg (2008). Incan Mythology and Other Myths of the Andes. The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.
  4. ^ Sacred Mountain Expedition: April 2007
  5. ^ Heydt-Coca, Magda von der (1999). "When Worlds Collide: The Incorporation Of The Andean World Into The Emerging World-Economy In The Colonial Period". Dialectical Anthropology. 24 (1): 1–43.
  6. ^ Steele, Richard James (2004). Handbook of Inca Mythology. ABC-CLIO.
  7. ^ a b c Toohey, Jason (Jul–Sep 2013). "Feeding the Mountains: Sacred Landscapes, Mountain Worship, and Sacrifice in the Maya and Inca Worlds". Reviews in Anthropology. 42 (3): 161–178.CS1 maint: Date format (link)
  8. ^ a b Bryan, Penprase (2017). The Power of Stars. Chem: Springer. pp. 81–84. ISBN 978-3-319-52595-2.
  9. ^ Classen, Constance (Nov 1990). "Sweet colors, fragrant songs: sensory models of the Andes and the Amazon". American Ethnologist. 17 (4): 722–735. doi:10.1525/ae.1990.17.4.02a00070.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Bauer, Brian (June 1996). "Legitimization of the State in Inca Myth and Ritual". American Anthropologist. 98 (2): 327–337. doi:10.1525/aa.1996.98.2.02a00090.
  11. ^ Peregrine, Peter N; Ember, Ember (2007). Encyclopedia of Prehistory (7 ed.). Boston: Springer. pp. 150–194.
  12. ^ a b c Marín-Dale, Margarita (2016). Decoding Andean Mythology. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. ISBN 9781607815099.
  13. ^ a b c Molinié, Antionette (Sep 2004). "The resurrection of the Inca: the role of Indian representations in the invention of the Peruvian nation". History & Anthropology. 15 (3): 233.
  14. ^ Busaniche, José Luis (1965). Historia Argentina. Buenos Aires: Solar.
  15. ^ Greene, Shane (February 2005). "Incas, Indios and Indigenism in Peru". NACLA Report on the Americas. 38 (4): 34–69.
  16. ^ a b c d e f Handbook of Inca Mythology. Allen, Catherine (Hardcover ed.). Santa Barbara, California: ABC CLIO. 2004. ISBN 1-57607-354-8.CS1 maint: others (link)
  17. ^ de Molina, Christobal (2011). Account of the Fables and Rites of the Incas. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press.
  18. ^ Saloman, Frank (1991). The Huarochiri Manuscript: a testament of ancient and colonial Andean religion. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press.
  19. ^ Mills, Alice (2005). Mythology: Myths, Legends and Fantasies. Global Book Publishing. pp. 494–497. ISBN 1740480910.
37655 Illapa

37655 Illapa, provisional designation 1994 PM, is a carbonaceous asteroid, classified as near-Earth object and potentially hazardous asteroid of the Apollo group, approximately 1.5 kilometers in diameter. It was discovered, on 1 August 1994, by American astronomer couple Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker at the Palomar Observatory in California, United States.

504 Cora

Cora (minor planet designation: 504 Cora), provisional designation 1902 LK, is a metallic asteroid from the middle region of the asteroid belt, approximately 30 kilometers in diameter. It was discovered by American astronomer Solon Bailey at Harvard's Boyden Station in Arequipa, Peru, on 30 June 1902. It was later named after Cora, a figure in Inca mythology.

505 Cava

Cava (minor planet designation: 505 Cava) is a minor planet orbiting the Sun.

In 2001, the asteroid was detected by radar from the Arecibo Observatory at a distance of 1.18 AU. The resulting data yielded an effective diameter of 105 ± 17 km.

Amaru (mythology)

In mythology of Andean civilizations of South America, the amaro, amaru (quechua) or katari (aymara) is a mythical serpent or dragon, most associated with the Tiwanaku and Inca empires. In Inca mythology, the amaru is a huge double-headed serpent that dwells underground. Illustrated with the heads of a bird and pumas, amarus can be seen emerging from a central element in the center of a stepped mountain or pyramid motif in the Gateway of the Sun at Tiwanaku, Bolivia. When illustrated on religious vessels, the amaru is often seen with bird-like feet and wings, so that it resembles a dragon. The amaru was believed capable of transgressing boundaries to and from the spiritual realm of the subterranean world.

Ayar Cachi

Ayar Cachi (in hispanicized spelling) or Ayar Kachi (kachi means salt in Quechua ) was one of the brothers of Manco Cápac, who emerged from the cave at Paqariq Tampu. He could shoot down hills with a single shot of his sling.

His brothers feared him, so he was sent back to the cave they came from and trapped in it with rocks.


In the Quechuan languages of South America, a huaca or wak'a is an object that represents something revered, typically a monument of some kind. The term huaca can refer to natural locations, such as immense rocks. Some huacas have been associated with veneration and ritual. The Quechua people traditionally believed every object has a physical presence and two camaquen (spirits), one to create it and another to animate it. They would invoke its spirits for the object to function.


Huiñao is a mountain in the Andes of Peru, about 3,645 metres (11,959 ft) high. It lies in the Arequipa Region, La Unión Province, Cotahuasi District. What makes the mountain so special among the much higher mountains surrounding it is that it is situated in the Cotahuasi Canyon and that there are good panoramic views from its top across the Cotahuasi Canyon and the surrounding mountains. There is also an archaeological site on top of the mountain.By the local people Huiñao is venerated as an apu.


The Inkarri (or Inkari) myth is one of the most famous legends of the Inca. When the Spanish conquistadores tortured and executed the last ruler of the Inca people, Atahualpa, he vowed that he would come back one day to avenge his death. According to the legend, the Spaniards buried his body parts in several places around the kingdom: His head is said to rest under the Presidential Palace in Lima, while his arms are said to be under the Waqaypata (Square of tears) in Cuzco and his legs in Ayacucho. Buried under the earth he will grow until one day, when he will rise, take back his kingdom and restore harmony in the relationship between Pachamama (the earth) and her children.

Since it has been passed on orally for many generations, several different versions of the Inkarri myth exist. The name Inkarri probably evolved from the Spanish Inca-rey (Inca-king).

The mythical lost city of Paititi is said to have been founded by Inkarri.

Inti Raymi

The 'Inti Raymi'rata (Quechua for "sun festival") is a traditional religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the god Inti (Quechua for "sun"), the most venerated deity in Inca religion. It was the celebration of the winter solstice - the shortest day of the year in terms of the time between sunrise and sunset - and the Inca New Year, when the hours of light would begin to lengthen again. In territories south of the equator, the Gregorian months of June and July are winter months. It is held on June 24.

During the Inca Empire, the Inti Raymi was the most important of four ceremonies celebrated in Cusco, as related by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. The celebration took place in the Haukaypata or the main plaza in the city.

The Inti Raymi was proceeded by a three-day purification by the Sapa Inca and curacas. During that time, they consumed only water, uncooked corn, and chucam. At dawn on the June solstice, they gathered in the Haucaypata, took off their shoes, and faced northeast in anticipation of the rising sun. When the sun appeared, they would crouch down and blow respectful kisses, before raising two golden cups of chicha. The left cup was offered to the Sun, while the right cup was shared amongst the Sapa Inca and his retinue. From the plaza, they walked to the Coricancha, for the sacrifice of llamas and, in some cases, children.According to chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega, Sapa Inca Pachacuti created the Inti Raymi to celebrate the new year in the Andes of the Southern Hemisphere. The ceremony was also said to symbolize the mythical origin of the Inca people. It lasted for nine days and was filled with colorful dances and processions, as well as animal sacrifices to thank Pachamama and to ensure a good harvest season. The first Inti Raymi was in 1412. The last Inti Raymi with the Inca Emperor's presence was carried out in 1535. After this, the Spanish colonists and their Catholic priests banned the ceremony and other Inca religious practices.

In 1944, a historical reconstruction of the Inti Raymi was directed by Faustino Espinoza Navarro and indigenous actors. The first reconstruction was based largely on the chronicles of Garcilaso de la Vega and referred only to the religious ceremony. Since 1944, an annual theatrical representation of the Inti Raymi has been taking place at Saksaywaman on June 24, two kilometers from the original site of celebration in central Cusco. It attracts thousands of tourists and local visitors.

Inti Raymi is still celebrated in indigenous cultures throughout the Andes. Celebrations involve music, wearing of colorful costumes (most notable the woven aya huma mask), and the sharing of food. In many parts of the Andes though, this celebration has also been connected to the western Catholic festivals of Saint John the Baptist, which falls on the day after the northern solstice (June 21).

Kon (Inca mythology)

In Inca mythology Kon (Con) was the god of rain and wind that came from the south. He was a son of Inti (the sun god) and Mama Killa ("mother moon").There is a crater named after this god on Saturnian moon Rhea.


Llamuqa (Quechua for a black stone consisting of iron with curative powers, Hispanicized spellings Llamocca, Llamoja) is a mountain with archaeological remains in the Andes of Peru, about 4,794 metres (15,728 ft) high. It is situated in the Arequipa Region, La Unión Province, Huaynacotas District.By the local people Llamuqa is venerated as an apu.

Mama Killa

Mama Killa (Quechua mama mother, killa moon, "Mother Moon", hispanicized spelling Mama Quilla), in Inca mythology and religion, was the third power and goddess of the moon. She was the sister and wife of Inti, daughter of Viracocha and mother of Manco Cápac and Mama Uqllu (Mama Ocllo), mythical founders of the Inca empire and culture. She was the goddess of marriage and the menstrual cycle, and considered a defender of women. She was also important for the Inca calendar.

Myths surrounding Mama Killa include that she cried tears of silver and that lunar eclipses were caused when she was being attacked by an animal. She was envisaged in the form of a beautiful woman and her temples were served by dedicated priestesses.

Mama Ocllo

In Inca mythology, Mama Ocllo was deified as a mother and fertility goddess. In one legend she was a daughter of Inti and Mama Killa, and in another the daughter of Viracocha (Wiraqucha) and Mama Qucha. In all of them she was the sister and wife of Manco Cápac (Manqu Qhapaq), whom she established the city of Cusco with. In some variations, she also had a son, Sinchi Roca, with him, though all Incan rulers after Manco Cápac were believed to be their descendants.According to most stories, Mama Occlo and Manco Cápac were sent by Inti to help the Inca by expanding their knowledge after he saw how poorly they were living. After their creation, most legends state they began journeying to find the perfect location to begin their task, and would know when they found it when the golden rod Inti had given both his children sunk into the ground. Once the rod had sunk, they began educating the Inca people; together they taught the people to better construct homes; Mama Ocllo taught the Inca women the art of spinning thread, sewing, science, and household duties.

Pacha (Inca mythology)

The pacha (Quechua pronunciation: [pætʃæ], often translated as world) was an Incan concept for dividing the different spheres of the cosmos in Incan mythology. There were three different levels of pacha: the hana pacha, hanan pacha or hanaq pacha (Quechua, meaning "world above"), ukhu pacha ("world below"), and kay pacha ("this world").The realms are not solely spatial, but were simultaneously spatial and temporal. Although the universe was considered a unified system within Incan cosmology, the division between the worlds was part of the dualism prominent in Incan beliefs, known as Yanantin. This dualism found that everything which existed had both features of any feature (both hot and cold, positive and negative, dark and light, etc.).

Pacha Kamaq

Pacha Kamaq (Quechua, "Creator of the World"; also Pacha Camac, Pachacamac and Pacharurac) was the deity worshipped in the city of Pachacamac by the Ichma.

Pacha Kamaq was believed to have created the first man and woman, but forgot to give them food and the man died. The woman cursed Pacha Kamaq, accusing him of neglect, and Pacha Kamaq made her fertile. Later Pacha Kamaq killed her son and cut the corpse into pieces, each of which became a separate fruit or vegetable plant. The woman's second son, Wichama, escaped, so Pacha Kamaq killed the woman. Wichama sought revenge and drove Pacha Kamaq into the ocean.

Tahuantinsuyu adopted Pacha Kamaq when they incorporated the Ichma into their empire. In late Inca mythology he was the father of Inti and Mama Killa, and husband of Mama Pacha. The Wari, the Pachacamac empire, Chancay, Chimor and Ichma possessed the city of Pachacamac at some point but it is unknown if any other peoples, apart from the Ichma, worshipped the Pacha Kamaq deity.


Paqarina is a term that ancient Andeans used to describe the place of origin, and final destination, of their ancestors. Paqarinas were associated with physical landmarks such as holes in the ground or lakes. In Incan mythology the word also describes a type of "portal" through which the forces of life and death flow.

Paqariq Tampu

In Inca mythology, one of the main Inca creation myths was that of the Ayar Brothers who emerged from a cave called Paqariq Tampu (also spelled Paqariqtampu) (Quechua paqariy to dawn / to be born, -q a suffix, tampu inn, lodge, hispanicized and mixed spellings Pacaritambo, Paccarectambo, Paccarec Tambo, Paccarictambo, Paccaric Tambo, Paqariq Tambo, Paccaritambo).

This "house of production" was located on the hill called Tampu T'uqu (Quechua t'uqu a niche, hole or gap in the wall, today also the modern word for window, hispanicized Tambotoco, Tamputoco). It had three windows. According to the myth, the tribe of Maras emerged from one of the niches, called Maras T'uqu (Maras tocco) by spontaneous generation. The tribe of Tampus emerged from the sut'i t'uqu window. Manco Capac, his three Ayar brothers, and his four Mama sisters, emerged from the chief window in the middle, the qhapaq t'uqu.Another theory held by more obscure groups, tending to dwell on the mysticism of South American Indians is that Paqariq Tampu is a quasi-mythical place believed by these historians to have been flooded by Lake Titicaca. Chronicles like the one of Guaman Poma (Quechua for hawk puma) mention Paqariq Tampu: "They say they came from Titicaca lake and from Tiahuanaco and they entered Tambo Toco and from there eight Inca brothers and sisters came out... Those eight brothers and sisters came out of Pacari Tanbo and they went to their idol huaca of Uana Cauri, coming from Collau towards the city of Cuzco". Theories base themselves mainly on tales of the Chasa, another race or tribe thought by most to be as mythical, proclaim the name to actually come from the chasa word Pàchacambo (meaning birthing place of the gods Chaca, who they believed themselves to be.)

Pachacuti visited the site and "venerated the locality and showed his feeling by festivals and sacrifices. He placed doors of gold on the window qhapaq tu'uqu, and ordered that from that time forward the locality should be venerated by all, making it a prayer place and wak'a, whither to go to pray for oracles and to sacrifice."

Religion in the Inca Empire

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

Willka Raymi

Willka Raymi (Quechua willka grandchild / great-grandson / lineage / minor god in the Inca culture, an image of the Willkanuta valley worshipped as God / holy, sacred, divine, willka or wilka Anadenanthera colubrina (a tree), raymi feast) is a feast celebrated in the Cusco Region in Peru. It is the representation of the traditional offering ceremony to Pachamama. The celebrations are held annually on August (24th) in the archaeological complex of Pisac.

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