Thus the foundation for an empire was
laid. Another legend relates that the Sun created a man and a woman on an island
in Lake Titicaca. They were given a golden staff by the Sun, their father, who
bade them settle permanently at whatever place the staff should sink into the
earth. At a hill overlooking the present city of Cuzco the staff of gold
disappeared into the earth. They gathered around them a great many people and
founded the city of Cuzco and the Inca state.
Chiqui Illapa (Thunder God)
Second only to Apu Inti, Chiqui Illapa was a magnanimous figure in Incan
lore. Hailing rain down from the celestial river (the Milky Way), Illapa fed the
empire. Incan legend asserts that he would crack his sister's water jug with a
slingshot, reverberating the echoes of thunder as aqueous elixir spilled forth
from the sky, showering the parched lands below. He was associated with
Keypachu, the upper kingdom of heaven, and was worshipped throughout the growing
season. Interestingly, any male child born during a thunderstorm was declared a
priest of Chiqui Illapa, an exalted position in Incan society and within the
priestly class itself.
Mamaquilla (Mother Moon)
First acknowledged by Inca Yapanqui, successor of Manco Capac, Mamaquilla was
wife of the sun and timekeeper of the heavens. As the Incan calendar revolved
around the lunar month, she was critical to the maintenance of a calendric
system that would ensure proper adherence to planting and harvesting seasons.
She was represented with idols of silver, complementing the gold of her luminary
Yakumama (Mother Water)
Yakumama was believed to control subterranean and mountain streams, blessing
the fields with nourishment and springing fresh water from the earth. The
complement of Chiqui Illapa, she was associated with ukupacha, the lower kingdom
Mamacocha (Mother Sea)
A regional deity, Mamacocha was important to ayllus of the Peruvian coast,
where she mainatined the fertility of of the sea. She was honored with conch
shells, which were more valuable in this region than gold or silver.
Pachakama (Earth Mother)
Pachakama was also a regional deity, important to the Andean highlanders. She
was ascribed the role of ensuring the fertility of soil and seed in the harsh
In the tradition of celestial deities, stars were thought to possess spirits
that breathed life into earthly beings. Several constellations were also
recognized as bearing agricultural import, such as the Pleiades, the "Seven
Sisters" who preserved the seed, and the "Great Lizard", who appeared in the
west during planting season and buried his head in the east at harvest time.
Waca were the family gods, or, synonomously, the shrines in which the family
gods were worshipped. They were honored with more regularity than any deity of
the state-recognized pantheon, as they wielded direct control over the
prosperity of the ayllu. Wacas took a variety of forms, the most common being
mountains, streams, caves, trees, or roads. Idols appropriate to their form were
worshipped on a daily basis to appease them and avert the evocation of
manevolence. Curiously, oddities such as twins, abnormal plants, and misfigured
animals were also considered Wacas. In addition to the Waca of the kin group,
individuals also had a personal guarding spirit of similar significance.
The first great conquest of Andean space began some 10,000 years ago when the
descendants of the original migrants who crossed the land bridge over what is
now the Bering Straits between the Asian and American continents reached
northern South America. Over the next several millennia, hunter-gatherers fanned
out from their bridgehead at Panama to populate the whole of South America. By
about 2500 B.C., small villages inhabited by farmers and fishermen began to
spring up in the fertile river valleys of the north coast of Peru.
These ancient Peruvians lived in simple adobe houses, cultivated potatoes and
beans, fished in the nearby sea, and grew and wove cotton for their clothing.
The catalyst for the development of the more advanced civilizations that
followed was the introduction of a staple annual crop--maize (corn), and the
development of irrigation, both dating from around the thirteenth century B.C.
The stabilization of the food supply and ensuing surplus formed the foundation
for the development of the great civilizations that rose and fell across the
Andes for more than a thousand years prior to the arrival of the Europeans.
The Incas, were the most recent of these highly developed native American
cultures to evolve in the Andes. The earliest central state to emerge in the
northern highlands (that is, a state able to control both highland and coastal
areas) was the Kingdom of Chav n, which emerged in the northern highlands and
prospered for some 500 years between 950 B.C. and 450 B.C. Although it was
originally thought by Julio C. Tello, the father of Peruvian archaeology, to
have been "the womb of Andean civilization," it now appears to have had Amazonic
roots that may have led back to Mesoamerica
Over the course of 1400 years, pre-Inca cultures settled along the Peruvian
coast and highlands. The power and influence of some civilizations was to hold
sway over large swaths of territory, which during their decline, gave way to
minor regional centers. Many of them stood out for their ritual pottery, their
ability to adapt and superb management of their natural resources; a vast
knowledge from which later the Inca empire was to draw.
The first Peruvian civilization settled in Huantar, Ancash in around 1000 BC.