In the preface to my two-volume work THE WORLD ACCORDING TO AZTECS AND INCAS, which has just been published, I describe some fundamental differences between their realms. Here follows the pages 9-12 in volume 1, reproduced without notes and illustrations):
In Peru I have explained the Incas worship of ancestors which included that the departed Sapa Inca – his title can be translated to Unique Ruler – forever possesed property which was attended by a court populated by sons, sons in law, cousins and uncles plus servants and backbroken peasents on the land of the court. In between departed Sapa Incas, that means mummies, met for discussions and giving good advices to the living and ruling Sapa Inca.
And in Mexico I have spoken about ritual duels in the Aztec Empire, where it from beginning was decided whose beating heart with a knife of obsidian should be cut out of the chest for beeing sacrificed – and if a victim didn’t die as planned in the ritual fight, then he could feel for begging to be killed, following his predetermined destiny to the world of gods.
My stories have provoked high eyebrows among guests, shake of heads and shudder. And appetite for more. Well – I continued.
The Inca Empire and the Aztec Empire were the two largest Indian empires, and in both empires very different ethnic groups were living. The Inca Empire in the western part of South America was unconditionally the largest, extremely centralized governed and with features that have been compared with a wellfarestate. In comparison the Aztec Empire in the southern part of North America was much smaller in scale and looser in its structure.
The distance between the most southern part of the Inca Empire and the most northern part of the Aztec Empire was around 4,000 miles. The distance between det most northern part of the Inca Empire and the most southern part of the Aztec Empire was around
600 miles, but no signs are found that can indicate contact between these two concurrent empires.
If we imagine the Inca Empire moved to Europe, it would stretch from northern Norway to North Africa, or from the most western part of Portugal to the eastern part of The Black Sea.
Despite enormous differences the two empires had in common that they were impressive in extent, organization and power. Both surprising fantastic when you were coming from an eurocentristic culture, which for centuries condescending has categorized Indian people as wild, yeah as PRIMITIVE.
Both in North and South America other civilizations had existed before the Aztec Empire og the Inca Empire, and these civilizations had marked huge areas. These had bloomed, and each time such a civilization fell apart the power vaccum was exploited by others, who trickled in the ruins and grew still stronger. This historical proces repeated several times.
Around the year 1100 the tribe we today call Aztecs started wandering into such a nearly power vaccum, and within a few hundreds of years the tribe established sufficient power to dominate the southern part of Mexico. Nearly at the same time and in the same way with the Incas in the mountains in the western South America.
These two tribes expanded almost at the same time to real empires in the first half of the 15th century, and within less than hundred years to develope their internal contradictions, becoming ready to burst, approaching a suicide for its own civilization or its collaps, AND THEN to be conquered by a few hundreds of Spaniards with sharp stabbing weapons, firearms and diseases.
The conquests of the Spaniards did not just become cruel but contains also stories of civilizations which triggers questions: Why did these Europeans come to America? Why did the Aztecs and Incas not just press the few Europaens back? Why did the Indians not before that cross the Atlantic and conquer Europe? Or across the Pacific to Japan or China?
Contrafactual questions can be asked forever.
It was these two migthy Indian empires the Spaniards met in their hunt for gold and conquered and crushed in the first half of the 16th century. It was from there immeasurable values were sailed to Spain, and therefore it was the stories and myths of Aztecs and Incas some writing Spaniards set on paper.
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO AZTECS AND INCAS: MYTHS AND STORIES FROM MEXICO AND PERU. Edited, translated, retold and commented by Mikael Witte. Volume 1 + Volume 2
476 pages + 540 pages. Richly illustrated in colors
Published by Selskabet for smukkere Byfornyelse