I started comparing the roots of Mexico and Peru. Indians were not just Indians, such as many have imagined and still are imagining. They say more than just UGH!
On the one hand you have the Aztec Empire with a structure with room for local autonomy and on the other the Inca Empire with centralized decisionprocesses. In a certain perspective Spanish conquistadors relatively easier took over the centralpower of the Inca than taking power in the Aztec Empire, where resistance flared after the capital of the empire was taken. Did the different structures in the two societies form different mentalities? Ethnical parti-cularities? Does there exist a more widespread popular will to fight the powerful in Mexico than in Peru, where I sense a widespread apathy?
During my travels in Mexico and Peru it has been impossible for me avoiding comparing Aztecs and Incas. I have drawn lines between the two major Indian civilizations, which had been tried crushed by Spanish conquerors in some of the un-imaginable atrocities of world history. Similarities seemed obvious: new societies raised of the ruins of Indian civilizations, after Spanish violence and colonization plus continued discrimination of the Indian part of citizens in the independent national states, where many Indian features – Indian cultures – STILL WERE ALIVE even the states changed fundamentally through centuries.
Culture has inconceivably many expressions, and this applies also ‘Indian’ culture. There were and are big differences between Mexico og Peru. That were threads I had to unravel. But how? Did it make any sense at all to compare the two societies, I asked my self. Oh yes, I was opposed when I in the one country told I travelled in the other.
With friends and colleagues in Mexico and Peru I have discussed the countries, but of course: most Mexican and Peruvians know their ‘own’ country best. Certainly they immediately express great sympathy with their Latinamerican fellows, but turn quickly to national pride over the excellences of their own country, followed shortly of rage against their own political leaders, who they call THE VERY WORST!
When I then have been keen for comparing and stressing differences for understanding the motive power in the Aztec Empire respectively the Inca Empire and have tried to point out resulting differences in todays two great countries, then it has been difficult to discuss these with them, even we have done it!
My overall covering question is based on the fact that Aztecs and Incas shared a holistic view of life, that they did not see the so-called good and the so-called evil as opposites but as complementary traits, that good an evil conditioned each other as man and woman – to put it briefly. Indians faiths were not an isolated sphere but constituted their outlook for life.
But the Aztec Empire was a loosely organized kingdom with considerable local autonomy. The ruler was Tlatoani, the speaker, who originally had been elected without claiming divinity.
The Inca Empire, on the other hand, was organized more and more centralistly, and the ruler, Sapa Inka, claimed to be Son of the Sun, to be divine and thus to have a divine omnipotence over mankind.
The inhabitants of the Aztec Empire were thus ruled by a human being, while the inhabitants of the Inca Empire were ruled by a son of a god. In the Aztec Empire, some people dared to contradict the power if the dissatisfaction became too great, while the inhabitants of the Inca Empire bowed to the earthly ruler as long as they had faith in his divinity – and as long as intrigues around the court could be restrained.
I therefore ask, was the Aztec Empire and the Inca Empire fundamentally different in structure? Did religious performances of the ruling Aztecs and Incas create widely different mentalities? Did the colonization of the Spaniards vary widely? Did Aztecs respectively Incas different mentalities set different marks on the Spanish colonies and, consequently, todays Mexico respectively Peru?
Great thanks I owe everyone who ‘over there’ enthusiastically told stories, explained relationships, presented suggestions and promoted my whim – and contradicted me!
In Mexico: Travelleader Villy Rud Laursen, travelleader Allan If Jensen, museumsguide Pedro Jaimes Gama in Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico DF, archaeologist Miguel Angel Velázquez in Teotihuacán, cityguide Eva Maria Morales in Morelia, cementeryguide Patricia Teran Escobar in Pátzcuaro, cityguide Baltazar Lucero in Puebla, travelleader Karin B. Schütte, guide Mario Bernadino Rodriguez in Monte Albán, masterweavers Jesús Hernández and Alicia Vasquez in Teotitlán del Valle, masters of alebrijes Ranulfo Sergio Santiago Ibañez and Lucila Sosa Lurias in Arrazola, guide Gilberto Arreortura in Mitla, boatman German Hernández in Cañon del Sumidero, artist Kiki Suárez in San Cristóbal de las Casas, weaver Juana Bárbara Vázquez Hernández in Zinacatán, cityguide Juan Ibañez in San Juan Chamula, Maria og Miguel in Ocosingo, guide Victor Manuel Zetina Ocaña in Palenque, Amselma Díaz López og Cesár López Gómez from the tourist cooperative in Yaxchilán, Ruben Elias ’El Chino’ in Tikal in Guatemala, guide Gamaliel Chan in Uxmal, guide Ismael Canche Chan in Cobá, guide Luis Bermudez in Chich’en Itza.
In Peru: guide Emma Salinas in Arequipa, the guides Tula Aliaga, Mayta Blady and Alcides Huanca in Puno, Alejandro Flores Huatta and Teodosia Marca de Flores in Taquile in Titicaca, the guides in Cusco: Boris Bonnet, Anamaria Galdo, Julian Sanisteban, Jorge Olivera, Elga de la Cruz Fernandez Boca, Fernando Mendoza Pilares and churchguide Clotilde Alarcón Andrade, arthistorian Ivonne Saldívar Dalguerre, author Fernando E. Salazar Elorrieta og anthropologist Alex Alvarez in Cusco, antique trader Hipolito Percca Percca from Ausangate, weaver Jessica Huamán Huamán in the cooperative in Chinchero, restaurateur Fredy Cayo in Yucay, ceramist Pablo Seminario in Urubamba, rainforrestguide Silverio Duri and rainforrestshaman Honorato Mishaja at the Tambopata-river and guide Oscar Oviedo Velasco in Lima.
The responsibility for errors lies solely with me.
(pp. 13-15 in volume 1, reproduced without notes and illustrations):
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
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Published by Selskabet for smukkere Byfornyelse