Sitting in Spain, Garcilaso wrote about his Indian ancestors:
Since their earliest kings, who were imitated by their successors, they never waged war unless moved by causes that seemed to them sufficient, such as the need that the barbarians should be reduced to a human and civilized existence, or offences and injuries inflicted on their subject peoples by untamed neighbors.
This defense of the Incas warfare took its starting point in the description of the 8th Sapa Inca, his great-great-grandfather. According to Garcilaso, the Incas had only led their defencewar because they had been provoked or to prevent barbarians from suppressing: Incas responded to unjust, their wars were civilizing.
So romantic some can picture war, and the notion of the mild savages has often been repeated. Garcilaso continued:
Before they went to war, they used to warn their enemies one, two or three times. After a province had been subdued, the first thing the Inca did was to take the chief idol of the region and carry it off as a sort of hostage to Cusco. He would order it to be kept in a temple until the chief and his men were disillusioned about the deceits of their false gods and had taken to the idolatry of the Incas who worshipped the Sun. The other gods were not overthrown immediately on the conquest of a new province, out of respect for it; for the natives would be aggrieved by any disrespect of their own gods until they had been indoctrinated in the vain religion of the Incas.
They also carried off the leading chief and all his children to Cusco, where they were treated with kindness and favor so that by frequenting the court they would learn not only its laws, customs, and correct speech, but also the rites, ceremonies, and superstitions of the Incas. This done, the curaca was restored to his former dignity and authority, and the Inca, as king, ordered the vassals to serve and obey him as their natural lord.
Garcilaso was proud that the Incas had taken over the provinces and that warlike chiefs there had been reeducated in the right Inca thinking – should leave their faith and thinking – after which they were reinstated and allowed to administer on behalf of the Inca.
Garcilaso lived and wrote in Renaissance Spain where reason was appealed, but he also wanted to legitimize his own Inca origin with positive stories. According to Garcilaso, the Incas only led fair wars – bellum justum in legal Latin – for that was a concept that also occupied much of European argumentation at that time.
Of course, Garcilaso was not unfamiliar with human blood, pain and death at war. Even he had been a Spanish officer, he was a child of the violent clash between two civilizations. His father had been Spanish conquistador and his mother Inca princess. As a boy and young man he had listened to the Spanish gentlemen who had established their brutal rule and fought the Spanish Kings representative for maintaining their right to the conquered. His uncles on his maternal Inca side had been powerful big ears, participants in the Inca War of Brothers and they had always ended these conversations with tears and mourning, when they complained the new life under the Spaniards:
Our rule is turned to bondage.
In Tawantinsuyus great but short century – 1438-1532 – the Incas used several strategies towards their neighbors: from the veiling assimilation (where the strangers were to adapt) to the violent con-quest, from colonization with well-liked tribes to forced deportation of rebellious tribes.
Garcilasos words that the gods of the enemy were put in the temple in Cusco until the enemy had abandoned worshipping them are inaccurate. Not all foreign gods were quarantined: some the Incas took as ‘hostages’, but the Incas also expanded their own religious world as Tawantinsuyu included ever more diverse ethnic groups. It was part of the Incas tactics. But it did not apply to all gods. Outside of Coricancha there were temples where priests worshipped gods that were not worshipped inside Coricancha.
Thus, there are political, religious and aesthetic reasons why we have stopped here in Raqch’i at the center wall of balancing sun-dried mud stones.
Lean back, enjoy the sight of the clash between the brown structure of the wall and the blue bottom of the sky and the few cumulus clouds which is not a surrealistic masterpiece. It is completely unique, something we have not seen before in Peru and which we will not see similar to other places here in the country.
These are the remains of the largest and tallest building known from Inca times. The wall is truly outstanding. It has been standing for more than 500 years in rough weather with hail and baking sun. It is 300 ft long and 65 ft high. The protective roof is new and the polished surfaces are restorations. The basic plan shows that the building has been 80 ft wide; the bottom stones are of hard andesite, and the column foundations on both sides of the wall goes 13 ft in depth. Archaeologists are convinced that it has been a great temple and that it has borne the largest single roof of the entire Inca Empire, 27,000 square ft, presumably covered with ichu grass.
From the size and location of the temple, archaeologists have assumed that it has been dedicated to Viracocha. Immediately, it must surprise, for the Incas called themselves Children of the Sun and you have heard Garcilasos emphasis on Inti, our Father the Sun. But it has its history.
It is important to understand the Incas as flexible. In the beginning, they had protected their oddities, the special in their very ayllu, had been closed, but as their power and selfconsciousness grew, they developed their relationship with other tribes, opened up and became increasingly receptive to these tribes theology and technology.
Behind the large wall is along the sites north-south axis located a number of buildings that open in both directions. Each of these double buildings has a common center wall and in the inner walls there are trapezoidal niches; the trapezoidal shape is characteristic of Inca architecture. It utilizes gravity, and since the Incas did not know the so-called real arc, they built door- and niche holes with the trapezoidal shape that gives the construction strength.
According to local guides, the buildings have been inhabited by wise women studying the starry sky. The buildings, however, also have housed different workshops where invited specialists – including perhaps wise women – have unfolded their specialities and passed their knowledge on to the Incas, who quickly acquired the innumerable techniques, and subsequently could impress other tribes with their newly acquired skills.
To the west of the temple wall, more than 200 colcas, circular storage rooms of volcanic stone, 30 ft in diameter and 10 ft in height were built. The stones originate from the 12,870 ft high dormant volcano Quimsachata.
The many colcas have been filled with what peasants have delivered: potatoes, corn, quinoa, lupins, beans, dried meat, blankets, cotton, clothes, ropes, weapons. Everything in its own colca, a giant store.
The few entire buildings we can see are reconstructions, because the Spaniards tore down the original colcas for reusing the stones.
In the complex there also are other ritual buildings, including baths used in ceremonies; buildings and terraced fields have been surrounded by a 2½ miles long and 10 ft high city wall, of which large parts are preserved.
There are 60 miles to Cusco, so the center is established after the Incas Cusco kingdom grew, and the Incas pushed south, towards Lake Titicaca where the Tiahuanaco culture had radiated with a mothercultural power.
The Inca trail is running through the complex; to the south you come to Arequipa, where Lupaca and Collao at that time were warring about the land they had made lush with terraces – those we admired remnants of on the outskirts of Arequipa.
It is said that Inca Viracocha – the 8th Sapa Inca – provided both Lupaca and Collao – each of them are said to at that time to have been stronger than the Incas – with weapons, so they could fight each other, tear each other apart and lose strength. Perhaps the Incas also used this tactic against other tribes.
(pp. 185-189 in volume 2, 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
476 pages + 540 pages. Richly illustrated in colors
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