In the Inca society many gods were venerated so many types of offerings were made. The main gods were: the sun, the earth, the water, the moon, the stars. For both the Incas and the current Andean man; Offerings have a sense of reconciliation with spiritual forces in order to avoid misfortunes and ask for favors from nature.
- Offerings to Pachamama
- Offerings to the sun
- Offerings to the moon
- Offerings to the sea
- Offerings to the mountains
- The cloak
- Capacocha Sites
- The Inti Raymi
- The inca oracles
- Inca mummification
- The huacas
The sun was the main god of the Incas. In his honor they built the Coricancha or temple of the sun. The Incas performed a huge holiday in his honor, the Inti Raymi. In the festivities they sacrificed auquénidos and offered gold and silver objects.
Offerings to Pachamama
- Pachamama is the goddess of the earth and fertility. It has its origin in pre-Inca cultures and is still venerated in the Andean communities .
- It is a symbolic offering in which man returns to earth what he has taken from it. The primary purpose is gratitude and reciprocity between human beings and nature.
- With this offering, the Andean man asks the ‘Pachamama’ for permission to open it and offer him products such as: chicha liquor, coca leaves, alpaca meat, llama, potato, goose and other agricultural products.
- Until today, these rituals are still practiced in the Andean world. This practice is called ‘Land payment’ and is still practiced in Cusco, Machu Picchu and all the Andean towns.
Worship of the Sun God
Offerings to the sun
- The sun ( Inti , in Quechua language) was the main deity of the Incas. According to his worldview, the sun was the husband of the moon and had the power to cure diseases, rule crops and provide relief to people. The Inca governor was considered ‘son of the sun’.
- The sun was the god most revered by the Inca nobility who built temples to worship him throughout the empire. The most important of all is the Coricancha of the city of Cusco.
- The temples in honor of the sun were cared for by the virgins of the sun, the most beautiful young women in the empire who could not be seen by anyone except the Inca and the priestess who guarded them.
- In honor of the sun, llamas and alpacas were sacrificed. Gold and silver objects were also offered. The most important ritual in honor of the sun was the ‘Inti Raymi’ (festival of the sun) .
Offerings to the moon
- The killa mama (mother moon in Quechua) was the goddess Inca marriage and fertility . According to the Inca worldview, she was the wife of the sun god. It was the deity that represented women.
- The Incas celebrated Coya Raymi, at least once a year. During the celebrations the moon was worshiped with prayers and small offerings. It was also necessary to fast on those days.
- Prolonged silences were made during Coya Raymi and the temples were lit with torches to get the moon’s attention in the sky.
- Some people are believed to be smeared as children during celebrations in honor of the moon .
Offerings to the sea
- La mama cocha (goddess of the lagoon in Quechua voice) was the name that was known to the goddess of the sea, the lagoons, rivers and all the tributaries of water .
- According to the Inca worldview, Mama Cocha was the daughter of the sun and the moon. She was represented as a beautiful woman who taught people to live in harmony.
- The Incas worshiped this goddess mainly in order to obtain good fishing. People who had their abode near some lagoon, addressed her with respect.
- It is believed that a way to venerate the goddess of the sea, was bathing in its waters at midnight. The women who did so asked for health, strength and fertility.
Offerings to the mountains
- The apus (mountains in Quechua language) were protective gods of a certain locality. Its origins date from pre-Inca times. Even many inhabitants of the Andes continue to worship these gods.
- According to the Inca and pre-Inca worldview, the mountains were living entities. The higher and more imposing the mountain, the greater its power . On some summits, altars were built for religious ceremonies and even rituals of human sacrifice.
- Like the Pachamama, the apus were venerated by the Incas through land payments, in which they offered chicha, coca leaves, auquénidos meat and prayers.
- The tutelary mountains of a newly conquered town were taken by the Incas as their own. There they built Inca religious temples, in order to impose their gods on the newly dominated.
- The Inca rite of the capacocha consisted of the sacrifice of a boy or girl to the ‘apus’ or gods of the most important mountains of the empire.
- It was intended to maintain ‘the cosmic order’ in difficult circumstances for the Inca empire. These circumstances included the death of the emperor, famine due to poor harvests or a natural disaster.
- Of the four corners of the empire were chosen boys and girls who stood out for their beauty, health and physical perfection .
- First they were sent to the city of Cusco where religious ceremonies were preceded by the Inca. In these rites, llamas, alpacas and gold and silver objects were sacrificed.
- The children were transferred for weeks or months to the chosen mountain. They gave him chicha to drink and chew coca to numb them and deposit them with their best clothes and all kinds of offerings.
- According to the Inca belief, the offered children did not die, but instead moved on to another life where they could meet with their ancestors and take care of those who were still on Earth.
There have been 35 burials associated with the practice of Capacocha. All were found in the Andes mountains of South America.
Here are some of them:
- The girl from Tanta Carhua, Cusco – Peru.
- The child of Cerro El Plomo, Santiago – Chile.
- The mummy of El Cerro El Toro, San Juan – Argentina.
- The children of Salta on Cerro Llullaillaco, Salta – Argentina.
- The Aconcagua child in the snowy Aconcagua, Mendoza – Argentina.
- The mummy Juanita in the snowy Ampato, Arequipa – Peru.
- The mummy Sarita in the snowy Sara Sara, Ayacucho – Peru.
- The mummy Urpicha on the Picchu Picchu volcano, Arequipa – Peru.
The Inti Raymi
- The Inti Raymi was the largest religious festival of the Inca empire . It was celebrated in honor of the sun god, all winter equinoxes. The ceremony was preceded by the Inca and his priests in the Coricancha Temple and the current Plaza de Armas.
- The festival of the sun lasted 15 days, in which various rites and offerings were fulfilled such as fasting, abstinence, the sacrifice of auquénidos, the delivery of gold pieces, plate, dances, music and more.
- Since 1944, the population of Cusco has established a ceremony of representation of the Inti Raymi in Coricancha, the Plaza de Armas and Sacsayhuaman fortress. This ceremony brings together more than 500 actors and actresses as well as thousands of tourists.
- Currently, the Inti Raymi party is held every June 24.
The inca oracles
- The Incas believed in oracles. These were representations of the gods, such as the Pachacamac oracle on the coast of Lima.
- The oracles requested various offerings. In return they answered questions that were requested by the Inca or the curacas of the different regions. The priest was in charge of interpreting the wishes and responses of the oracle.
- To visit an oracle you had to fast. The offerings consisted of precious stones, coca leaves, animal bait, fine textiles, and even llama sacrifices.
- The most famous oracles were: Pachacamac (Lima), Apurímac (Apurímac), Chinchaycamac (Ica) and Catequil (Cajamarca). The latter was ordered to be destroyed by Emperor Atahualpa as a result of a bad prediction.
- The Incas had a religious custom of mummifying the human remains of the Inca emperors.
- The mummies were dressed with precious stones, fine textiles and the precious objects of the Inca in life. Thus they were carried in procession through the city of Cusco until they were taken to their palace and shrine.
- The chronicles indicate that this practice included the transfer of the Inca mummies to social gatherings, to the meeting of Inca governors and even wars. Of course, for the Spanish chroniclers this practice was pagan.
- When the Spanish arrived in Cusco in 1533 they ordered the destruction of all the Inca mummies. Likewise, they punished the worship and practice of these mummies. It is believed that some mummies, such as that of Pachacutec, managed to be rescued. However, the true whereabouts of said mummy is still a mystery.
- The Spanish replaced the Inca mummy processions with the procession of Christian saints and virgins. Thus, to this day, the famous ‘Corpus Christi’ takes place in Cusco.
- The ‘Corpus Christi’, apparently of Christian origin, has its foundations in the Inca practice of walking the mummies.
- The term huaca is very complex. For the Spanish chroniclers, they were minor or secondary gods that had to be extirpated because they considered their worship pagan.
- For the Incas huaca was related to everything sacred. Today it is deduced that he was referring specifically to the regional or local gods worshiped throughout the extensive Inca territory.
- Thus, there were very important huacas in temples such as Pachacamac (Lima), Huarochiri (Lima), Huamachuco (La Libertad), Catequilla (Quito) and more.
- The huacas were widely accepted by the local population. The Incas, by annexing this population to the empire, accepted the huacas as their own but also imposed their religious beliefs such as the cult of the sun, the moon, the earth, etc.
By Ticket Machu Picchu – Last updated, May 24, 2022