Thursday, August 11, 2011

Interesting Facts- Incas are More Alike Us than We Realize (part 2)

So Sunday I posted a long post about Aztecs (Read it here), and today I'm forcing you all to learn about Incas now. Unfortantly, I won't have a post about the Mayans because I haven't done enough research on them. But one day I will!

Anyways, the Incas were interesting people. They believed that the original Incas started out as children of gods who came out of this cave. And according to this legend, they then went on to conquer other native peoples. The people who became part of the Inca's empire weren't actually called Incas (just like how the Aztecs called themselves Mexicas). The only person who was called Inca, was the Emperor and the actual noble people. The emperor was actually called the Sapa Inca  or just the Inca. While the other nobles were called that, only they could be called Incas if they were descended from the first Incas.

Like the Mayans and the Aztecs, the Incas had the concept of zero too. In fact, their system of goverment was based off of numbers. You see, every 10 households was governed by a head figure. These leaders of ten, reported then to the heads of fifty households, and then they all reported to heads who governed prefects of 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, and then finally, 10,000 households! Those those who governed over households larger than fifty, their postion happened to be hereditary.

Unlike us, the Incas did not have money. Instead everything was bought through time. This was called the Mit'a which means that it was a tax placed on the people. To pay for this tax you had to spend a certain amount of time doing something. For example, you could spend a year in the army, or repairing roads. In exchange, the government provided everything the people needed, kinda like a welfare system.

Every town or city had storage houses where things like rations went to the widowed, orphans, or disabled people every day, and food and stuff went to everyone else during times of strife or during a catastrophe, like if there was a earthquake. And for the army, there was a storage house where things like armor and weapons were held in towns so that where ever the army was, they were well equiped. They also even had runners to bring messages, much like our pony express.

Not only did the government provide this, but for every marriaged couple, the government gave them enough land to support themselves and any extended family memebers they may have. But before they could work on their own land, the general people had to work on the land of the Emperor and the nobles before they could work on their own. The Emperor even began the planting season by breaking the ground with a golden plow, although after that, he never really did anything to grow food.

Common people also owed a certain amount of cloth to the government because cloth was very valuable. Interestingly enough, even though the government provided for them, people who were disabled or had issues could only marry people who had the same problem as them. For example. only blind people could marry other blind people.

One of the most interesting things about the Incas is that they had a special group of women called Chosen Women. An Acllacuna was the school where girls (ten years old) were selected from all over the Inca empire to be trained as Chosen Women. They were selected based on beauty and social rank. Being trained by older Chosen Women, the girls learned things such as dyeing, weaving, singing and dancing, they preformed religious rites, and they had to make clothes for the emperor. After a certain amount of time (usually three years) they were sent to Cuzco to the Festival of the Sun where the Emperor would decide what happened to them.

 If they weren't selected as a concubine they could be married off to a nobleman or "married" to a diety. If a man spent time with a Chosen Woman both partners could be killed and the village from where the Chosen Woman came from destoryed. But if the Emperor spent a night with one, a temple guard would be sent to the Emperor and ask him if he had indeed spent time with a Chosen Woman. If he said yes then all would be forgiven.

An Acllahuasi was the house where Chosen Women stayed. And a Mamaconas was a Chosen Woman who had been selected by the Emperor as either a concubine or a priestess. Chosen women were expected to be publically moral and lead a good example for other women. They were treated as queens and ladies, leading great and fantastic lives which were filled with pleasure and amusement. the people and lords loved them and they were very esteemed and highly regarded. So much were they respected that commoners would never look them in the eyes.

The Incas are famous for their writing system, known as the quipu. The quipu is a system of strings and knots that represent something. These strings could only be read by the person who created them. Because of this, scribes were very powerful people since they could lie about their quipus. And with this great power, the Sapa Inca had investigators who came around to make sure that the quipu makers didn't lie about what they "wrote" about. And because only the person who made a quipu could understand what it said, people today have no idea what the which still exist mean. There is some ideas going around but no one is really sure.

The Incas were great builders. One of their most famous cities is Machu Picchu. Anyways, the Incas buildings were so well put together that they could withstand earthquakes and a knife couldn't even be put between the stones. The stones were uncut and fitted together naturally so that if there was an earthquake, the stones would rumble together and not fall apart. When looking at one building built by the Incas, the researchers discovered that each stone had a small indent or mark so that they would fit together like a puzzle.

Aztecs: Reign of Blood and Splendor by Time-Life Books and Dale M. Brown
Incas Lords of Gold and Glory by Time-Life Books and Dale. M. Brown

So, did you learn anything? Do you think the Incas are interesting?


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