The Inca Empire
The Inca Empire was the largest empire in South America before Europeans found and colonized the American continents. It had its center of power in Cuzco, which is part of in modern day Peru. In the years from 1438 to 1533, the Incas took over much of western South America, using both peaceful and violent methods of conquest. With the Andean mountain range at its core, the empire encompassed the areas which are now Peru, Ecuador, western and south central Bolivia, north and central Chile, and northwest Argentina.
Quechua was the official language of the empire, with hundreds of local languages also spoken in it. They called the empire Tawantinsuyu, or "The Four Regions". Although there were many methods of religious worship in the empire, the ruling powers imposed the worship of Inti, the sun god, above all others. They held their King, the Sapa Inca, to be the "child of the sun."
Ecuador, Ingapirca Inca ruins, in the province of Cañar
Every year in June, the second largest festival in South America is held in Cuzco, Peru. Inti Raymi, also known as the "Festival of the Sun", has hundreds of thousands of people from South America and all over the world gathering for a week of celebration, starting on the 18th or 19th of June. There are street fairs, dancing, and music by local bands as well as some of the best Peruvian musicians.
The festival's origins go back to the times of the Inca Empire. It was a religious ceremony to honor the god Inti, the sun god who was believed to be the ancestor of the Incas. It also marked the Winter Solstice, which is the shortest day of the year (for those in the Northern Hemisphere, in South America, which is below the equator, the seasons are reversed, with the months of June & July being Winter months). During the Solstice, the sun is farthest from the earth. With the lack of sun and the cold of winter, the ancient Incas would gather to plead to the Sun God for his return. The method of this worship took the form of people fasting for several days before the gathering, even refraining from any kind of physical pleasure. They would then present Inti with presents as well as a huge feast with corn bread, meat and teas. Llamas were also sacrificed so as to guarantee fertile lands and good crops.
The celebrations continued for almost a century among the indigenous people. The Inca Empire, at its height, had control over much of the east coast of South America, from as far north as Ecuador, down into Chile, and inland to parts of Argentina and Bolivia. It survived until the Spanish explorers found it and, with permission from Spain, invaded it in the 1500s. It took about fifty years, but the last Inca stronghold was conquered in 1572, and the last ruler, the Sapa Inca, Túpac Amaru, was captured and executed. This ended resistance to the Spanish conquest by the Incas. The last Inti Raymi celebration with the Inca Emperor's presence was in 1535.
Hundreds of people dancing in celebration
Change was swift. In 1572, Viceroy Toledo banned the Inti Raymi celebrations because they were pagan and contrary to the Catholic faith. As conversions of the native people to Christianity began, the ceremonies were kept hidden, but did not end entirely. The Spanish, realizing the risks and futility in trying to completely remove a religious celebration, moved it a few days later to match the date of their Catholic feast of St. John the Baptist. This gave them an excuse to allow the celebrations to continue as well as helping to indoctrinate the Incas to the ways of Christianity. Thus Inti Raymi survived in the form of the San Juan festival.
In the 1940s, the festival undertook a sort of rebirth in Peru. An historical reconstruction of the Inti Raymi was created by Faustino Espinoza Navarro and indigenous actors in 1944. This was based largely upon the writings of Garcilaso de la Vega, a 16th century historian and writer from the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru.
Local musicians playing on the street
In Ecuador, the San Juan festival was renamed back to Inti Raymi in the 1970s to strengthen the identity of the native people. In other parts, it is still celebrated under the Christian names. It is known as San Juan in the city of Cotacachi and other parts of the Imbabura province. In the village of Cayambe and the northern part of Pichincha Province, it is called San Pedro. In the Cotopaxi province communities, especially in the small town of Pujili, it is celebrated as Corpus Cristi.
With the lack of sun and the cold of winter, the ancient Incas would gather to plead to the Sun God for his return.
The way it is celebrated varies a bit between regions. Generally, during the whole week of celebrations, various events are held all over, with feasting, dancing and music. In Peru, the main day of Inti Raymi is June 24th. In preparation for it, hundreds of actors are chosen to represent the various historical figures. It is a great honor to be selected to portray the most important ones, like the the Sapa Inca or his wife, Mama Occla. For the festival, the Sapa Inca is referred to as the Inti Churin (Son of the Sun). The reenactment begins with an invocation by the Inti Churin in the Qorikancha square in front of the Santo Domingo church, which was built over the ancient Temple of the Sun. The Inti Churin calls on the blessings from the sun, after which he is carried on his golden throne (in this case, a replica of the original) in a procession to Sacsayhuamán, the archaeological complex of the ancient fortress, in the hills above Cuzco. He is followed by the high priests, who are dressed in ceremonial robes. After those come other important figures, like officials of the court and nobles. Everyone is wearing elaborate costumes according to their rank, including ornaments of silver and gold.
Statue of Pachamama in Bolivia
The parade travels along streets decorated in flowers, with crowds of people playing music, praying, and dancing. Groups of women follow along, performing specific duties. About thirty of them are the Nustakunas, or chosen women, and they scatter yellow flowers. Thirty more women follow them, carrying wicker baskets of fruit and edible tubers, idols and golden amulets. These are followed by a third group of women who use branches of cedroncillo, a leafy native plant, to sweep away evil spirits.
At the end of the procession, the Inti Churin ascends to the sacred altar for the huge mass of worshippers to see him. Once everyone is in place, speeches are made by the Inti Churin, the priests and representatives of the Suyos (the different regions that formed the empire). The Suyos are the Snake for the underworld, the Puma for life on earth, and the Condor for the upper world of the gods.
As was done in ancient times, a white llama is sacrificed, but in modern times, this sacrifice is really just a very realistic act. The high priest then holds the bloody heart high in honor of Pachamama, a goddess revered by the indigenous people of the Andes and similar to "Mother Earth". He then reads the blood and animals insides to foretell the future, which we already know: "The fat, the blood, the heart and the lungs say that there will be an invasion of enemy people!".
The Inti Churin being carried on his throne
Lastly, the high priests and soldiers come forth carrying lit torches and set fire to small heaps of straw. Celebrators dance around the burning straw to honor the Empire of the Four Regions, Tawantinsuty. Then the Inti Churin and Mama Occla are carried on their thrones back to Cuzco, with blessings being passed along to the people by the high priests.
The waterfall at Peguche, where people clense themselves for Inti Raymi
In Ecuador, many of the celebrating groups travel to sacred rivers and waterfalls to purify themselves in the water. This is according to an Andean ritual of recuperating energy and revitalizing their connection with Pachamama. One of these purification events occurs in Otavalo. It begins around midnight on June 22nd, when crowds of people travel to the waterfall of Peguche. They are followed by musicians and people dancing. Once there, they climb the small path to the waterfall and submerge themselves. After the cleansing, they return to their villages for more feasting, drinking, and dancing.
A particular feature of the Ecuador festival is the Aya Uma, which is a mythological spirit with two faces, representing night and day. Aya Uma is represented using a mask with two faces, and he leads the villagers in a particular dance. They swirl around in circles to represent the two equinoxes (when the tilt of the Earth's axis is neither toward nor away from the sun), while stamping their feet as an invitation to Pachamama to join them.
In the more mountainous regions of Otovalo, Cayambe and Tunguragua, the festivities often include sports competitions, running of the bulls (similar to Spain), cock fights, bullfights, dance competitions and events focusing on the environment. These may go on for an entire month.
In the southern region, at Ecuador's largest Inca site, Ingapirca, Inti Raymi is a more a serious ceremony, mixing Inca traditions and the local Canari culture. The Taita Roque Ochoa, a character dressed all in white, representing peace, gives offerings to mother earth. This is followed by traditional dancing and feasting.
While the Peru Inti Raymi is focused more on worshipping Inti, the one of Ecuador is more of a time of reunion with the family, the community and Pachamama.
Inti Raymi is second only to Carnival in size and importance in South America, and while it is celebrated in a variety of ways, it is always a celebration of the relationship between the sun, earth, seasons and the people of the Incas. Remember these connections when you do your own sun worshipping on the beaches this summer.
|Celebrations - Inti Raymi|
All images are Copyright - CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Share Alike) by their respective owners, except for Petey, which is Public Domain (PD) or unless otherwise noted.
|Letter From The Editor - Price of Fame|
|Liber Linteus - Mummified Language|
|At the Cinema - Bombay|
|Celebrations - Inti Raymi - Festival of the Sun|
|Cracking the Code|
|Languages in Peril - The Chibchan Family|
|Revisited - Words From The Names Of Animals|
|Word on the Streets - Great German Authors|
|Where Are You?|
|Language Learning Methods - Internet|
|Sections - Neighborhood|
Find previous issues in the archives.
Letter From The Editor - Nom de Plume • News Brief • Mark Your Calendar • Language Learning In The Globalization Era: - Translation, Culture And Power Relations • When Pigs Fly • Introducing Words R Us • Languages in Peril - The Good Language of Brazil • In Focus • At the Cinema - Un Sac de Billes • Language Puzzles • Where Are You? • Book Look - Aikainen lintu nappaa madon. Sananlaskuja läheltä ja kaukaa • Basic Guide to Croatian • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - No Politics • Make Your Own Language Group • A History of Research in Study Abroad • Parrot Time on Patreon • Languages in Peril - Sayonara, Ainu • At the Cinema - La Coppia dei Campioni • Where Are You? • Book Look - The Bible of the Language Learners and Polyglots • Basic Guide to Romanian • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Hope and Failing • Six Ways To Choose Which Languages To Learn • Learning Spanish - The trials, the tribulations and one triumphant learning hack • At the Cinema - The Last King (Birkebeinerne) • Celebrations - Birkebeinerrennet • Where Are You? • Book Look - Langenscheidt Dictionaries • Basic Guide to Swedish • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Culture and Language, Again • Learning A Language Is Learning Its Culture • Revisited - Early Bardic Literature in Ireland • Languages in Peril - Save Medan Hokkien! • In Others' Words - Ulrike and Peter Rettig • At the Cinema - Monster Hunt • Where Are You? • Book Look - Language Alter Ego • Basic Guide to Italian • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - A Kind Word • Language and Power: The Hidden Struggle • 4 Ways To Learn Through Reading • Language Learning is for everyone! • Languages in Peril - The Decline of Sicilian • At the Cinema - The Host • Where Are You? • Book Look - Italian Short Stories for Beginners • Basic Guide to Hungarian • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Making it Happen • Motivation - Expressing oneself and the expression of oneself in language learning • Motivation Killers in Learning a Language • Mixing Languages and Relationships • In Others' Words - Brian Powers • At the Cinema - Cutting Room Floor • Languages in Peril - Cyprus' Language Revival Approach Problem • Where Are You? • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - The Importance of Travel • Broadening The Mind Travels The World • The Secret Life of Diacritics • There Are No Wrong And Right Gestures, Only Cultural Differences • Google Translate Exposed: - The Truth Behind Everyone's Favorite Translator • At the Cinema - Queen • Book Look - The A to Z of Learning German • Where Are You? • Basic Guide to Papiamentu • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Free Things • The Cost of Free Language Resources • Review of Polyglot Workshops: Brazil • Easier Way to Learn Languages Fast • Dream, decide, do - tips from a polyglot • At the Cinema - Cambio de Ruta • Languages in Peril - Talysh • Where Are You? • App Rev - Tandem • Book Look - Language Master Key • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Studying in Summer • Polyglot Events All Around The World - You Are Not Alone • Playing Games with Language • Spanish E-training – The 'Big Bang' Investment • Can a Language Die? • At the Cinema - La Casa del Fin de los Tiempos • Languages in Peril - Scottish Gaelic • Words in Your Mouth - Apple • Celebrations - Nag Panchami • Where Are You? • Book Look - Fluency Made Achievable: The Fluent Guide to Core Language Skills • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Sounds Like • How Do You Say It? - A look at sound notation systems • Of Pidgins and Creoles - A look at how some languages are born • Who Are You To Learn A Language? • At the Cinema - Dil Chahta Hai • Languages in Peril - Yumans on the Edge • Words in Your Mouth - Egg • Where Are You? • Book Look
Letter From The Editor - Breaking with Tradition • Are You Wasting Your Money on Language Classes? • Chatting in Languages Online - Part 2: Voice Chats • Why English Is Different Than Any Other Language • The Digital Language Collective • At the Cinema - Viva La Libertà • Languages in Peril - The Tribes of the Tamil-Kannada • Words in Your Mouth - Rice • Where Are You? • Book Look
Letter From The Editor - Thirteen • Chatting in Languages Online - Part 1: Text Chats • Why Do People Learn Languages? • The Question Of Practice - An International Language Is Possible • At the Cinema - Chinese Puzzle • Celebrations - Fastelavn • Words in Your Mouth - Cheese • Where Are You? • Book Look
Letter From The Editor - Over Time • Which Language Is...? • The Ultimate Fate of Language Learning • 5 Funny Words In Afrikaans From My Perspective • At the Cinema - Everybody's Famous! • Word on the Streets - Why Writers are Important • Words in Your Mouth - Milk • Where Are You? • Book Look
Letter From The Editor - World Ambassadors • Coming Home to Faroese - The Why and How of Learning a Small Language • Danish and Faroese: A Biography • At the Cinema - Ludo • Basic Guide to Faroese • Celebrations - The Faroese Festival Summer • Revisted - The Faroe Islands • Word on the Streets - Famous Faroe Islanders • Where Are You? • The Grind: Why the Faroese Hunt Whales • The Legend of the Scottish Princess • Faroese Ballads - Nornagest Ríma and Ormurin Langi
Letter From The Editor - Expansion • Religion in Culture • Languages in Peril - Decline of the Gallo-Italics • Language Learning and Translation • Word on the Streets - Italian Greats • Book Look • At the Cinema - Xingu • Celebrations - Hangul Day • Where Are You? • Words in Your Mouth - Bread
Letter From The Editor - Tracing Words • Constructed Languages - Making It All Up • Language Conflicts - Flemish vs. Walloon • Rohonc Codex - Hungarian Enigma • At the Cinema - Il Comandante e la Cicogna - Garibaldi's Lovers • Where Are You? • Words in Your Mouth - Sausage • Book Look • GlobTech - Using Locale
Letter From The Editor - Globalization • Speaking with Aliens • Celebrations - Esala Perahera - The Festival of the Tooth • Language Conflicts - Bokmål vs. Nynorsk • At the Cinema - Pane e Tulipani - Bread and Tulips • Revisited - Words Which Have Changed Their Meaning • Languages in Peril - Keeping Up With The Kartvelians • Where Are You? • Sections - Reviews • Word on the Streets - Indonesian Innovators • GlobTech - Google Translate Section
Letter From The Editor - The Highlander Condition • When Languages Meet • At the Cinema - Mal Día Para Pescar - Bad Day to Go Fishing • Celebrations - Tanabata - The Star Festival • Languages in Peril - The Romanian Relatives • Revisited - Words Made By Great Writers • Where Are You? • Language Learning Methods - Immersion • Sections - Links
Letter From The Editor - Price of Fame • Liber Linteus - Mummified Language • Pencak Silat • At the Cinema - Bombay • Celebrations - Inti Raymi - Festival of the Sun • Cracking the Code • Languages in Peril - The Chibchan Family • Revisited - Words From The Names Of Animals • Word on the Streets - Great German Authors • Where Are You? • Language Learning Methods - Internet • Sections - Neighborhood
Letter From The Editor - Why Polynesian? • Rongorongo - Island Chants • Otto Dempwolff - Islands of Language • At the Cinema - Whale Rider • Celebrations - Pasifika Festival • Special Feature - Avoiuli • Languages in Peril - The Island Invasion • Revisited - Legends of Maui - Maui's Home • Word on the Streets - Malay Masters • Where Are You? • Revisited - Legends of Maui - Maui Snaring the Sun
Letter From The Editor - Linguist or Polyglot • The Phaistos Disc - Puzzle of Crete • Otto Jespersen - Progress of Language • At the Cinema - Kukushka - The Cuckoo • Celebrations - Carnival • Languages in Peril - The Salish Tragedy • Word on the Streets - Kannada Writers • Where Are You? • Revisited - Stories In The Names Of Places • New Souls • Language Learning Methods - Software • Sections - Parleremo YouTube
Letter From The Editor - Freaking Out • The Voynich Script - Cryptic Codex • Benjamin Whorf - Relativity of Language • At the Cinema - Lost in Translation • Languages in Peril - The Polish Connection • Word on the Streets - Romanian Poets • Where Are You? • Celebrations - Holi • A Language Dream • Revisited - Words From National Character • Language Learning Methods - Classes • Sections - Language Exchange
Letter From The Editor - Truth in Advertising • Linear A & Linear B - Lost Minoan • Edward Sapir - Patterns of Language • At the Cinema - Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner • Word on the Streets - Norwegian Notables • Where Are You? • Celebrations - Valentine's Day • Languages in Peril - The Rhaeto-Romance Trio • Revisited - Proverbs • Linguistics Love Song • Language Learning Methods - Books • Sections - Recordings
Letter From The Editor - A New Parrot Time • The Rosetta Stone - Triple Cypher • Ferdinand de Saussure - Signs of Language • At the Cinema - L'auberge Espagnole • Languages in Peril - The Finno-Ugrics • Word on the Streets - The Russian Zone • Where Are You? • Celebrations - Day of the Dead • Revisited - Slang • We Are The Linguists • Language Learning Methods - Audio • Sections - Journals
Subscribe to Parrot Time!