the Csikós

Story

 

The Inca or The Quechuas

 

We tend to talk about the Inca’s who lived during the Inca Empire, but that’s actually not correct. In pre-Hispanic days Inca was just one person, the king. This unique man was worshipped by his people, who all spoke the same language: Quechua, which means man’s tongue. Therefore Quechuas is more accurate.

Inti Raymi


Inti Raymi (Quechua for ‘Inti festival’) is the most important Inca celebration. It coincides with the winter solstice and harvest time and takes place every year on June 24th. In the Andean Mythology the Quechuas were seen as descendants of the Sun, and therefore, they had to worship it each year with a celebration. The festivity was in order to thank the Sun for the harvest that was given or to ask for a better harvest during the next season.


Not one, but three stages 

 

Coricancha is the main temple of Cusco dedicated to the Sun, where it is said was the golden garden. Inti Raymi starts here.

 

From there the parade continues to the second location: Plaza de Armas, also known as the old Auqaypata or Plaza del Guerrero. This immense plaza is in the heart of Cusco.

 

The third and central part of Inti Raymi is performed at Saqsaywaman. This archaeological complex has an area of 3,000 hectares and is located North of Cusco and is controlled by the National Cultural Institute.


Saqsaywaman

 

Saqsaywaman is also known as Sacsayhuamán, Saksaq Waman or Saxahuaman. In Quechua it means literally: ‘place where the hawk is satiated’. The presence of these birds for sure has something got to do with the naming. It is one of the most impressive Inca constructions in Cuso, and at the same time one of the most mysterious ones on earth. The main wall of Sacsayhuaman for example is built in zigzag with giant stones up to 5 meters high and 2.5 meters wide – between 90 and 125 tons of weight! – and the south side is bounded by a polished wall approximately 400 meters long. When the Spanish conquerors arrived they could not explain themselves how Peruvian ‘Indians’ could have built such a greatness. Their religious fanaticism led them to believe that is was simply work of demons or people from another planet.

 

The play

 

In the last part of the festival a ceremony takes place where ancient rituals are acted out. During the Incan Empire there were four regions defined as ‘suyo’ in Quechua: Collasuyo (SE), Antisuyo (NE), Contisuyo (SW) and Chinchaysuyo (NW). Each region had its own emperor and during the ceremony each one reaffirms their allegiance to the realm and the sun god Inti. The four corners of these quarters meet at the center, in the sacred city of Cuzco as a symbolic connection between the Cosmos and Earth, and Sky and Earth.

 

The costumes

 

During Inti Raymi around 600 costumes are used. All the costumes are replicas, studied from the chronicles or from archeological discoveries. After each festival they are stored away for the following year and undergo minor alterations and touch ups . This  year for example, the Inca is wearing more shawls to make him more charismatic.

Each of the four regions have their own costumes. The Collasuyo wear black and very dark red colors. The Antisuyo use a lot of feathers from the jungle. The Chinchaysuyo use belts. And the Contisuyo wear coffee/brown, cream colors, that stands for the earth of the plantation.

 

Forbidden by the Spanish

 

During the first years of the conquest Inti Raymi was prohibited by the Spanish. According to them it was not in compliance with the catholic religion. However, small ceremonies took place without major consequences. Later, after a series of Inca rebellions they officially banned the celebration in 1572 along with many other Inca traditions.

 

Things change

 

The celebration used to last nine days and took place in the main plaza in the city of Cusco. Three days before the start of the celebrations the participants had to go through a purification period in which they had to fast. The only participants of the ceremony were the king, the nobility and the army. Nowadays, Inti Raymi is celebrated on one day, and it is open to everyone.

In the pre-Hispanic days they also sacrificed a llama during Inti Raymi. The High Priest had to open the chest of a black or white llama with a sharp ceremonial golden knife and pull out its heart, lungs and viscera. The Quechuas believed that while observing those elements, the High Priest could foretell the future. Later, the animal and its parts were completely burned. At that time there was a massive golden tower at Saqsaywaman that the Inca would climb to address to the people of the empire. The High Priest would bless the people, and the procession would return to Cusco.

the Csikós

Q&A

Q: Does everybody in Peru celebrate the festival?

A: The festival is based in Cusco and relates to the Quechua people, which is why many locals celebrate the festival. Sometimes, people will travel from other cities to come watch the festival as well.

Q: How many people participate during the parade?

A: Not including the audience there are about 750 participants. Including the audience there are thousands!

Q: How long does it take to make the costumes?

A: The pieces can take anywhere from 1 week to 2 months to make. The more detailed feather pieces take up the most time.

Q: What relationship did the Quechua have with nature?

A: Throughout history the Quechua have established a very strong relationship with nature. This was seen in their everyday life as well as their ancient stories. At one point it was said that those who were mythical often emerged from a river, mountain, or a bird.

Q: How did they build the Inca walls?

A: The walls are made of very large and heavy rectangular stones. The way in which the walls were built exactly, remains a mystery just like the pyramids.

Q:

A:

Q: When was the first Inti Raymi festival?

A: The festival has been celebrated annually since 1944!

Q: Is Inti Raymi celebrated in other countries?

A: Yes! Aside from Peru, Inti Raymi is celebrated in Bolivia, Argentina, and Ecuador!

Q: Who are some of the main characters in Inti Raymi?

A: Aside from the obvious Inca and Coya (King and Queen), there is the Willaq Uma (the Kings closest friend; often referred to as his brother), Sinchi (military general), and Tapuntay (the one who sacrifices the Llama and tells the future using it’s heart)

Q: How big was the Inca Empire?

A: The Empire expanded across 2 million square kilometers, extending into parts of present day Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.

Q: Is it safe to eat coca leaves?

A: Don’t freak out if somebody in Cusco is offering you some coca leaves. Yes, they contain 14 alkaloids, from which cocaine is the most popular and broadly used one. Nevertheless that doesn’t mean that chewing coca leaves will give you a high or dope feeling. To get cocaine out of coca leaves it needs a chemical process with elements such as tartic acid, pure clorhidric acid, ether, and anhydrous soda sulfate, in different determined temperatures.

Q:

A:

Quechua

Story

 

The Inca or The Quechuas

 

We tend to talk about the Inca’s who lived during the Inca Empire, but that’s actually not correct. In pre-Hispanic days Inca was just one person, the king. This unique man was worshipped by his people, who all spoke the same language: Quechua, which means man’s tongue. Therefore Quechuas is more accurate.

Inti Raymi


Inti Raymi (Quechua for ‘Inti festival’) is the most important Inca celebration. It coincides with the winter solstice and harvest time and takes place every year on June 24th. In the Andean Mythology the Quechuas were seen as descendants of the Sun, and therefore, they had to worship it each year with a celebration. The festivity was in order to thank the Sun for the harvest that was given or to ask for a better harvest during the next season.


Not one, but three stages 

 

Coricancha is the main temple of Cusco dedicated to the Sun, where it is said was the golden garden. Inti Raymi starts here.

 

From there the parade continues to the second location: Plaza de Armas, also known as the old Auqaypata or Plaza del Guerrero. This immense plaza is in the heart of Cusco.

 

The third and central part of Inti Raymi is performed at Saqsaywaman. This archaeological complex has an area of 3,000 hectares and is located North of Cusco and is controlled by the National Cultural Institute.


Saqsaywaman

 

Saqsaywaman is also known as Sacsayhuamán, Saksaq Waman or Saxahuaman. In Quechua it means literally: ‘place where the hawk is satiated’. The presence of these birds for sure has something got to do with the naming. It is one of the most impressive Inca constructions in Cuso, and at the same time one of the most mysterious ones on earth. The main wall of Sacsayhuaman for example is built in zigzag with giant stones up to 5 meters high and 2.5 meters wide – between 90 and 125 tons of weight! – and the south side is bounded by a polished wall approximately 400 meters long. When the Spanish conquerors arrived they could not explain themselves how Peruvian ‘Indians’ could have built such a greatness. Their religious fanaticism led them to believe that is was simply work of demons or people from another planet.

 

The play

 

In the last part of the festival a ceremony takes place where ancient rituals are acted out. During the Incan Empire there were four regions defined as ‘suyo’ in Quechua: Collasuyo (SE), Antisuyo (NE), Contisuyo (SW) and Chinchaysuyo (NW). Each region had its own emperor and during the ceremony each one reaffirms their allegiance to the realm and the sun god Inti. The four corners of these quarters meet at the center, in the sacred city of Cuzco as a symbolic connection between the Cosmos and Earth, and Sky and Earth.

 

The costumes

 

During Inti Raymi around 600 costumes are used. All the costumes are replicas, studied from the chronicles or from archeological discoveries. After each festival they are stored away for the following year and undergo minor alterations and touch ups . This  year for example, the Inca is wearing more shawls to make him more charismatic.

Each of the four regions have their own costumes. The Collasuyo wear black and very dark red colors. The Antisuyo use a lot of feathers from the jungle. The Chinchaysuyo use belts. And the Contisuyo wear coffee/brown, cream colors, that stands for the earth of the plantation.

 

Forbidden by the Spanish

 

During the first years of the conquest Inti Raymi was prohibited by the Spanish. According to them it was not in compliance with the catholic religion. However, small ceremonies took place without major consequences. Later, after a series of Inca rebellions they officially banned the celebration in 1572 along with many other Inca traditions.

 

Things change

 

The celebration used to last nine days and took place in the main plaza in the city of Cusco. Three days before the start of the celebrations the participants had to go through a purification period in which they had to fast. The only participants of the ceremony were the king, the nobility and the army. Nowadays, Inti Raymi is celebrated on one day, and it is open to everyone.

In the pre-Hispanic days they also sacrificed a llama during Inti Raymi. The High Priest had to open the chest of a black or white llama with a sharp ceremonial golden knife and pull out its heart, lungs and viscera. The Quechuas believed that while observing those elements, the High Priest could foretell the future. Later, the animal and its parts were completely burned. At that time there was a massive golden tower at Saqsaywaman that the Inca would climb to address to the people of the empire. The High Priest would bless the people, and the procession would return to Cusco.

Does everybody in Peru celebrate the festival?

How many people participate during the parade?

How long does it take to make the costumes?

What relationship did the Quechua have with nature?

How did they build the Inca walls?

When was the first Inti Raymi festival?

Is Inti Raymi celebrated in other countries?

Who are some of the main characters in Inti Raymi?

How big was the Inca Empire?

Is it safe to eat coca leaves?

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Subscribe to the mailing list to keep up with updates from the Jimmy Nelson Foundation. And don’t worry... we don’t like spam either