Inca Culture

The Inca culture is part myth and part Peruvian history. Without any written records, the Inca culture becomes almost like a legend.

Here’s a people that existed for a three hundred year span and ruled almost all of South America for about one hundred years.

An Empire as powerful the Incas should have left an indelible mark in history, but in this case we’re left with somewhat of an incomplete puzzle.

The question is how do you nail down the culture that’s part Roman Empire and part City of Atlantis? When it comes to the Inca it can get a little difficult to separate fact from speculation but the indisputable truth is that it had a dramatic impact on present day Peru

The main reason the Inca are so mysterious is that they didn’t leave any written records of their history for modern historians to examine. In addition, the Spartan nature of Inca art reveals little about the culture beyond their preference for functionality over aesthetics.

The History

While the Inca had no written language, they did have an oral tradition that kept their history alive by passing down from generation to generation. These verbal historians taught each new generation of Inca about the gods, the emperors, and other facets of Inca lore.

Much of the lore passed down from the historians had to do with the creation of the Inca and the gods. The sun was one of the most important aspects of their culture. In fact, the Inca believed that their emperors where descended from the Sun god Inti. The lineage began when the first Inca emperor, Manco Capac was born from Inti on an island in Lake Titicaca.

The verbal history of the Inca tells us that 11 more rulers would follow before the Inca were finally conquered by the Spanish.

Society and Politics in Inca Culture

History wasn’t the only area that Inca culture relied on their people for information. Inca society also lacked a formal mathematical system.

Instead, it relied on colored strings with knots tied into them to keep records of livestock and other business. However these strings, or quipus, were not self explanatory.

They required a “rememberer” to understand what the strings meant and while these quipu still exist today, their meaning died with the “rememberers.”

Political ties were also important to the Inca. In fact, the political realm is where we see the most ornate form of Inca art: the tapestries. These colorful woven cloths were given to solidify contracts between the capital of Cusco and the governing powers of outlying territories. These ties were vital in keeping the vast Inca Empire united.

The information we have about Inca culture comes from a mixture of archaeological information and verbal stories that survived through the centuries. Sites such as Machu Picchu have added considerably to what we know about the Inca, however much of their culture still remains a mystery to the modern world. While the Roman Empire left their history in detailed records in buildings, the Inca Empire left theirs in the stories of their descendants resulting in a somewhat fractured and mystical picture of their culture.

Related Info

Inca Art
Most of the Inca art was melted down by the Spanish to satisfy their lust for gold and silver. Much about the Inca and their culture is surrounded in mystery and their art is no different.

Inca Architecture
The Inca were masterful architects and stone masons. Inca Architecture has withstood centuries of abuse and has come out largely intact.

Inca Culture
When it comes to the Inca it can get a little difficult to separate fact from speculation but the indisputable truth is that Inca culture had a dramatic impact on present day Peru.

Inca Religion
The Incas did leave an oral record of their beliefs that has been passed down from generation to generation through the centuries.

Inca Music
Inca Music is the result of centuries of ethnic and cultural mix. The wind and percussion instruments are the best known of Inca Music. PanPipes, Flutes and the Kena are just some examples of it.

Inca Gods
The Inca were polytheists, the sun was the most important aspect of life and there was a clear tendency to worship the stars and the moon.

Inca Artifacts
The Inca people were skilled craftsmen, they made jewelry, masks, pottery, tapestries, musical instruments, baskets, and other crafts. This artifacts have been found by archaeologists and tell us many things that we know about the Incas way of life.

Inca Masks
The Inca masks are a tradition in Peru that has been going on for centuries, it is part of the inca culture.

Inca Clothing
Inca men used to wear tunics which were knee length, grass shoes or leather sandals, headbands, headdresses, belts and bags.

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