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Society for Comparative Studies in Society and History

Imperial Dilemmas, the Politics of Kinship, and Inca Reconstructions of History


Author(s): Irene Silverblatt
Source: Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Jan., 1988), pp. 83-102
Published by: Cambridge University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/179023
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Imperial Dilemmas, the Politics of


Kinship, and Inca Reconstructionsof
History
IRENE

SILVERBLATT

College of Charleston
Yet all historians, whatever else their objectives, are engaged in this process [the
invention of tradition] in as much as they contribute, consciously or not, to the
creation, dismantling and restructuring of images of the past which belong not only to
the world of specialist investigation but to the public sphere of man as political being.
--Eric Hobsbawn, 19841
And this was the method they had so as not to forget what happened in the kingdom. ... If the late Inca had been so successful that he left behind laudable fame and
deserved to live forever in their memory because of his bravery and good government,
they would send for the great quipu camayoc, who kept the accounts and could tell the
things that had taken place in the kingdom . . . and if any of the kings turned out to be
a coward, given to vices, and a braggart without having expanded the empire's
dominion, they would order that little or no memory of him be kept ....
Pedro de Cieza de Le6n, 15532
The laws and ordinances of this kingdom of Peru are dispositions that originally existed
since ancient [pre-Inca] times . . . , and afterwards these were amplified by the Incas so
they could . . . celebrate their festivals, . . . perform other ceremonies, . . . choose
I am extremely fortunateto have discussed issues of hegemony, consciousness, and class transformationswith Nan E. Woodruff, who broughtSouthernand Europeanperspectivesto my own
Peru-centeredunderstandings.Julie Saville, a scholar of emancipationand reconstructionin the
United States, made me aware of the fine points of cultural resistance and taught me not to
underestimateits strengths.Jane Collier also taughtme much aboutchiefdoms and their internal
tensions. And thanks to the anonymous reviewer for interestingand helpful suggestions. This
article was presentedin various incarnationsat several professionalgatherings. I am gratefulto
have benefited from the insights and criticisms of co-panel membersand audience. "Contradictions in Inca Ideologies" was presented at the Sixteenth Annual Meeting of the Canadian
Ethnology Society (Montreal, 1984); "Politics of Reproductionand Inca Expansion" was presented at the Annual Meeting of the AmericanEthnologicalSociety (WrightsvilleBeach, 1986);
and "Politics of Reproduction and the Inca Constructionof History" was presented at the
Symposiumon Andean and Lowland South AmericanCosmologies, organizedby the University
of Chicago (Chicago, 1986). Generous grants from the Doherty Foundation, Wenner Gren
Foundation,and Organizationof AmericanStates allowed me to conductresearchon the Incas in
Peru from June 1975 to December 1978. I will always be gratefulto them for affordingme that
special opportunity.
1 Eric Hobsbawm, "Introduction:InventingTraditions," in The Inventionof Tradition, Eric
Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds. (Cambridge, 1984), 13.
2 Pedro de Cieza de Le6n, Del Senorio de los Incas [1553] (Madrid, 1880), 35-37.
0010-4175/88/1414-4144

$5.00 ? 1988 Society for ComparativeStudy of Society and History


83

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84

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SILVERBLATT

virgins . . . and institute . . . other traditions and rites . . . which they, the Incas,
observed and then made [others] follow.
--- Felipe Guaman Poma de
Ayala, 16133
STATE

MAKING'S

RECONSTRUCTION

DILEMMAS

AND

THE HISTORICAL

OF KINSHIP

When the extirpatorsof idolatrycombed the Peruviancountrysidefor heretical practicesin the mid-seventeenthcentury,they recordedbeliefs in ancestral
minglings between local gods and Cusquefiangoddesses and in provincial
adorations of prized Inca deities. Searching out and destroying Andean im-

ages over one hundredyears afterthey began the conquestof the Inca empire,
the Spanish were still engaged in a battle to win the natives' hearts, minds,
and souls. What these priests unearthedin their inquisitionliketrials, however, is evidence of a kindredstruggle to shape reason, will, and sentimentonly this time Inca state making was at issue.

Like the Spanish, the Incas too were locked in a contest over souls. As the
Incas strove to dominatethe Andes, to transformkin-structuredcommunities4
into tribute-bearingenclaves, they were also strugglingto transfigurethese
communities' visions and expectations of living. Battles were fought over
evaluations of Cusco's rule, over the superiorityof Cusco's gods and goddesses, over the universality of Inca interests, over the sanctity of Cusco's
lords, over the moral preeminence of the Inca way.5 Inca empire building
3 Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala, La nueva cr6nica y buen gobierno [1613?], Luis Bustfos
Galvez, trans. [into modem Spanish] (Lima, 1956-1966), I, 129.
4 At the time of the Inca
conquestcommunitiesthatdottedthe Andeanlandscapedemonstrated
considerable diversity in their socio-political organization. Kinship relations seemed to have
organized the majority, including groups where stratificationwas emerging. (Of course, state
building itself could have precipitatedthe emergenceof stratification.)Nevertheless, at the time
of conquest other state-level systems existed in the Andes, like the Chimu on the NorthCoast of
Peru and perhapsthe Lupakaon the shores of Lake Titicaca. For descriptionsand analyses of
some of the different cultures that inhabitedthe Andes see Pierre Duviols, "Huari y Llacuaz:
Agricultoresy pastores. Un dualismo pre-hispanicode oposici6n y complementaridad,"Revista
del Museo Nacional, 39 (1973), 153-93; Lorenzo Huertas, "La religi6n de una sociedad rural
andina:Cajatamboen el siglo XVII" (B.A. thesis, UniversidadNacional Mayorde San Marcos,
Lima, 1969); Danielle Lavallee, "Estructuray organizaci6ndel habitaten los Andes centrales
duranteel perfodo IntermedioTardio," Revista del Museo Nacional, 39 (1973), 91-116; John
Victor Murra, "Una apreci6netnolo6gicade la visita," in G. Diez de San Miguel, Visita hecha a
la provincia de Chucuito . . . en el anio 1567 (Lima, 1964), 421-44; idem, "La visita de los
Chupachucomo fuente etnolo6gica,"in I. Ortiz de Zuniiga,Visita de la provincia de Le6n de
Hudnuco (Huanuco, 1967), 383-406; idem, "An Aymara Kingdom in 1567," Ethnohistory,
14:1 (1968), 115-51; John H. Rowe, "The Kingdom of Chimor," Acta Americana, 6:1-2
(1948), 26-59; MariaRostworowskide Diez Canseco, Etnia y sociedad: Ensayos sobre la costa
central prehispdnica (Lima, 1977); idem, Senioresindigenas de Lima y Canta (Lima, 1978);
FrankSalomon, Los senores etnicos de Quito en la epoca de los Incas (Otavalo, 1980); Irene
Silverblattand John Earls, "Apuntes sobre unas unidadespolitico-econ6micasprecolombinasde
Victor Fajardo," Revista del Archivo Hist6rico de Ayacucho, 1 (1977), 16-21.
5 During the last fifteen years, studentsof Western state building have been scrutinizingthe
intricaciesof culturalpracticeand class formationthatshapedthe roadsto capitalistdevelopment.
Nourishedby Gramsci, they have repudiatedconcepts of culturethateitherreduceit to a ghost of

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KINSHIP,

AND

HISTORY

85

swarmed with culturalpolitics. Thus battles over bodies also became battles
over histories. And since struggles in the Andes had kinship at theircore, it is
not surprisingthat struggles over histories were played out in clashes over
descent.
The Incas spoke the language of kin-kin terms, kin idioms, and kin
expectations-in the complex processes of creatingthe largestempireknown
in the Andes before the coming of the Spanish.6 One prospect of their kinphrased cultural acrobatics was to refashion Andean histories: Lords would
project a sharedpast with the tribute-bearingenclaves undertheir dominion.
The Incas would attempt to accomplish such historical reconstructionsby
capturingtheir subordinates'ideologies of descent, the ideologies that voiced
social time and gave humansignificance to the past. Selecting and reworking
those histories-along with the widespreadcustom of deifying ancestorsCusco was intent on transformingthe familiarinto a flattering,novel, imperial fantasy in which kings became kin of those they ruled.7
significant materialrelationsor that deny the ways in which power drenchesthe process of living
in a class-fracturedworld. Cf. E. P. Thompson, "Eighteenth-CenturyEnglish Society: Class
Struggle without Class?," Social History 3:1 (1978), 133-65; The Inventionof Tradition, Eric
Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, ed.; Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature (Oxford,
1978), 75-144; Eugene D. Genovese, Roll JordanRoll: The Worldthe Slaves Made (New York,
1974); ElizabethFox-Genovese and Eugene D. Genovese, "The Political Crisis of Social History: A MarxianPerspective," Journal of Social History 10:2 (1976), 205-20; T. J. JacksonLears,
"The Concept of Cultural Hegemony: Problems and Possibilities," The American Historical
Review, 90:3 (1985), 567-93; Michael T. Taussig, The Devil and CommodityFetishism in South
America (Chapel Hill, 1980); idem, "Folk Healing and the Structureof Conquest in the Southwest ColombianAndes," Journal of Latin AmericanLore, 6:2 (1980), 217-78; idem, "Culture
of Terror-Space of Death. Roger Casement's Putumayo Report and the Explanationof Torture," ComparativeStudies in Society and History, 26:3 (1984), 467-97. While Gramsci primarily queriedthe complexities of acquiescence and resistanceto class rule in Westernnations,
his insights into the various problems, possibilities, and roads to nation-state making make
interestingreading in light of the culturalpolitics that shaped Inca empire building.
6 Cf. John Victor Murra,La organizaci6n economica del estado Inca
(Mexico, 1978), 17697; Martinde Murua,Historia del origen y geneologia real de los Incas [1590] (Madrid, 1946),
182.
7 This paper presents
only one culturaldimension entailed in the process of Inca state formation. For other examples of pan-Andeaninstitutionsand movements promotedby the Incas, the
following sources are useful. On the setting up of schools for the sons of provincialchiefs, in
which the Inca way was instilled to futuregenerationsof local leaders, see "El Inca" Garcilaso
de la Vega, Comentariosreales de los Incas [1609] (Lima, 1959), I, 49-50, 236-39; and Pedro
de Cieza de Le6n, La cr6nica del Peru [1553] (Lima, 1984), 215. On the diffusion of Quechuaas
a pan-Andeanlanguage, see Cieza, Del senioriode los Incas, 59-63; Crist6balAlbornoz, "Instrucci6nparadescubrirtodas las guacas del Peru y sus camayos y haciendas" [1580?], Journal
de la Socidte des Americanistes, 56:1 (1967), 17. On the apprenticeshipof young women from
the provinces to Inca noblewomen, see Bernabe Cobo, Historia del Nuevo Mundo [1653]
(Madrid, 1964), II, 141; Guaman Poma, La nueva cr6nica y buen gobierno, I, 94; Murua,
Historia del origen y geneologia real de los Incas, 81, 85, 93, 181. Elaboratestate rituals and
pageants are discussed by Juande Polo de Ondegardo, "Relaci6n de los fundamentosacercadel
notable dafnoque resulta de no guardara los indios sus fueros . . ." [1571], in Coleccion de
libros y documentosreferentesa la historia del Peru, HoracioUrteagaand Carlos Romero, eds.
1st ser., no. 3 (Lima, 1917), 96; Cobo, Historia del Nuevo Mundo, II, 110.
Because of the character of Inca social formation and its concomitant means of cultural

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Contending with conquered communities over history's image, the Incas


were engaging a culturalbattle of existence. Cusco was trappedin the contrariesspawnedby a mode of dominationdependenton its antithesis,kinship,
for survival. While the Incas used the kin organizationof the peoples they
conquered as the basis for revenue gathering, the ethos of kinship was a
constantthreatto their dominance.The Incas countedon kin ties and expectations to buttresspeasantproduction,and in doing so they reinforcedkinship's
communitarianethic. Further,they froze the distinctivenessof what had been
culturallyautonomousgroups into administrativeunits fit for imperialbureaucracy. And while transformedcommunities witnessed their cultural sovereignty hollowed by imperial demands, these same exigencies of state enshrined glimmering memories of what autonomyhad been.8
The Incas took advantageof the familiarlanguageof kinshipin theirdesign
to mastertheir subordinates'historicaland ancestralsensibilities. The imperial use of kinship might have been beguiling, but it was also desperate. It
harboredan impossible ambition:namely, to create a totalizing, false-kinship
that could underminethe threatconstantlyposed by autonomouskin unitsand the memories of them. The cultural practice of state making was an
attemptat neutralizingthe contradictionsbred by Cusco's own acts of domiproduction,we would never expect to find in the Andes the depthof culturalhegemony found in
modernstates. Although limited, Cusco's attemptsto diffuse an Inca culturewere, nevertheless,
partof the process of buildingan Andeanempire, and should be analyzedas such. If not, we fall
into the trap of viewing the past as a reified product, which ignores the processes and potentialities that girth socioculturalreproduction.Cusco's essays-and failures-at institutingsome
sort of hegemony presentfascinatingwindows into the historicallyspecific processes that generate class and state formation. For differentperspectivesthan the one presentedhere see John H.
Rowe, "Inca Policies and InstitutionsRelatingto the CulturalUnificationof the Empire," In The
Inca and Aztec States, 1400-1800: Anthropologyand History, George A. Collier, Renato I.
Rosaldo, and John T. Wirth, eds. (New York, 1982), 93-118; and Thomas C. Patterson,
"Ideology, Class Formation,and Resistance in the Inca State," Critique of Anthropology,6:1
(1986), 75-85.
8 See ChristineWardGailey's articlesfor compelling theoreticalelaborationsof the kin-based
contradictionswith which precapitaliststate formationhad to contend. Also see her studiesof the
ethnocide inherentin state formation,which reifies culturallyautonomousgroupsas units in state
bureaucracy:"Our History is Writtenin our Mats: State Formationand the Status of Women in
Tonga" (Ph.D. diss., New School for Social Research, 1981); "Categories without Culture:
Structuralism,Ethnohistory, and Ethnocide," Dialectical Anthropology, 8:3 (1983), 241-50;
"The Kindnessof Strangers:Transformationsof Kinshipin Pre-CapitalistClass and StateFormation" (paperpresentedat Annual Meeting of the CanadianEthnology Society, Hamilton, 1983);
"The State of the State in Anthropology," Dialectical Anthropology, 9:1-4 (1985), 65-90.
Other contributionsto the understandingof the state-makingprocess that emphasize kin/state
contradictionsinclude the granddaddiesof them all, FrederickEngels, The Origin of the Family,
Private Property and the State, Eleanor Leacock, ed. (New York, 1972), and Karl Marx, PreCapitalist Economic Formations, E. Hobsbawm, ed. (New York, 1964); as well as Stanley
Diamond, "Dahomey: A Proto-Statein West Africa" (Ph.D. diss., ColumbiaUniversity, 1951);
Lawrence Krader,The Formation of the State (Englewood Cliffs, 1968); The Early State, H. J.
M. Claessen and P. Skalnik, eds. (The Hague, 1979); The Studyof the State, H. J. M. Claessen
and P. Skalnik, eds. (The Hague, 1981); H. J. M. Claessen, "The InternalDynamicsof the Early
State," CurrentAnthropology, 25:4 (1984), 365-80.

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nation. This paperprobes the Empire'sensuing contests over meaningsof the


past and the rightful history of kin.9
ON IMPERIAL

POLITICAL

THEOLOGY

The Incas' experience as rulersof an empire was brief. One hundredyears is


not long to coordinateor consolidate structuresof class.10 This is not much
time for an expanding elite to create the institutions that coerce some to
produce goods so that others have the luxury not to. While the Incas apparently were able to convince some Andean groups of the advantageof joining
Cusco without struggle (making offers that could not be refused?), rebellion
and internecineturmoilpoint to brittleness.1 As other weak rulershave done
9 There is a large and fascinating debate on Inca history revolving aroundthe natureof Inca
dynastic structures.R. T. Zuidemahas taken the lead in arguingfor a structuralinterpretationof
chronicleraccounts of Inca succession. See in particularR. Tom Zuidema,The Ceque Systemof
Cusco: The Social Organization of the Empire of the Inca (Leiden, 1964); and "Myth and
History in Ancient Peru," in The Logic of Culture,I. Rossi, ed. (South Hadley, 1982), 150-75.
Pierre Duviols supportsZuidema's claims and has arguedagainst those who would uncritically
accept the chroniclers' heavily Europeanizedversion of Inca dynastic succession. See Pierre
Duviols, "La dinastiade los Incas:Monarquiao diarquia?Argumentosheuristicosa favorde una
tesis estructuralista,"Journal de la Societe des Americanistes,66 (1979), 67-73. Also see Ake
Wedin, El concepto de lo incaico y las fuentes (Upsala, 1966) for a critique of standardInca
chronologies; and Nathan Wachtel, Los Vencidos. Los indios del Peru frente a la conquista
espanola (1530-1570) (Madrid, 1976).
This paper will not address the above debate, except to add that Inca historical reconstructions-regardless of their constraintby certain structuraldefinitions-should not be confused
with the history-makingprocesses that shapedthe Andes. The Incas were not adverseto composing heroic history themselves, in which they made kings into heroes and vice versa. Cf. Irene
Silverblatt, Moon, Sun, and Witches: Gender Ideologies and Class in Inca and Colonial Peru
(Princeton, 1987).
10 Cf. John H. Rowe, "Absolute Chronology in the Inca Area," AmericanAntiquity, 10:3
(1945), 265-84, for a classic statement of Inca chronology. I should note that one Spanish
commentatoron Inca life put their origins at over 1,000 years before the Spanish conquest:
Fernandode Montesinos, "Memorias antiguashistorialesy politicas del Peru" [1644], Revista
del Museo e Instituto Arqueol6qico de la UniversidadNacional del Cuzco, 16-17 (1957), a
perspectiveof longue duree secondedby the mestizo chronicler,GuamanPoma, who had his own
historical axes to grind. Cf. Felipe GuamanPoma de Ayala, El Primer Nueva Cor6nica i Buen
Gobierno [1613] (Mexico, 1980), 68; and Pierre Duviols' commentary, "Periodizaciony polftica: La historia del Peru segun Guaman Poma de Ayala," Bulletin de l'Institut Francais
d'Etudes Andines, 9:3-4 (1980), 1-18.
11 For examples of battle-free acquiescence, to Inca rule, cf. Cobo, Historia del Nuevo
Mundo, II, 68, 87; Albornoz, "Instrucci6nparadescubrirtodas las guacas . . . ," 17, 23; Cieza,
Del Senorio de los Incas, 44-46, 59-63. Examples of resistance and rebellion seem more
numerous:cf. Cieza, La cr6nica del Peru, 111-16; Crist6balde Mena, "La conquistadel Periu,
llamadala Nueva Castilla" [1534], in Biblioteca Peruana, 1st ser., Vol. I (Lima, 1968), 133-17
passim; Diego de Trujillo, "Relaci6n del descubrimientodel reyno del Peru" [1590], in Biblioteca peruana, 1st ser., Vol. II (Lima, 1968), 9-104 passim; and JohnV. Murra, "La guerreet
les rebellions dans l'expansion de l'etat Inka," Annales: Economies, Societes, Civilisations,
33:5-6 (1978), 927-35. While these chroniclerspresentconvincing evidence of imperialfragility, we should not forget that Europeanor Europeanizedinterpretationsof Inca historyemphasize
the heroic acts-which are often militaryacts-of kings. On top of this, Inca myths used kingly
legends as markersfor structuralreconstructionsof history.

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before and since, the Incas tried to shore up their fragility with claims of
holiness.
Using a not uncommon ideological ruse to vindicate, palliate, and muffle
power's compulsions, the Incas claimed to be directly descended from the
most sacred beings of their Andean skies, the Sun and Moon. Cusquefians
proclaimed the Moon to be the goddess of all women, while the Sun-the
emblem of the conqueringEmpire-held sway as the progenitorof all mankind. Although worshipedby many Andean peoples, the Sun and Moon had
special ties to Cusco. They were the Incas' divine representatives,and as the
Incas subduedthe Andes so did theirgods appearincreasinglyto dominatethe
heavens. 12

Cusco's assessment of Andean social and cosmological orderwas presented in the interior layout of its premier Temple of the Sun, Coricancha. A
native commentatorof Inca history, Pachacuti Yamqui, has described this
design as parallelhierarchiesof gender, which rankedgods and categories of
humans in the language of descent. The androgynousdivinity, Viracocha,
occupied the summit. S/he gave rise to four parallelgenerationsof male and
female descendants. Concentratingon the masculine generationalhierarchy,
we find the Sun to be Viracocha's first descendant, followed by the planet
Venus in its morning apparition, then Lord Earth, and finally man. The
correspondingfemale sequence is Moon, Venus of the Evening, MotherSea,
and Woman.13
Inside Coricancha,the rulersof the Andes presentedtheir formalizedview
of universal order, a view that was pregnantwith politics. The Inca was the
son of the Sun, a position of obvious advantage.And it goes without saying
that Cusco's victories could be tracedto solar paternity,or so the Inca would
have defeated peoples believe.14
12 Cieza, Del Serorio de los Incas, 118-23; Cobo, Historia del Nuevo Mundo, 70; Guaman
Poma, La nueva cronica y buen gobierno, I, 303; Garcilaso,Comentariosreales del los Incas, II,
99-106; Crist6bal de Molina, "Relaci6n de las fabulas y ritos de los Incas" [1573], in Los
pequefios grandes libros de historia americana, F. Loayza, ed., 1st ser., Vol. IV (Lima, 1943),
34; Murua,Historia del origen y geneologia real de los Incas, 71; Juande Polo de Ondegardo,
"Errores y supersticiones. . ." [1554], in Coleccion de libros y documentos referentes a la
historia del Peru, H. Urteagaand C. Romero, ed., 1st ser., no. 3 (Lima, 1916), 3; Bias Valera,
"Relaci6n de las costumbresantiguas de los naturalesdel Pinr" [1590], in Tres relaciones de
antiguedadesperuanas, M. Jimenez de la Espada, ed. (Asunci6n, 1950), 136.
13 Joan de Santa Cruz PachacutiYamqui, "Relaci6n de antigiiedadesdeste reyno del Peru"
[1613], in Tres relaciones de antigiedades peruanas, M. Jim6nezde la Espada, ed. (Asunci6n,
1950), 226. For pioneeringexplicationsof the diagramsee R. Tom Zuidemaand Ulpiano Quispe,
"A Visit to God: A Religious Experience in the PeruvianCommunityof Choque Huarcaya,"
BijdragenTot de Taal-, Land-en Volkenkunde,124 (1968), 22-39; and R. Tom Zuidema, "Inca
Kinship," in AndeanKinshipand Marriage, R. Bolton and E. Mayer, eds. (Washington,D.C.,
1977), 240-81. Also see John Earls and Irene Silverblatt, "La realidad fisica y social en la
cosmologia andina," Proceedings of the XLI International Congress of Americanists (1976,
Paris), IV, 299-335.
14 Cobo, Historia del Nuevo Mundo, II, 70, 146, 156; Cieza, La crdnica del Peri, 119;
GuamanPoma, El primer nueva coronica i buen gobierno, I, 68, 99.

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Just as the Incas' powers were intertwinedwith sacred privilege, so the


entire hierarchyover which they ruled was enmeshed in cosmological sanction. Inca theology reckonedwith the new middlemenin imperialpolitics, the
headmen of kin-based communities, who now served as brokersto Cusco.15
Local chiefs were intermediariesin Inca governmentand, accordingly, their
political role was enshrinedin official ideology. Following Coricancha'sdesign, the Inca, as the Sun's son, shared Venus's rank; while local chiefs,
having absorbed Cusco lore, claimed Venus as their divine fathers.16Thus
imperialdescent ideologies contendedthatthe Inca was the "father" of local
chiefs; local chiefs, in correspondingInca terms, sharedthe divinity of Lord
Earth, Venus's son. Continuingwith Inca arrangementsof the universe, local
headmen, immortalized with Lord Earth, became the "fathers" of commoners. Allegations of godlikeness would not be foreign to Andeankinsmen,
many of whom alreadyheld beliefs in the divine ancestryof theirleaders. The
imperial trick was to broadenthis familiarityinto the acceptanceof a divine
Inca order and thus merge Inca and peasantbeliefs to create a common sense
of time and ancestralhistory.17
The Incas' restructuringof genealogical history legitimized their dominance through a deceptive model of social hierarchy, for the equivalencies
that it flaunted were false. The authorityof local leaders vis-a-vis their kinbased communities was not comparableto the power that the Incas could
wield over any conqueredpeoples (headmenincluded). Expressingpolitics in
terms of genealogies belittled the tremendouslydifferent experience of Andeans living in communities as opposed to those who belonged to tributebearing enclaves. It trivialized the difference between relations of class and
kin.
Pachacuti Yamqui has presented us with the Inca view from the top: a
vision that entailed a powerfuldenial of its underminingconflicts. Yet for this
vision to have force it had to be made flesh. In what contexts was it realized?
What were its institutional expressions? How did this ideology infuse the
social practices of empire?
15 Cieza, La cr6nica del Peru, 114; Ifiigo Ortiz de Zifiiga, Visita de la provincia de Le6n de
Hucinuco [1562], Vol. I (Huanuco, 1967), passim; idem, Visita de la provincia de Le6n de
Hudnuco [1562], Vol. II (Huanuco, 1972), passim; Garci Diez de San Miguel, Visita hecha a la
provincia de Chucuito . . . en el ano 1567, passim; Karen Spalding, "Indian Rural Society in
Colonial Peru:The Example of Huarochiri"(Ph.D. diss., University of California, 1967), 178;
Rodrigo Hernndez Principe, "Mitologia andina" [1621], Inca, 1:1 (1923), 24-68.
16 Archivo Arzobispal de Lima (cited hereafteras AAL): Leg. 6, Exp. XI, f. 14.
17 See HernandezPrincipe, "Mitologia andina," 50-63. The relationshipbetween Incas and
curacaswas an interestingand paradoxicalone. Even thoughInca ideology legitimizedcuracasin
imperialhierarchies,the Incas also viewed themselves as "protectorsof the people" against the
abuses of local elites. So while legitimizing curacas, the Incas also tried to set them againstboth
their commonerkinsmen and the Cusco establishment.Partof Inca propagandato the peasantry
was based on an elaborationof this "protector" image.

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TRADITION

The Incas, as each one succeeded the other, went about inventing many kinds of
shrines and divinities, . . . and in general, the Inca ordered[everyone living] in the
territoryunder his rule to adore them.18

Presaging the eminent historian Eric Hobsbawm by four hundredyears,


Father Albornoz noted how inventing traditions was part of the imperial
process.19 Thus the Incas fabricatedrituals-many with roots in pre-Inca
customs-that embodied Cusco's partisanreconstructionof descent and history. Delving into these newly fashioned imperialtraditionsreveals how the
Incas would insinuate their view of the world.
Surroundedby the lakes, streams, mountains, rocks, and stars that were
their gods and ancestors, Andeanpeoples lived in a sacredworld. This sacred
world, however, was often divided by the conflicts that split social experience, even as it defined the universe of autonomouscommunities. Conquest
was not new to the Inca Andes; and community memories often expressed
origins of conquest and battle, even if they were structuredby egalitarianor
rankingrelations.20Besides playing on this past and on the ambiguousexpectations it embodied, the Incas played on the emergingcontradictionsthatwere
of their own making, as they institutionalizedimperialreligious forms. Moreover, because the Andean world was hallowed, these struggles over ritual
were of consequence.
As one of the first acts following conquest, the Incas orderedsubjugated
peoples to pay homage to the Sun as the dominantdeity of empire.21They
demandedthattheirpreeminentgod's authoritybe recognizedby those whose
strengths(divine and earthly)could not match Cusco's might. Yet once solar
supremacy was admitted, the Incas insisted that local groups continue to
worship the gods that they had veneratedin the past.
to receive
[B]ecauseeven if the Peruviankingscompelledeveryonetheysubjugated
theirreligion,it was notas if theymadethemcastasideall of theirpreviousreligious
beliefs, andthusthey [subjugated
groups]notonly kepttheirancientgods, buteven
" 18.
"Instrucci6npara descubrirtodas las guacas del Peru ...
19 See Eric Hobsbawn, "Introducion:InventingTraditions,"as well as the entirecollection of
essays in The Inventionof Tradition, Hobsbawmand Ranger, eds. While the Incas were not on
the road to Western nationalism, Hobsbawm's insights into the invention of tradition-which
were developed in reflecting on the makingof the Europeannation-state-are thought-provoking
for the Andes.
20 HernmndezPrincipe, Mitologia andina, 26, 34, 37, 51, 58, 66; Father Pablo Jose de
Arriaga,The Extirpationof Idolatry in Peru [1621], L. ClarkKeating, trans. (Lexington, 1968),
117; Franciscode Avila, Dioses y hombresde Huarochiri [1598?] (Lima, 1966), 77-84; Spalding, "Indian Rural Society in Colonial Peru," 11-14, 140; Pierre Duviols, "Huari y Llacuaz.
Agricultoresy pastores. Un dualismo pre-hispanicode oposici6n y complementaridad,"Revista
del Museo Nacional, 39 (1973), 153-193.
21 Garcilaso, Comentariosreales de los Incas, II, 222; III, 98-117; Cieza, Del seiorio de los
Incas, 59-63.
18 Alboroz,

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the Incasacceptedthem, and had thembroughtto Cuzcowherethey were placed


among[theIncas']veryown.22
Indeed, the Incas did insist that the sacred beings defining what had been
autonomous Andean cultures be brought to Cusco. Further,they even paid
them homage. So when conquered "idols," as the Spaniardscalled them,
arrivedin Cusco, they were treatedwith the respect, generosity, and care that
were the gods' due. The Incas more than met the expectations of Andean
peoples regarding divine etiquette.23 Nevertheless, Inca manners had their
lessons to teach. For once in the imperialcapital-having been transportedby
a full retinue of local chiefs, priests, and followers-provincial gods were
housed near the monarchor mummy of the Inca who had subjugatedthem.24
The Incas did not miss the opportunityto rub the meanings of such celebrations into the minds and heartsof mortals. Headmenswore oaths of imperial
loyalty in Cusco's Coricancha;tribute accompaniedlocal deities during the
yearly treks made in honor of the sun.25 Imperialreligion might have been
generous in the mannerof chiefs, but it thrivedon delineatingclass hierarchy
and subordination.Ersatz chiefs, masking and flaunting their class intent,
ritualized subordinationthrough sweeping shows of bounty and deference
toward their sacred and human subjects.26
While Andean peasantriesand headmen were participatingin social practices that seasoned them for class relations, they were, at the same time,
accomplices to the jeopardy in which imperialreligion had placed their gods.
Local divinities had once been the sacred mainstaysof self-defining communities. Now they were the embodimentof subordinatedpeoples whose conquerors, by venerating local gods, ritually compromised local autonomy.
While generosity constrainedthe natureof subordinationin the Andes, it also
signaled obligation and debt; for bounty was an expression of power. In
bountifully honoring subjugateddivinities, the Incas capturedthem. They
took over local religion, just as they demandedtributeof those kin groupsthat
they encapsulated.
Whenthe Incas,fromthefirstone untilthelast,conquered
all of theprovinceswhich
extend from Chile to Pasto [Colombia], . . . they would try to find out how many

peoplelived in each provinceand how they sustainedthemselves,[in like manner]


theywouldtryto findout aboutthe huacas[guacas,sacredplacesandbeings],and
22 Cobo, Historia del Nuevo Mundo, II, 145.

23 Ibid.; Alboroz, "Instrucci6nparadescubrirtodas las guacas del Peri .. ," 17; Cieza,
Del seforio de los Incas, 150-152; Murua,Historia del origen y geneologia real de los Incas,
117.
24 Polo "Relaci6n de los fundamentosacerca ... ,"96; Cobo, Historia del Nuevo Mundo,
II, 110.
25 Cobo, Historia del Nuevo Mundo, II, 68, 125.
26 Polo, "Relaci6n de los fundamentos. . . ," 96, 114; Cobo, Historia delNuevo Mundo, II,
110, 145; Murua,Historia del origen y geneologia real de los Incas, 117; Cieza, Del senorio de
los Incas, 59-63, 114-17.

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shrines, which they adoredand the orderwhich they had in makingofferings . . . and

aboutthepossessionsandservicewhichtheyhad,and[theIncas]alwaysorderedthat
[theshrines]be keptup in the samefashionas before. . . and[theIncas]ennobled
manyof thesehuacaswithmanyservices,andlands,andgobletsof gold andsilver,
even sendingthemtheirown imagesin figuresof goldandsilveras offerings... 27
The Incas were blatantin theirreligious takeovers.After conquest, all local
religious practiceswere, by fiat, placed underthe surveillanceandjurisdiction
of the Inca. The Incas claimed to dominate Andean religion; and they ritualized their claims by formally confirmingthe beliefs and practices of those
they conquered, while assuming official responsibilityfor meeting the vanquished gods' materialneeds. For the most part, Andeansdid not experience
significant changes in their religious practice, nor did they abrogate longstandingobligations to provide for their deities. Nevertheless, the Incas were
insinuatingcontrol, by, in the words of an extirpatorof idolatry, "rebuilding" the traditionalshrines and places of worship customarilycelebratedby
Andean peoples.28
The Incas, in reconstructingcustomary order, displaced provincial gods
from the local arena and moved them up to the state's pantheon. Such acts
might have lent the prestige of empire to the faith of local communities. But
imperial renown came at a cost: that of sovereignty. The lords of Cuzco (in
some cases along with local abettors), were picking away at culturalautonomy as they incorporatedold customs into the new imperialorder.
This cultural battle was part of the larger imperial design and cannot be
divorced from its setting in the exacting political and economic compulsions
of empire building. The Incas, with their superiormilitaryand organizational
strengths, corroded community sovereignty through institutionalcoercion;
and struggles over ritual were thus waged against alreadyweakenedcommunities. Moreover, given Andean realpolitik, conqueredkin groups had little
choice but to yield, formally albeit with cynical resignation, to imperial
theological pretensions. Nevertheless, implanting seeds that challenged the
cultural sovereignty of kin groups was, in its way, a contributingmenace to
community processes of self-definition and becoming.29
27
28
29

Albomoz, "Instrucci6npara descubrirtodas las guacas del Peru . . . ," 17.


Ibid, 20, 35; also cf. Molina, "Relaci6n de las fabulas y ritos de los Incas," 77.
Although this paper argues for the significance of Andean ritualbattles, at the time of the
Spanish conquest Cusco's control over many aspects of local religion seems to have been
primarilytheoretical. Local groups went about worshipingtheir sacred beings as they had done
before. Murramakes a similar point concerning control over economic practices. He notes that
many Inca claims to ensurethe well-being of tributedpeasantsin practicereflectedthe traditional
norms of reciprocity on which community members could draw. See Murra,La organizacion
economica del estado Inca, 135-97. Nevertheless, I am arguingthat these imperialritualpretensions are highly significant-whether or not they were actuallyput into practice-for understanding processes and potentialitiesof state formationand reproduction.For a fascinatingaccountof
Inca reconstructionsof ideological forms based on archaeologicalevidence, see TimothyK. Earle
and CatherineCostin, "Inca ImperialConquestand ChangingPatternsof HouseholdConsump-

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The appropriationof local religion also meant the appropriationof local


descent ideologies and, with them, of local histories. Andean peoples populated their supernaturalworlds with heroes and heroines who founded the
descent groupsthatmade up communitysocial organization.30These were the
gods that headmen carriedto Cusco and that Cusco rehabilitated.In adopting
the foundersof subjugateddescent groups, the Incas were rituallytakingover
the past of the kin groups thatthese local heroes parented.The lords of Cusco
were remoldingthe divine historyof local groupsinto an image dominatedby
Cusco. And in reconstructingkin historiesto fit Inca specifications, the Incas
were also angling to dominate visions of the future. The rituals surrounding
the aclla, or "chosen women," will serve as a case in point.
Special rituals markedthe selection of the aclla, renownedthroughoutthe
Andes as the "wives of the Sun," or "wives of the Inca."31 The chosen
women, whom the chroniclers matched with nuns, vestal virgins, or a
harem's concubines, were, in Andean terms, the chaste potential spouses of
the Inca. Chroniclerstell us that once a year his male emissarywould inspect
the villages broughtunderthe Empire'scontrol. There, in the Inca's name, he
would select virgin girls to fill the acllas' ranks. They had various destinies:
Some did become the Inca's wives or the spouses of men to whom the Inca
gave them; others were attached to the Empire's principal deities; others,
considered the embodiment of physical and moral perfection, were ceremoniously slaughteredfor ends of state. All sharedthe fate of being separated
from their conqueredcommunitiesof birthand placed directlyunderimperial
control.
tion in the CentralAndes," paperpresentedat the Sixth Annual Meeting, Society for Economic
Anthropology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign,1986.
30 See Avila, Dioses y hombresde Huarochiri;and Hernmndez
Principe, "Mitologia andina."
31 For a more detailed analysis of the aclla as an institutionthroughwhich the Incas forged
control over non-Incagroups, see my "Andean Women in Inca Society," Feminist Studies, 4:3
(1978), 37-61; andMoon, Sun, and Witches.The rich chroniclersources includeCobo, Historia
del Nuevo Mundo, II, 134, 231-32; GuamanPoma, La nueva cr6nica y buen gobierno, I, 137,
216-18; Murfia,Historia del origen y geneologia real de los Incas, 156, 248-55; Polo, "Relaci6n de los fundamentosacerca . . . " 90-91; Valera, "Relaci6n de las costumbresantiguasde
los naturalesdel Piru," 167-170.
These attemptsat imperialredefinitionsof kin ideologies should be furtherexploredin light of
other emerging transformationsin economic and political relations away from kin-based structures. The institution of the aclla would be a prime case in point. These women, as Murra
underscored, made importantcontributionsto imperial production. They were weavers in a
society where the exchange of cloth took on political, economic, and ritualfunctions. Alienated
from their kin groups and placed directly underthe commandof the state, the laborof these fulltime retainerswas directly controlledby the elite, as opposed to the majorityof labor, which was
appropriatedthrough the mediation of kin groups. Non-kin-based institutions conflicted with
those rooted in kin, and these contradictionswere the source of tensions within the elite and
between the elite and the peasantry.Murrafirst pointedto the economic contributionsof the aclla
and to the accompanyingpolitical economic transformationsaway from kin-based structuresin
La organizaci6n economica, 76-81, 117-30 passim, 215-62. See also his "New Data on
Retainer and Servile Populations in Tawantinsuyu," Actas y Memorias del XXXVICongreso
Internacional de Americanistas,Espaha (Seville, 1966), II, 35-45.

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Complex ritual surroundedthe "chosen women"-from their selection,


seclusion in state-run "convents," and ultimatedistributionas Inca or solar
wives, to theirrole in imperialreligion and the reverentialpostureswhich they
commandedfrom anyone in their presence. Elaborateritualthus infused their
participationin the politics of conquest. That these ceremonies could end in
death points to themes of dominationthat they inscribed. And during these
ceremonies the Incas succeeded in strippingthe autonomyfrom foundersof
Andean descent groups as well as creatingnew descent groups-and consequently new imperial histories and new imperialpower relations.
The select "wives of the Inca"/"wives of the Sun," embodyingrelations
of conquest along with imperially reformulatedkinship, were powerful elements in rites that engaged the Empire's political ties with the provinces.
Governing throughindirectrule, the Incas used local chiefs as intermediaries
between tribute-bearingcommunities and Cusco. Headmen's daughters,
chosen as aclla, ritually validated the status of their fathers who were to
become middlemenin imperialpower structures.The dramatichistoryof one
aclla, whose sacrifice to the Inca solar cult cemented imperialpolitics in the
highlandregion of her birth, serves as an example. Throughher death, Tanta
Carhuaboth consecratedthe bond between her fatherand the Cusco regime
and ritually affirmed that subsequentheadmen-intermediarieswould be her
father's descendants.32

During the ceremonyof the capacocha (the sacrificed), youth from all over
the Empire, like Tanta Carhua, converged in Cusco. Not surprisingly,this
festival was observed during Inti Raymi, the principal celebration of the
Inca's victorious solar god. Accompanied by their homeland's foremost divinities and headmen, the aclla-capacochasled the political and divine representatives of conqueredprovinces in a pilgrimageof homage to Cusco. The
acllas would reverencethe majorgods of the Incas-the Sun and Lightningas well as the mummiesof the royal dynasty, while the Inca, in turn, honored
them. Some of the capacocha were sacrificed in Cusco; those who remained
were sent back to theirprovincesof origin. Once in theirhomelandsthey, too,
would be sacrificed to the Sun, following the ritual established in Cusco.
The Inca mandatedcommunitiesto worshipthe aclla rituallykilled in their
midst. By imperialfiat, land and priestswere assignedto theircults. The Inca
designatedthese capacochato be the sacred-guardians,the divine custodians,
of theirprovincialhomelands-now underCusco's rule. Turningto the words
of the chroniclers:
It was thecustom,in theirpaganism,to celebratethefestivalof thecapacochaevery
four years. And these aclla, who are the chosen, were privileged, they were sent to

32 Hernmndez
Principe, "Mitologia andina," 52, 60-63. R. Tom Zuidemahas also discussed
the rites of the capacochain analyses of HernmndezPrincipe'smanuscript.Cf. his "Kinshipand
Ancestor Cult in Three PeruvianCommunities:Hernmndez
Principe'sAccountof 1622," Bulletin
de l'lnstitut Francais d'Etudes Andines, 2:1 (1973); and "Shaft Tombs and the Inca Empire,"
Journal of the StewardAnthropologicalSociety, 9:1-2 (1977).

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Cusco from the four partsof Peru. ... All left in good time, travelingon all the roads;
it was a sight to behold, how they were greeted, walking in procession with their
gods. ... [T]he capacocha would arrive in Cusco accompanied by the principal
divinity of their homeland and by their headmenand other Indians. They would enter
Cusco together, just around the time of the festival of Inti Raymi. Everyone from
Cusco who anticipatedtheir arrivalwould go out to receive them. The aclla would
enter by the main square, where the Inca was alreadyseated in his golden throne;and
the statues of the Sun, Lightning-Thunder,and the embalmed Incas, [all of] whom
were attendedby their priests, were [positioned] in order.
. . . They would march aroundthe principalsquaretwice, reverencingthe statues
and the Inca who, with a joyful countenance,greetedthem and when they approached
him, the Inca spoke with secret words to the Sun, saying . . . "receive these chosen
ones for your service." . . . The Incas feted the chosen; and this festival lasted for
days, and they slaughteredone hundredthousandllamas.
When this festival was over, they took the capacochas who were to remainin Cusco
to the . . . House of the Sun [Coricancha],and puttingher [sic] to sleep, they would
lower her into a cistern without water, and underneath,to one side, they made a small
space; they walled her in alive, asleep. . . . The Inca orderedthat the rest be taken
back to their homeland, and they did the same with them, privilegingtheirfathersand
making them governors;and he orderedthat there be priests to attend[them], [to take
charge of] the devotion thatwould be madeeach year to the capacochas who servedas
guardiansand custodians of the entire province.33
Tanta Carhua lead a procession of the principal shrines of her province to
Cusco, accompanied by her father and other chiefs from her homeland. Once
in the imperial capital, she was celebrated as an aclla-capacocha. Then, upon
returning from the festivities made in her honor, Tanta Carhua was buried
alive in a hill top in Aixa, which were royal lands that bordered her community. Overwhelmed, ecstatic, exhilarated by her experience in the capital of the
Empire, Tanta Carhua must have consumed the divinity which the Sun's son
claimed to bestow upon her. Village elders spoke to Hernandez Principe about
Tanta Carhua's last words and final acts:
the young girl said, "finish now with me, for the celebrationswhich were made in my
honor in Cusco were more thanenough"; they then took her from the site of Aixa, to a
high mountain, the crest and last outreachof the lands of the Inca, and having made
her resting place, they lowered her into it and walled her in alive.34
Tanta Carhua's death embodied the new relations of living that shaped her
kin group's future under the Incas. Through celebrations of the aclla capacocha, communities ritually grasped their place in the imperial scheme of
things, while local practice was situated within the wider context of state
demands.35 No longer sovereign, not only headmen but deities, ancestors,
and descendants had to attend Cusco's approval. The Incas rearranged local
ancestors to suit their purposes; they remade heroes. Tanta Carhua's father,
now the confirmed headman of his region, was also confirmed as the pro33 HernmndezPrincipe, "Mitologia andina," 60-61.
34 Ibid., 62.
35 Ibid., 29, 41.

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genitor of chiefs-imperialized chiefs, who would owe a schizophrenicallegiance to Urcon and to the heart of empire.
Heroic transformationswere tied to the creationof new imperialpractices
defining new imperialcategories:the "wives of the Sun/wives of the Inca."
The Incas made these women relinquishtheir place of birthto become subjects of Cusco; and their identities-no longer tied to provincialhomelandswould encompass the Empire whose sacred wives they had become. If the
aclla were crucialin the reconstructionof descent, they werejust as crucialfor
the contouring of imperial futures. These women belonged to the lords of
Cusco, not to their communities;their presence was anotheromen of a struggling and emerging imperial potential to control all destinies, all social
reproduction.36
Imperialholidays were constant remindersof imperialpolitics of descent.
At least twelve times a year the Incas gave homage to the gods they conquered. Chiefs, standingfor their vanquishedpeoples, were among the main
participants in these periodic celebrations of Cusco's superiority. Twelve
times a year Cusco's rulersrituallytransformedlocal gods and theirofficiants
from proud representativesof autonomouscommunitiesinto Cusco's provincial underlings.37These newly defined provincialgods and men were joining
in the Empire's attemptto refashionpolitical genealogies so that headmenalong with divine-ancestors-would link the Inca and his Sun-fatherto Andean peasantries.
CUSCO

IN THE

PROVINCES

The Incas did notjust move the ancestorsand gods of conqueredcommunities


to Cusco. They moved their gods to the provinces. As Father Alboroz
recognized, Inca traditionmaking includedinventinghuacaswho would travel to the hinterlandsto do imperialbidding, to insinuatethemselves into local
religion, their presence compromisingpeasant deities.
Look at the aclla-capacochas, like Tanta Carhua. As conquered groups

36 In
support of this contention, we should note that all local marriagesheld in conquered
communities were ritually confirmed by the state's representative.Even though most local
marriageswere held accordingto local customs, nevertheless,the Incas claimed to regulatethem
all. Guaman Poma, La nueva cronica y buen gobierno, I, 179; Ortiz de Zlifiiga, Visita de la
provincia de Leon de Hudnuco, I, 53; Murua,Historia del origen y geneologia real de los Incas,
418. Also see my "Andean Women in Inca Society," and Moon, Sun, and Witches,for a fuller
discussion of the Inca's manipulationof the institutionfor symbolical control of local social
reproduction.
37 Molina, "Relaci6n de las fibulas y ritos de los Incas," 29-45; GuamanPoma, El primer
nueva cor6nica y buen gobierno, I, 210-234; Cobo, La Historia del Nuevo Mundo, 218; Murua,
Historia del origen y geneologia real de los Incas, 350. See particularlyMuria, 350, and Cobo,
281, for descriptionsof the purificationfestival of Situa, duringwhich the "wives of the Sun"
gave sanco, a consecratedbread, to all the foreign huacas and headmenin Cusco. This communion was considered a sign of loyalty to and confederationwith Cusco.

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worshiped these imperial creations, they were honoring the very symbols of
their subordination.Bonds with Cusco became sacrosanct and thus beyond
question. Likewise, other imperial gods who vigilantly watched over local
religion won a place in the heartsand minds of Andeanpeasants. Armed with
the authorityto ensure loyalty to Cusco-which included the mandate that
customarypractices be carriedout accordingto Inca-built "tradition"-they
were bent on subvertingthe powers of communitysacredbeings.38 However,
in terms of Cusco's empire making, the most thoroughgoingideological coup
would be for these distinctive, non-Inca, subordinatecultures to claim Incas
as their ancestors. Culturalvictory here would mean that conqueredpeoples
envisaged a common ancestry with those who conquered them. The vanquished would conceive their materialand spiritualwell-being as contingent
on shared pasts-shared histories-with their masters.
The Incas used various tactics to achieve this goal, including sending
imperial goddesses to the peasantry. Villagers of San Geronimo de Copa in
the northern Lima highlands worshiped one such goddess, Coya Guarmi
(Quechua, Woman Queen). Coya Guarmiwas affectionatelycalled "Mama
de Cusco," or Mother from Cusco, by her Copa adherents;and her names,
nicknames, and achievementsclearly pointed to imperialorigins. As a Cusco
creation bent on underminingthe powers of local deities, Coya Guarmitook
on the neighborhoodgoddesses: she claimed to be the sacred source of agricultural and household productivity. Further, Mama de Cusco carried two
sacred images of aji, or hot pepper, with her from the imperialcapital, and
these were duly reverenced by Copefians for their powers to increase this
prized food's productivity.Coya Guarmimade family in Copa. Her "sister"
was the local patron of chicha, or corn beer, named Aca Guarmi (Woman
Chicha). In the words of an accused idol-worshiper, when these two were
"made sisters" or broughttogetherduringhouse-roofingceremonies, household fertility and welfare were ensured. Most significantly, Coya Guarmi
found a husband in Copa. She marrieda god who had been renowned as a
local hero. Moreover, accordingto village lore, Coya Guarmiwas the sacred
ancestorof the entire community, whose membersconsideredthemselves the
descendantsof her union with their native hero.39Copefiansowed their very
existence to Cusco.
Gender roles could reverse. The Incas sent gods to the provinces to court
local heroines. Apo Ingacha, "powerful little Inca," marrieda goddess born
in the hills of Ancash, north of the Lima sierra. Huari Carhua and Apo
38 See Avila, Dioses y hombres de Huarochiri, 113; as well as Alboroz, "Instrucci6npara
descubrirtodas las guacas del Peru," 18, who describes how Incas establishedhuacasamong the
local divinities as they went aboutconqueringprovinces. These huacas were emblems of loyalty
to Cusco.
39 AAL: Leg. 4, Exp., s.n.; cf. f. 39 for reference to house-roofing ceremonies.

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Ingachacreatedthe pueblo's populace;40so, as in Copa, life itself, along with


material well-being, were locked into Inca ancestry.
QUESTIONS

OF SUCCESS

AND

THE INCA

PARADOX

The Incas would be the ancestors of all the Andes' peoples. This was their
ruse: to stretchkinship to its limit, as if they could ideologically hammerout
the twists and distortions wreaked on kinship in the process of empire
building.
The process of creatingnew kin historiesjoined the broaderforces of Inca
political dominion. And as the Incas attemptedto insinuatetheirmirageof the
past into the histories of the communitiesthey conquered, many recognized
this attack for what it was. Cusquefianshad greater success coercing obedience to imperial institutionsthan in convertingdeeply felt ancestralunderstandings. Uprisings against Cusco rule-in defiance not only of Inca political dominion but its purportedmoral ascendancy-attest to popularrejection
of the Incas and theirrevisionisthistoriesof legitimation.41They also demonstratethe degree to which Inca control over provincialpracticewas rooted in
compulsion.
Yet, on the other hand, as we have seen, Inca theological and genealogical
projects were not complete failures. To present an example of extreme cosmological consent: Villagers in the Lima highlands,almostone hundredyears
40 HernmndezPrincipe, "Mitologia andina," 37. Reconstructionsof Inca society based on
colonial sources always run the risk of attributingto the Incas what were actually colonial
creations. Marriages of Inca gods to local deities might have been a colonial product that
developed as natives sought to legitimize resistanceto Spanish rule-a suggestion made by the
thoughtful anonymous reviewer. However, I think this unlikely, since a turn to the Incas as a
form of "neo-nationalism" apparentlydid not emerge until after the period under question.
While messianic and nativisticstrainscan be discoveredin the sixteenth-and seventeenth-century
documents consulted here, they do not use an Inca phraseology.
41 Pockets of native supportof the Spanish conquest also bear witness to Inca unpopularity.
See Mena, "La conquistadel Peru," passim; PedroSancho de la Hoz, "Relaci6n paraSM de lo
sucedido en la conquistay pacificaci6nde estas provinciasde la Nueva Castillay de la calidadde
la tierra" [1543], in Bibliotecaperuana, 1st ser., Vol. I (Lima, 1968), 275-344 passim; Hemando Pizarro, "Carta de HernandoPizarroa la Audiencia del Santo Domingo" [1533], in Biblioteca peruana, 1st ser., Vol. I (Lima, 1968), 117-32 passim; Pedro Pizarro, "Relaci6n del
descubrimientoy conquistade los reinos del Peru" [ 1571], in Bibliotecaperuana, 1st ser., Vol. I
(Lima, 1968), 439-586 passim. See also Murra, "La Guerreet les Rebellions dans l'Expansion
de l'Etat Inca," as well as note 8.
Anothertelling condemnationof an Inca frameto construethe world and interpretthe past was
revealed during the Taki Onqoy movement, a messianic revolt that shook the Ayacucho and
Apurimachighlands,just west of Cusco, thirtyyears afterthe Spanishconquest. All of the major
mountain gods of the Andes-the great dynastic founders from Ecuadorto Northwest Argentina-were going to engage the Spanish in battle for control over the Andes. According to the
movement's adherents, who gave testimony to their prophesyof battle, the Andean gods were
going to align themselves along two axes: one centeredat Lake Titicacaand the othercenteredat
Pachacamac. Not once were any of Cusco's mountaingods or any imperialdeities listed on the
rolls of Andean warriors. Crist6bal Albomoz, Las informacionesde Cristobal de Albornoz.
Documentos para el estudio del Taki Ongoy (158?], Luis Millones, ed. (Cuernavaca, 1971),
1/66-67.

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after the Spanish conquest, espoused versions of their gods' ancestries that
jibed with Inca design. Echoing the interiorplan of Coricancha,they not only
affirmed Venus' paternitybut claimed that the divine ancestorsof their communities' kin groups were lineal descendantsof the Sun.42
Why did some Andean peoples so enmesh their pasts with the Incas' that
they even believed their ancestors had Cusco origins? Why did others deny,
challenge, or reject any tinge of Cusquefianalliance? Detailed examinations
of the specific and varied histories of Inca conquests and colonization practices would be necessary steps to such an understanding.43But we must also
ask better questions, be more sensitive to-and not trivialize-the complexities surroundingthe constructionof consciousness under conditions set by
class formation and conflict.
To understandthe process of Inca state building, evidence of rebellion and
consent must be examined in relationto the dynamicsof culturalpolitics. The
Incas were continuouslysparringto impose theireconomic and culturalways,
just as those ways were unevenly resisted, distorted,resigned to, or accepted
by Andeankin groups. These unresolved,unsteady,mutuallypiercingclashes
between class and kin infused Andean conditions of life; so not surprisingly
they infused awareness, feelings, expectations, and ambitions. In their diverse ways and with varyingdegrees of commitmentand resignation,Andean
peoples could harborconflicting sentimentsaboutInca efforts at empirebuilding, as well as their efforts at muffling it under wads of kin.44
Both in spite of and because of Inca incursions, the cultures of non-Inca
enclaves were vigorous and resistant. The Inca dilemma of dependence on
kinship for imperial state making generated these merry-go-roundsof defiance in consent, subversionin rule. Inca provocationsspurredon the robust
counterculturesthat tamed and even contouredimperialdemands, even while
42 PierreDuviols, La lutte contre les religions autochtonesdans le Perou colonial: L'extirpation de l'idoldtrie entre 1532 et 1660 (Lima and Paris, 1971), 382; see also Cobo, Historia del
Nuevo Mundo, II, 70; Wachtel, Los Vencidos, 269-74; Cieza, La cr6nica del Peru, 197; Cieza,
Del senorio de los Incas, 71-73; Garcilaso, Comentariosreales de los Incas, II, 179-81, among
others, for additionalevidence of local supportfor the Incas.
43 Unfortunately,it is often very difficult to reconstruct, with much precision, the specific
histories of Inca conquests and colonization practices. New provincial studies, however, are
beginningto roundout our picture. For an outstandingexample, see FrankSalomon's study of the
Northernprovinces, Los senores etnicos de Quito en la epoca de los Incas (Ecuador, 1980). Also
see Karen Spalding, Huarochiri: An Andean Society Under Inca and Spanish Rule (Stanford,
1984), 72-105; Maria Rostworowski de Diez Canseco's contributionsfor the coast, Etnia y
sociedad: Ensayos sobre la costa centralprehispdnica, Senores indigenas de Limay Canta, and
Estructurasandinas del poder (Lima, 1983); Craig Morris and Donald E. Thompson, Hudnuco
Pampa (London, 1985); and CatherineJ. Julien, Hatunqolla:A View of Inca Rulefrom the Lake
Titicaca Region (Berkeley, 1983).
44 This section builds on the work of Antonio Gramsci and his suggestive concept of contradictory consciousness. See his Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, Q.
Hoare and G. N. Smith, eds. and trans. (New York, 1973), 333-34. See also Joseph V. Femia,
Gramsci's Political Thought: Hegemony, Consciousness, and the RevolutionaryProcess (Oxford, 1981) for a helpful explication of Gramsci's work.

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these vibrant, oppositional cultures could be ultimatelyboundedby Cusco's


terms for living.45
Huarochirinos,living in Peru's centralhighlands,exposed these paradoxes
of imperialexistence. Huarochirimyth, recordedin the late sixteenthcentury,
radiates a social self-confidence that attests to culturalvigor. For example,
several legends observed how Inca kings, not strongenough to keep a lid on
provincial discontent, had to turn to Huarochiri'sgods for help. Moreover,
Pachacamac, their preeminentgod, was so awesome that the Incas absolved
the Huarochirinosfrom giving the Sun its customaryplace of superiorityin
the cosmos.46 Huarochiri's gods were powerful, reflecting, no doubt, the
powers of Huarochiri'spopulace. And these must have been quite impressive
to be able to demand such a weighty concession from Cusco.47
So Huarochiri'sgods had some good laughs at Inca expense, though the
Incas had the last one. Indeed, for all their bravado,these local deities ended
up doing the Incas' bidding. Huarochiri'spowerfulgods helped the Inca keep
conquered peoples in check by adding their muscle to Cusco's lineup of
divine warriors.In the cosmological battles over empireHuarochiri'sbiggest
and brightest helped keep the Incas in power.48
Moreover, although Huarochirinoswere not bound to solar worship, they
recognized imperial authority in sacred matters. Villagers claimed that the
Incas instructedthem to worship Pachacamac,just as he mandatedpeoples
living aroundthe Highlandsof Lake Titicaca to adorethe Sun.49Further,not
only did Huarochirinosdefer to Inca authorityin setting standardsof local
worship, but their mighty heroes could be outwittedby Cusco's gods: Catequilla, who was sent by the Incas to the region, could make any huacatalk in
spite of him/herself-even the son of Pachacamac.50So in myth, as in life,
the Inca, in significantways, defined the termsand set the tone for Huarochiri
45 Eugene Genovese, in Roll JordanRoll, eloquentlypresentsthis dialecticof accommodation
in resistance and resistance in accommodationfor the antebellumU.S. South. Regarding the
debate over the powers of hegemony versus institutionalmeans to compel acquiescentbehavior,
my own study questions some of the writersopposed to concepts of hegemony, such as JamesC.
Scott, Weapons of the Weak:EverydayForms of Peasant Resistance (New Haven, 1985); and
Nicolas Abercrombie,Stephen Hill, and Bryan S. Turner,The DominantIdeology Thesis (London, 1980).
46 Avila, Dioses y hombresde Huarochiri, 39, 109, 127, 131-33.
47 See Spalding, Huarochiri, 72-105, for an insightful discussion of Huarochiriunder the
Incas, which points out the economically and politically favored position that this society held.
See also Thomas C. Patterson, "Pachacamac-An Andean Oracle underInca Rule," in Recent
Investigations in Andean Prehistory and Protohistory, D. Peter Kvietok and Daniel H. Sandweiss, eds. (Ithaca, 1985), 159-76.
48 Spalding (Huarochiri, 82) suggests that the Incas made good use of at least some of the
regions's more earthly powers: i.e., the special abilities of the lower Yauyos in warfare.
49 Avila, Dioses y hombresde Huarochiri, 127; for additionalexamples of deferenceto Inca
jurisdiction over local religious matters, see 105, 113.
50 Avila, Dioses y Hombres de Huarochiri, 113.

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practice and understandings.Huarochirinosdid not have to believe in everything the Inca believed-they did not even have to believe in his gods-for
their thought to be reigned in by Inca intentions. Imperial penetrationof
provincialworld view could be subtle, contouringlocal perceptionsand sentiments so as not to impugn Inca sovereignty.51
Could Inca understandingsof kinship and history ever have masteredthe
ways in which conqueredgroupsgraspedtheirlives' experience?The Spanish
conquest stopped Inca development, so history cannot provide an answer,
although historical understandingscan. Like other precapitaliststates, the
Inca project, as set forthin its scant hundredyears of rule, seemed condemned
by the contradictionsof its own making:building an empire on its antimony,
relations of kin.
So the Incas would tear away at kin autonomythroughtheir self-authorized
surveillance of provincial religion and provincial women. They proclaimed
their sovereignty over mattersof the social heartand soul, while refashioning
traditionsto substantiatean imperialbody. And while imperialproclamations
might at times have been no more than hopeful brags; nonetheless, the lords
of Cusco were trying to lay the groundworkfor furtherincursionsinto community integrity. They were portentouslyenacting new regulationsfor social
existence and practice that would define away kin ideologies of living (or
remembered)non-Inca peoples.52
Yet even as they bracketedcultures for imperialuse, the Incas were abetting the very cultural forms that would threatentheir survival. By reifying
cultural groups, they fanned cultural memories of sovereignty and consequently whetted cultural appetites for resistance. Even while it menaced kin
group autonomy, Cusco was authorizing(albeit for ends of state) those same
powerful institutions of kin that thread customary life-ways. In the Andes
battles over essential definitions of self, social process, and social legitimacy
were waged in the languageof kin. Armed with their new historiesof descent
and kinship and with their new "amplified customs," the Incas were seeking
to neutralizethe inescapablecontradictionscreatedby their empire building.
Inca historical reconstructionswere thus contouredby imperialdilemmas;
51 It would be
shortsightedto judge the existence of an "Inca culture" by its success; for to
establish the fragility of certainInca institutionsand then equate that fragility with insignificance
overlooks the potentialitieswhich contour social reproduction.Even if they are not embodied in
institutions, potentialities are no less real contributorsto social process. They too labor in the
complex, dynamic, push-and-shoveof state making. Blindness to possibilities also repudiates
what the empire might have become. The chroniclers and other documentarysources let us
glimpse only an unfinishedprocess, which the Spanishconquest froze and then transformedinto
another contest for political dominion.
52 Again, it should be rememberedthat these transformationswere takingplace in the context
of change in political and economic relations:an emerging transformationaway from kin-based
structuresas the source of surplus appropriation.See note 31.

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so were those of conquered peoples, but from the disadvantageof relative


powerlessness. Provincialretortsto Inca expansionteach us to be sensitive to
the contradictoryways in which peoples, having lost their autonomyto those
whose power enables them to camouflage dominion, construetheir past and
their present. This is a charge that we, who are presently reconstructingthe
histories of others, must take seriously for ourselves.

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