Thursday, April 18, 2013

Valle Sagrado de los Incas

A few kilometers outside of Cuzco there is a place known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas.  It has been fixed into a bit of a circle that can be accessed through different archeological sites and it is really quite astonishing.  The story of the Inca is very complicated and as much as I have come to learn in the last few weeks I still feel like I have only scratched the surface.  In this notion I am going to try to recall all that I have been taught from my trip to the Valley.

This is a cuy, essentially a fat guinea pig.  Modern Peruvians eat them all the time but in the time of the Inca they were only eaten for special occasions like birthdays and weddings.  This picture is a joke though, I could never eat him.. his name is Pancho.

Future Alpaca herder.

The Incas had an admiration for rivers and even held them as sacred.  In fact it seems that the core of the Inca religion was to venerize or even deify parts of nature connected to agriculture.  The sun was connected with the growth of food and the concept of masculinity while the moon was connected to the woman.  The rainfall has a sexual connotation and is connected to the fertilization of crops.  

An earthen oven used for making the BEST empanadas I have ever had. 

The following photos are from the village / archeological site of Pisaq.  Here there is a village at the bottom of the valley and on top of that is a huge hillside of terrace leveled corn crops.  At the top is a mix between a sacred temple and a storage for food.  The Incas had deep respect for food and cultivation of crops, so much that high ranking kings were mummified in the temples of the sun while their wives were mummified in temples of the moon.  

There is a great sense of duality in the Inca religion.  Many famous sites have two sets of things like a pair of fountains or a pair of clay cows above their houses.  Duality is very symbolic to the universe in senses of light and darkness love and hate man and woman good and evil.

These photos do not do justice to the absolutely astonishing agricultural work of the Inca people.  These terraces are everywhere and even can be found at heights one would not imagine to climb to.  They are built with a brick wall filled with gravel which is used as a filter for water, an excellent source of irrigation.


The great Inca kings and their wives were burried in temples however the people of the villages were burried in mountians.  Mountains were each believed to have a god and they were each very respected.  These tiny holes are each ancient Inca graves and in this particular mountain there are believed to be about three thousand.

Two rescued parrots.  Notice the beak of the one on the left.  I do not believe they would survive in nature.

This woman seemed to be able to speak to the birds.  They were very shakey and paranoid of people yet she calmed this one with her voice and compassion.

This area is called Ollantaytambo.  It was built in the later part of the Inca empire, so late that it was never finished on account of the Spanish conquest.  If you look carefully at this photo you will see a face in teh center of the mountain.  This face was believed to belong to an Inca god who protected the people of the village.  

Another photo of the mountain god.

This place was truly beautiful.  The Incas built this temple city out of rocks from a mountain about five kilometers away.  The construction is so specific and concise that it would have taken a laser to cut with such precision in modern times.

These two cows can be found on many roof tops on houses of the valley.

This location is called Chinchero and it marks a very dark time in the history of the Inca people.  Here is a place that was once a temple of the Inca god of rain yet has been converted to a Christian church.  The early christians used the existing Inca gods and holidays to replace their beliefs with Christian beliefs.  One example was the first week of July which marked the Inca new year and the beginning of the planting season, a time connected to the Sun and masculinity and they replaced it with a Christian patron saint.  The eighth of September was the time of the Inca harvest and a day to give respect to the moon and femininity yet it was replaced with another patron saint.  

It was forbidden to take photos inside of the church but it was absolutely eerie inside.  Christianity was used to conquer the people of the Inca empire and steal their gold and there is a great sadness to this place I visited.  The Inca people still exist today in the form of modern Peruvians and other modernly named countries however their respect for the land and nature is still quilt prevalent.

These village women gave us a demonstration on how to make colors used for dying fabrics in methods used for hundreds of years.

Each color is made by different fruits, vegetables and even insects.

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