PAPER


PILGRIMAGE AND RITUAL MOVEMENTS IN CUZCO AND THE INCA EMPIRE



R. Tom Zuidema

University of Illinois, Urbana IL, U.S.A.





When, some time after the conquest of the Inca empire and its capital of Cuzco in 1533, Spanish chroniclers and missionaries began to reflect more systematically on the subject of Andean culture in previous times, they discovered, or de veloped the idea, that in the country had existed two poles of religious attraction: the island of Titicaca, in the lake of the same name and near the snow-capped mountains of northern Bolivia, and the temple-city of Pachacamac, on the deser t coast just south of Lima, the modern capital of Peru. In Titicaca, the Creator god Viracocha --but also known under other names-- had called forth from the Underworld the Sun and the Moon, the first ancestors of the royal dynasty in Cuzco, and th e ancestors of other peoples who were sent underground to emerge near the places where they were going to live. Pachacamac "He who animates the World" primarily was the Underworld god causing earthquakes but may have been related also to the fertil ity of the Earth. His wife, Urpihuachac, had thrown the first fishes into the Ocean. Both places had been the most important pilgrimage centers in the Andes from the time, some 500 years before Cuzco, that two other cities had ruled: Huari, near modern Ayacucho in southern highland Peru, and Tiahuanaco, near the southcoast of the lake and the island of Titicaca.

Pachacamac and Tiahuanaco together with Titicaca, are of foremost interest to Ethnohistory and Archaeology. We might add Anthropology as especially the town from where pilgrims approached the island of Titicaca, Copacabana, becam e the most important pilgrimage center in viceregal Peru. Today, the Virgin of Copacabana is the national Saint of Bolivia. The two dates of worship to the Virgin, February 2 and August 5, might derive from Inca and perhaps even pre-Inca times as the firs t date marks the time when in Titicaca and Tiahuanaco the sun goes through zenith and the second date is exactly half a year later. The worship in Pachacamac to the Lord of the Earthquakes may have been taken over in Lima by the popular cult of Christ as the Lord of Miracles or Lord of Earthquakes. Still, the three disciplines only in a very limited way can contribute to each other's questions. Before I continue, let me explain why this condition is true especially in the case of prehispanic Andean civili zation.

In terms of its accomplishments since about 1000 years B.C., Andean civilization in the area later covered by the Inca empire clearly is comparable to other ancient civilizations. Still, it had no use for inventions like of writing or t he wheel. Devices of recording did exist but none that kept alive into colonial times precisely memorized texts or long genealogical accounts, texts that would have enabled us to check local traditions against each other. One possible exception is the sys tem of 41 directions, called Ceques, as viewed from the temple of the Sun in Cuzco toward its horizon. A topological interest was mapped onto the valley of use for government, agriculture, state rituals, astronomy and the calendar. I will make use of some of its information later.

Given the way in which the Inca state almost immediately collapsed under the Spanish onslaught, we have almost no information on the Inca state when it was still in power, except for some eye witness accounts of its conquerors. The firs t two chronicles on Inca culture were written some 20 years after the conquest, followed by others 20 to 60 years later. In the meantime, the Catholic church had made major efforts to abolish indigenous religion, myths and rituals considered as "pagan". T he chronicles are primarily based on already fading and colored memories of informants and constructed on the basis of western theoretical interests whose focus also changed much over time. For instance, gods like Pachacamac and Viracocha who once include d characteristics of Tricksters became Creator gods comparable to the Christian one. While there was much genuine interest on the part of the Spanish, their data can be handled critically only if in some way they can be contrasted with information of preh ispanic origin. In this paper I aim to compare Spanish opinions with information of acceptable Inca origin. Let me approach the problem through our descriptions of pilgrimage to Pachacamac and Titicaca.

One of the first acts of Francisco Pizarro, after the fatal hour in which he defeated Atahuallpa, the Inca king, in Cajamarca, northern Peru, was to send his brother, Hernan Pizarro, to Pachacamac. The fame of this largest and richest "mosk", attracting pilgrims from all over the empire, was already known. Hernan Pizarro and some other early visitors report that central in Pachacamac were a temple erected on a pyramid dedicated to the god Pachacamac himself and anot her, higher pyramid dedicated to the Sun god. The cult to the Sun was probably imposed by the Incas and the other cult dated from long before. The ruins of both temples still exist and around them are found various compounds each containing a small pyrami d. Based on some evidence from chroniclers, these compounds have been interpreted as belonging to local lords who visited Pachacamac or sent their emissaries. Gaining access to the most sacred part of the temple forced a presence in Pachacamac of at least a year. The visit would have involved the sacrifice of children, called capac hucha "sacrifice in obligation to the king". Pachacamac not only received pilgrims. Myths suggest that its priests also would have sent out representatives or missionari es.

The situation with respect to the Lake of Titicaca is somewhat different. While Tiahuanaco had been a large capital, in Inca times it was completely in ruins. The Incas revered it for its antiquity, though we don't know if they carried out any pilgrimages there. The islands of Titicaca, also known as Island of the Sun, and the nearby smaller one of Coati, as Island of the Moon, each contained an Inca temple. But the goal of worship on the first island was a rock at its highest po int. One late chronicler but with information from early sources, mentions that pilgrims were first screened in Copacabana and that on the island road leading to the rock there were three walls with guardians; only the most select people could pass them a ll.

How do we have to imagine the travel of pilgrims to and from Pachacamac and Titicaca? Travel was highly regimented by Inca government. A chronicle recording the Catholic importance of Copacabana includes information on its use for pilgr image in Inca times. People from Cuzco and 40 other locations representing the whole empire had been relocated around Copacabana. Apparently, they represented the 41 provinces from where people were ordered or allowed to visit the island. The imperial org anization reminds of the local one in Cuzco of its 41 directions or ceques leading to so many locations in its province. One document, written some 90 years after the conquest and dealing with the "extirpation of idolatries" in a highland village o f central Peru, suggests how pilgrims' travel may have been done in Inca times. Each of four ayllus, the social divisions of the village, had assigned to it another kind of child sacrifice. The first ayllu had sent children to Cuzco, the capital, f rom where they returned to be sacrificed at home. The second ayllu had sent children to Cuzco to be sacrificed there and the third to different important places in the empire including Titicaca. The last ayllu, of potters, had sacrificed children at home in order to obtain good clay. The children traveled for their solemn missions in directions as straight as possible; their attendants followed more normal roads. As these other people would return, they probably were pilgrims of the kind that the early ch roniclers heard of. But all information was based on hearsay and nobody had actually seen pilgrims, or pilgrimages, or the use of pilgrimage sites in prehispanic times. At least we are warned that the use in Inca times of, for instance, Copacabana may hav e been very different from that in colonial times.

Notwithstanding the conditions and limitations of our research, we can come to a clearer concept of what pilgrimage meant in Inca times by including in our view another corpus of data. It does not deal directly with Titicaca or Pachacam ac, but the hypothesis to which it leads has clear implications for understanding their place in Inca cosmology and ritual use. The data to be brought to the fore are important as their prehispanic existence and way of use can be checked. I will concentra te on a system of ritual movements from Cuzco to the borders of its province --as distinguished from the empire that from here was conquered-- and back again. Although the system was more elaborate, I will detail three movements that were highly related t o each other and for at least one, the second, one chronicler made the claim that it included a capac hucha sacrifice. I will call the first movement a procession, the second a pilgrimage and the third a race; later I will conclude to what extent all thre e included aspects of pilgrimage. Let me describe the three movements briefly.

The first two movements were done by priests, called Tarpuntay, during the whole (Incaic) month around the June solstice, when the king went to a temple north of Cuzco in order to observe for himself the sunset of this event. The name of the priests means "planter" and the sequence of their different rituals were of concern to all phases of agriculture from before irrigation, through plowing, sowing and planting (= tarpuy), till harvest and storage of the crops. But the ch roniclers recognized them as "priests of the Sun" and their selection involved their discovery as "sons of the Thunder".

The procession was a daily repeated movement of some Tarpuntay priests. As a projection onto earth, it imitated the daily course of the sun through the sky, from the sacred mountain Huanacauri, on the horizon southeast of town, t o Quiancalla as part of the sacred mountain Senqa, on its northwestern horizon. At sunrise, the priests sacrificed a first llama, at noon a second one in the temple of the Sun in Cuzco, and at sunset a third.

The pilgrimage of other Tarpuntay priests took the same whole month to reach another temple of the Sun, in the same direction from Cuzco as Huanacauri but far outside the valley. The place was called Villcanota "House of (= where ) the Sun (had been born) of the (= during a) December solstice". Today, the place is called in Spanish La Raya, "the borderline", as this mountain pass between snowcapped mountains constitutes the continental divide between Cuzco and Lake Titicaca . Here starts the river also called Villcanota that approaches Cuzco at a distance of some 20 kms and continues towards the tropical lowlands. The pass separates also the river valley with maize agriculture from the high grasslands towards Lake Titicaca m ostly dedicated to the cultivation of potatos and to llama herding. The pilgrimage first went straight through the mountains to Villcanota and then returned following the river. Although our chronicler specifies on the way down ten stopovers, where the pr iests stayed overnight and each time worshipped the rising sun, and on the way back ten other stopovers, I assume that the pilgrimage took the whole month to complete and that the priests remained in Villcanota on the days of the solstice itself.

In various respects, the race was the complete counterpart of the pilgrimage. Its participants were not old priests but young men competing with each other. The first part of the race was not during the day but took a whole night. This night was calculated in a lunar way from the new moon following the December solstice and fell on the fourth night after the next full moon. The ritual, at the height of the rainy season, expressed wishes for its end. If the moon came early, the race fell in the first Incaic solar month after the December solstice, and if late, in the second. The last possible day for the return of the participants coincided with the passage of the sun through zenith, February 13. The occasion for the performance was when the ashes of all sacrifices in the previous year were thrown into the river. The runners, with burning torches in their hands, first followed the ashes down the river to where it flowed into the Villcanota river and then continued along this river to whe re it started to reach its more tropical part. Here is found the Inca city of Ollantaytambo, in the same northwest direction from Cuzco as Quiancalla and exactly opposite to the direction of Huanacauri and Villcanota. From Ollantaytambo, the men ra n back in competition through the mountains, and thus in a direction as straight as possible. They entered the Cuzco valley at or near Quiancalla.

Though we are dealing with two distinct movements, carried out at different times of the year, we clearly can consider them as each other's complements in one annual ritual. Together, they had in mind the part of the Villcanota river th at is primarily used for maize agriculture. While the pilgrimage first went out following a road through the mountains and then came back along the upper part of the river and the race first took the lower part of the river and then returned by a road thr ough the mountains, both parts of the river completed each other and so did the two roads. The Incas laid out a year-round circuit that was just as precise in its use of time as of space. This fact we recognized already through the dates chosen for its tw o parts. The first part took into account the sun for the exact date of the June solstice and the second part the first full lunar cycle after the December solstice, a period, moreover, that ended before the sun's passage through zenith. We discover the s ame concern with precision in a third way.

The pilgrimage followed a road almost exactly southeast from Cuzco that by itself was of no astronomical significance. However, it started outside its track at the point marking sunrise on the day of the December solstice. Something sim ilar happened with the procession from Huanacauri, over Cuzco, to Quiancalla. Although Quiancalla marked the point of June solstice sunset, this event was observed from outside the road of procession. In addition, we remember that the race returned to Cuz co by way of the same Quiancalla. The three roads shared the same direction, although used in opposite ways. Let me call the common direction the "solstitial axis" in Cuzco cosmology. While the axis was not layed out for use in astronomical observation, t he places that served this purpose were explicitly connected to the axis and thus determined its calendrical uses.

A major question now rises, one that leads us to the problem of how the Incas of Cuzco integrated Titicaca/Tiahuanaco and Pachacamac into their cosmology and possibly into their state-organized system of pilgrimages. Given the location of Quiancalla on the solstitial axis and its use for observing the June solstice sunset, why didn't the Incas orient the axis in such a way that it could have served the observation of both solstices? Apparently the Incas took into account three practical reasons for not doing so.

First, the local axis from Huanacauri, over the temple of the Sun, to Quiancalla was made part of the provincial axis between Villcanota and Ollantaytambo, of ecological concern in terms of the Villcanota river. In both last loca tions, at the border of the Cuzco province, products were exchanged with other ecological zones.

Second, the pilgrimage and the race together expressed (in ritual as well as through comments about their meaning) a concern with seasonal changes: of rain, of the flow of water in the river and of the use of irrigation canals. T he race was held in order to stop the rains and to send the ashes of the sacrifices to the god Viracocha in the Ocean. Like the waters in the rivers, the runners had to go fast. Access to the irrigation canals was closed so that they would not be destroye d and the crops could ripen. In June, the priests went slowly up to the source of the river to drink to the Sun and to warm him up with bonfires. Both actions were intended to attract rains and let the river flow again. In the month after the plgrimage, t he irrigation canals were re-opened.

Third, the solstitial axis was extended not only beyond the valley of Cuzco but also beyond its province. In both directions, myths support the intent. Let me mention the southeastern extension now and the northwestern one later. The sun was born at the beginning of time in Villcanota as well as in Titicaca. One Inca king sent a messenger over Villcanota to the top of the Titicaca rock to obtain sacred water at the occasion of the birth of his son, the crown-prince.

I will turn now to evidence from myths illustrating how Titicaca and Pachacamac were integrated into Cuzco cosmology. The material will allow me to suggest an Inca pattern of pilgrimages to both places. In my conclusions I can then re-i ntegrate the system of ritual movements in the Cuzco valley. Questions about its history will address the problem how and to what extent the concept of self-organizing systems does apply to the Andean case of pilgrimages.

According to the myth of creation in Titicaca, as understood by the Spanish, Viracocha traveled first to Cuzco, including the road along the river Villcanota, and from there continued to the sea. Different places on the coast are mentio ned from where he disappeared over the waters to the horizon. One place is southwest of Cuzco, in the valley of Acarí, and another Pachacamac, somewhat north of west. But the place most in agreement with imperial ideology is on the Ecuadoria n coast, near the Equator, there where is found the island now called "Isla de la Plata", of silver. Incaic occupation of this part of the empire was slight and problematic. Even so, important Inca offerings including golden and silver human figurines hav e been found on the otherwise unoccupied island suggesting that capac hucha sacrifices had been carried out there. The Isla de la Plata is located on the extension toward the northwest of the road from Titicaca to Cuzco. Apparently, people from Cuzco had been engaged in an expedition to the island that we could call a pilgrimage.

This version of the myth of Viracocha probably came about as a consequence of the idea of empire and we may ask what was its original version in the context of the ceremonial organization of the Cuzco province. Other myths of Viracocha, or of a deity with different name that replaces him in other local contexts, allow us to detect one such original version from Cuzco. During a month of heavy rains, a supernatural man had floated down the river Villcanota and had threatened to wash away Cuzco. An Inca hero warded off the danger, then turned into stone and was later celebrated in the initiation rituals of the noble youths around the December solstice. We are dealing with a foundation myth of the ritual when the river carried away the ashe s of sacrifices announcing the end of the rainy season after the December solstice. The myth also implies the future conquest of the empire.

A myth with similar intent is told about the river that at Pachacamac enters the Ocean. At its headwaters, the god Cuniraya, with the additional epithet of Viracocha, had impregnated a woman who, after giving birth, fled d own to Pachacamac. Cuniraya Viracocha pursued her along the river and in the meantime established various new conditions in the natural world. She escaped into the sea and became a coastal island. In the meantime, the wife of Pachacamac had filled the sea with fishes. Cuniraya Viracocha returned inland and by way of his trickster acts caused other transformations. Perhaps we do not want to call the story a foundation myth and it may not have gained the stature of an imperial myth. But its telling of Cunir aya's race gives the impression to reflect in a genuine prehispanic way on the attraction of Pachacamac as a pilgrimage center. Essential parts of the various myths of Viracocha or similar deities seem to be that their field of action is from the mountain s to the coast --never to the eastern lowlands-- and that waters of a river are followed. In the various examples, the river may flow from north or south of east and go to south or north of west. But given the example from Cuzco we may now suspect that in the other cases the myths also took into account specific astronomical observations and specific dates of the year. In all cases, the flow of water from sunrise to sunset may have symbolized a process of re-generation. The myth presented the process as o ne of generation and Spanish chroniclers and theologians transformed the idea into one of Creation.

Taking into account the situation in Cuzco gives cause to suspect that elsewhere the myths also referred to ritual movements. For instance, one other myth about Cuniraya Viracocha tells how he once travelled from Pachacamac to Titicaca --in fact returned-- to meet there the Inca king. After their meeting, the king moved into the sky adopting the role of the Sun his "Father". In Cuzco, the race following the ashes that went to Viracocha in the Ocean and the myth of the man who floated on the waters of the Villcanota were both timed for the end of the rainy season. Assuming that Cuniraya went down the river for the same seasonal reason, we might advance the hypothesis of also another similarity. The pilgrimage from Cuzco was intended to r eturn to Villcanota the Sun and his water- and life-giving powers. The return of Cuniraya from Pachacamac to Titicaca may have included a similar reason. His two movements, to and from Pachacamac, explain some of the reasons why this was a pilgrimage cent er. By the same token, we might conclude that the ritual movements to and from Cuzco also contained qualities of pilgrimage.

When Spaniards talked about pilgrimages in Peru, they probably understood their information in terms of such events in Spain. We have no evidence that they saw pilgrimages to places like Pachacamac and Titicaca. The descriptions of ritu al movements executed by inhabitants of Cuzco and of which I mentioned here three, may all go back to one rather early source and probably derive from eye witness accounts. The journey to and from Villcanota is perhaps best comparable to pilgrimages as we think of these in other places of the world. However, as the motivation for this Cuzqueño pilgrimage is so similar to the procession and the race that I mentioned, I consider these also under the category of pilgrimage. All ritual movements in Cuz co were precisely located in the calendar. But were they all of equal strict concern to the state? At least one chronicler mentions that villages around Cuzco carried out similar races as the one of following the ashes in the river. Apparently, people wer e allowed freedom to adapt to local circumstances but we don't know if they exercised freedom in calendrical terms.

Approaching now the problem of self-organizing systems, let me finish with the case of one other ritual movement in the valley of Cuzco. It concerns the horizon point from where sunset was observed toward Cuzco on the two days (26 April , 18 August) when the sun goes through nadir. In fact, the pilgrims returning from Villcanota also finished a that point. At the crowning of a new king, he entered the city from there. Part of the route was used annually, at the end of harvest in April, f or a procession in which the king himself participated. Members of high nobility and the mummies of their ancestors witnessed from the sides. Our chroniclers do not write much more about the horizon point, marked by a hill called Quispicancha. Rema rkable is, however, that this hill must have been of extraordinary ritual importance from long before the Incas. At its foot was an Inca settlement and somewhat higher up one of pre-Inca origin. The whole hill is enclosed by a high wall, not built by the Incas but by the city of Pikillaqta, dating from much earlier Huari times and found in the next valley to the east. Cuzco defined the ritual importance of Quispicancha from its own astronomical and calendrical perspective. Apparently the Hua ri people had conceived it with a very different purpose in mind. We do not need to ask which value they had placed on it then. Nonetheless, we must assume that after Huari times a fundamental shift in opinion did occur. Of course, it is also possible tha t places like Quispicancha had different values for people as seen from different angles or for people of different ranks and classes. At any one time, the state could express or impose its own opinion and this may be the one that the descendants of its r epresentatives communicated to us. But I suspect that this opinion not always and not necessarily did represent actual practice. Negotiations, shifts of opinion and different levels of use must have occurred continuously.





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