LEGEND OF THE AYAR BROTHERS
One of the main Inca creation myths was that of the Ayar Brothers, who emerged from a cave called Pacaritambo ("Hostel of Production", "Hostel of Dawn" or "Hideout House"). This house was located on Tambotoco Hill. It had three windows. According to the myth, the group of Maras Sutic emerged from one of the windows, called Maras Toco ("without parents") by spontaneous generation. The four brothers emerged from another window called Capac Toco. Their names were Ayar Uchu, Ayar Cachi, Ayar Manco and Ayar Auca.
They were accompanied by their four sisters, named Mama Ocllo, Mama Huaco, Mama Ipacura or Cura and Mama Raua. After careful investigation, researchers give different versions that only vary slightly.
The legendary Ayar Brothers, together with their sisters, set off on a slow walk over the "punas" (plateaus) and streams in the Andes to find a suitable dwelling place. It is interesting to mention that, in Huaman Poma's version, Mama Huaco is referred to as Manco Capac´s mother; and it is said that she had an incestuous relationship with him.
"The two essential prohibitions of incest and parricide are not found in the psychological analysis of the myth. On the contrary, it is stated that there was a network of brotherly relationships in which, without explicitly saying so, incest would seem to be natural. In this myth, there are no connubial couples, only the bilateral mother/son or brother/sister relationship. No interdiction imposed by the father is present within the triangular relationship implied by this system. From this viewpoint, the system described in the Ayar myth implies a dual relationship between a son and his mother." (Hernandez and other writers, 1987)
According to researchers' findings, the Ayar Brothers soon got rid of one of the brothers, Ayar Cachi, because they were afraid of his magical powers. He could tear down hills with just one shot from his sling, or make streams appear. His brothers deceived him into returning to Pacaritambo, the cavern where they were born, in order to bring a "napa", the badge of gentlemen, and some golden glasses, called "topacusi", which they had left there. They followed him secretly and once he entered the cave they closed it with great blocks of stone and Ayar Cachi remained a prisoner in the cave for the rest of his life. After this episode, the Ayar Brothers kept on walking through the mountains.
It is important to highlight that the Ayar Brothers, in spite of being nomads, were also farmers; thus, they would settle down in an area for some years and, after harvesting their crops, continue along their way.
Sarmiento de Gamboa narrates that, in their pilgrimage, the brothers arrived at a place called Guanacancha that is located 27.8 kilometers from Cusco.
They stayed there some years, sowing and harvesting their crops, yet they were unhappy, so they set off again for Tamboquiro, where they stayed for some years. Then, they went to Quirirmanta, at the foot of a hill. In Quirirmanta, they held a council and decided that Ayar Uchu should remain there, transformed into a main "huaca", called "Huanacauri".
In the world of the Andes, materializing oneself in stone was a way of perpetuating divinity or conferring the nature of holiness; that is why Ayar Uchu was able to communicate with his brothers, in spite of his being transformed into stone.
The same researcher mentions that Mama Huaco was one of the leaders of the group and that, in the town of Matagua, this extremely strong and skilful woman took two golden poles and threw them northward. The first pole, falling in Colocabamba, did not pierce the ground because it was too hard. The second one was thrown onto a place called Guayanaypata and this time it stuck in the ground. Other story tellers told Sarmiento de Gamboa that it was Manco Capac, not Mama Huaco, who threw the magic pole that signaled the permanent settlement.
The wandering ayllus (tribes) tried to reach the chosen place but had to return to Matagua because the local inhabitants opposed strong resistance against them. While they were there, Ayar Manco ordered Ayar Auca to settle at the spot marked by the pole. Auca flew to this place, so as to comply with his brother's order but, when he landed, he turned to stone. According to Andean beliefs, the "guanca" or stones were landmarks indicating ownership of land. That is how, Auca, materialized as a rock, was the first to settle on the long-awaited chosen place. In this manner, Auca, transformed to stone, but yet able to communicate with his brother, ordered him to be called Manco Capac from that moment on. According to Sarmiento de Gamboa, "Cusco" meant, in the language spoken at that time, "settling a place by magic". Garcilazo believed that "Cusco" was the name for the "Navel of the World " in the special tongue of the Incas.
Similarly, Cieza de León tells of Manco's and his people's arrival in Cusco and adds that town-dwellers made room for the newcomers although the region was already overpopulated.
Myths narrated up to now, referring to the way in which the Incas occupied ancient Cusco, are versions that totally differ from that of Garcilazo. The Ayar Brother Legend, with characters who turn into stone or holy guancas and the Manco group's long pilgrimage are episodes, typical of the Andes region, that are also present in other ethnic groups' myths. The Inca's seasonal migration was not a migration of primitive shepherds and hunters but of essentially farming towns that were extremely worried in case they were not able to find fertile lands for cultivation.
In these narrations, one of Manco Capac's two women played an important role. We have already related the episode when Mama Huaco, in spite of being a woman, showed her strength as a leader among her brothers, by throwing the pole that landed at the point of settlement, symbolizing ownership and the subsequent founding of Cusco.
According to researchers, Mama Huaco took a "haybinto"; i.e. "boleadora" (a local throwing weapon for hobbling running game consisting of two or three stones joined by rope), and whirling it round her head hurt one of the guallas, ancient dwellers of Acamama. After this, she opened his chest, took out his lungs and blew strongly into them. Mama Huaco's ferocity scared the guallas, who left the town, making way for the Incas.
In another research project, we analyzed Mama Huaco's feminine role and its possible significance in the Inca social and political world. She was the prototype of a warlike "amazon", differing completely from Mama Ocllo, Manco Capac's second woman. Cabello de Balboa relates that Mama Huaco was a brave captain who headed armies. The term huaco explains this masculine characteristic in the Aymara language. This term makes reference to a free-spirited "mannish" woman who is not frightened by cold weather or hard work.
According to Sarmiento de Gamboa, the four leaders who headed the Ayllus, on their arrival at Cusco, were Manco Capac, Mama Huaco, Sinchi Roca and Manco Sapaca. It is important to highlight that Mama Huaco was one of the group's leaders.
More than knowing whether the episodes were based on truth or not - it is important to analyze the social structure implied by the legend, highlighting the active role of a woman in the conquest of Cusco, fighting alongside the men and heading an army.
Her example is not unique in Cusco legends. The "curaca" Chañan Curi Coca was the leader of the ayllus of Choco-Cachona in the war against the "chancas". In order to reinforce the magical aspect of the myths, narrators tell that pururaucas helped the soldiers to win the war in this legend of the nobility. Pururaucas were magic stones that transformed into soldiers and fought at a critical moment in the war. What is interesting in the myth is the fact that there were masculine and feminine Pururaucas. That is to say, the army was made up of men and women. In other words, not only men, but also women could and did fight in wars.
These myths about the Inca settlement are fundamental, because they reveal the Incas' view of the World and of social and political structures. Manco Capac and his ayllus lived in Cusco Bajo, and their home was the Indicancha Temple, whereas Auca´s followers settled down in Cusco Alto or Hanan. In context, this two-way split has a gender-related meaning and symbolizes the opposition and compatibility existing between the Hanin and the Hurin groups. Garcilazo de la Vega confirms this criterion by stating that the oldest brothers settled in the high region, whereas the "Queen's" followers, the half brothers, settled in Huran Cusco or Cusco Bajo.
Concordantly with Garzilazo´s mythic narration, we can conclude that Hanan men were masculine/masculine, whereas Hurin men were masculine/feminine. As regards women, those from the low region would be feminine/feminine, whereas those living in the high region were feminine/masculine. These prototypes of women would be the feminine/feminine Mama Ocllo and the feminine/masculine Mama Huaco.