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THE PLANNING OF THE NEW CUSCO

MACHU PICCHU

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MACHU PICCHU MACHU PICCHU MACHU PICCHU

The old Cusco becomes depopulated

As from the first years of his government, Pachacutec busied himself with the reconstruction of Cusco. The chronicler Sarmiento de Gamboa relates that the Inca had the habit of walking through the city carefully observing everything.

As the best way of achieving his purpose, he decided to remove Cusco's inhabitants so as to retrace the town and redistribute the lands and properties to those who he thought were entitled to live in his capital.

With his surveying rod in his hand, the Inca personally measured out the streets and public areas, to the great satisfaction of the panacas, the people of royal lineage and the ancient ayllus who were the custodians of the sovereign.

Up to that moment, Cusco had only been a somewhat rustic settlement, subject to frequent flooding from its two small rivers, the Hautanay and the Tulumayo.

The reconstruction began with the channeling of the two watercourses to avoid bogging in the rainy season, and in order to build the city's aqueducts. Betanzos tells us the method used for Cusco's reconstruction. Pachacutec, using his reciprocity agreements, called a meeting of the main curacas and the Andean authorities in the capital. After the usual festivities, they conferred on a plan to send ten envoys to the surrounding cities to collect provisions and find suitable quarries.

Once all their problems had been solved, the envoys sent workmen to Cusco. Some had the task of carting rough rocks for foundations, others brought sticky clay and straw to manufacture adobe bricks, and others collected alder wood. Architect Gasparini thinks that expert stonemasons, heirs of the art of the ancient Tiahuanacotas, were brought from Collao.

Inca plazas were extraordinarily big, trapeze-shaped, and intended for religious and social activities. The reciprocity rite took place in in the plaza of Aucaypata, where the ayllus and royal clans met to eat, drink and dance the ceremonial dances of the Inca calendar.

This plaza was also used for triumphal celebrations of the Inca army's victories. These consisted of laying out on the ground all the booty and prisoners taken in each raid. The Inca proceeded to walk all over these people and items, to symbolize his enemies' submission and his newly-acquired power over their territories.

The Coricancha

Pachacutec put all his efforts into the reconstruction of the sanctuary of Inti Cancha or the Sun Enclosure, which up to then had been quite modest. Not only were the walls decked out with detailed carvings, but gold-filled ornaments added a splendorous touch. The first Spaniards to view this sanctuary reported it as a garden filled with plants, flowers, birds and insects made of solid gold.

The main temples of the sanctuary were respectively dedicated to the Sun, the Moon, Thunder and the Rainbow. They were all communicated with the "golden garden". Different accounts say that the sun was represented on one of the walls by an oval plate of gold, whereas Garcilaso mentions the sun symbol as being a face.

The mummies of former sovereigns were kept in the temple, and taken to the plaza for the major ceremonies. The moon temple contained the remains of the collas or queens, standing guard at the sides of the callanca. Only Huayna Capac's mother, Mama Ocllo, faced the moon figure.

Religious changes

Most chroniclers mention religious changes that followed on the war against the Chancas. Seemingly, the main priests were in favor of Inca Viracocha's escape, and were willing to submit to his enemies on this condition.

After Cusi Yupanqui's (the future Pachacutec's) victory, the priests' situation became uncomfortable. Besides, the young prince needed a father to name him as the new sovereign. When Viracocha refused to "lay foot" on the captives and spoils, Cusi Yupanqui went to the temple of Inti Cancha and asked the Sun directly for authority. As from that time, the Inca was considered the offspring of the Sun.

This implied a religious change from the previous cult of god Viracocha, who had only one temple in his honor within the Inca nation, whereas now the influence of the Sun had become enhanced.

Naturally, these events did not influence the veneration for the numerous huacas, apus and other existing idols. What is more, Pachacutec saw his opportunity to keep the main huacas in Cusco, granting them servants, lands and other properties. This was a way of controlling possible uprisings, since the tribesmen were fearful of possible reprisals on their idols in the event of a mutiny.





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