Tuesday, August 30, 2016

More Comments from Readers – Part V

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog: 
    Comment #1: “Who or what was the Sapa Inca?” Bill S.
    Response: The ultimate head of all Inca rule was the Sapa Inca. Sapa means “only” or the “Only Inca.” During the golden years of the empire, 1438 to 1533, there were only three Great Sapa Incas: Pachacutec (also called Pachacuti), who ruled from 1438 to 1471; Tupac Inca Yupanqui, who ruled from 1471 to 1493; and Huayna Capac (pronounced WHY-nuh CA-poc), who ruled from 1493 to 1525. The warring half-brothers Huáscar and Atahuallpa (pronounced AH-tah-WAHL-pah) were also Sapa Incas who ruled, though briefly during a Civil War, before the Spanish conquest in 1533. 
    The Sapa Inca was considered a descendant of Inti, the sun god, and therefore was regarded as a semi-divine (godlike) being. He held authority over all things. Upon taking power, the Sapa Inca married one of his sisters to keep the royal bloodline purely Inca. The Sapa Inca's sister/wife, also known as his principal wife, was called the coya, or queen. Sapa Incas had many other wives as well, and sometimes Sapa Incas had hundreds of children. However, only the sons of the principal wife were eligible to inherit the Sapa Inca's position. The Sapa Inca considered the worthiness of each of these sons before choosing a successor; succession to the throne was not a matter of birth order.
During the years of Inca dominance, the position of Sapa Inca was surrounded by symbols and rituals. The Sapa Inca wore a braided headband with red tassels wrapped several times around his brow and carried a special gold club. When he traveled, he was carried upon an immense litter (an enclosed platform, usually borne on the shoulders of servants), accompanied by a multitude of servants and attendants. Also in this large traveling group were the many wives of the Sapa Inca and some of their children. The wives walked closest to the Sapa Inca and provided a buffer between him and all the other people.
    Everyone treated the Sapa Inca with extreme ceremonial reverence. When people needed to speak to the Sapa Inca, they would approach him barefoot and with a heavy load on their back as a sign of humility. They were required to look at their feet—never into his eyes—and often one of his wives would hold a cloth screen across his face so that it was impossible for anyone to look upon the Sapa Inca directly. No one except his wives was allowed to touch any clothing he had worn, and his wives periodically burned his used clothing to ensure this. The leftovers of the Sapa Inca's meals were also burned. If the Sapa Inca wished to spit, one of his wives would hold out her hand so he could spit into it. If a hair fell from his head, a wife would quickly eat it so that no one would ever be able to touch it. The Incas feared that if others had access to articles that had been close to, or part of, the Sapa Inca, such items could be used to put an evil spell on him.
    The divine role of the Sapa Inca continued after his death, and so did his reverential treatment. His relatives had the body mummified, and then all of them except for the successor to the throne continued to live in the Sapa Inca's palace, using his vast stores of wealth; the household of the dead Sapa Inca was called the panaca. Meanwhile, the Sapa Inca's successor had to go out and build a new palace and find new sources of food and goods to supply it. Even after the new Sapa Inca ascended the throne in his own palace, the deceased Sapa Inca was treated as if he were still alive and ruling the empire. During festivals and ceremonies the various panacas of all the deceased Sapa Incas brought out the sacred mummies and sat them together on a platform. They even fed the mummies and gave them chicha (beer made from maize) to drink.
Further, in the Inca homeland, the people next in line to the Sapa Inca were the other Incas, who had the top privileges of the kingdom. They were entitled to live in the center of Cuzco with their servants, and they sent their children to special schools. Incas were later called orejones, meaning "big ears" in Spanish, because only Incas were entitled to wear prestigious earplugs, large, ornamental tube-shaped studs that were fitted into a hole in their earlobes.
    In addition, there was a distinct hierarchy (or ranking) among the Incas. The most powerful people were those closely related to the Sapa Inca. Next in line were the Incas who were not closely related to the Sapa Inca. (Though it was believed that all Inca nobility stemmed from the same families, though over the years some of the blood relations had become distant). As the Incas acquired more territory, they found it necessary to give noble ranking to a third group of non-Inca people. These were known as Incas-by-privilege, and though they were not Incas by birth, they were Quechua-speaking people who had lived in the Cuzco area for a long time. The Incas added this group to their elite because even though an Inca man could have many wives, the Incas could not produce enough offspring (Incas by blood) to manage the entire empire by themselves.
    Comment #2: “One would think that if Pachacamac was actually Zarahemla, that there would be a lot of evidence of the type of living there found in the record, one of those that come to mind is when it talks about Zarahemla with their fine silks, and their fine-twined linen. Is there any evidence of this in Pachacamac?” Lindsey P.
    Response: It is interesting that you should ask since weaving, twining, embroidery and other textile remnants have been found along the south coast where the greatest amount of material is available for study of textile art and development. In this almost perfect arid region the site of preservation of the fabrics is remarkable and the known quantity is very great and most importantly, “the technical and artistic quality extraordinary.”
In fact, “while twining and weaving were contemporary throughout the pre-ceramic period, it is curious that weaving remained subordinate to twining for so long.” The earliest known weavers of the southern coast, those of the Paracas period (800 B.C. to 100 B.C.) as well as those of the later Nazca Valley (100 B.C. to 450 A.D.), practiced every important fundamental technique known in the latest periods, especially “for their technically complex textiles” (Helaine Silverman and Donald A. Proulx, The Nasca, Blackwell Publishers, Malden, 2002). According to Mary Frame's extensive analysis of textiles has revealed more about the women, that “although they are rarely recognized in the archaeological record, they had ready access to high-status materials and the right to wear potent imagery on their garments, which gave an indication of their status” ("What the Women Were Wearing,” Textile Museum Journal, Vol 42-43, 2003/04,13–53). 
    Comment #3:  “I love your explanation of the scriptures. You make them come alive with sound, reasonable, and very supportable views. Thank you” Carma C.
    Response: Thank you. 
    Comment #4: “Do we know the size of the Temple in Zarahemla?” Regina Y.
    Response: Pachacamac covered about 12 acres in area, and rose to about 75-feet. It was isolated from the rest of the city complex and sat atop a hill overlooking the Pacific coast. Later temples and complexes were built more within the city site itself, for these early temples, such as Cuzco (City of Nephi) and Pachacamac (Zarahemla) were more isolated. The overall city complex covers about 210 acres (85 hectares).

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