Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Most Famous Andean Temple – Part I

-->Qorikancha (Intikancha), the famous Sun Temple of Qosqo (Cusco) from the Amayra Qusqu Wanka, meaning “Rock of the owl,” was and is in practice a synthesis of the Incan organization, architecture and religion; that had already reached the summit of their level by 1438. It possibly represented the "Navel of the World"; therefore, the world's center in the pre-Hispanic Andean Cosmovision.
Watanay Valley, or Cuzco Valley, today with Wayna Tawqaray on th slopes of the distasnt slope; Muyu Urqu, or “circle mountain,” the hill on the right; Watanay River flows at the base of these two slopes

According to Inca history, it was the first Inka, MankoQhapaq who built the original temple in the Watanay Valley (Qosqo Valley). It is claimed that in 1438 the ninth Inka, Pachakuteq, reconstructed, enlarged, improved and modernized the most important religious complex of the vast Incan Society. There are certain discrepancies about the original name of the site that cause some confusion. Frequently in chronicles and historical treatises the name Intiwasi is listed, (inti= sun, wasi= house), which means "Sun House"; also the name Intikancha is used, which means "Sun Palace" (this is considering that almost all Inkan palaces had the noun "Kancha"). However, its most popular name is Qorikancha, which means "Golden Palace". According to Maria Rostworowski (Tovar de Diez Canseco), a Peruvian historian and Inca Empire researcher, the ancient temple was known as "Intikancha" and after Pachakuteq as "Qorikancha".
The Qorikancha, the ancient Pre-Inca Temple upon whose ruins the Santo Domingo Church and monastery was built by the Spanish conquerors

All the chroniclers appear to agree that the quality of the building was extraordinary, made with gray basaltic andesites coming from the quarries of Waqoto and Rumiqolqa. The walls have the "Sedimentary" style that is the height of architectural expression in pre-Columbian America. The stones are between medium to large which outer surface is rectangular; the structure is straight horizontal that in the most important temples exhibit side views with marked convexity. The joints between stones are polished, so perfectly made that not even a razor blade can be inserted between them.
    The cross section structure is "tied up” with "H" shaped bronze clamps or clips in the internal joints that fastened together the lithic pieces avoiding harmful horizontal displacements in case of earthquakes. The wall also have a decreasing vertical structure, that is, with bigger stones in the lower part and every time smaller toward the top. The walls are wider in the base than on the top; with the classical inclination inward balanced with the trapezoidal shape of doorways, niches and openings. Those characteristics make the walls support themselves forming a resistant, solid, anti-seismic structure that was able to resist the two huge earthquakes after the Spanish invasion, in 1650 and 1950 that destroyed every colonial building.
    Today in some of these walls there are a few cracks, that are not a result of bad calculation or technique of the Quechua architects, but simply, consequence of changes carried out in colonial times, the earthquakes and mainly exposition to inclement weather and erosion after all of them. According to some studies the finely carved stone walls had a continuation of sun-dried mud-bricks on the top forming very steep gable ends in order to enable drainage of rain waters. The roofing was thatched made in wood and "ichu" the wild Andean bunch grass, with eaves projecting out about 5 ¼  feet, and roofs often covered on festive days with showy multicolored rugs made with special feathers.
    Graziano Gasparini, the distinguished historian of architecture, conducting a series of lectures in Cuzco in 1975, claimed that the “gold edging” often mentioned by chroniclers, which served as a crown surrounding the whole outer upper side of the temple, which dissembled the difference between the fine stone wall and the upper adobe wall. The complete floor in the open areas of the temple were covered with finely paved flagstones while the floors inside the enclosures were made with kilned clay as a solid ceramic block like the treated floors found in Machupicchu.
    The temple's main gate faced toward the Northeast; almost in the same position of the present-day entrance to the Santo Domingo (St. Dominic) Convent, overlooking the Intipanpa ("Sun Plaza") that occupies the small park in front. According to chroniclers this was a religious complex constituted by temples dedicated to different deities. It had a layout very similar to that of a classical "kancha"; with enclosures around a central patio where according to Cieza de Leon, every doorway was veneered with gold plates.
Remains of the Qorikancha, now the foundation below Spanish colonial construction of the church and monastery of Santo Domingo

The Sun Temple stood out in the complex, covering the space occupied today by the Santo Domingo Church. Its eastern end was completely demolished while the western one still subsists partially forming what is known as "solar round building", that is, the original ancient Peruvian semicircular wall overlooking the present-day Arrayan street and the Avenida el Sol.
    As stated by Cusquenian Chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega who stated that "... what I swallowed in the milk and saw and heard from my ancestors..." in telling us that the Sun Temple had its four walls and even the wooden ceiling completely covered with gold plates and planks, with a rectangular floor plan and a very high thatched roof for facilitating ventilation. Also, on the eastern wall of this temple must have been the facade and Main Altar that as it is known contained the representation of the Sun God in a gold plate with the shape of a "round face and rays and flames". That solar representation was so huge that it covered all the temple front from wall to wall; in the treasures distribution among the conquerors, that golden piece corresponded by casting of lots to Mancio Sierra de Leguisamo, an incurable gambler who lost it all during one night playing dice—a game in which the famous saying "bet the sun before dawn" was created.
    Chronicler Sarmiento de Gamboa suggests that Pachakuteq ordered a layout so that the Sun would occupy the main place along with the Wiraqocha god representation on its right side and that of Chuquiylla ("Chuki Illapa" or thunder, lightning and thunderbolt) to its left side. Also, on both sides of the Sun image were the "Mallki" (mummies or embalmed bodies in a fetal position) of the dead Inka Kings, according to their antiquity, and over litters of solid gold.
    In the Andean Cosmogony it was considered that the Moon or Mamakilla was the Sun's wife. Therefore, the Moon Temple was located on the eastern side of the Solar Temple; it had a rectangular floor plan with the best quality of architecture, unfortunately it was almost completely destroyed by the Spanish in order to build the Catholic Church—one of its gates is still seen as well as its eastern wall with the classical trapezoidal niches. Among those niches is the horizontal dark stripe that is believed to be the support zone of the silver plates that completely covered its walls, and in the center of the temple was a silver Moon representation and on both sides of it the embalmed bodies of the dead Qoyas (Queens), according to their antiquity.
    In the eastern side of the Moon temple; divided by a narrow passage with an impressive double jamb doorway that has a stone with 14 carved angles on its outer face, is the Temple of Ch’aska and the Stars (Ch'aska was the Venus star). In ancient Peruvian lore, stars were particularly significant, that played a very important role in astral observation and future prediction with relationship to weather, agriculture, prosperity, welfare, etc. During Incan times, these stars became known as “moon’s maids.”
    Even today Andean peasants (descendants of Inkas) observe the brightness of stars formed in constellations in order to foresee their future. For example, almost always when some stars are very shiny it means that during the next farming season there will be droughts. Three walls of the temple are almost complete, and the fourth wall toward the West was destroyed in colonial times, but was reconstructed following its original characteristics—today, restorations are made with the original materials or stones, giving more importance to protection and solidification works in the monument.
    The considerably sized Venus Temple is surrounded by 25 trapezoidal niches that were used for holding statues, offerings and elements related to the stars. Also by the middle of the niches was the horizontal stripe that supported the silver "planks" covering the temple. In addition, the entire ceiling had star representations of different sizes "like the starry sky."
    It should be of interest to the Latter-day Saint that the symbols used in the construction of this temple had the Sun, Moon, and Stars, symbols tht have specific and clear meaning to us today.
    In addition, the temple had two very high entrance gates and in the wall, between them, are two very special trapezoidal niches having carvings of stripes and hollows around, to which Garcilaso called “tabernacles.” One of those niches overlooks inside the temple and the other outside, but they occupy the same height on both wall sides. Originally they were veneered with gold plates and planks, and "... on the molding's corners there were many encasings of precious stones such as emeralds and turquoises...".
    Inside the temple, close to a corner and over the stone wall, there was a plaster coat with murals that are a souvenir of the colonial occupation of this amazing temple. The original ancient Peruvian walls were used as foundations for the later Inca and Spanish mud-brick colonial building that is still seen over the rear stone wall.
    In front of the Stars Temple, on the other side of the present-day central patio is the Temple of “Illapa,” or "Chuki Illapa," the deity compound of “thunder, lightning and thunderbolt” that was considered as the "Sun's servant." During Inkan times, Illapa was the "Storm God," the ruler of rain, hail and snow, the hurler of thunderbolts; its shrine was adorned with gold. In addition, the temple had three trapezoidal single jamb doorways and its present-day northwestern lateral wall was partially reconstructed following its original characteristics. That enclosure is smaller than the previously described temples, with walls having the classical trapezoidal niches and two windows in its lateral walls; on the upper side of the front wall there were carved moldings which purpose is unknown.
(See the next post for more information on this original temple site)

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