Wednesday, November 23, 2011


According to the Inca mythology, Inti is the sun god, as well a patron deity of the Inca Empire. His exact origin is not known. The most common story says he is the son of Viracocha, the god of civilization.

He and his wife, Mama Quilla, the Moon goddess, were generally considered benevolent deities. Mama Quilla supposedly gave birth to the Earth. According to an ancient myth, Inti taught his son Manco Capac and his daughter Mama Ocllo the arts of civilization and they were sent to earth to pass this knowledge to mankind. Another legend however states Manco Capac was the son of Viracocha.

Inti ordered his children to build the Inca capital where a divine golden wedge they carried with them, would penetrate the earth. Incas believed this happened in the city of Cuzco. The Inca ruler was considered to be the living representative of Inti.

Willaq Umu was the High Priest of the Sun (Inti). The Incas believed that the Sapa Inca was the living son of Inti the sun god. His position placed him as the second most powerful person in the kingdom. He was directly underneath the Sapa Inca, and they were often brothers.

Inti was also known as Apu Punchau, which means "leader [of the] daytime". Inti is represented as a golden disk with a human face. A great golden disk representing Inti was captured by the Spanish conquistadors in 1571 and was sent to the Pope via Spain. It has since been lost.

Inti Raymi (festival)

The festival of Inti was held during the winter solstice, which was around June 24 in the Incan Empire. The festival was held in Cuzco and was attended by the four sectors of Tahuantinsuyu. In Quechua, Inti Raimi, means "resurrection of the sun" or "the way/path of the sun." Military captains, government officials, and the vassals who attended were dressed in their best costumes, and carried their best weapons and instruments.

Preparation for the festival of Inti Raymi began with a fast of three days, where also during those days there was no fire lit and the people refrained from sexual intercourse. This festival itself would last nine days, and during this time the people consumed massive amounts of food and drink. There were many sacrifices as well which were all performed on the first day. After the nine days everyone would leave with the permission of the Inca back to their states.

From: Wiki
For more on the festival, go here.
Inti was considered the Sun god and the ancestor of the Incas. Inca people were living in South America in the ancient Peru. In the remains of the city of Machu Picchu, it is possible to see a shadow clock which describes the course of the Sun personified by Inti.

Inti and his wife Pachamama, the Earth goddess, were regarded as benevolent deities. According to an ancient Inca myth, Inti taught his son Manco Capac and his daughter Mama Ocollo the arts of civilization and sent them to the Earth to instruct mankind about what they had learned.
Inti ordered his children to build the Inca capital where the tupayauri fell to the ground. The tupayauri was a divine golden wedge. Manco probed the ground with the wedge, and at one point threw it into the ground. The tupayauri sank into the ground, and so the search for a site was over. Incas believed this happened in the city of Cuzco, which has been founded by the Ayar.

Inti is celebrated even today in Peru during the Festival of Inti Raimi in Cuzco where an Inca drama related to the Sun god is re-enacted.

From: Here
...The most important cult was directed to Inti the god sun who nourished the earth and man with his rays. The most important feast was the one dedicated to Inti, called IntipRaimi. This rich ceremony, with its splendid costumes, and gold and silver offerings and decoration, was opened by the Inca emperor, his family and the curaca. After the opening the emperor made a libation to the sun and drank chicha (a maize drink) with his family, then led a procession, followed by every one into the sun temple, where the imperial family made offerings of precious vessels or images to the god. Following this, omens were read and llamas were sacrificed. The ceremony ended with eating and drinking.

From: Here
The Intip-Raymi, or Great Festival of the Sun, was celebrated by the Incas at Cuzco at the winter solstice. In connection with it the Tarpuntaita-cuma, or sacrificing Incas, were charged with a remarkable duty, the worshippers journeying eastward to meet one of these functionaries on his way. On the principal hill-tops between Cuzco and Huillcanuta, on the road to the rock of Titicaca, burnt offerings of llamas, coca, and maize were made at the feast to greet the arrival of the young sun from his ancient birthplace. Molina has enumerated more than twenty of these places of sacrifice. The striking picture of the celebration of the solar sacrifice on these bleak mountains in the depth of the Peruvian winter has, it seems, no parallel in the religious rites of the ancient Americans. Quitting their thatched houses at early dawn, the worshippers left the valley below, carrying the sacrificial knife and brazier, and conducting the white llama, heavily laden with fuel, maize, and coca leaves, wrapped in fine cloth, to the spot where the sacrifice was to be made. When sunrise appeared the pile was lighted. The victim was slain and thrown upon it. The scene then presented a striking contrast to the bleak surrounding wilderness. As the flames grew in strength and the smoke rose higher and thicker the clear atmosphere was gradually illuminated from the east. When the sun advanced above the horizon the sacrifice was at its height. But for the crackling of the flames and the murmur of a babbling stream on its way down the hill to join the river below, the silence had hitherto been unbroken. As the sun rose the Incas marched slowly round the burning mass, plucking the wool from the scorched carcase, and chanting monotonously: "O Creator, Sun and Thunder, be for ever young! Multiply the people; let them ever be in peace!"

From here: Chapter VII: The Mythology of Peru
The Peruvians believed that the Sun was at once the ancestor and the founder of the Inca dynasty, and that the Incas reigned as his representatives and almost in his person. The Sun, therefore, was the sovereign lord of the world, the king of heaven and earth, and was called by them "Inti," which signifies Light.

The Peruvian villages were so built that the inhabitants could have an unobstructed view of the east, in order that each morning the nation might unite in saluting the rising Sun, and rejoice in the advent of the Lord of Light. The Sun alone of all the deities had a temple in every large town in Peru.

The Peruvian Sun temples probably exceeded in magnificence those of any other nation on the earth. In Peru, as elsewhere, a certain relationship was thought to exist between the substance of gold, and that of the sun. In the nuggets dislodged from the mountain sides they thought they saw the Sun's tears, consequently, in the Peruvian edifices dedicated to the worship of the Sun, we find gold used lavishly to beautify and embellish the structure.

The following description of the Great Temple of the Sun at Cuzco, the grandest ecclesiastical edifice in the empire, gives some idea of the beauty and grandeur of these places of worship:

The temple consisted of a vast central auditorium surrounded by a number of smaller buildings and was built with an elegance of masonry rarely, if ever, equaled.

The roof was formed by timber-works of precious woods plated with gold, and the precious metal was so prodigally lavished on the interior that the temple bore the name of "The Place of Gold" or "Golden Palace." A thick sheet of gold six inches wide ran round the outside of the edifice as a frieze, and there was a similar decoration in every apartment. The doors opened to the east, and at the far end above the altar was a golden disk with human countenance shaped and graven to represent the sun, and studded with precious stones. It was so placed as to reflect, at certain seasons, the first rays of the rising sun on its brilliant surface, and, as it were, reproduce the likeness of the great luminary.

Around the sacred disk was arranged in a semi-circle the mummies of the departed Incas seated on golden thrones, so that the morning sun rays came day by day to bless the remains of the rulers of bygone ages.
The adjacent buildings were the abodes of the deities who formed the retinue of the Sun. The principal one was sacred to the Moon, the Sun's consort, who had her disk of silver, and arranged around her were the mummies of the ancient queens. Other chambers in the temple were dedicated to the stars, to lightning, and to the rainbow. Outside the temple was a great garden filled with rare and beautiful plants, which contained, also, exquisite imitations of trees, bushes, and flowering shrubs, and animals all wrought in solid gold. The vases and temple ornaments, all the utensils used by the priests in the temple, and even the conductor pipes, were composed of the precious metal.

In the Peruvian ceremonials of Sun worship, drink offerings were presented to the deity in a golden vessel, and the people believed that if the liquid disappeared the Sun partook of it, which might be truly said of it, as it soon vanished by evaporation.

Under the Incas, Sun worship became the state religion of Peru, and the central idea of the life of the people. It is evident, however, that Sun worship was not acceptable to all the Incas, for there is on record a protest made by an Inca that the Sun could not be a supreme and all-powerful deity, constrained as he was to pursue one fixed course in the firmament. If he was supreme he should be a free agent, argued this wise sovereign.

Columns in honour of the Sun were erected in Peru as in other lands where Sun worship prevailed, level at the top, so as to form a seat for the sun who, the Peruvians said, "loved to rest upon them." At the equinoxes and solstices they placed golden thrones upon them for the Sun-God's further convenience. Surrounding the city of Cuzco there were twelve stone columns dedicated to the sun, which represented the twelve months in the year.

Human sacrifices to the sun were common in Peru, and the rising sun looked down on sacrificial altars reddened by the blood of thousands of victims. The holiest sacrifice was the blood of a captive youth, smeared on a rock that crowned a mountain top, so that the sun's first rays would light up the gory sacrifice.

Sun worship thrived in Peru until the Spanish Conquest, when Pizarro ruthlessly overthrew the temples, and stifled the religion. It is said that the great golden disk representing the sun, that was the chief object of worship in the Great Temple at Cuzco, was secured as booty by one of the rough adventurers of the conquering army, and became the stake in a subsequent drunken gambling bout that the plunderer engaged in.

Although the Sun worship of the Peruvians reached a higher state of exaltation, and perfection than that of any other South American people, still the pre-eminence of the Sun, and its deification, was the very essence of the early religion of Central America, and particularly Mexico. The ancient Mexicans called themselves "Children of the Sun," and daily greeted the rising sun with hymns of praise, and offered to the solar deity a share of their meat and drink. Even to this day, the inhabitants of the interior of Mexico, as they go to mass, throw a kiss to the Sun before entering the church.

Four times by day and night the priests of the ancient Sun temples addressed their invocations and prayers to the Sun, and all the temples were dedicated to his worship. In the ceremonial of the temple worship, blood drawn from the ears of the high priest was offered to the Sun, as was also a sacrifice of quails. The priest invoked the Sun saying: "The Sun has risen, we know not how he will fulfill his course, nor whether misfortune will happen. Our Lord do your office prosperously."

From: Sun Lore of All Ages --> Chapter VII. Sun Worship (Continued)

Other links:

About Inti Raymi
The Peruvian Universe
More festival info
And more
Quechua glossary (their language)
Tumi, a ritual knife
A bit about the Tumi
Videos of the festival

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