The Inca Empire was around for a relatively short period of time. Still, there is no doubt that the Inca Empire has had a significant influence on the culture of Peru. The impact was so substantial that some elements of the Inca’s traditions are still present today.
The most visible evidence of the Incas is Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. Every year, thousands travel to Peru to explore the remains of this civilization. If you want to learn more about the Inca Trail specifically, navigate to this page.
If you’re travelling to Peru, here is all you need to know about the Inca culture before going to Peru.
Every culture has things that they value more than others, and for the Incas, it was the traditional textiles. They were so significant that when the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 16th century, the emperor, wanting to show off his wealth and power, gifted them the textiles, and not gold or silver. The fabrics were used as a currency – the taxes to the emperor could be paid in textiles.
The textile traditions still run true today. They are recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Today, there are many weaving centres all across the country that use the same practices the Inca people did 500 years ago. And even though the fabrics don’t have any social function, you can still encounter them at local markets.
Ancient Inca Ruins
The most famous evidence of the Inca culture in Peru is Machu Picchu and dates back to the 15th century. The story behind this building is fascinating. Nobody actually knows why it was built. There are several theories. Some say that it had a religious purpose, others that it was for the emperor. Others believe both.
No matter which Inca ruin you look at, you will find similarities. The walls are built from carefully cut dry stone and fitted together without any mortar. You’ll also notice stone terraces that were used for agriculture or to manage irrigation in the steep terrain.
Some cities, including Cusco and Ollantaytambo, were built on top of the stone foundations from the Inca times and followed the layout of the original Inca towns.
The Inca Empire didn’t have one official language. However, as the current studies indicate, the Quechua language was the most widespread and is often called ‘the language of the Incas.’
Even though many people might not realize it while visiting Peru, the language is still in use with more than 3 million speakers. Furthermore, Peru has Quechua as one of its official languages.
Sun And Earth Ceremonies
The Inca’s appreciation of nature was based on three things – fear, respect, and adoration. They worshipped the earth (since their survival depended on its generosity), the goddess of fertility, and the sun.
If you are visiting Peru at the right time, you can take part in the annual Inca ceremonies celebrating the earth and the sun. The most famous ceremony is Inti Raymi, which takes place on the 24 of June in three historical sites in the Cusco region. Every year around 750 actors play the roles of ancient Inca and pay homage to the god of the sun.
Another Inca tradition that is still practised but on a much smaller scale is the ‘payment to the heart’ ceremonies, which involve, for example, burying of seeds, silver, coca leaves, and a local alcoholic drink (chicha).
If you look closely at both the ancient Inca culture and modern Peru’s culture, you will notice the influence that the first one had on the latter. So if you are going to Peru, find out more about both of them as it will help you in the better enhancement of the country. Bon voyage!