Inca Exhibition

The Inca Empire was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The administrative, political, and military center of the empire was located in Cusco in modern-day Peru. The civilization arose from the highlands of Peru in the early 13th century and was conquered by the Spaniards led by Francisco Pizarro in 1532. The official language of the empire was Quechua, although hundreds of local languages and dialects of Quechua were spoken. Incans referred to their empire as Tawantinsuyu, which means “The Four United Provinces”. Incans considered their King, the Sapa Inca, the “child of the sun”.

Unlike Maya and Aztec, Inca did not have a distinct creation myth of human or nature. Instead, the myth of Viracocha, the creator god, included the myth of creation of the universe. Since Incas did not have a proper written language, the legend has been orally descended or portrayed on artifacts. This vessel not only shows how intricate Inca's crafts were, but also shows how integral Inca mythology was to Incas' religious lives.
Another ceremonial vessel with mythological men drawn onto it. This artifact is significant in understanding the history of Inca Empire especially because it depicts many parts of warriors' garments: headdress decorated with feathers, traditional knife, belt, and ear ornaments.
This is Kero, an ancient Incan drinking vessel, that was often used in feasts. These types of cups are usually decorated with narrative scenes that could have been actual historical events. These vessels were also used in religious ceremonies like the two vessels displayed previously. Incans also made human sacrifices. When the need was extreme (e.g. when a new emperor succeeded the throne), 200 children were sacrificed. Children, before being sacrificed, were feasted so that they would not enter the presence of the gods hungry and crying. Defeats, famine, and pestilence all called for human blood. Often, a 'Chosen Woman' from the Sun Temple was taken out for sacrifice. It was important in human sacrifice that the victims were sacrificed without blemish. Many victims were chosen from the conquered provinces as part of regular taxation; "blood money" was scarcely a metaphor.
This bowl has zoomorphic representation of a snake on the side of it. Considering the significance of this bowl in the context of the importance of religion in Inca, this artifact shows how animals were integral part of Inca's culture; there are numerous mythologies about the creation of animals or in which animals play major roles.
This knife would have been carried by dynastic rulers during state ceremonies to represent, in a more precious form, the copper knives that were actually used for animal and human sacrifices.
This is a golden attire of rulers, consisting of a crown with four feathers, ear ornaments, necklace and an embossed breastplate and two shoulder pads. Incan emperors emphasized their power with brilliant gold crafts. The emperors were especially concerned about highlighting their power during religious ceremonies, which were often open to the public.
Under the emperor Topa Inca Yupanqui (r. 1471–1493), or Tupac Inka Yunpanqui, the empire reached its southernmost extent in central Chile, and the last vestiges of resistance on the southern Peruvian coast were eliminated. His death was followed by a struggle for the succession, from which Huayna Capac (1493–1525) emerged successful. Huayna Capac pushed the northern boundary of the empire to the Ancasmayo River before dying in an epidemic that may have been brought by a tribe from the east that had picked it up from the Spanish at La Plata. His death set off another struggle for succession, which was still unresolved in 1532, when the Spanish arrived in Peru; by 1535 the empire was completely lost.
Although this painting is not from the era of the Inca Empire, this portrait of an Inca Princess demonstrates many aspects of Inca society including the traditional garments, the social class system (the servant standing next to the princess has been depicted much smaller in scale than the princess to show the difference of their social status), and numerous religious rituals that involved human sacrifice (the princess is holding a human head that has been cut off so naturally, implying that the human sacrifice was an integral part of Inca's culture).
This unique artifact represents an Inca warrior holding a war club and wearing a traditional helmet. Warriors had a significant role in Inca, as they expanded Inca's borders, quenched rebellions, were used for political purposes, such as executions or coups, and brought back human captives that were often sacrificed as part of religious rituals.
Along with the Ceremonial Bowl, this necklace, often worn by high-ranking warriors or rulers, is decorated with zoomorphic representations--this time, jaguar, which represented valor in Inca society.
The Inca built a vast network of roads throughout this empire. It comprised two north-south roads, one running along the coast for about 2,250 miles (3,600 km), the other inland system along the Andes for a comparable distance. Many short rock tunnels and vine-supported suspension bridges were constructed. Use of the system was strictly limited to government and military business; a well-organized relay service carried messages in the form of knotted cords (quipu) at a rate of 150 miles (240 km) a day. The network later greatly facilitated the Spanish conquest of the Inca empire. Along with the road system, Incans had a system of post houses, and they were called tampus. Tampus were kept up by the local ayllu (head of a community); each community was expected to take care of a certain section of the road, repair it if necessary, and take care of the local tampus. There were various types of these tampus: those called "royal", to distinguish them from those of the ordinary kind, were reserved for the Lord-Inca or his governors when they made their inspection tours of the empire.
Many historians assert that there was no formal calendar of Incans but only a simple count of lunations. Since no written language was used by the Incas, it is impossible to check contradictory statements made by early colonial chroniclers. It is widely believed that the quipus of the Incas contain calendrical notations, but no satisfactory demonstration of this is possible. Most historians agree that the Incas had a calendar based on the observation of both the Sun and the Moon, and their relationship to the stars. Names of 12 lunar months are recorded, as well as their association with festivities of the agricultural cycle.
This sculpture of a llama also represents the significance of animals or livestock in Inca. Llama, especially, was important to Incans since it provided meat and fur for people, and also was a channel of transportation.
Women were an essential part of Inca society. Their principal role was to care for their children, cook, weave, make beer, and work int he fields. Unlike the stereotypical gender role of women, however, Inca women were allowed to have a number of husbands. Some women were chosen by the rulers and were sacrificed as "the chosen women of the sun". Incans considered women as a precious gift for the God.
Incans made beautiful artifacts using precious metals, especially gold. The best metal workers were transferred to Cusco, the capital of the empire, when the Kingdom of Chimor was incorporated into the empire in 1470. After their arrival, looking at these splendid artifacts, the Spaniards were blind to greed and demanded the Incans to bring more and more gold.
For Incans, turquoise was a precious gem related to their worship of water and sky.
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