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Inca Symbols - Inca Meanings

Inca Symbols - Inca Meanings

Inca symbols. The Inca Empire existed in South America, in the area that is modern day Peru and Bolivia, from the early 13th Century until its last city was taken by the Spanish conquest in 1572. It was the largest and most developed empire in the Americas before the arrival of the Spanish.
The Incan Empire was defined by its impressive and enormous architecture – the most famous being Machu Picchu which was constructed using stone blocks that fit together so tightly that a knife would not fit between the building stones. Incan pyramids survive to this day, sustained without any need for mortar within the stonework.
The Empire also featured an extensive network of roads that served to connect even the most remote outposts of the territory. The Inca produced fine woven textiles (featuring architectural motifs) and were particularly inventive when it came to communication, organization and labor.
The majority of the Inca lived at a particularly high altitude in the Andean mountains, and so their agriculture practices were both impressive and innovative .
The Incas were polytheists who worshiped many gods. They believed in reincarnation and human sacrifice. They did not use money or exchange goods using markets. Inca culture was built upon reciprocity. Each individual paid something like a tax to the Empire through labor, while the emperor and nobles would throw feasts and sponsor festivals for their subjects.
After the fall of the Inca Empire many features of Inca culture were destroyed by the Spanish. Huge numbers of Inca were devastated by the rapid spread of smallpox, another effect of the invasion. Other diseases soon followed. As such, much of the culture and many Incan innovations have been lost to history.

Chakana Inca symbol

Chakana

The Chakana symbol is considered the most holy symbol of the Inca culture that has survived to the present day. It represents the Tree of Life and the four levels of the world: the underworld, the Earth and the realm of the gods. The snake, puma, and condor are associated with each of these planes of existence, respectively. Another explanation holds that the Chakana represents the Southern Cross constellation, as this was thought by the Incas to be the location of the center of the universe.

Viracocha Inca symbol

Viracocha

Viracocha was the god of everything. In the beginning he was the main god, but when Pachakuti became Inca emperor, he changed this god’s importance, pointing out that the most important god was Inti.

Urquchillay Inca sumbol

Urquchillay

Urquchillay, in the Inca religion, was the god who watched over animals. He was said to appear as a multi-colored llama, and to care for and protect the animals of Incan herders. Urquchillay would ensure the well-being and increasing size of their herds. He is associated with the stellar constellation Lyra.

Urcaguary Inca symbol

Urcaguary

Urcaguary, in the Inca religion is the god of jewels, precious metals and treasures found underground. Urcaguary was often depicted as a cross between a deer and a snake. He is the master of sprite-like creatures, the ekkeku, who spread good luck and fortune amongst those that would worship him.

Supay Inca symbol

Supay

Supay, in the Inca religion, is the god of death and the ruler of the underworld. He is also the master of demons. After the Spanish conquest, Supay became associated with the Christian devil. However, amongst native Peruvians, Supay continued to be invoked and honored lest he cause them harm. Supay is associated with miners and those who dig into the earth.

Pacha Kamaq Inca symbol

Pacha Kamaq

Pacha Kamaq, in the Inca religion, was the god of creation. His name translates as ‘Earth Maker’. According to the Incan mythology, Pacha Kamaq created the world, and then created the first man and woman. He forgot to feed the man, who died. He killed the first son of the woman, who became the fruit and vegetable plants, but was driven into the oceans by the younger son, Wichama.

Mama Sara Inca symbol

Mama Sara

Mama Sara, in the Inca religion, was the goddess of maize or grain. Her name translates to ‘Maize Mother’. According to the Incan mythology, Mama Sara was a beautiful and pious maiden, who was transformed by the Sun god Inti into a sheaf of corn to avoid the amorous advances of a lecherous priest. Mama Sara is also associated with the willow tree.

Mama Killa Inca symbol

Mama Killa

Mama Killa, or Mamaquilla, in the Inca religion, is the goddess of marriage, festivals and the Moon. Her name translates as ‘Moon Mother’. She was the goddess who governed the Incan calendars, due to her association with the Moon and its cycles. Temples built to honor Mama Killa had no priests, but only priestesses.

Pachamama Inca symbol

Pachamama

Pachamama, or Mama Pacha, in the Inca religion, is the personification of Mother Nature. She is a god of fertility, sowing seed and harvesting crops. She is the guardian who watches over fields of crops. She is also associated with earthquakes.

Mama Qucha Inca symbol

Mama Qucha

Mama Quacha, in the Inca religion, was the goddess of the sea, lakes and of fish. Her name means ‘Sea Mother’ or ‘Mother of Lakes’. Her role within the wider Incan mythology is to provide the world with strength, and to ensure that water sources remain plentiful. She is the guardian of sailors and fishermen.

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Mama Allpa Inca symbol

Mama Allpa

Mama Allpa, in the Inca religion, was a goddess of the Earth and fertility. Her name means, literally, ‘Earth Mother’. She was often depicted as having multiple breasts. Mama Allpa was responsible for the fertility of the soil and for fruitful harvests.

Kon Inca symbol

Kon

Kon, in the Inca religion, was the god of rain and the southerly wind. He was the son of Inti, the first and most powerful god, as well as Mama Killa, the goddess of the Moon. There is a crater on Rhea, one of Saturn’s moons, named after Kon.

Inti Inca symbol

Inti

Inti, in the Inca religion, was the sun god, and the source of light and warmth in the world. He was thought to protect the Incan people. Incan Emperors were thought to be direct descendants of Inti. The sun being vital for successful agriculture, Inti was revered. He was the first and most powerful god, though he was, in the latter part of the Incan civilization, supplanted by Viracocha.

Illapa Inca symbol

Illapa

Illapa, in the Inca religion, was a weather god, associated with thunder, lightning and of rain. He was said to pour the rain from a jug containing the entire galaxy. Illapa was an important figure in the Incan mythology, as he controlled the weather and therefore affected the growth of crops. Illapa was often represented as a man wearing sparkling robes, carrying a club and precious stones.

Ekeko Inca symbol

Ekeko

Ekeko, in the Incan religion, was the god of the hearth and of wealth. As part of their mythology, Incans would create small Ekeko icons, like dolls, within which they would place an object representing something desired. It was believed that this would result in one’s desires being realized.

Cavillace Inca symbol

Cavillace

Cavillace, in the Inca religion, was a virgin goddess. In the mythology, she became pregnant after eating fruit that was truly the seed of the moon god, Coniraya. She gave birth to a son, but was ashamed and turned her and her offspring to rocks on the Peruvian coast.

Catequil Inca symbol

Catequil

Catequil was the Incan weather god of thunder and lightning, as well an oracle who might reveal details of the future. In some traditions, Catequil was a separate deity to Ataguchu (Apocatequil), while in others he was supposed to be Ataguchu in disguise. Incan warriors would carry images of Catequil into battle. He was said to be responsible for the conception of twins, as the Inca believed he would transform into a lightning bolt and make love to mortal women.

Ataguchu Inca symbol

Ataguchu

Ataguchu, sometimes called Apocatequil, was a god who assisted in creation myth. Ataguchu and his twin brother, Piguero, showed the very first Incas how to escape the underworld and brought them out into the real world. Ataguchu is associated with lightning. Ataguchu and Piguero are deities of the day and night, though it is not known which each represents.

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