Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Cuenca: Bounty, Beauty, Blood and Bureaucracy - Part II (The Andean Face-Off)

Viracocha - The Incan Creation God
So ¿how had the secondary capital of the mighty Inca empire been reduced to rubble in less than a century?

Well, as is often the case when nothing but a crumbling ruin is left behind, it all comes down to a bit of good old sibling rivalry.  It was Túpaq Inka Yupanki's grandsons who got into this little fratricidal to-do and thereby eased the Spanish conquistadors' takeover of South America. 

We left off our tale with
Túpaq Inka Yupanki having entered the Cañari city of Guanpondoleg, renamed it Tumepampa and built the grand palace complex of Pumepunku.   He liked his newly renamed city so much that he spent a good deal of time there and his son Tito Husi Hualpa was born in the city around about 1485 to his principal wife Mama Ocllo Coya.

Another of his wives, Chuqui Ocllo, convinced him that their son, Huari Cápac, should be named his successor.  However, at the last minute, Túpaq Inka Yupanki had a change of heart and decided that Tito Husi Hualpa was his legitimate heir after all.

Huayna Capac (née Tiso Husi Hualpa)
What a dashing looking fellow.
Chuqui Ocllo didn't take this so well.  By way of a gentle rebuff to Yupanki for his capriciousness, she poisoned him to death.  

It was 1493 and little Tito Husi Hualpa was still at rather too fragile an age to be defending himself from conspirators. 

Fortunately. the general Huamán Achachi, loyal to the true heir (and also, coincidentally, his uncle) captured Chuqui Ocllo and Huari Cápac and had them executed for their bad behaviour (although some sources say Huari Capac was just banished for life.  Chuqui Ocllo definitely carked it though)..

Having narrowly avoided death, Tiso Husi Hualpa became the 11th Sapa Inca, taking the name Huayna Capac.  He grew up to be a real chip of the old block, carrying on his ol' dad's tradition of empire expansion, and it was during his reign that the Inca Empire reached its apex, stretching over a thousand miles north to south, with 12,000,000 subjects at a conservative estimate. 

The extent of the Inca Empire (Quechua: Tawantinsuyu) under Huayna Capac
In 1527, Huayna heard tell of some strange, hairyfaced, metal-skinned demigods arriving from the north in “houses of wood”.   This all sounded rather irregular, so he headed north to find out what on earth was going on.  He didn't find them (they would eventually turn out to be the conniving bastard Francisco Pizarro and his motley band of conquistadors), but they had left a present for him: and that present was smallpox.

The people of the Americas has no immunity to this peculiar, foreign disease and it not only did for Huayna, but killed off around 200,000 others as well.   Unfortunately for the Inca Empire, Huayna's eldest son and heir, Ninan Cuyochi, also died of smallpox on the same trip.  This left a great big power vacuum at the centre of the Inca Empire. 

Now, nature abhors a vacuum, so it was quickly filled by two contenders for the throne. 
Huáscar was in control of the south from his base in Cuzco and had the support of the clergy and the old nobility, and his half-brother Atahualpa set up shop in the north with the support of Huayna's top generals. 

Now I don't know about you, but in the event of a civil war, and I lay emphasis here on the word 'war', I know who I'd rather have the support of.

The scene was set for a grand Andean face-off.

When the war arrived at the doors of Tumepampa in 1531, despite being in the Atahualpa-held territory of the north, the people of the city chose to side with Huáscar.

As Atahualpa controlled the area, had the support of the generals and a far larger army, this would seem like a somewhat politically inexpedient move on the part of the Tumepampans, 

So ¿why did the Cañari decide to back Huascar?   ¿What did the Cañari have against Atahualpa?

Well, it turns out that he just wasn't quite inbred enough for their liking.  To understand why this is, we need to take a quick detour through the Inca creation myth. 

¿Is everyone sitting comfortably?  Then I'll begin:

n the time of darkness, the great god Viracocha
rose from the depths of Lake Titicaca to bring forth light. 

He made Inti the sun, Mama Killa the moon and all the stars.

He breathed life into stones to create the first humans, but they were stupid, brainless giants who displeased him (perhaps precursors of the gringos), so he swept them away and made better ones from smaller stones. 

He wandered the world disguised as a beggar, teaching civilization to people, as well as working the odd miracle or two.

Job done, he wandered away across the ocean, never to return until the time of greatest need.
Inti - the great sun-god of the Inca

His son (and sun) Inti took up the slack, providing warmth and light unto Pachamama; the earth.  He and his wife Mama Killa,  had two children, Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo.   Inti sent his children down unto the Earth to found a great city to be the Inca capital. 

They emerged from the cave of Pacaritambo carrying a divine golden staff, called tapac-yauri, with orders to build the city wherever the staff, when thrust into the ground, would be swallowed by the earth. 

They traveled far and wide, thrusting the staff into the ground here and there to no avail.  

At last they came upon the most beautiful valley they ever had seen, the valley of Haunacuari, Manco thrust the staff into the ground, and lo. it was swallowed by the earth as Inti had foretold. 

Here they settled and built the city of Cuzco with their own hands.   Manco became the first Sapa Inca, married Mama Ocllo and founded the Inca dynasty.  

From then onwards. each Sapa Inca married his sister in order to maintain the purity of the blood of Inti.  Not just his sister of course, he was a Sapa Inca after all, what use is being a Sapa Inca if you can't have a fair old harem of wives.  But the most important child, and heir to the throne, was the most-worthy child of the Sapa Inca and his sister-wife.

Huáscar's mother was Rahua Ocllo, Huayna Capac's sister-wife, in whom flowed the blood of the Incas.   Atahualpa's mother, on the other hand, was Paccha Duchicela, a princess of the puruhá people of Quito. 

To be the Sapa Inca is to be the embodiment of the sun, you can't just be throwing a bit of northern princess in the mix.  You need to be genuine, 100'%, undiluted sun-god. 

So, the people of Tumepampa lent their support to the reassuringly inbred Huáscar.   As reward for their loyalty to Huáscar, Atahualpa and his generals sacked the city, tore the hearts out of Tumepampa's warriors and left behind nothing but ruins.  Huáscar's armies were utterly defeated and Huáscar was taken captive.  

The ruins of Pumapungo - located in the Central Bank Musum, Cuenca, Eduacor.

What remains today of Pumapunku is, however, even less than what was left after Huáscar and Atahualpa's little inter-sibling tantrum had taken its toll. 

To understand where the rest of it went, we must look to the Spanish conquistadors who founded a new city, rising like a phoenix from the ashes of Tumepampa.  And it is to these bearded-ones that we will turn in the next part of our story...

                                                   ...Tune in for the next thrilling instalment...

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