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Native American Legends

The Ynca Pachacutec

An Inca Legend

The Ynca Pachacutec, being now old, resolved to rest and not to make further conquests; for he had increased his empire until it was more than one hundred and thirty leagues from north to south, and in width from the snowy chain of the Andes to the sea, being sixty leagues from east to west in some places, and seventy in others, more or less. He now devoted himself to the confirmation of the laws of his ancestors, and to the enactment of new laws for the common good.

He founded many towns in those lands which by industry and by means of the numerous irrigation channels he caused to be made, were converted from sterile and uncultivated wilds into fruitful and rich districts.

He built many temples of the Sun in imitation of that of Cuzco, and many convents of virgins. He ordered many store-houses on the royal roads to be repaired, and houses to be built where the Yncas might lodge when traveling.

He also caused store-houses to be built in all villages, large or small, where supplies might be kept for feeding the people in time of scarcity, and he ordered these depots to be filled from the crops of the Ynca and of the Sun. In short, it may be said that he completely reformed the empire, as well as regards their vain religion, which he provided with new rites and ceremonies, destroying the numerous idols of his vassals, as by enacting new laws and regulations for the daily and moral life of the people, forbidding the abuses and barbarous customs to which the Indians were addicted before they were brought under his rule.

He also reformed the army in such fashion as proved him to be as great a captain as he was a king and a ruler; and he increased the honors and favors shown to those who distinguished themselves in war. He especially favored and enlarged the great city of Cuzco, enriching it with new edifices and a larger population. He ordered a palace to be built for himself near the schools founded by his great grandfather Ynca Rocca.

On account of these deeds, as well as for his amiable disposition and benignant government, he was loved and worshipped as another Jupiter. He reigned, according to the accounts of the Indians, more than fifty years, and some say more than sixty years. He lived in much peace and tranquility, being alike beloved and obeyed, and at the end of this long time he died. He was universally lamented by all his vassals, and was placed among the number of their gods, as were the other Kings Yncas, his ancestors. He was embalmed, according to their custom, and the mourning, sacrifices and burial ceremonies lasted for a year.

He left as his heir the Ynca Yupanqui, who was his son by the Ccoya Anahuarque, his legitimate wife and sister. He left more than three hundred other sons and daughters, and some even say that, judging from his long life and the number of his wives, he must have had four hundred either legitimate or illegitimate children; and though this is a great many, the Indians say that it was few for such a father.

The Spanish historians confuse these two Kings, father and son, giving the names of both to one. The father was named Pachacutec. The name Ynca was common to all, for it was their title from the days of the first Ynca, called Manco Ccapac. In our account of the life of Lloque Yupanqui we described the meaning of the word Yupanqui, which word was also the name of this King, and combining the two names, they formed Ynca Yupanqui, which title was applied to all the Kings Yncas, so that Yupanqui ceased to be a special name.

These two names are equivalent to the names Caesar Augustus, given to all the Emperors. Thus the Indians, in recounting the deeds of their Kings, and calling them by their names, would say, Pachacutec Ynca Yupanqui. The Spaniards understood that this was one King, and they do not admit the son and successor of Pachacutec, who was called Ynca Yupanqui, taking the two titles as his special name, and giving the same name to his own eldest son.

But the Indians, to distinguish him from his father, called the latter Tupac (which means 'He who shines') Ynca Yupanqui. He was father of Huayna Ccapac Ynca Yupanqui, and grandfather of Huascar Ynca Yupanqui; and so all the other Yncas may be called by these titles. I have said this much to enable those who read this history to avoid confusion.

The Father Blas Valera, speaking of this Ynca, says as follows: "The Ynca Huiraccocha being dead and worshipped among the Indians as a god, his son, the great Titu, with surname of Manco Ccapac, succeeded him. This was his name until his father gave him that of Pachacutec, which means 'Reformer of the World.' That title was confirmed afterwards by his distinguished acts and sayings, insomuch that his first name was entirely forgotten.

He governed his empire with so much industry, prudence and resolution, as well in peace as in war, that not only did he increase the boundaries of all the four quarters, called Ttahua-ntin suyu, but also he enacted many laws, all which have been confirmed by our Catholic Kings, except those relating to idolatry and to forbidden degrees of marriage. This Ynca above all things ennobled and increased, with great privileges, the schools that were founded in Cuzco by the King Ynca Rocca.

He added to the number of the masters, and ordered that all the lords of vassals and captains and their sons, and all the Indians who held any office, should speak the language of Cuzco; and that no one should receive any office or lordship who was not well acquainted with it. In order that this useful law might have full effect, he appointed very learned masters for the sons of the princes and nobles, not only for those in Cuzco, but also for those throughout the provinces, in which he stationed masters that they might teach the language of Cuzco to all who were employed in the service of the state.

Thus it was that in the whole empire of Peru one language was spoken, although now (owing to negligence) many provinces, where it was understood, have entirely lost it, not without great injury to the preaching of the gospel. All the Indians who, by obeying this law, still retain a knowledge of the language of Cuzco, are more civilized and more intelligent than the others.

"This Pachacutec prohibited any one, except princes and their sons, from wearing gold, silver, precious stones, plumes of feathers of different colors, nor the wool of the vicuña, which they weave with admirable skill. He permitted the people to be moderately ornamented on the first days of the month, and on some other festivals.

The tributary Indians still observe this law, and content themselves with ordinary clothes, by which they avoid much vice which gay clothing is apt to cause. But the Indians, who are servants to Spaniards, and those who live in Spanish cities, are very extravagant in this particular, and do much harm alike to their pockets and consciences. This Ynca also ordered that great frugality should be observed in eating, although in drinking more freedom was allowed, both among the princes and the common people.

He ordained that there should be special judges to try the idle, and desired that all should be engaged in work of some kind, either in serving their parents or masters, or in the service of the state; so much so, that even boys and girls of from five to seven years of age were given something to do suitable to their years. The blind, lame, and dumb, who could use their hands, were employed in some kind of work, and the aged were sent to scare the birds from the crops, and were supplied with food and clothing from the public store-houses.

In order that labor might not be so continuous as to become oppressive, the Ynca ordained that there should be three holidays every month, in which the people should divert themselves with various games. He also commanded that there should be three fairs every month, when the laborers in the field should come to the market and hear anything that the Ynca or his Council might have ordained. They called these assemblies Catu, and they took place on the holidays.

"The Ynca also made a law that every province should have a fixed boundary enclosing the forests, pastures, rivers, lakes, mountains, and lands for tillage; all which should belong to that province and be within its jurisdiction in perpetuity. No Governor or Curaca could diminish or divide or appropriate to his own use any portion; but the land was divided according to a fixed rule which was defined by the same law for the common good, and the special benefit of the inhabitants of the province.

The royal estates and those of the Sun were set apart, and the Indians had to plough, sow, and reap the crops, as well on their own lands as on those of the State. Hence it will be seen that it is false, what many have asserted, that the Indians had no proprietary right in the land. For this division was not made with reference to proprietary right, but for the common and special work to be expended upon the land. It was a very ancient custom among the Indians to work together not only on public lands, but also on their own, and with this view they measured the land, that each might complete such portion as he was able.

The whole population assembled, and first worked their own lands in common, each one helping his neighbors, and then they began upon the royal estates; and the same practice was followed in sowing and in reaping. Almost in the same way they built their houses. The Indian who required a house went to the Council to appoint a day when it should be built, the inhabitants with one accord assembled to assist their neighbor, and thus the house was completed.

The Ynca approved of this custom, and confirmed it by law. To this day many villages of Indians observe this law, and help each other with Christian charity; but avaricious men, who think only of themselves, do themselves harm and their neighbors no good.

"In fine, this King, with the advice of his Council, made many laws, rules, ordinances, and customs for the good of the people in numerous provinces. He also abolished many others which were detrimental either to the public peace or to his sovereignty. He also enacted many statutes against blasphemy, patricide, fratricide, homicide, treason, adultery, child-stealing, seduction, theft, arson; as well as regulations for the ceremonies of the temple.

He confirmed many more that had been enacted by the Yncas his ancestors; such as that sons should obey and serve their fathers until they reached the age of twenty-five, that none should marry without the consent of the parents, and of the parents of the girl; that a marriage without this consent was invalid and the children illegitimate; but that if the consent was obtained afterwards the children then became legitimate.

This Ynca also confirmed the laws of inheritance to lordships according to the ancient customs of each province; and he forbade the judges from receiving bribes from litigants.

This Ynca made many other laws of less importance, which I omit, to avoid prolixity. Further on I shall relate what laws he made for the guidance of judges, for the contracting of marriages, for making wills, and for the army, as well as for reckoning the years. In our time the Viceroy, Don Francisco de Toledo, changed or revoked many laws and regulations made by this Ynca; and the Indians, admiring his absolute power, called him the second Pachacutec, for they said he was the Reformer of the first Reformer.

Their reverence and veneration for this Ynca was so great that to this day they cannot forget him."

Down to this point is from what I found amongst the tom papers of Father Blas Valera. That which he promises to write further on, touching the judges, marriages, wills, the army, and the reckoning of the year, is lost, which is a great pity. On another leaf I found part of the sententious sayings of this Ynca Pachacutec, which are as follows:--

"When subjects, captains and Curacas, cordially obey the King, then the kingdom enjoys perfect peace and quiet.

"Envy is a worm that gnaws and consumes the entrails of the envious.

"He that envies and is envied, has a double torment.

"It is better that others should envy you for being good, than that you should envy others, you yourself being evil.

"He that envies another, injures himself.

"He that envies the good, draws evil from them for himself, as does the spider in taking poison from flowers.

"Drunkenness, anger and madness go together; only the first two are voluntary and to be removed, while the last is perpetual.

"He that kills another without authority or just cause, condemns himself to death.

"He that kills his neighbor must of necessity die; and for this reason the ancient Kings, our ancestors, ordained that all homicides should be punished by a violent death, a law which we confirm afresh.

"Under no circumstances should thieves be tolerated, who, being able to gain a livelihood by honest labor and to possess it by a just right, wish to have more by robbing and stealing. It is very just that he who is a thief should be put to death.

"Adulterers, who destroy the peace and happiness of others, ought to be declared thieves, and condemned to death without mercy.

"The noble and generous man is known by the patience he shows in adversity.

"Impatience is the sign of a vile and base mind, badly taught and worse accustomed.

"When subjects do their best to obey without any hesitation, kings and governors ought to treat them with liberality and kindness; but when they act otherwise, with rigor and strict justice, though always with prudence.

"Judges who secretly receive gifts from suitors ought to be looked upon as thieves, and punished with death as such.

"Governors ought to attend to two things with much attention. The first is, that they and their subjects keep and comply exactly with the laws of their king. The second, that they consult with much vigilance and care, touching the common and special affairs of their provinces. The man who knows not how to govern his house and family, will know much less how to rule the state. Such a man should not be preferred above others.

"The physician herbalist that is ignorant of the virtues of herbs, or who, knowing the uses of some, has not attained a knowledge of all, understands little or nothing. He ought to work until he knows all, as well the useful as the injurious plants, in order to deserve the name he pretends to.

"He who attempts to count the stars, not even knowing how to count the marks and knots of the 'quipus,' ought to be held in derision."

These are the sayings of Ynca Pachacutec. He speaks of the marks and knots of the accounts because, as they had neither letters for writing nor figures for ciphering, they kept their accounts by means of marks and knots.

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