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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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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