The Two Faces of Inca History

Dualism in the Narratives and Cosmology of Ancient Cuzco

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The historical narratives of the Inca dynasty, known to us through Spanish records, present several discrepancies that scholarship has long attributed to the biases and agendas of colonial actors. Drawing on a redefinition of royal descent and a comparative literary analysis of primary sources, this book restores the pre-Hispanic voices embedded in the chronicles. It identifies two distinctive bodies of Inca oral traditions, each of which encloses a mutually conflicting representation of the past that, considered together, reproduces patterns of Cuzco’s moiety division. Building on this new insight, the author revisits dual representations in the cosmology and ritual calendar of the ruling elite. The result is a fresh contribution to ethnohistorical works that have explored native ways of constructing history.

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Biographical Note

Isabel Yaya, Ph.D. in History, is a Research Fellow at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. Her work focuses on the transmission and stabilisation of historical narratives in the Andes under Inca and Spanish rule. In parallel, she investigates Early Modern constructions of ancient Peru materialised in artefact collections and fictional literature. She has published in Ethnohistory, French History and the Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research.

Table of contents

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

INTRODUCTION
Dual organization in the Andes: a theoretical framework
Précis of the chapters
A note on nomenclature and spelling
PART I. THE POLITICS OF INCA HISTORY
MAKING HISTORY: KNOTTING AND UNRAVELLING DISCURSIVE THREADS
Inconsistencies in content
Historiographical responses to the chronicles’ discrepancies
Polyphony of the Inca dynastic accounts
FILIATION IS HISTORY: THE INCA DIALECTICAL VIEW OF THE PAST
The Inca conical clan
The accommodation of historical contingency
INCA AND LOCAL ELITES: RITUAL POLITICS OF ASSIMILATION
The foreign ayllus of the Inca heartland
Ritual geography of the Cuzco region
The politics of the initiation ritual
PART II. “SOMETIMES THEY HOLD THE SUN AS THE CREATOR AND OTHER TIMES THEY SAY IT IS VIRACOCHA”
THE ANCESTRAL RULERS OF THE DRY SEASON
The journey from Lake Titicaca
Wiraqucha and the might of the Thunder god
EPICS OF THE OLD SUN
The Ayar siblings’ journey from Paqariq Tampu
the Sun god of the chronicles
Hierarchy and the coalescence of solar cults
THE INCA CALENDAR AND ITS TRANSITION PERIODS
Computations and the Inca calendar
Disruption of the cosmological and social order: the transition periods
The rule of Wiraqucha
The advent of P’unchaw

CONCLUSION
GLOSSARY
BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX

Readership

This book is directed to researchers with interests in Inca studies and, more broadly, in Andean ethnohistory, dual organizations, indigenous epistemologies, historical theory, as well as in orality and literacy.

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