Traditionally when we
talk about the civilization developed in this part of the
Andes since the year 1200 A.D., we say the " Inkan"
culture, civilization, empire, state, etc. Actually that is
not the best or right way to name it because as it is known
in pre-Hispanic days "Inka" was just one person:
the King, Emperor, Ruler, State Chief, or however we would
like to call him. That way, there was only one "Sapan
Inka" (Unique Inka) who occupied the summit of their
social pyramidal stratification. He was followed by the nobility
or "orejones" (big-eared people) called that by
the conquistadors because of the deformation of their earlobes
due to the use of heavy earrings and ornaments that made their
difference with common people. Next were the " runa"
(common people) and lower the punished " mitimaes"
that were moving or displaced people. At the end were the
" Yanaconas" (Yanakuna) or household servants. The
official language in their broad territory was the "
Runa Simi" that translated to English is "man's
tongue". This same language is also known as " Quechua"
or "Quichua" in some Andean areas; those are Spanish
forms of the original " Qheswa". Many modern scholars
are using "Quechua" or "The Quechuas"
in order to talk about that mentioned civilization. Thus,
in this work we use indistinctly both nouns: "Inkas"
or "Quechuas". Their territory, native land or country
was the Tawantinsuyo, a compound name that comes from two
Quechua words, "tawa": four, and "suyo":
nation or state. So, Tawantinsuyo in the idiomatic Quechua
sense is a whole that has four nations, even though, in a
very arbitrary way many authors translate Tawantinsuyo as
"the four quarters or portions of the world".
Space distribution and planning among the Quechuas were based
on some elementary aspects of their daily life. They always
took in mind the relationships of duality, tripartition, and
fourthpartition. The Tawantinsuyo was divided in four "
suyo" or "suyu" which central angle was in
Qosqo City, its capital.
The word Qosqo is apparently an archaism that according to
chroniclers meant " navel" or " center"
of the world; in this case it would be the center or navel
of the Tawantinsuyo. From the southeastern angle of the city's
Main Square started four main roads towards the four "suyo"
or nations and which names are still used in different sectors
of the Andes. Towards the city's northwest was the "
Chinchaysuyo" going as far as the Ancashmayo River in
Pasto, present-day Colombia at 4° of north latitude. Towards
the southwest was the " Contisuyo" occupying part
of the Peruvian coast and going as far as the Maule River
in present-day southern Chile at 36° of south latitude.
Towards the southeast was the "Collasuyo" occupying
all what today is Bolivia and going as far as Tucuman in present-day
Argentina. Towards the northeast in the subtropical valleys
and even occupying the beginning of the Amazonian lower jungle
was the " Antisuyo". In fact, what is known as Inkas'
Territory spread out over an area more than 3'000,000 Km²
(1'158,306 mile²); that is, more than double present-day
Peruvian territory; and covered about 5,000 Km. (3,107 miles)
of coast over the Pacific Ocean.
The Tawantinsuyo's success was due to some factors that are
missed in present-time Peru which were based in order: a social,
economic and legal order according to realities of the moment.
The Quechuas were highly organized people and every aspect
of their daily life was framed in obedient respect and pursuit
of permanent and irremovable laws. Tradition has stated three
basic laws attributed to the Tawantinsuyo that would synthesize
their order: Ama Sua, Ama Llulla, Ama Kella (do not be thief,
liar, neither lazy). Though in modern history it is argued
that those are precepts created in colonial times in order
to get complete subjection of the native breed. It is obvious
that by that pre-Hispanic time the legal system tended to
state some homogeneity among the different nations in order
to get the high living standard that Quechuas reached for
that age. The "Runa Simi" was established as official
language in the "Tawantinsuyo" territory. They established
a land division system with parts belonging to the Sun, to
the Inka, and to the State. Like that they guaranteed their
flourishing social security system in order to aid old people,
orphans, widows or unfortunate people. Logically the biggest
portion of lands were devoted to be shared among common people.
Thus, every newborn boy had right to one "topo"
of fertile farming land and every girl to a half "topo"
(topo or tupu: changing measure based on the human step equivalent
to about 2700 m²; 0.27 Ha.; 0.67 acres). All lands were
the state's property and they could not be inherited or sold;
thus when a person died his or her farmland was taken by another
newborn. Moreover, they established a planned sedentarism
for all the population, trying to get a land-man balance with
the "mitimaes" that were people or tribes displaced
from their hometowns.
It is really difficult to catalogue the Inkan Society in the
right way. That is determined by the heterogeneous historical
interpretation systems; that is, the different positions,
philosophies, interests, nationalities and even races of the
many scholars occupied on it. In general terms, those who
study only or principally the Inkan nobility suggest that
this was an enslaving or early feudal society. Those who study
principally the "runa" or common people suggest
that it was socialist or social-imperialist. In synthesis,
the society that was developed, lived and practiced by the
Quechuas was peculiar and unique, it has no equivalent in
traditional European societies. Thus its production mode is
also sui-generis and must be considered as it is; out of the
considered by many scholars "infallible" schemes.
It is outrageous to argue that the Tawantinsuyo was a society
of the "bronze age" only taking in mind that bronze
was the hardest metal they got, without considering their
development in planning, social organization, agriculture,
architecture, engineering, etc., that was ahead of many Old
World contemporary societies. The Tawantinsuyo was characterized
by its absolute and monarchical government that developed
paternal patterns for their people. People among who there
was neither private property nor starvation. Protected people
who lacked little, in counterpart, were devoted to work and
obedient to the law; making altogether a society that was
not perfect but very well balanced. Consequently, modern scholars
such as Jose Tamayo classify the Tawantinsuyo framed inside
the "Theory of reciprocity and redistribution, and the
vertical control of ecological stages in the Highlands and
Coast of southern Peru".