Robert Kerr.

A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 04 Arranged in Systematic Order: Forming a Complete History of the Origin and Progress of Navigation, Discovery, and Commerce, by Sea a online

. (page 37 of 52)
Online LibraryRobert KerrA General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 04 Arranged in Systematic Order: Forming a Complete History of the Origin and Progress of Navigation, Discovery, and Commerce, by Sea a → online text (page 37 of 52)
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extirpate them. From this tradition they appear to have retained some
confused notion of the deluge, although they were ignorant of the way in
which Noah and seven other persons were saved in the ark to repeople the
whole earth. Perhaps their tradition may refer to some partial deluge,
like that of Deucalion.

The have a notion that the world is to come to an end; before which there
is to be a great drought, when no rain is to fall for several years. On
this account, in former times, the caciques used to lay up large magazines
of maize to serve them during the long drought. Even yet, the more timid
among the Peruvians make a great lamentation when the sun or moon are
eclipsed, believing the end of the world to be at hand; as they allege
that these luminaries are to be extinguished at the destruction of the

The Peruvians worship the Sun and Moon as deities, and swear by these
luminaries and by the earth, which they consider as their mother. In their
temples they adore certain stones, as representatives of the sun, which
they name _guacas_, a word signifying to weep, which they do on entering
into their temples. No person is permitted to approach these guacas except
the priests who sacrifice to these idols, who are all clothed in white.
When they go up to their idols, they carry certain white cloths in their
hands, prostrating themselves and crawling on the earth, and addressing
their idols in a language which is not understood by any of the natives.
By these priests all the offerings for the idols are received and buried
in the temples, as the Indian votaries make gifts of figures in gold or
silver of those things for which they address their prayers to the guaca.
These priests likewise offer sacrifices of animals and even of men to
their gods, searching the hearts and intrails of the victims for certain
signs which they wish to find, and repeating their abominable sacrifices
until they meet with those signs which they desire; pretending that the
idols are not satisfied by the sacrifices till these appear. During all
the time that the priests are engaged in sacrificing, they never appear in
public, neither have they any intercourse with women, and employ
themselves all night in loud cries, invoking the demons near to the places
in which the guacas are kept, which are extremely numerous, as most houses
have each their own guaca. The priests prepare themselves for having
intercourse with the demons by long fasts, after which they tie up their
eyes and some even carry their superstition to such excess as to put out
their own eyes. The caciques and other great men among the Peruvians never
undertake any affair of importance without having first consulted the
idols, or demons rather, by means of the priests.

In the temples of the sun the Spaniards found several large earthen jars
containing the dried bodies of children which had been sacrificed. Among
the figures of gold and silver which were used as ornaments to the guacas,
there were several which had a strong resemblance to the mitres and
crosiers of our bishops, and some of these idols were found having mitres
on their heads. When Thomas de Verlanga, bishop of Tierra Firma travelled
through Peru, with his mitre, in which he was seen by the Indians
celebrating the mass, they asked if he was the guaca of the Christians.
When asked the reason of these mitres, they could only say that they had
been handed down from their ancestors. In every part of Peru there were
certain houses or monasteries, which were inhabited by women who were
consecrated to the sun. These women never went out, but were perpetually
employed in spinning cotton and wool, which they wove into cloth, and then
burned along with the bones of white sheep, throwing the ashes into the
air in honour of the sun. These women were consecrated to perpetual
celibacy, and were put to death if found to be with child, unless they
could swear that their child was begotten by the sun.

Every year, at the season of the maize harvest, the mountaineer Peruvians
had a solemn festival; on which occasion they set up two tall straight
trees like masts, on the top of which was placed the figure of a man
surrounded by other figures and adorned with flowers. The inhabitants went
in procession armed with bows and arrows and regularly marshalled into
companies, beating their drums and with great outcries and rejoicings,
each company in succession discharging their arrows at the dressed up
figure. After which the priests set up an idol at the bottom of the masts,
before which they sacrificed a man or a sheep, sprinkling the idol with
the blood of the victim; and having inspected the heart and entrails of
the sacrifice, they reported the signs they had discovered to the people,
who were sad or rejoiced according as these were good or bad. The whole of
this festival was usually spent in dancing and drinking, and in various
games and sports, some of which were warlike exercises, with maces, clubs,
axes and other arms.

All the caciques and other principal inhabitants of Peru are reposited
after their death in a kind of vaults, clothed in all their richest
dresses, and seated in a kind of chairs which they name _duos_. It was
customary also to bury along with them one or two of their best beloved
wives, and on this occasion the honour was frequently contested among the
wives of the deceased, unless when the husband had previously settled who
were to be chosen to accompany him in the tomb. Two or three youths of
their train, and all their gold and silver-plate used also to be buried
along with them; all of which was done in the hope of one day rising again
from the dead, and that they might then appear in proper style,
accompanied by their wives and servants. When the Spaniards broke up these
sepulchres on purpose to take possession of their buried treasures, the
Peruvians requested of them not to disturb the bones of the dead, that
they might not be hindered in their resurrection. In the burial ceremony,
the relations of the deceased used to pour some of the liquor formerly
mentioned, named _Chica_, into the grave, of which a portion was conveyed
by some hollow canes into the mouth of the dead person. On the top of the
tomb or sepulchre, wooden images were placed, representing the appearance
of the deceased; but on the graves of the lower orders, they satisfied
themselves by some painted emblems of their profession or employment, more
especially if they happened to be warriors.

In all the provinces of Peru there were certain nobles or principal
persons, of whom the chiefs or rulers were named _curacas_, similar in
every respect to the caciques of the islands. As the Spaniards who
conquered Peru had been accustomed to name many things according to the
language of Hispaniola and Cuba, and were at first ignorant of the
Peruvian language, they continued to employ the terms to which they had
been accustomed; and the Peruvians have so far accommodated themselves to
this language, especially in speaking to the Spaniards, that they mostly
use these terms. Thus they call those chiefs _caciques_, who in their own
language are named _curacas_, their bread corn and drink, which in the
Peruvian are _zara_ and _azua_, they denominate _maize_ and _chica_, which
names were brought from the islands by the Spaniards. These curacas or
caciques were the judges and protectors of their subjects in peace, and
their leaders in war against the neighbouring tribes. The whole people of
Peru lived in that manner for many years under a multiplicity of
independent chiefs, having no king or supreme chief; until at length a
warlike nation came from the environs of the great lake Titicaca named the
Incas in the language of Peru. These men had their heads close shaven, and
their ears pierced, in which they wore large round pendents of gold, by
which their ears were dragged down upon their shoulders, in consequence of
which they were called _ringrim_, or the large ears. Their chief was
called _Zapalla Inca_[30], or the only king; though others say that he was
named _Inca Vira cocha_, or the king from the scum of the lake, because
the astonished natives, not knowing the origin of their invaders, believed
that they had started into existence from the scum or mud of the great
lake. This great lake of Titicaca is about eighty leagues in circumference,
from which a large river runs to the southwards, which in some places is
half a league in breadth, and which discharges its waters into a small
lake about forty leagues from the great lake, which has no outlet. This
circumstance gives great astonishment to many, who are unable to
comprehend how so vast a body of water should disappear in so small a
reservoir. As this smaller lake appears to have no bottom, some conceive
that it discharges itself into the sea by some subterranean communication,
like the river Alphaeus in Greece.

These Incas established themselves in the first place at Cuzco, from
whence they gradually extended their sway over the whole of Peru, which
became tributary to them. The empire of the Incas descended in successive
order, but not by immediate hereditary rules. On the death of a king, he
was succeeded by his immediately younger brother; and on his demise the
eldest son of the preceding king was called to the throne; so as always to
have on the throne a prince of full age. The royal ornament worn by the
supreme Inca in place of a crown or diadem, consisted in a fringe of
coloured worsted from one temple to the other, reaching almost to the eyes.
He governed their extensive empire with much grandeur and absolute power;
and perhaps there never was a country in the world where the subjects were
so submissive and obedient. They had only to place a single thread drawn
from their diadem in the hands of one of the _ringrim_ or great ears, by
which he communicated to this deputy the most absolute delegation of power,
which was respected and obeyed over the whole empire. Alone, and without
troops or attendants, the message or order which he carried was instantly
obeyed, were it even to lay waste a whole province, and to exterminate
every one of its inhabitants; as on the sight of this thread from the
royal fillet, every one offered themselves voluntarily to death, without a
single murmur or the slightest resistance.

In the before mentioned order of succession, the empire of the Incas fell
in process of time to a sovereign named _Huana Capac_[31], which signifies
the young rich man. This prince made great conquests, and augmented the
empire more considerably than had been done by any one of his predecessors,
and ruled over the whole more reasonably and with greater justice and
equity than had ever been done by the former sovereigns. He established
everywhere the most perfect police, and exact rules for cultivating the
earth; ruling and governing among a barbarous and ignorant nation with the
most surprising order and justice; and the love and obedience of his
subjects was equally wonderful and perfect. They gave him a signal proof
of this, worthy of being mentioned, in the construction of two roads
through the whole extent of Peru for his more convenient travelling; of
which the difficulty labour and expence equal or even surpass all that the
ancients have written of the seven wonders of the world. Huana Capac, in
marching from Cuzco to conquer the kingdom of Quito, had to march five
hundred leagues by the mountains, where he had everywhere to encounter
excessive difficulties, from bad roads, rocks, precipices and ravines,
almost impracticable in many places. After he had successfully executed
this great enterprize, by the conquest and submission of Quito and its
dependencies, his subjects conceived that it was incumbent on them to do
honour to his victorious career, by preparing a commodious road for his
triumphant return to Cuzco. They accordingly undertook, and executed by
prodigious labour, a broad and easy road through the mountains of five
hundred leagues in length, in the course of which they had often to dig
away vast rocks, and to fill up valleys and precipices of thirty to forty
yards in depth. It is said that this road, when first made, was so smooth
and level that it would have admitted a coach with the utmost ease through
its whole length; but since that time it has suffered great injuries,
especially during the wars between the Spaniards and the Peruvians, having
been broken up in many places, on purpose to obstruct the invasion of the
enemy. The grandeur and difficulty of this vast undertaking may be readily
conceived, by considering the labour and cost which has been expended in
Spain to level only two leagues of a mountain road between Segovia and
Guadarrama, and which after all has never been brought to any degree of
perfection, although the usual passage of the king and court on travelling
to or from Andalusia or the kingdom of Toledo. Not satisfied with this
first astonishing labour, the Peruvians soon afterwards undertook another
of a similar and no less grand and difficult kind. Huana Capac was fond of
visiting the kingdom of Quito which he had conquered, and proposed to
travel thither from Cuzco by way of the plain, so as to visit the whole
of his extensive dominions. For his accommodation likewise, his subjects
undertook to make a road also in the plain; and for this purpose they
constructed high mounds of earth across all the small vallies formed by
the various rivers and torrents which descend from the mountain, that the
road might be everywhere smooth and level This road was near forty feet
wide, and where it crossed the sandy heights which intervene betwixt the
verdant vallies of the torrents, it was marked on each side by stakes,
forming palings in straight lines to prevent any one losing the way. This
road was five hundred leagues in length like that of the mountain; but the
palings are now wanting in many places, the wood of which they were
constructed having been used by the Spaniards for fuel during the war; but
the mounds still exist across the vallies, and most of them are yet
tolerably entire, by which the grandeur of the entire work may be judged
of. In his journeys to and from Quito, Huana Capac used to go by one of
these roads and return by the other; and during his whole journey his
subjects used to strew the way with branches and flowers of the richest

Besides the two great roads already mentioned, Huana Capac ordered to be
built on the mountain road a number of large palaces, at the distance of a
days journey from each other, having a prodigious number of apartments,
sufficient to lodge his own personal suite and all his army. Such were
likewise built along the road in the plain, but not so numerous or so near
each other as on the mountain road, as these palaces of the plain had all
to be placed on the sides of the rivers for convenience and the
procurement of provisions and other necessaries; so that they were in some
places eight or ten leagues distant from each other, and in other places
fifteen or twenty leagues. These buildings were named _tambos_, and the
neighbouring Indians were bound to furnish each of these with provisions
and every thing else that might be wanted for the royal armies; insomuch
that in each of these _tambos_, in case of necessity, clothing and arms
could be had for twenty or thirty thousand men. Huana Capac was always
escorted by a considerable body of soldiers, armed with lances, halberts,
maces, and battle axes, made of silver or copper, and some of them even of

In their armies, besides these arms, the Peruvians used slings, and
javelins having their points hardened in the fire. On such parts of their
rivers as furnished materials for the purpose, they built wooden bridges;
and where timber could not be had, they stretched across the stream two
large cables made of a plant named _maguey_, forming a kind of net work
between these of smaller ropes and masts, strong enough to answer the
purpose of a bridge. In this manner they constructed bridges of a
surprizing magnitude; some of them being thirty yards broad and four
hundred yards long[32]. In such places as did not admit of the
construction of bridges, they passed over rivers by means of a cable or
thick rope extended from side to side, on which they hung a large basket,
which was drawn over by means of a smaller rope. All these bridges were
kept in repair by the inhabitants of the districts in which they stood.

The king of Peru was always carried in a species of litter covered over
with plates of gold, and was attended by more than a thousand of the
principal native nobles, who relieved each other in carrying the royal
litter on their shoulders. All these men were counsellors, principal
officers of the household, or favourites of the prince. The caciques or
curacas of the different provinces were likewise carried in litters on the
shoulders of their vassals. The Peruvians were exceedingly submissive to
their sovereigns, insomuch that even the most powerful lord always entered
the presence barefooted, and carrying some present wrapped up in a cloth,
as a mark of homage; and even if one person had occasion to go an hundred
times in one day to speak to the king, the present had to be repeated
every time he went. To look the king in the face was considered as a
criminal disrespect; and if any one should happen to stumble while
carrying the royal litter, so as to make it fall, his head was immediately
cut off. At every half league on the public roads throughout the whole
empire, there were Indians in constant attendance to relieve each other in
carrying dispatches, which they did swifter than our post horses. When any
province or district was subdued, the natives of the place, or at least
all their chiefs and principal people, were immediately removed to other
parts of the empire, and natives from other places which had been long
subjected were sent to occupy the new conquest, by which means the
fidelity and submission of the whole were secured. From every province of
the empire, yearly tributes of the several productions of their respective
countries were sent to the king; and even some sterile districts above
three hundred leagues distant from Cuzco, had to send yearly a number of
lizards as a mark of their submission, having nothing of any value to send.
Huana Capac rebuilt the temple of the sun at Cuzco, and covered over all
the walls and the roof of that structure with plates of gold and silver.
During his reign, one Chimocappa, who was curaca or prince of a large
district in the plain, above a hundred leagues in length, chose to erect
the standard of rebellion; but Huana Capac marched against him in person,
defeated him in battle, and put him to death; after which he commanded
that the Indians of the plain should not be permitted to carry arms. Yet
he allowed the son and successor of Chimocappa to remain in the province
of _Chimo_, in which the city of Truzillo has been since built.

Peru was astonishingly full of those animals called sheep; as Huana Capac
and his predecessors had established laws for their multiplication and
preservation. Every year a certain proportion of these animals belonging
to individuals were set apart as a kind of tythe or offering to the sun,
and these consecrated animals multiplied greatly, no person being allowed
to injure them under pain of sacrilege, except the prince only for his own
use or that of his army. On such occasions, he gave orders for one of
these hunts called _chacos_, formerly mentioned, at some of which twenty
or thirty thousand sheep have been taken at one time. Gold was in great
request among the Peruvians, as the king and all the principal persons of
the empire used it for the construction of vessels for all uses, as
ornaments for their persons, and as offerings to their gods. The king had
everywhere carried along with him a kind of couch or table of gold, of
sixteen carats fine, on which he used to sit, and which was worth 25,000
ducats of standard gold. This was chosen by Don Francisco Pizarro, at the
time of the conquest, in consequence of an agreement, by which he was
authorized to appropriate some single jewel or valuable article to his own
use, besides his regular share of the plunder. When the eldest son of
Huana Capac was born, he ordered a prodigious chain or cable of gold to be
made, so large and heavy that two hundred men were hardly able to lift it.
In remembrance of this circumstance, the infant was named _Huascar_, which
signifies a cable or large rope, as the Peruvians have no word in their
language signifying a chain. To this name of Huascar was added the surname
Inca, belonging to all their kings, just as Augustus was given to all the
Roman emperors. Huana Capac had several large magazines full of gold in
various shapes, such as the figures of men and women, of sheep and animals
of all kinds, and of all the kinds of plants which are found in the
country, all accurately represented. He had also great quantities of
vestments of various kinds, and many slings, in which the fabric was mixed
with gold threads; and many bars of gold and silver made like billets of
fire wood.

Although the main object of this history is to relate the Spanish
Discovery and Conquest of Peru, it seems proper to explain the
circumstances under which they found the affairs of that empire at their
arrival; by which we shall have occasion to admire the wisdom of
Providence, in permitting that enterprize to take place at a time when
that vast country was divided into two hostile parties, which greatly
facilitated the conquest. After Huana Capac had reduced many provinces to
submission, to the extent of five hundred leagues from Cuzco, he undertook
in person to make the conquest of the kingdom of Quito, which bounded with
his empire in the north-west. Having successfully accomplished that great
enterprise, finding the country exceedingly pleasant, he continued to
reside there for a long while, leaving at Cuzco several of his children,
both sons and daughters, among whom were his eldest son Huascar Inca,
Manco Inca, Paul Inca, and several others. While at Quito, he took to wife
the daughter of the former lord of that country, by whom he had a son
named Atahualpa or Atabalipa, of whom he was very fond, and whom he left
to be educated in Quito when he returned to Cuzco. After residing for some
years in Cuzco, he made a journey back to Quito, partly because he
delighted in that country which he had subdued, and partly from affection
for his son Atahualpa, whom he loved more than all the rest of his
children. He continued to reside in Quito all the rest of his life; and at
his death, he bequeathed the kingdom of Quito to Atahualpa[33], which had
belonged to his maternal ancestors. On his death, Atahualpa secured the
affection of the army, and got possession of all the treasure which his
father had in Quito, but the far greater proportion of the treasure
remained in Cuzco, as too heavy for transportation, and accordingly fell
to Huascar, the eldest son.

Atahualpa sent ambassadors to his eldest brother Huascar, informing him of
the death of their father, and assuring him of his loyalty and obedience;
yet requesting that he might be permitted to retain the command of the
kingdom of Quito, the conquest of his father; which he alleged was beyond
the limits of the Peruvian empire, and ought not therefore to follow the
ordinary rules of primogeniture, more especially as Atahualpa was the
legitimate heir of that country in right of his mother and grandfather.
Huascar sent back for answer, that if Atahualpa would come to Cuzco and
give up the army, he should receive lands and possessions sufficient to
enable him to live according to his rank; but that he would on no account
give up Quito, a frontier province of the empire, where of course he must
keep up a body of troops for the defence of the whole. Huascar added, that
if Atahualpa refused submission to these conditions, he would march in
person against him as a declared enemy. On receiving this message,
Atahualpa consulted two of his fathers principal officers, Quiz-quiz and
Cilicuchima, brave and experienced warriors, who advised him not to wait
the invasion of his brother, but to take the field without delay and march
against him; as the army which was under his orders was sufficient to
enable him to acquire the whole provinces of the empire, and would
increase on the march by means of the provinces which intervened between
Quito and Cusco. Atahualpa followed this advice and gradually made himself
master of the country through which he marched. Huascar, on hearing of the

Online LibraryRobert KerrA General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 04 Arranged in Systematic Order: Forming a Complete History of the Origin and Progress of Navigation, Discovery, and Commerce, by Sea a → online text (page 37 of 52)