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Incan Architecture Terminologies

Updated on August 26, 2018

Incan Architecture

Architecture was the most important of the Incan arts, with textiles reflecting architectural motifs. The most notable example is Machu Picchu, which was constructed by Inca engineers. The prime Inca structures were made of stone blocks that fit together so well that a knife could not be fitted through the stonework. These constructs have survived for centuries, with no use of mortar to sustain them.

The Incas inherited an architectural legacy from Tiwanaku, founded in the 2nd century B.C.E. in present-day Bolivia. A core characteristic of the architectural style was to use the topography and existing materials of the land as part of the design.

Twelve angled stone

The Twelve angled stone is an archeological artefact in Cuzco, Peru. It was part of a stone wall of an Inca palace, and is considered to be a national heritage object. The stone is currently part of a wall of the palace of the Archbishop of Cuzco.

Cusco, street Hatun Rumiyoq ("the one with the big stone"), with its stone of 12 angles
Cusco, street Hatun Rumiyoq ("the one with the big stone"), with its stone of 12 angles | Source

Mochica

Pre-Inca" culture that flourished on the northern coast of Peru from c200 B.c. to A.D. 700. noted for Its fine pottery and the colossal Temple of the Sun a terraced pyramid nude entirely of adobe bricks. AIso called Moche

Huaca del Sol

The Huaca del Sol is an adobe brick temple built by the Moche civilization (100 CE to 800 CE) on the northern coast of what is now Peru. The temple is one of several ruins found near the volcanic peak of Cerro Blanco, in the coastal desert near Trujillo at the Moche Valley. The other major ruin at the site is the nearby Huaca de la Luna, a better-preserved but smaller temple.

Huaca de la Luna

Huaca de la Luna ("Temple/Shrine of the Moon") is a large adobe brick structure built mainly by the Moche people of northern Peru.Along with the Huaca del Sol, the Huaca de la Luna is part of Huacas de Moche, which is the remains of an ancient Moche capital city called Cerro Blanco, by the volcanic peak of the same name.

The main mural of the Huaca de la Luna
The main mural of the Huaca de la Luna | Source

Ai apaec

Ai apaec also called degollador was the chief deity of the Mochica culture, was one of their gods punishers, the most feared and adored, is also called the headsman. Ai Apaec was worshiped as the creator god, protector of the Moche, a provider of water, food and military triumphs. Aiapaec means 'doer' in Mochica language.

Typical imperial Inca trapezoid windows from the sacred precinct of Coricancha, Cuzco, c. 1438 CE.
Typical imperial Inca trapezoid windows from the sacred precinct of Coricancha, Cuzco, c. 1438 CE. | Source

Tambo

A tambo (Quechua: tampu, "inn") was an Incan structure built for administrative and military purposes. Found along Incan roads, tambos typically contained supplies, served as lodging for itinerant state personnel, and were depositories of quipu-based accounting records.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
http://architecturalmoleskine.blogspot.in/2010/06/tambomachay-inca-baths.html
http://architecturalmoleskine.blogspot.in/2010/06/tambomachay-inca-baths.html
http://architecturalmoleskine.blogspot.in/2010/06/tambomachay-inca-baths.html

Quipus

Quipus, also known as khipus or talking knots, were recording devices historically used in a number of cultures and particularly in the region of Andean South America.

Mit'a

Mit'a was mandatory public service in the society of the Inca Empire. Historians use the hispanicized term mita to differentiate the system as it was modified and intensified by the Spanish colonial government, creating the encomienda system.

Qullqa

A qullqa "deposit, storehouse" was a storage building found along roads and near the cities and political centers of the Inca Empire

Source

Coricancha

The Coricancha was probably the most beautiful of all of the Inca temples. It was also the most important. It was considered to be the holiest sanctuary in the Inca empire. The word Coricancha means “Enclosure of Gold.” It got this name because its walls were made of sheets of gold that were up to a foot thick.

 Inca architecture - The use of dry-stone walls (Ashlar) - Machu Picchu  The central buildings of Machu Picchu use the classical Inca architectural style of polished dry-stone walls of regular shape.
Inca architecture - The use of dry-stone walls (Ashlar) - Machu Picchu The central buildings of Machu Picchu use the classical Inca architectural style of polished dry-stone walls of regular shape. | Source

Quipucamayocs

Quipucamayocs, the accountants of Tawantin Suyu, created and deciphered the quipu knots. Quipucamayocs could carry out basic arithmetic operations, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. They kept track of mita, a form of taxation.

Kancha

Rectangular buildings could be grouped in threes (or more) and arranged around an open but walled courtyard or patio, perhaps the most common Inca arrangement of buildings. This mini-complex is known as a kancha and functioned as administrative buildings, workshops, temples, accommodation or a mix of these.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Kallanka

Very large buildings are known as a kallanka and these typically have several doors and face a large open space, often (once again) trapezoid in layout. kallanka large roofed building used for celebrations during the Inca Empire

The rocks were sculpted to fit together exactly by repeatedly lowering a rock onto another and carving away any sections on the lower rock where the dust was compressed. The tight fit and the concavity on the lower rocks made them extraordinarily stable, despite the ongoing challenge of earthquakes and volcanic activity.

Pututu

The pututu was a conch shell used as a trumpet, used to signal to other chasquis that one runner was close, so that they could prepare to run.

Molle

A common Andean tree, Schinus molle, the very same California Pepper tree that grows here. Produces bunches of red berries that can be fermented into a kind of chicha, a beer-like drink

Cacique

Chief, local ruler, often coopted into the Inka governmental hierarchy

Tiahuanaco


A pre-Incan culture existing from about 300 B.C. to A.D. 900, chiefly In Peru and Bollvia, characterized Dy monolithic stone carving. poly chrome pottery. and Bronze
artifacts

Orejon

orejon: a high-status Inka male. Literally means "big-ear", from the practice by such men of wearing large ear ornaments that stretched their earlobes

parcialidades

parcialidades (a flexible term for a group, political unit, population of a region, etc.) − señorios (chiefdoms or kingdoms)

ushnu

central plaza, often with an ushnu (ceremonial platform) in the center or near one edge. The ushnu was a type of viewing platform for processions, important state-sponsored ceremonies, and judicial proceedings, and was located on one side of the principal plaza.

Another feature of towns were gateways which often provided monumental entrances to towns and one of the most impressive must be the main gate of Quispiguanca with its two-storey tower and triple door jamb

Ushnu in Vilcashuamán, Ayacucho, Peru.
Ushnu in Vilcashuamán, Ayacucho, Peru. | Source

Collca

− Collca (storage complexes) − usually located on high slopes, both for best storage conditions and to make them obvious, visible symbols of the Inka state's wealth and power

Tawantinsuyo

Tawantinsuyo, or Tahuantinsuyo: Quechua for roughly "Land of the Four Quarters" − it was divided for administrative purposes into four "suyos", roughly the regions to the north, west, south, and east of Cuzco

Tokapu. Textiles worn by the Inca elite consisting of geometric figures enclosed by rectangles or squares. There is evidence that the designs were an ideographic language
Tokapu. Textiles worn by the Inca elite consisting of geometric figures enclosed by rectangles or squares. There is evidence that the designs were an ideographic language

Viracocha is the great creator deity in the pre-Inca and Inca mythology in the Andes region of South America. Full name and some spelling alternatives are Wiracocha, Apu Qun Tiqsi Wiraqutra, and Con-Tici (also spelled Kon-Tiki, the source of the name of Thor Heyerdahl's raft).

Viracocha was one of the most important deities in the Inca pantheon and seen as the creator of all things, or the substance from which all things are created, and intimately associated with the sea. Viracocha created the universe, sun, moon, and stars, time (by commanding the sun to move over the sky) and civilization itself. Viracocha was worshipped as god of the sun and of storms. He was represented as wearing the sun for a crown, with thunderbolts in his hands, and tears descending from his eyes as rain.

Huaca

In the Quechuan languages of South America, a huaca or wak'a is an object that represents something revered, typically a monument of some kind. The term huaca can refer to natural locations, such as immense rocks. Some huacas have been associated with veneration and ritual.

Coricancha museum marker graphically explaining the Inca Wakas and Seqes system
Coricancha museum marker graphically explaining the Inca Wakas and Seqes system | Source

Acllahuasi

dentified by Garcilaso as the "Casa de las Escogidas", it corresponds to the residential buildings of the acllas , which were groups of women specialized in productive activities, particularly in textiles and chicha preparation , and who were obliged to provide labor services to the State.

Reference


"Lugares turísticos (Tourist site)" (in Spanish). municusco.gob.pe. July 14, 2014.

Domenici, Viviano; Domenici, Davide (1996). "Talking Knots of the Inka". Archaeology. 49 (6). Retrieved 18 May 2018

Hyslop, John (1984). The Inka Road System. Academic.
http://bruceowen.com/andeanae/326-06s-02-InkaIntro.pdf

Fernando E. Elorrieta Salazar & Edgar Elorrieta Salazar (2005) Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas, pages 83-91 ISBN 978-603-45-0911-5

Dover, Robert V. H.; Katharine E. Seibold; John Holmes McDowell (1992). Andean cosmologies through time: persistence and emergence. Caribbean and Latin American studies. Indiana University Press. p. 274. ISBN 0-253-31815-7. Retrieved 22 November 2009.:56

Young-Sánchez, Margaret (2009). Tiwanaku: Papers from the 2005 Mayer Center Symposium at the Denver Art Museum. Denver Art Museum. ISBN 0-8061-9972-5. Retrieved 22 November 2009.

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