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Pachacuti (c. 1391–c. 1473)

Pachacuti (c. 1391–c. 1473)

Pachacuti (also Pachacuteq; b. ca. 1391; d. ca. 1473), Inca emperor (ca. 1438–ca. 1471). Pachacuti is regarded as the greatest of the Inca emperors. His name has been translated from the Quechua variously as "Cataclysm," "Earthquake," or literally "You Shake the Earth." The variant Pachacuteq literally means "One Who Shakes the Earth." Pachacuti ascended the throne after defending Cuzco against the Chanca invasion and overthrowing his father, Viracocha Inca, in 1438. He then founded the Inca state and initiated its first great expansion. With his son Topa Inca, Pachacuti conquered a huge territory from Lake Titicaca on the modern Peru-Bolivia border in the south to the city of Quito in modern Ecuador to the north. Among his other achievements were the design and rebuilding of the imperial capital of Cuzco and the construction of Sacsahuaman and other classic Inca monuments including Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu. Pachacuti is credited with inventing the bureaucratic structure of the Inca state, codifying Inca law, reorganizing and codifying the Inca religion, and developing the institution called the panaca, which provided households for the royal mummies. He transformed the Incas from a predatory chiefdom into a highly centralized and stratified state administering a redistributive economy through a monopoly of force and codified law.

Pachacuti was a poet and author of some of the most famous Inca poems: the Sacred Hymns (haillikuna) of the Situa ceremony. These can be found in English translations in Ancient American Poets (2005) by John Curl, together with a detailed biography and survey of Inca poetic traditions.

See alsoCuzco; Viracocha.


Principal sources on Pachacuti include John H. Rowe, "Inca Culture at the Time of the Spanish Conquest," in Handbook of South American Indians, vol. 2 (1946), pp. 183-330; Burr Cartwright Brundage, The Empire of the Inca (1963) and The Lords of Cuzco: A History and Description of the Inca People in Their Final Days (1967); The Incas of Pedro de Cieza de León, translated by Harriet de Onis (1959); and Bernabé Cobo, History of the Inca Empire, translated by Roland Hamilton (1979).

Additional Bibliography

Benson, Sonia, and Deborah J. Baker. Early Civilizations in the Americas. Detroit, MI: U-X-L, 2005.

Bouysse-Cassagne, Thérèse, and Thierry Saignes. Saberes y memorias en los Andes: In memoriam Thierry Saignes. Paris: Institut des hautes études de l'Amérique latine; Lima: Institut français d'études andines, 1997.

Curl, John. Ancient American Poets. Tempe, AZ: Bilingual Review Press, 2005.

de Diez Canseco, María Rostworowski. Pachacutec Inca Yupanqui. Lima: IEP, Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 2001.

Espinosa Apolo, Manuel. Hablan los Incas: Crónicas de Collapiña, Supno, Inca Garcilaso, Felipe Guamán Poma, Titu Cusi y Juan Santacruz Pachacuti. Quito, Ecuador: Taller de Estudios Andinos, 2000.

Nishi, Dennis. The Inca Empire. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books, 2000.

Saunders Nicholas J. The Inca City of Cuzco. Milwaukee, WI: World Almanac Library, 2005.

Urbano, Enrique, and Sánchez, Ana. Antigüedades del Perú. Madrid: Historia 16, 1992.

                                       Gordon F. McEwan

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