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Andean/Incan People

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The Andean/Incan people

The Andean/Incan people lived in the vast majority of the Andean Mountain ranges of Peru. They were mainly polytheistic and believed it was a series of gods who were responsible for providing the rain, maize, sun, etc. that was needed for daily survival.

Viracocha was the main and greatest god. He was held solely responsible for the creation of Earth, animals and man. He made men out of stone, replicated them and destroyed them according to his whim. Viracocha was considered he divine protector of the Incan rulers or "Incani's".

Inti, the Sun god was the head of the state cult whose worship was mandatory. Every year a special festival called Inti-Raymi was held in Inti's and the suns honor. Animal sacrifices and ritual dances marked and were often the highlight of the celebration.

Daily prayers were addressed to Apu Illapu, the rain giver, who was responsible for sustaining the Incans food sources. His temples were set high on a mountain so in case there was a flood, the temple would not be destroyed. A flood signified Apu Illapu's anger and meant a pilgrimage with human sacrifice was necessary to appease him.

Human sacrifice was not widely practices in the Incan religion as opposed to the Aztec religion where human sacrifices were the norm. Both the Incan and the Aztec believed that human sacrifice was a necessity to appease the gods. They felt there was no greater gift than giving your life to a god. Therefore, the sacrificial person as well as the god was honored. Festivals and daily prayers were often marked with dancing, singing and special prayers to the particular god of what they desired. Both fasting and feasting marked super special festivals.

Penitential rituals must be observed if a particular god is displeased. Murder as an act of war was not a punishable offense whereas murder as an act of vengeance was the gravest sin to be committed.

Birth, puberty, marriage and death were all times for special rituals and sacrifices. Therefore, the Andean people's lives mainly revolved around their religion as, without the gods, they would have nothing.

The Spaniards

The Spanish conquerors and missionaries arrived upon the New World around 1492 but it took a few years for them to get acclimated to the people and area before they started the conversion of the natives. The Spaniards were staunch Christians and mainly Catholics, under the rule of the Spanish Catholic monarchy. Their primary intention upon arrival was to save the barbarous souls of the natives and teach them the ways of Christ.

The Catholic religion at the time of conquest was largely under the rule of the conquering countries monarchy. The Pope, due to distance, some corruption and lack of timely communication was not often consulted on matters of stopping heresy and propagating faith.

Culture change over time

Upon the Spaniards arrival, they found the natives to be "very gentle without even knowing that it is bad to kill others..." "Which is why it will be easy to make good Christians out of them...since they are believers and know that God is in heaven." (Frost, 121) Little did the Spaniards realize that they would have to learn all about the native's religion and twist their gods into a more "Christian" form. For example, the missionaries figured out that Viracocha was the "main god" so to speak so it was easy to translate him as "God the Father" in Catholicism. The rest of the native's pantheon of gods was easily translated as the "communion of saints " in Catholicism.

The natives did have a hard time believing that only one God was responsible for everything. However, they welcomed the Spaniards into their homeland and were eager to adopt a new religion, as it was their custom to do so. The difficulty lie between the fact that the Spaniards wanted a full conversion, whereas the natives were willing to integrate bits and pieces of the new religion into their existing one. Eventually, the Spaniards realized this was the case and became more lenient to it. They established cofradias, or lay brotherhoods, to minister to the more localized



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