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Puma / Mythology

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Cusco History Inca

PUMA / MYTHOLOGY

Any visitor to the Cusco region cannot help but be held in awe of the major influences and unimaginable craftsmanship of the Inca.

The history of Cusco begins in the 12th century when Manco Capac, the first Inca ruler was commanded by the Inti, the Sun God, to begin the search for the ‘navel of the world’. Upon finally discovering this sacred site, development began on what would become the capital of the Inca civilization, Cusco.

In their beliefs, the Inca universe was split into three parts:

Uku Pacha (the underworld, represented by a snake or serpent), Hanan Pacha (the overworld, similar to heaven, and represented by a condor) and Kay Pacha (the world in which we live, represented by a puma).

The significance of the puma is a key feature in the construction of the city of Cusco. Due to the belief that this was the center of the universe, the city was planned as an effigy in the shape of a puma with the mighty fortress of Sacsayhuaman forming the head.

To the Inca, the role of gods and symbolism was hugely important. The belief that mountains (Apus) contained the spirits of Gods, to whom sacrificial offerings were made, is regarded as one of the key reasons why Machu Picchu´s location is so significant.

Other important gods in Inca culture include Viracocha, the creator of civilization. According to beliefs, it was Viracocha who together with his wife Mama Cocha (the sea goddess), gave birth to Inti, who was considered the most important of all, bringing warmth and light to the Earth. The influence of Inti and other Inca gods is still seen today, within ancient architecture, traditional artwork and also during the major festival of Inti Raymi, held annually around winter solstice.



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By Mark Green

03 Feb 2010


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