Who was the mythical god Wiracocha

Wiracocha is the most supreme divinity in the cultures of Ancient Peru. Its representation has been present since the Caral civilization 5 thousand years ago. It was also venerated in important cultures such as Tiahuanaco (1,500 BC – 1,000 AD) as well as the Inca Empire (1,200 AD – 1,533 AD). His real name would be Apu Qun Illa Tiqsi Wiraquchan Pachayachachiq Pachakamaq, Apu Kon Illa Teqse Wiraqochan Pachayachachiq Pachakamaq, which, translated from the Quechua language, means: ‘Great Lord, eternal radiance, source of life, knowledge and maker of the world’. Learn more!

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The inca gods

The Inca gods are the inheritance of a tradition of divinities from pre-Columbian cultures 3 thousand years ago. In Ancient Peru, men worshiped various elements of nature.

The objective was to find answers to unknowns such as natural disasters, famine and the future. Thus, the main figures were natural elements such as the sun, the earth, the moon, the sea, the stars, the mountains and more.

The most worshiped divinities in Ancient Peru were: Wiracocha, the Pachamama (mother earth), Inti (sun), Illapa (thunder), Quilla (moon), Kon, Pachacámac, Pariacaca, Ai Apaec, Etsa, Tsuqki and Nugkui.

Regarding the Inca religion, they were polytheists. That is, they worshiped various gods. Of all, the sun god ‘Inti’ was the most revered. However, there were other gods such as the moon goddess ‘Mama Killa’ (wife of the sun), the god of thunder ‘Illapa’ as well as the earth goddess ‘Pachamama’.

The Incas, like the cultures of Ancient Peru, believed that the gods decided for nature and their lives. Because of this, they paid him worship, tributes and the famous ‘offerings’. The goal was to appease their force and maintain a good relationship with them. Among the most common sacrifices were ‘payments to the land’ and ‘llama sacrifices’.

The Incas also worshiped the mummies or ‘malquis’ of previous Incas. They conserved their power in the afterlife, which is why they were worshiped, even paraded around the city of Cusco, capital of the Inca empire. This cult was considered ‘pagan’ upon the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century.

Dios Wiracocha
Sculpture of the god Wiracocha in the Inkariy museum in Cusco.

Who was Wiracocha?

Viracocha or Wiracocha was a god present for more than 5 thousand years in various cultures of Ancient Peru, including the Incas. It was believed that Wiracocha created the universe, the sun, the moon and even men.

Wiracocha is represented in many ways. The Incas show him with the sun as a crown, with rays in his hands and tears that fell from his eyes in the form of rain. According to the Inca worldview, Wiracocha was the maker of the world and time.

In Inca mythology Wiracocha’s real name was: Apu Qun Illa Tiqsi Wiraquchan Pachayachachiq Pachakamaq, Apu Kon Illa Teqse Wiraqochan Pachayachachiq Pachakamaq. This name, translated from the Quechua language, meant: ‘Great Lord, eternal splendor, source of life, knowledge and maker of the world.’

Historical sources indicate that Wiracocha came to the Incas through the Tiahuanaco influence. Well, this god was the first deity of the Tiahuanacos. You came from the famous Lake Titicaca, from where it emerged to create heaven and earth.

It should be noted that the representation of Wiracocha is also present in representations of very important cultures such as: Caral (3 thousand BC), Chavín (1,200 BC) and Wari (600 AD).

Wiracocha for the incas

The Spanish chronicler Juan de Betanzos recreates the myth of Wiracocha in which the god emerged from the waters of Lake Titicaca to create the elements of nature. He ordered his children Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo to order the world and its inhabitants who lived in barbarism.

Other chronicles indicate that the god Wiracocha emerged from the Pacaritambo cave (in Cusco), when men lived in darkness. With him the god brought light and wisdom.

In general terms, with great influence from Western culture, it is believed that for the Incas the god Wiracocha was the creator of the sun (main Inca deity), the moon (killa) and the stars. The most notable thing is that, like the Christian god, Wiracocha also created humanity. To do this, he blew on the rocks, emerging giants but without knowledge. To improve his work, the god eliminated humanity with a great flood. Then, from the remaining small rocks, he created civilized humanity.

Finally, it is mentioned in several chronicles that for the Incas Wiracocha disappeared in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, sinking never to return.

With evident Western influence, it is said that Wiracocha traveled to various places in the world (dressed as a beggar) performing miracles and teaching the good practices of civilization to men.

Wiracocha templo
Temple of the god Wiracocha - Raqchi

The Inca Wiracocha

Huiracocha was also one of the Inca rulers, recognized for being the father of Emperor Pachacutec, who founded the Inca empire in the 15th century.

Huiracocha was the eighth ruler of the Incas, when it was still called ‘Curacazgo del Cusco’. According to the chronicles of the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, he adopted the name of the god ‘Wiracocha’ because he claimed to have had a dream with the Inca divinity.

The Inca Wiracocha (his real name was Hatun Tupac) had the most difficult of missions when the enemy tribe, the powerful Chancas, threatened the Incas with their surrender or the imminent invasion of the city of Cusco. The chronicles indicate that instead of defending the territory, the Inca Huiracocha fled to his palace in the Sacred Valley of the Incas with his royal family.

Thus, the Inca Huiracocha escaped from Cusco with his successor on the throne, his son Inca Urco. The only one who dared to take command and defend Cusco was his son Cusi Yupanqui (Pachacútec). The young Cusi Yupanqui had already shown great leadership and wisdom in military management. Thus, he makes alliances with neighboring tribes to defend himself against the Chancas. After a tough battle he manages to expel the enemies from Cusco, to defeat them and found the new empire of the Incas (Tahuantinsuyo).

In turn, Pachacutec orders the death of his brother Inca Urco. He also forgives his father Huiracocha who never returned to Cusco and died in oblivion in his palaces in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

More information about god Wiracocha

How is the god Huiracocha represented? – There are several representations, including some yet to be investigated. He is generally represented with two staffs or staffs in both hands (he is also known as the God of Staffs). Also with tears in his eyes (circular without looking anywhere) and rays of sunlight around his head.

In the archaeological site of Raqchi (118 kilometers from the city of Cusco) is the so-called ‘Wiracocha Temple’. This temple is characterized by being the tallest built by the Incas. It has a height of 14 meters and is made of stone and adobe.

Perhaps the most famous representative construction of Huiracocha in Ancient Peru is the Portada del Sol of the Tiahuanaco culture. It is only 75 kilometers from the city of La Paz (Bolivia). The Puerta del Sol is three meters high and 4 meters wide. It is made of stone weighing approximately ten tons. The most notable thing is the image of the god Wiracocha in the upper central part of the door. It is believed that the Tiahuanacos influenced the cult of this god in other later cultures such as the Waris and Incas.

Furthermore, it is believed that the belief in the god Wiracocha was multiplied since the 16th century by the Spanish, who found in the belief in a single god the similarity to the cult of the god. The truth is that the chronicles have many similarities between the Andean god and the Western god. However, the cult of Wiracocha in ancient Peru was far from the religious practice of the Christian world. There are still many aspects to investigate about the figure of this god present more than five thousand years ago.

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