Inti is the ancient Incan sun god.
He is revered as the national patron of the Inca state. Although most consider Inti the sun god, he is more appropriately viewed as a cluster of solar aspects, since the Inca divided his identity according to the stages of the sun.
Worshiped as a patron deity of the Inca Empire, Pachacuti is often linked to the origin and expansion of the Inca Sun Cult. The most common story says that he is the son of Viracocha, the god of civilization.
The word inti is according to linguist Rodolfo Cerrón-Palomino not of Quechua origin but a loanword from Puquina language. Borrowing from Puquina language explains why genetically unrelated languages such as Quechua, Aymara and Mapuche have similar words for the sun.
Similitudes are not only linguistic but also symbolically as in Mapuche and Central Andean cosmology the sun (Inti/Antu) and the moon (Quilla/Cuyen) are spouses.
Legends and history
Inti and his sister, Mama Killa, the Moon goddess were generally considered benevolent deities. Mama Killa supposedly gave birth to their child.
Their court is served by the Rainbow, the Pleiades, Venus, and others. The founding Inca ancestor, known as Manco Cápac, was thought to have been the son of Inti. According to an ancient myth, he taught his son Manco Cápac and his daughter Mama Ocllo the arts of civilization and they were sent to earth to pass this. Another legend, however, states Manco Cápac was the son of Viracocha.
Inti ordered his children to build the Inca capital where a divine golden wedge they carried with them would penetrate the earth. Incas believed that this happened in the city of Cusco. The Inca ruler was considered to be the living representative of him. Pachacuti is often linked to the origin and expansion of the Inca Sun Cult.
The Willaq Umu was the high priest of the Sun. His position placed him as the second most powerful person in the kingdom. He was directly underneath the Sapa Inca, and they were often brothers. The emperor and his family were believed to be descended from Inti.
A great golden disk representing he was captured by the Spanish conquistadors in 1571 and was sent to the pope via Spain. It has since been lost. Inti is the son of the Earth goddess Pachamama and the sky god pachahiq, but he is also described as the husband of Pachamama the Earth goddess, like Gaia in Greek Mythology.
The Inca dedicated many ceremonies to the Sun in order to ensure the Sapa Inca’s welfare. The sun was also important to the Incas, particularly the people of the highlands because it was necessary for the production of crops like maize and other grains.
The sun’s heat was also thought to cause rain. During the rainy season, the sun was hotter and brighter, while during the dry season it was weaker.
The Incas would set aside large quantities of natural and human resources throughout the empire for Inti. Each conquered province was supposed to dedicate a third of their lands and herds to Inti as mandated by the Inca. Each major province would also have a Sun Temple in which male and female priests would serve.
The female priests were the mamakuna, who were chosen from the aqllakuna (“chosen women”), and they would weave special cloth and brew chicha for festivities and sacrifices to him.
Additionally, the chief temple of the Inca state religion was the Qurikancha in Cusco. Within this temple were wall niches in which the bodies of previous emperors and rulers were exhibited along with various statues of Inti in certain festivals.
Some figures of Inti also depicted him in human form with a hollowed-out midsection that was filled with a concoction made of gold dust and the ashes of the Inca kings’ hearts.
Inti is represented as a golden disk with rays and a human face. Many such disks were supposedly held in Cusco as well as in shrines throughout the empire, especially at Qurikancha, where the most significant image of him was discovered by anthropologists.
This representation, adorned with ear spools, a pectoral, and a royal headband, was known as punchaw (Quechua for day, also spelled punchao). This image of Inti was also said to have lions and serpents projecting from its form.
The worship of Inti and the rise of the Inti cult are considered to be exploitations of religion for political purposes since the Inca king was increasingly identified with the sun god. This grew into a form of divine patronage and the convenience of these comparisons for Inca emperors is crucial.
Sub-divisions of identity
Corresponding with the three diurnal stages of the sun, Inti’s identity is also divided into three primary subcomplexes, which are the father, son, and brother. The first of these is Apu Inti. He represents the father and is sometimes known as “The Lord Sun.”
The second is Churi Inti, or “Son Inti,” who represents the son of Inti and is often known as “Daylight.” The third and final division of Inti is Inti Wawqi (“Sun brother”, or “Inti brother”, also spelled Inti-Guauqui, Inti-Huaoqui). Inti Wawqi also represents the sun god in his specific position as the founding father of Inca reign and the center of the state’s official ancestor cult.
In astronomy, Apu Inti and Churi Inti can actually be separated from one another along an astronomical axis. This is because they are associated with the summer and winter solstices respectively. Inti Wawqi, however, is not associated with an astronomical location.