Subject:      Re: Inca traditional narrative
From:         yuku@globalserve.net (Yuri Kuchinsky)
Date:         1998/05/10
Message-ID:   <6j5870$ge5$1@titan.globalserve.net>
Newsgroups:   sci.archaeology,alt.mythology,sci.archaeology.mesoamerican 

In this post I will introduce some new material in support of the idea
that the narrative about the Inca contained significant historical
elements. Also, this account is supported further by other traditional
narratives, this time from Mangareva (Gambier Islands) that are the next
in line after the Easter Island towards the rest of Polynesia.

Here's the source I'm using:

     AUTHOR: Heyerdahl, Thor.
      TITLE: American Indians in the Pacific: the theory behind the
                Kon-Tiki expedition.
  PUBLISHED: London, Allen [and] Unwin 1952]
DESCRIPTION: xv, 821 p.  illus. (part col.), maps (part col.)

This thick book contains huge amounts of info on this general subject.

The Inca narrative is preserved in two Spanish historical chronicles, by
Sarmiento, and by Balboa.

Here's what Heyerdahl writes about Sarmiento:

     ... Sarmiento is ... known for his attempts to glorify the actions
     of the Spanish conquerors, and he is very careful not to give
     the overthrown Inca dynasty more credit than was absolutely
     necessary. His HISTORY OF THE INCAS ... was the result of
     the seven years (from 1559) in which he devoted himself to
     the study of native Peruvian history. His information was
     obtained from the best educated native historians in Peru,
     who still had personal memories dating from the days before
     the Europeans arrived, and 42 of them, specified by name
     and representing all the twelve Inca _ayllus_ were assembled
     at one time to give the rendering of names and event their
     final approval. (See Markham 1907, pp. 197-201.)

     We learn from Sarmiento (1572, p. 135) that when Tupac
     Inca travelled on the Pacific coast of N. Peru and Ecuador,
     "He conquered the Huancavelicas although they were very
     warlike, fighting on land and at sea in balsas [ocean-going
     rafts], from Tumbez to Huanapi, Huamo, Manta, Turuca and
     Quisin. (pp. 558-9)

So it is clear from the above that the Inca already had a large fleet
of balsa rafts assembled for his conquests of the Pacific coast. He
didn't have to build this fleet from scratch.

Also, it needs to be kept in mind that the narrative about the Pacific
journey is only a part of a much larger narrative that deals with
the great conquests of the Inca all along the coast and in the
highlands. These conquests continued for about 7 years. The
journey was launched after all the other conquests were done.

And Heyerdahl continues to quote Sarmiento, later including this
about the trophies that the Inca brought back from his journey:

     These trophies were preserved in the fortress of Cuzco until
     the Spaniards came. An Inca now living had charge of this
     skin and jaw-bone of a horse. He gave this account, and the
     rest who were present corroborated it. His name is Urco
     Huaraca. I am particular about this because to those who
     know anything of the Indies it will appear a strange thing and
     difficult to believe. (p. 559)

We have discussed these trophies before in sci.arch. Clearly
there's no agreement what they were exactly and where they may have
come from. Some may have come from Polynesia, and some from
Central America which was most likely a stop on the return journey
(because of the ocean currents in the area). But the evidence is
pretty persuasive that these trophies were preserved and seen by

Later Heyerdahl quotes from Fr. Miguel Balboa who came to Peru
in 1566, and who also wrote about the journey of the Inca in 1586.
At that time no good information about various Pacific islands was
known to the Spanish. (First recorded European visit to EI was in
1722.) He wrote:

     I dare not confirm this deed, however, nor determine which
     are the islands in question, but the Indians report that the
     Inca brought back [prisoners and various trophies] ... One is
     quite ignorant of where in Peru or the ocean washing its
     coasts he could have found such things. ...

     I have mentioned all these facts so that the reader may feel
     whether it is possible that Topa-Inga-Yupangui discovered
     any of these islands ... What remains certain is that he
     returned victoriously from his maritime expedition. (Pp. 561)

So Balboa apparently had no doubts that some historicity was
there in this narrative.

And here's a commentary from P. A. Means (PRE-SPANISH
Vol. II, No. 2, 1942, p. 17):

     The whole problem of where the expedition went should be
     studied carefully to determine, if possible, whither the Inca's
     fleet of balsas went. Unless we discard the whole story
     altogether as merely fabulous, an impossibility in view of the
     two chronicles which relate it, the fleet must have gone
     somewhere. (Pp. 563)

So Means considered it impossible that the whole story was an invention.

Heyerdahl writes on the same page about where the "black
prisoners" described by the chroniclers may have come from:

     The dark elements found by Roggeween among the mixed
     population at Easter Island, and by Beechey on Mangareva,
     would perfectly well satisfy the remarkable claim that "black"
     men were among the spoils of the Inca armada.

All the above comes from the Peruvian side. The book contains more
evidence that I'm not uploading as yet.

Now, let's look on the Mangarevan side.

F. W. Christian, a noted Polynesian scholar, wrote back in

     And the Mangarevans have a tradition of a chief called Tupa,
     a red man, who came from the east with a fleet of canoes of
     non-Polynesian model, more like rafts -- surely a memory of
     some Peruvian balsas, or raftships. (Pp. 564)

And Heyerdahl adds that Christian was

     ... probably not familiar with Peruvian traditions, or he would
     apparently have suspected a connection with Tupac Inca's

Although many in these ngs would tend to doubt Heyerdahl's
words, it is difficult to see Christian as a biased commentator on this
legend, I would suppose.

And now, about the chronology of the visit. As is well known, the Inca in
question was the grandfather of the ruling Inca when the Spanish arrived
to Peru. This was not ancient antiquity exactly.

Now, from the Mangarevan side, the chronology is as follows. Tiripone
manuscript, as quoted by Buck (1938 b, p. 22), says:

     An important visitor to Mangareva was Tupa. The native history states
     that he came in the period of the brother kings Tavere and Taroi. (p.

This manuscript was written in the last century by Mama Taira Putairi, son
of a Mangarevan chief.

And Heyerdahl writes:

     There had been twelve generations of kings on Mangareva
     before Tavere and Taroi, and Buck, judging the date of these
     brother kings from their place in the island genealogy,
     estimated that they must have lived at the beginning of the
     14th century. This is somewhat earlier than Tupac Inca's 15th
     c. voyage from Peru, but none of these dates are fixed; both
     are based on flexible generations. (p. 565)

I think the chronologies are way too close for this to be accidental.
I wonder how Ross managed to miss this detail. This is what
happens when traditional aboriginal narratives are not treated with

Further, Heyerdahl says that in spite of many mythological
accretions, the legend of the islanders preserves clearly the
_direction_ from which the visitors came, i.e. from the East. He

     The map (on p. 566) shows the location of Tupa's passage,
     and thus the eastern direction whence he arrived. The fact
     that King Tupa's visiting fleet lay afloat in Te-AVA-nui-o-Tupa
     (AVA = channel) while he went ashore at Te Kava island is
     remarkable, since Tupac of Peru came back from the ocean
     to speak of his visit to an island with almost the same name:
     Ava-chumbi. (p. 565)

As Heyerdahls writes, some linguists suggested that the Quechua
suffix _chumbi_ may indicate an atoll or ring-shaped coral reef, as
the word means "girdle".

And Heyerdahl concludes:

     There's only one truly important Tupac (or Topa) in Peruvian
     history, and similarly only one Tupa in Polynesia. ... The
     probability that both references are to the same Tupa(c)
     seems large. (p. 566)

Of course there's much more to indicate that the journey of the Inca was
historical. All kinds of supporting evidence exists to show that
Native S. Americans were expert shipbuilders and sailors before the
Spanish came, much of this discussed already in sci.arch.

There's too much bias in these newsgroups. I remember the poisonous
vitriol of some of the posters who used to make fun of the Natives and
their sailing craft. How could they ever be making long ocean journeys on
their "primitive and silly rafts"? Too bad that these scoffers never
bothered to learn how sophisticated and seaworthy that craft was really.

It does seem to me that this traditional narrative of the Incas may
preserve quite a bit of historicity.



Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- [18]http://www.globalserve.net/~yuku  UPDATED

Reality is that which, when you stop believing
in it, doesn't go away -=O=- Philip K. Dick

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