OF THE PAST
Gold was esteemed
by the Incas for its beauty and sought by the Spaniards for its worth.
Exciting the avarice of conquistadors, it brought a highly-regarded empire to ruin. To Incas, gold was "the sweat of
and it reflected the glory of their Sun God who, they believed,
them with its safekeeping. Gold took on value only when crafted into ceremonial articles -vessels,
jewelry, figurines- or adornments for tombs and temples. By law, all
gold and silver of the realm belonged
to the emperor, who used
it to bedeck his palace, beautify temples, and reward loyalty.
love for precious metals was esthetic, for neither Incas nor their
to buy anything. Twelve million or more worshipful people rendered abundant tribute to the Incas and paid
their taxes in work: a billion man-hours a year to build temples,
fortresses, agricultural terraces, and roads - all for the grandeur of
than four centuries ago a renowned
priest wrote: "The riches that were gathered in the city of Cuzco alone, as capital
and court of the Empire, were amazing and incredible, for therein were
many big gold houses and enormous palaces of dead kings with all the
unimaginable treasure that each amassed
in life; and he who began to reign did not touch the state and wealth of
his predecessor but built a new palace and acquired for himself silver and gold".
became the richest city in the New World. Chiefs and governors, made
presents to the Inca, when they visited
his court and when he went to their lands, while touring his kingdom.
This wealth grew daily, for provinces were many and others were
continually being brought to obedience. It was forbidden to remove
silver and gold from Cuzco. Nor was it spent, in things that are consumed with use, but for idols, goblets, and
ornaments for the temples, the king, and great nobles. As money did not
exist, rulers paid their servants in clothing and food.
imperial splendor. Life among the Incas -even to taking a bath- was the
epitome of pleasure. The Incas’ best pleasure was to retreat and
solace themselves in the middle of groves and airy gardens which soft,
intoxicating odors quieted
their senses. Here, too, they enjoyed
the luxury of their baths in crystal water which was conducted through subterraneous silver
channels into basins of gold.
INCA EMPIRE" Website
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