History of International Relations Textbook

The Americas

Cheque and the huaca system

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Radiating out from Awkaypata was a drunken spiderweb of forty-one crooked, spiritually powerful lines, known as cheque, that linked holy features of the landscape: springs, tombs, caves, shrines, fields, stones. About four hundred of these waka (shrines, more or less) existed around Quzco — the landscape around the capital was charged with telluric power. The cheque also played a role in the Inca calendar, which apparently consisted of forty-one eight-day weeks). Each waka had its own meaning, relative status, social affiliation, and set of ceremonial uses. One big stone outside town was believed to be the petrified body of one of the original Inca brothers; Inca armies often carried it with them, dressed in fine togs, as a kind of good-luck talisman. To keep track of the florid abundance of sthrines and lines, the empire “had more than a thousand men in the city of Cuzco who did nothing but remember these things.”