A to Z: Inti

Published April 10, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Maybe a little too well-known, but I haven’t done any from South America yet this month, so today’s post will feature the Incan sun god, Inti.

Image copyright Atlus, but provided by the MegaTen Wiki. Click for link.

Had to shrink the image down to medium-sized; at full-size, his sun disk was looking very creepy to me.  (Maybe I’m just too tired to be doing this, but I don’t have any choice, because I’m falling behind; my number of buffer posts has fallen from 6 to 4.)

So, the text from Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker and Shin Megami Tensei IV/Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalpyse about Inti is as follows:

The Inca god of the sun, revered as a creation god.

He and his wife, the moon goddess Mama Quilla, were worshipped as great gods and loved by the Incas.  The Inca king Manco Capac was said to be Inti’s son, and was also worshipped as a sun god.

Pretty straight-forward, and more or less correct, although I’m not sure “creation god” applies at all.  Not in any sense I’m used to, anyway.  Wikipedia points out that rather than being simply the sun god, Inti is “more appropriately viewed as a cluster of solar aspects, since the Inca divided his identity according to the stages of the sun.”  (Ugh, I hate myself for relying so much on freakin’ Wikipedia for this.  I really suck…) What the game’s text leaves out is that Inti is usually said to be the son of Viracocha, who is more generally considered the true creator god of the Inca.  (Though there is some debate over that, too.)

It goes on to say that

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, Inti 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 Inti. Pachacuti is often linked to the origin and expansion of the Inca Sun Cult.[3][6]

The Willaq Umu was the high priest of the Sun (Inti). 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.[7]

A great golden disk representing Inti was captured by the Spanish conquistadors in 1571 and was sent to the pope via Spain. It has since been lost.

Yeah, I think the word you’re looking for is “melted down,” not “lost.”  Anyway, Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui was one of the Sapa Inca — the rulers of the people we now call Inca (though that was, technically, the title of their leader, and they called their land Tahuantinsuyu) — and the one who really set his people on the road to becoming the imperial conquerors of half a continent.  That story about how the god showed his people to build Cuzco reminds me (a bit) of the legend of how the Mexica (AKA the Aztecs) knew where to build Tenochtitlan:  they wandered the land in search of a place until the gods sent them a sign where to build, in the form of an eagle eating a snake in front of them.  (Which is, of course, why that’s on the Mexican flag.  Though they pronounce the “x” differently; in Nahuatl, the language of the Mexica, “x” is a “sh” sound.  And the other students in classes I’ve taken on the subject could never remember that, and kept pronouncing it as an “x”, which drove me absolutely batty.)

Okay, getting off topic here, so let’s discuss his appearance for a moment.  Again, to quote Wikipedia, “Inti is represented as a golden disk with rays and a human face.”  And I think we can trust that description well enough, given the presence of said sun disk on the flags and coats of arms of Argentina, Ecuador, and Bolivia, not to mention the Peruvian flags used between 1820 and 1950.  Also, there’s this:

Pachacuti worshiping Inti in an illustration from the 17th century chronicle of Martín de Murúa.

So, my question, then is this:  did we get our contemporary idea of how to draw the sun from the Inca?  If so, what did illustrations including the sun look like before the 16th century?

Right.  Internet.  Can look these things up.  Wait a tick…

Okay, so people were already drawing the sun as a disk with a face and rays long before any contact between the Old and New Worlds.  It makes sense, but it’s also kind of wild.  The interconnectedness of the human race, etc.

Anyway, on another note, Inti may not be on the Peruvian flag anymore, but he still holds an indirect role of equal prominence.  In 1863, when Peru finally got rid of the nomenclature of the colonial reales, they named their new currency soles (singular being sol), after the sun.  The early ’80s (or more likely several decades leading up to them) were very hard on the Peruvian economy, so they decided to rename their money, while still keeping its heart and soul.  So they called the new money inti.  That didn’t last very long, though, and by 1991 they replaced it with the neuvo sol, which is still in use.  But it’s still the sun, so it’s still sort of Inti.  Sort of.

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