Inca Mythology: The significance of the Inca Cross (Chakana) in mythology

Origins and Symbolism of the Inca Cross (Chakana)

The Inca Cross, also known as the Chakana, is a highly symbolic and sacred symbol that originated from the ancient Inca civilization in Peru. The Chakana is a cross-like image with steps on each of its four quadrants, creating a symmetrical and geometric design. The origins of this symbol are believed to date back to before the Inca Empire, as similar cross-like symbols have been found in pre-Inca cultures.

The symbolism of the Chakana is deeply tied to the Inca’s cosmology and their connection with the natural world. Each quadrant of the cross represents a different aspect of their worldview. The bottom quadrant represents the Underworld, or Uku Pacha, and is associated with the serpent and the element of water. The left quadrant represents the Present World, Kay Pacha, and is associated with the puma and the element of earth. The right quadrant represents the Upper World, Hanan Pacha, and is associated with the condor and the element of air. Lastly, the center represents the Center of the Universe, Cusco, and is associated with the hummingbird and the element of fire.

Mythological Significance of the Inca Cross (Chakana)

The Inca people attributed great mythological significance to the Chakana. They believed that it represented the link between the different realms of existence and acted as a portal for communication between the gods and humans. The cross-like shape of the Chakana was seen as a representation of the Inca’s strong connection with the natural world and their belief in the harmony and balance between the different realms.

In Inca mythology, the Chakana was associated with the creator god Viracocha, who was believed to have used the symbol to create the universe. It was believed that Viracocha used the steps on the Chakana to organize the different realms and establish order within the cosmos. This mythological significance of the Chakana further reinforced its sacred status and its importance in Inca rituals and ceremonies.

Historical Legacy and Cultural Importance of the Inca Cross (Chakana)

Even after the fall of the Inca Empire, the significance and symbolism of the Chakana have endured and continue to hold great cultural importance in Peru and among the descendants of the Inca people. The Chakana is still widely recognized as a symbol of the Inca civilization and is used in various forms of art, architecture, and jewelry. It has become a symbol of Peruvian identity and is often used to represent the connection between the past and present, as well as the country’s rich cultural heritage.

Furthermore, the Chakana has also gained global recognition and has become a popular symbol among those interested in indigenous cultures and spirituality. It is often seen as a symbol of balance, harmony, and connection with the natural world. The Chakana has become an emblem of the Inca’s wisdom and reverence for nature, and its popularity serves as a testament to the enduring legacy of the Inca civilization and their profound understanding of the world around them.