Ceremony and Feasting

One of the most important Inka strategies intended to create vertical allegiances with subject populations was institutionalized state generosity in the form of commensal celebrations, where food and chicha corn beer were lavishly distributed. We found evidence for these activities in the plazas of both centers. In the Oroncota complex, this was conducted in one of the rectangular kallanka halls that opened into the main plaza, and at the entrance. Judging by the use of local-style ceramic serving vessels, indigenous Yampara populations were active participants in these festivities. By comparison, in the Cuzcotuyo stronghold, these events took place in the main building’s enclosed plazas. There, the nature of the par?ticipants changed, echoing broader political shifts. Whereas in the Early Inka phase they had local origins, in the Late Inka phase eastern Guarani- Chiriguano segments were progressively included either as participants or trading partners. In the absence of permanent representatives from the core, it is likely these events were carried out by the regional imperial allies.

It is noticeable that in neither Cuzcotuyo nor Oroncota were Inka serving vessels used in these festivals (Costin and Earle 1989; Morris and Thompson 1985). Although it is possible that this reflects the absence of close ceramic workshops producing Inka wares, it is also likely that this responded to a strategy to manipulate native symbols in public arenas or to a more expedient use of available local material. It is also noteworthy that in none of the commensal festivities did the hosts utilize imported pottery from neighboring polities. For example, the Oroncota Valley residents had access to a myriad of imported wares. Their deliberate exclusion from the state celebrations shows that they either did not help to convey the emerging imperial ideology or that the state representatives made a concerted effort to minimize their regional value. Despite this situation, the public celebrations conducted in both Inka installations were central in the regional frontier polities and associated processes of alliance building. In both cases, these events were also important for the imperial allies to convey their own interests and perceptions of the new imperial order. This situation might have been important considering that in the absence of permanent state colonies, these allies might have acted as the state representatives in the celebrations. Furthermore, the presence of ushnu shrines in the plazas, even in the military installations of Cuzcotuyo and El Pedregal, shows that religious celebrations and warfare were closely intertwined in the Inka expansionist tactics. While religion legitimized expansion, war was the concrete means to achieve it.

 
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