Inca Hierarchy in Society

The Inca society was arranged by a strict hierarchical structure. There were many different levels with the Sapa, high priest or ruler, and the army commander at the top. Family members were councilors to the Sapa and even women had authority in the Inca hierarchy.

Under the Sapa Inca were the priest, nobles the royal allyu or kin-group which filled most of the important administrative and religious posts and, working for them, regional allyu chiefs, curacas or orejones, responsible for controlling tribute from the peasant base. One third of the land belonged to the emperor and the state, others to the high priests, gods, and the sun, the last was for the allyu themselves.

The class below the Sapa Inca was the Nobility, which included the descendants and relatives of the emperor. These royal blood Incas held the most important posts in the government, military and religious departments. Sometimes, these included the nobles of the conquered tribes who were trained in the Inca way of administration. They were called The Curacs.

The temple priests, architects and regional army commanders were next. The two lowest classes consisted of artisans, army captains, farmers, and herders. Farmers provided most of the subsistence for the rest of the population.

The basic local unit of society was the ayllu, which formed an endogamous nucleus of kinship groups who possessed collectively a specific, although often disconnected, territory. In the ayllu, grazing land was held in common (private property did not exist), whereas arable land was parceled out to families in proportion to their size.

Pachacutec (originally known as Inca Yupanqui), was a younger son of the emperor Viracocha. Pachacutec inculcated the Incas with the idea that they were a people of power, of destiny, and created an elaborate hierarchy devolving from his own position as the sapa inca, the emperor. The nobility became a separate tier in this hierarchy and were allowed to wear earplugs as a distinguishing feature.

Apo were the prefects of the suyus, the quarters, of Tahuantinsuyu and were directly beneath the emperor in the governmental hierarchy. Tokrikoq were the governors of the individual provinces that comprised the suyus. The provinces (waman) were usually comprised of two or three sayasdepending upon the population. (I'll explain the sayas at the end of the post).

People under the Inca rule were happy. The system made sure that there was enough for everyone. There was prosperity and a sense of well being among the people.

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