Ica-Chincha

02
  • Environment and Geography

    As their name implies, these people inhabited the Ica and Chincha valleys, two of the largest and longest valleys on Peru’s southern coast. These valleys transect the arid landscape to reach the coast, where they meet the Pacific Ocean with its rich abundance of marine resources.

  • Economy

    The Ica Chincha had an agricultural-maritime economy, growing corn, beans, chilies and other crops and extracting fish, mollusks and shellfish from the sea.

  • Art

    The Ica Chincha were highly skilled woodcarvers, producing finely crafted shovels and paddles, many of which were carved with elaborate figures in bas-relief. Their ceramic style was quite emblematic and included pieces such as globular, long-necked bottles, as well as cups and pots. A common item was the spherical pitcher with wide body and rimmed neck. They decorated these ceramic pieces primarily with geometric motifs in the shape of fish and birds. In the latter years of this culture the Inka influence is seen in the adoption of new forms such as the aríbalo vase.

  • Social Organization

    Little is known about the way the Ica Chincha people organized their society. They seem to have had no strong central government, but operated relatively independently in the different valleys they inhabited. Traders must have played a central role in their society, given the brisk trade they maintained with other zones of the Andean coast, which they journeyed to in great seagoing rafts. Once they came under Inka rule, the head of the Chincha Kingdom enjoyed great prestige and even accompanied Atahualpa to Cajamarca, when the Inka leader was taken prisoner by the Spanish conquistadors.

  • Beliefs and Funerary Practices

    Like many other Andean cultures, Spondylus seashells, commonly known as mullu, played a central role in Ica-Chincha rituals. They brought these shells to the region from Ecuador and may have been responsible for distributing these ritual items throughout the Andean region.

  • Settlement Pattern

    The Ica-Chincha people founded several independent settlements, some of which contain public and/or religious structures that may have operated as political-administrative centers in pre-Inka times. These pyramid-like structures include platforms, patios, rooms and passageways. Their mud walls are decorated with relief friezes, geometric drawings and stylistic bird figures like those found in the ancient Chimú city of Chan Chán, located further north.

  • History

    The Ica-Chincha culture emerged after the fall of the Wari Empire, although it also inherited many features of cultures such as the Parakas and/or Nasca, which occupied these same valleys in earlier times. Thanks to their participation in extensive exchange networks, they maintained contact with a wide range of other groups that enriched their own cultural heritage. Although the Ica-Chinchas were conquered by the Inka in the late 1400s, many aspects of their culture remained intact, so much so that when the Spanish arrived in South America the Chincha Kingdom was still one of the most renowned in the entire Andean world.

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