Inca culture For Kids
The Inca society was based around strict social classes. Few people had the opportunity to improve their social status. Once a person was born into a social class, that was where they would remain for the rest of their life.
Noble Classes (Inca)
The Inca Empire was ruled by the ancestors of the original Inca people. These were the people who originally established the city of Cuzco.
- Sapa Inca - The emperor or king was called the Sapa Inca. He was at the top of the Inca social class and was considered a god in many ways.
- Villac Umu - The high priest was just behind the Sapa Inca in social status. The gods were very important to the Inca and the high priest spoke directly to their most powerful god, the Sun god Inti.
- Royal Family - The direct relatives of Sapa Inca were next in line. They received high positions in the government. The primary wife of the emperor was the queen called the coya.
- Inca - The noble class, or Inca class, was made up of the people directly descended from the people who first established the city of Cuzco. They were called the Inca. They lived lives of luxury and held the best positions in the Inca government.
- Inca-by-privilege - As the empire grew, the emperor needed more people he could trust in high positions in the government. There weren't enough of the original Inca to rule. So a new class was created called Inca-by-privilege. These people were considered nobles, but not as high in class as the true Inca.
Below the Inca or noble class was the class of public administrators. These people ran the government at the low level.
- Curacas - The Curacas were the leaders from the tribes that were conquered. They were often left as leaders of their tribes. They still had to report to the Inca, but if they remained loyal, they often kept their position.
- Tax collectors - Each group of families, or ayllu, had a tax collector who kept watch over them. He made sure that they paid all of their taxes. There was also a strict hierarchy of tax collectors. The higher levels kept an eye on the people below them.
- Record keepers - In order to track who had paid their taxes and where the supplies were stored, there were many record keepers in the government.
- Artisans - Artisans were commoners, but were also considered a higher social class than the farmers. They worked on crafts such as pottery or gold jewelry for the nobles.
- Farmers - At the bottom of the social class were the farmers. The farmers were also the largest and the most important class within the Inca Empire. Farmers worked long hard days and sent two-thirds of their crops to the government and the priests. The Inca Empire relied on the production of the farmers for its wealth and success.
The basic unit of Inca society was the ayllu. The ayllu was made up of a number of families that worked together almost like one large family. Everyone in the empire was part of an ayllu.
Interesting Facts about the Society of the Inca Empire
- Craftspeople were paid by the government with food that the government received from the tax on farmers. Craftspeople also did not have to pay the labor tax called the mit'a.
- Architects and engineers were part of the public administration class. They were considered higher in class than artisans or craftsmen.
- Certain clothing and jewelry was reserved for the noble and Inca classes.
- Nobles and high level leaders, such as curacas, did not have to pay taxes.
- Nobles were allowed to have many wives, but commoners could only have one wife.
- Women married as young as twelve and were generally married by the age of 16. Men were married by the age of 20.
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