A Socialist Empire: The Incas of Peru

By Louis Baudin; Katherine Woods et al. | Go to book overview

11
A Brief Survey of Inca Civilization

Certainly, after the study we have just made, no one will be tempted to say that the Incas were barbarians. But did these great administrators know how to create and develop the higher forms of civilization -- arts, letters, science? This is a question not with- out interest if one wishes to give a general account of life and conditions in Peru, but it is one that we can treat here only in very summary fashion, since a full discussion would require considerable elaboration in detail.

As we have already seen, many branches of industrial art attained a high degree of technological perfection. But did the Indians have a real aesthetic sense? There can be no doubt on this score. The pottery, textiles, carved and chiseled articles found in such abundance in the tombs give evidence of it. The gold fillings in the teeth of the people on the coast of Ecuador, the methods employed in Peru to darken hair and stimulate its growth,1 the use of cosmetics, the marvelous sites selected by the Inca, whether to live in, like the valley of Yucay, or to rest in during his journeys, like the platforms set up along the highways, or to build citadels in, like Machu Picchu, all bear witness to a constant search for beauty.

It is even probable that it was for the purpose of beautifying their children that the Indians deformed the skulls of newborn infants by pressing them between planks placed on each side of the head, as was the custom among the people of the Collao, or between the face and the

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