• Pre-Columbian Historical Legacy
  • Jewelry and Goldsmith Sculptural
  • Pre-Columbian Historical Legacy
  • Jewelry and Goldsmith Sculptural
Acllas, Doncellas of the Inca Empire

Acllas, Doncellas of the Inca Empire

The Acllas

They were the maids, a charm of beauty, more exceptional cultural preparation, craftsmanship, and labor services of the empire, they played a unique and crucial role in the Tahuantinsuyo, with influence and meaning that went far, creating political alliances. All peoples had an obligation to pay acllas to the state and carried out a reciprocity system that kept the empire functioning.
Destining an aclla was a successful way of gaining the loyalty and trust of those peoples conquered by the Incas.
The workforce of an aclla was delivered in the form of textiles or others, using gifts that helped confer status.



The selection criteria were based on her beauty as a maiden, abilities, intelligence, physical perfection, social rank, moral qualities, ability to sing, place of origin. The most skillful and physically perfect were sent to the Acllahuasi of Cuzco, the capital of the empire.
They were hidden, they rarely left the Acllahuasi, but if they did go they had to go places where they offered celebrations, they were guarded by their servants and guards, nobody could attack them verbally or physically.
Several stayed in perpetuity as teachers in the Acllahuasi and when their lives ended they were buried in the compound.



Every year in March or November, girls or adolescents were collected and summoned from various parts of the Empire to serve the Inca or the Sun God,
as gifts to the nobility, girls approximately from the age of eight, there is no certainty of the exact age and undoubted virginity.
Many of these girls were recruited by the state and came from different social backgrounds, some were daughters of the nobility of the highest rank, curacas of Cuzco and provinces, curacas of defeated towns as prisoners, dried apricots, the people, among others.
These girls were separated from their family nucleus, sent to remote places of their origin, where they had to learn a new language and different customs.



Exclusively female educational centers, established around the entire central and provincial empire, to serve the Inca or the Sun God. They were permanently inhabited between 500 and 1000 acllas. Temples where the acllas were prepared strictly under the supervision of the Mamaconas, who were master priestesses who instructed them.

Only the Coya, the Ñustas, and the Inca king could enter this temple. The main Acllahuasi were:
Acllahuasi de Cuzco: It was the first house where the acllas resided and served as a model for them to do in other vital places in Tawantinsuyo.Acllahuasi de Cuzco: It was the first house where the acllas resided and served as a model for them to do in other important places in Tawantinsuyo.
Acllahuasi de Pachacamac: Where was the Temple of the Moon.
Acllahuasi in Machu Picchu: It was the largest where the stone mortar room was located.



The Acllahuasi of Cuzco and the main centers were built with high walls and without windows that opened to the outside, giving the appearance of a convent. As it moved geographically away from Cuzco, the buildings became more modest and less populated with acllas.
The buildings were part of a security system with close surveillance, where the first entrance door was secure and guarded by twenty doormen, but they could not pass through the second most robust door yet because they were given the death penalty. A temple surrounded by walls and thin walls plated with gold, paved patios, clean cobbled streets, and food tanks.



The education of all the acllas tended to be very similar; they received a selective and careful preparation in the Acllahuasi, where they were taught religious, productive and work activities such as dancing, singing, weaving, spinning; cook, make cloaks and dresses for the Inca and the Coya, prepare food and drinks such as preparing the sacred chicha for ritual consumption, beautiful crafts, other skills with art and mastery for the consumption and service of the gods and nobles.


Types of Acllas

There were different types of acllas intended exclusively:

Daughters of the leading high nobility, the most beautiful, of the most important Inca lineage, the descendant of the gods the "Virgins of the Sun" dedicated to being wives of the Sun and to perform solar cults, cults to the cosmos and sacrifice.
It was an honor service, of the highest rank, a very privileged position, and he respected that all viewed with reverence for having the superior distinction of the Sun, of being his eternal wife to whom the Inca owed his life.
They were found in various temples throughout the empire.
They made a vow of chastity to dedicate themselves to being the wife of the Sun God.
They dedicated their entire lives to maintain the worship and worship of the Sun.
They made very old mysteries and mysterious solar cults
They performed religious ceremonies, they were the Inca priestesses.
They kept the sacred fire burning
They prepared the bread and sacred chicha
They performed various rituals that only they could do

Sacred rituals to the cosmos:
Rituals in the mortar room or astronomical observation mirrors: It was a stone block room that included circular carved stone mortars on the ground, with water brought from sacred lakes and rivers, supposedly for grinding grain, but it was for liturgical use to make observations on it of the reflection of the stars: sun, moon, and stars.

Rituals in honor of the moon: The virgins of the sun knew that the moon had an energetic influence on women according to periods and lunar phenomena and observed their reflection in stone mortars. They also invoked her so that she never abandons them and that she always helps them strengthen their chastity (virginity), accompanying the ritual with fasting, prayer, and songs.

Rituals in honor of the stars: In the nights with the use of the emerald stone, they captured the power of the stars and therefore had the gift of clairvoyance.

Rituals with the presence of the Inca king, priests and virgins of the sun who wore precious jewels and also gave the sacred chicha to drink to all the noble participants, accompanying the ritual with songs, dances, and musicians with gold ornaments and precious stones.

Rituals of the annual renewal of obedience of the virgins of the sun, where many people attended only to see the beautiful spectacle that they were.

Rituals when they went to visit temples and sanctuaries of cleanliness and decoration, always accompanied by their entourage of guards, apart from them they carried a spear in their hands and a bow with arrows.


The Sacrificed

Few were destined to be sacrificed, on top of a mountain anywhere in Tawantinsuyo, offering them in exchange for winning the favor of the gods or when
A new Inca governor entered. A ritual sacrifice tied to the gifts and the precious reciprocity system.
Those who were not slaughtered in Cuzco could be returned to their towns and slaughtered there; this would create a connection between Cuzco and the outlying regions they had conquered. The story of Tanta Carhua is one of the stories of the union of the center and the periphery, who, after visiting Cuzco and being honored by the Inca emperor, asked him if he could sacrifice her in exchange for his father becoming a curaca and his descendants being a link between them and Cuzco. Thus achieving that, they sacrificed her, ritually sanctify her and that her father became curaca of her ayllu.
The acllas had to remain virgins until they were sacrificed; most of them continued working until exhaustion.

A large presence of the "Virgins of the Sun" is also observed in the Huánuco Pampa ritual site.
It is said that the Incas dedicated love songs to the virgins of the sun and they could only hear them excited through the walls.

2) Daughters of the high nobility dedicated to being wives of the Inca:
They were high-ranking acllas daughters of the central and provincial high nobility, royal blood and kinship that the Inca King chose, a cautious and controlled category where the acllas could become the secondary wives or concubines of the Inca emperor or be assigned as a prize to be wives of someone of the nobility, privilege, merit, curacas or great warriors or someone who wanted to please the Inca.
Those who became wives or concubines of the Inca were separated in gathering houses. Their position was privileged since they received all the generosity, an excellent social condition of their family, significant power, and supremacy within the empire that the Inca.
The position of a former wife of a leader who was elected by the Inca also made her benefit socially, giving her their land to lead.

3) Daughters of minor regional caciques, dedicated to being wives of provincial nobles.

4) Daughters of the servitude of the Acllahuasi, who was not so beautiful or so noble, when they reached the age of marriage, they could be wives of the bride and groom chosen by their parents, with the authorization of the Inca or dedicate themselves when finishing their service in the Acllahuasi.

5) Outstanding daughters, in general, chosen for their artistic skills dedicated to brightening the festivities of the imperial court and to acllas through singing, dancing, and music when required.

6) Generally outstanding daughters dedicated to being guardians of the main huacas, blessed by the Inca Emperor.



It was of utmost importance and to those who did not keep their chastity, the death penalty was applied, including their relatives and livestock, leaving it to die due to weakness and abandonment and it was not the hand of the human being that ended it.
They also received a sentence if an aclla was caught with a man, if a man tried to make her fall in love and if a man climbed the house of one of them.

If the pregnancy of an aclla were to occur and there was no evidence against it of the strict rule of required virginity, the pregnancy was considered to have been carried out by the will of the Sun god and automatically, the son who was born was considered privileged, son of the Sun God and as such received favorable treatment for his entire life.
If an aclla lost their virginity with the Inca, they could not return to their Acllahuasi, and they stayed to serve in the royal house.


Acllas Mummies Found

Acllas mummies were found in the tombs and next to them decorated jugs, ceremonial pots, pins, tupus, needles, necklaces, objects, and bracelets that served as mirrors that they used in their work to the community.

Aclla virtuous and beautiful women to the full service of the Empire to the Inca.


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