What Does Tahuantinsuyo Mean?

The word Tahuantinsuyo (Tawaintin Suyu in the Quechua script) is the original name of the Inca Empire, coming to mean “four Regions”. Specifying, “Tahua” or “tawa” means a group of 4 elements and “yours” or “susyu” means region, area or province.

It was the name given to the largest and oldest empire developed in the American continent, which had the city of Cuzco as its headquarters back in the year 1200 BC.

The territorial area of ​​the empire was enormous, occupying more than 3,000,000 km² and also encompassing 5,000 km of coastline on the Pacific Ocean, which currently represents twice the Peruvian area.

The name of the city itself indicates the territorial division, which was based on duality, tripartition and the relationships of four partitions, typical of the Inca mentality. The four “suyos” or nations used Cuzco as a geographic and political center.

These nations were distributed as follows:

  • To the northwest by the Chinchaysuyo, which rises to the Ancashmayo River in Pasto (Colombia)
  • To the northeast was the Antisuyo in the subtropical valleys, occupying part of the Lower Amazon Forest
  • To the southwest, the Contisuyo occupied part of the Peruvian coast up to the Maule River (Chile)
  • And to the southeast, was the Collasuyo that today occupies most of the Bolivian territory up to Tucumán (Argentina).

All the lands belonged to the Sun , the Inca and the State, and these were distributed in such a way that each inhabitant received a plot of fertile land to be worked.

Men received a topu or tupu (2700 m2) when they were born, while women received half.

They were not allowed to sell or inherit them, since the state, and not them, was the sole owner.

Therefore, each time a person died, their lands were assigned to a new inhabitant.

The society that formed the Tahuantinsuyo

Inca society was characterized by well-defined hierarchies that placed the absolutist power of the Inca at the top; followed by the nobility also known as dried apricots, due to their deformation of the lobe.

Then in the social scale of the Empire are the runes or mitimaes, which were considered as vulgar people.

Finally, there were the Yanaconas or Yanakunas, who were the servants of the house. The Inca people were strictly conquerors.

As a result, they brought together a large number of peoples who had their own rites and traditions.

social organization of the Incas represented in this genealogical tree

Therefore, they used various mechanisms to reconcile cultural disparity: Runa Simi or Quechua, was the official language established throughout the territory to counteract this problem.

In addition, they established an organization based on moral principles of obedience and permanent prosecution of crimes.

Today, those principles are known as the basic laws of Tahuantinsuyo: Ama Sua (don’t be a thief), Ama Llulla (don’t be a liar), and Ama Kella (don’t be lazy).

At present, this social balance is analyzed from several theoretical areas: a slavery system based on the study of the nobility, and a social-imperialist system studied taking the runes as a basis.

Therefore, the Tahuantinsuyo deserves a special title among the most developed societies, which considers both its productive and artistic activities as well as its social and political planning.


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  2. Editorial team of Cusco Peru. (2017). “TAHUANTINSUYO”. Recovered from cusco-peru.org.
  3. Rediscover Machu Picchu editor team. (2017). “The History of the New World’s Greatest Empire.” Recovered from rediscovermachupicchu.com.
  4. WordPress editor team. (2017). »The Conquerors and the Lost Freedom”. Recovered from javigima.wordpress.com.
  5. Culwisdom. (2011). “THE INCAS AND CUSCO (Tahuantinsuyo)”. Recovered from cultureandwisdom-mayasaztecsincas.blogspot.com.
  6. Names.org editor team. (2007). “Tahuantisuyo”. Recovered from names.org.
  7. Cueto, A. (2016). “Religious significance in Machu Picchu”. Recovered from machupicchu.org.

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