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Solar Eclipse and Its Importance to the Incas

The Solar Eclipse was so important to the Incas because they felt it was a “grave matter” and the sorcerers believed that the eclipse “foretold the death of a prince”. Therefore, they believed that the Sun went into mourning so they made sacrifices of young boys, girls, gold, silver and livestock. Women would go on long fasts, wore clothes that represented sadness and offer frequent sacrifices. It was essential for the Incas to make the Sun “happy” and not mourn any loss. They wanted some way to show their love and dedication to the Sun. The Incas valued making sacrifices to the Sun showing their appreciation for all it has done for them. The Sun was very important to them because it represented the “man” of a family or “husband”, the Moon represented the “woman” of a family or “wife”, and the Stars represented their daughters.

The sun (in conjunction with Earth) had the power over all the food: it was by his will that crops grew and animals thrived. The Moon was a woman, the wife of the Sun. The Inca believed that the eclipse of the Moon was caused by a serpent or mountain lion trying to devour her. One of the things the Inca could not predict were solar eclipses, they felt the eclipses brought trouble to them. They would attempt to frighten off the serpent by pointing their weapons and shouting. They would also attempt to figure out why the Inti was displeased, and sacrifices would be offered up. Human sacrifices were was not a common practice, but an eclipse sometimes was a cause to make that type of sacrifice. The reigning Inca would often fast for days after an eclipse and with draw public duties.

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