One of the cities I have struggled most with writing about is Cusco, Peru. I struggle because of how important it was and how little of a record we have of it. Trying to understand Cusco would be like trying to understand New York City, Kyoto, Paris, or Beijing with the records equivalent to what we have for Loma, Colorado. Actually, we have more records for Loma then we have for Cusco. Visiting modern day Cusco in trying to learn of its holy past is like visiting Sevilla, Spain in trying to understand the 15th century Moores.
Cusco-‘navel’ in Quechua- was the capital (loose sense of the word) of the Inka Empire-Tahuantinsuyu. From this city emerged the allyus-families or clans-that would conquer the different ethnic groups inhabiting the Andes as far north as Colombia and almost as equally as far south. I think it had a population of about 70,000 people [will be followed up with concrete source] with many more tens-of-thousands in the surrounding cities. Keep in mind, even though it was the center of the government and state religion, the last 2 independent rulers of Tahuantinsuyu rarely were there and ruled from Tumipampa, modern-day Cuenca Ecuador.
Given the importance of Cusco, it goes without saying that it will be center to my book series. So how will I write about it and catch its essence and feel?
There are two aspects to capture of Cusco: the physical and the metaphysical.
The physical aspects of Cusco are challenging to picture due to the reasons mentioned above. But when writing a book, the smaller the item described the larger the image, and so to capture Cusco I will not have to go into striking detail; however, I would like to have accurate descriptions of the buildings and layout. Inca Garcilaso de la Vega and Pedro Cieza de Leon both provide decent descriptions of the city. But the description is where they stopped. The Inkas, and most Andean ethnic groups placed a large focus on the energy presented by the natural landscape and omens. We know that Cuzco was chosen because of is proximity to where the golden staff Manco Capac sank into the ground, and I think it is more important to focus on the energy.
Allow me to deviate into my own life and into my religious past to explain how I will go about explaining the metaphysical aspect of Cusco.
I was raised in the Mormon religion, their unique and inaccurate view of Native American history may have been what triggered my initial interest in Native America. Mormons have many temples around the world, many of which I went inside. These temples are holy places and have a presence about them that when a Mormon goes inside they feel warm, safe, comfortable, secure, and all the other things you’d imagine you’d feel when entering a holy place. These emotions and feelings are similar in what other religions express in their holy places, and since religion and the emotions it elicits are a universal human trait, Cusco would have had a similar feeling to its inhabitants and visitors. It will be my task when writing about Cusco to express the feelings I felt in the temple when I believed in Mormonism, and I must express this to heathens so they can feel it.
You’ll be the judge in 2021 when the book comes out if I did a good job.
BTW, the answer is Cusco. The Inkas did not have a written language for their language of Quechua and so all their words are written in the Spanish using the Spanish alphabet. 16th century Spanish did not include the letter ‘z’.