martes, 28 de octubre de 2014


Ronald Elward
Abstract of a lecture held in Canning House, London, on October 8th 2014.

What happened to the Incas after the Spanish conquest? Are there any verifiable descendants of the Inca rulers today? The answer most Peruvians I talked to gave to the first question was: ‘they don´t exist anymore’. Little I knew that the real answer was very different.

Between 2009 and 2014 I revised all available parish records in Cusco, the center of the Inca state, for the period 1720-1920, and more than 250 books of notaries including wills and property transactions from the 18th and 19th century (over 100.000 pages).

After the first indications that there were descendants alive, the main task was to find the right data that would connect the people living today with their ancestors. In the process I identified 25 former royal families, of which I have reconstructed two genealogical trees back to the 16th century (Tisoc and Obando families). In all the other cases the trees go back to the late 17th/early 18th century.

The information that came out of these records, beyond the genealogical project, became a reflection of what had happened to a once powerful elite through the changes that Peru underwent in the last five centuries.

The origin of the Incas lies probably in Tiahuanaco, the most important religious center in the southern Andes located in present day Bolivia, which collapsed around 1.000 AD. Legends tell of their arrival in Cusco as their chosen land. With ruler Pachacutec (ca. 1.400) the Incas enter the realm of history as he starts the expansion of their kingdom beyond Cusco, which is taken further by his son Tupac Yupanqui and grandson Huayna Capac.

Pachacutec not only starts the conquests. He also reorganizes the capital and the administrative system. The imperial descendants, divided in ten groups or ayllus, are incorporated in a grand calendar that functions in time and space around Cusco.

With the arrival of the Spaniards, the Inca descendants are relocated to new parishes around colonial Cusco, where instead of looking after their ancestral mummies they are assigned a Christian saint to take care of. They adopt the Spanish ways and become not only leaders of their communities but also architects, painters, silversmiths, etc.

During religious celebrations they proudly display their origin, which is also at the root of their downfall. Although they support the Spanish crown in the rebellion of Tupac Amaru II in 1780, their functions cease to be hereditary and they are forbidden to speak Quechua and wear traditional clothes. After the independence of Peru their functions are abolished altogether in 1824.

Memory and Identity
Around 1825 some 60 families are mentioned as being of noble Inca origin. During the 19th century that situation changes as most of them sell their properties and enter a period of economic and social decline. Families die out and simplify their often extensive Inca names or, in some cases, adopt a Spanish surname.

Although Peru and its inhabitants have experienced at least two traumatic changes in their history: the Spanish Conquest and Independence, there is probably more continuity with the pre-Hispanic period than one would think of at first glance.

Catholic celebrations, for instance, have clear pre-Hispanic origins (to the trained eye) and many of the people who take part in them, usually in leading positions, are unaware of their royal bloodlines. Two cases in hand are the families Tisoc and Obando, whose genealogical trees I managed to complete from the 16th century to present day family members.

The Tisoc are descendants of the third Inca ruler, Lloque Yupanqui, and of the last high priest of the Sun. In colonial times they were local rulers in a part of Cusco and the village of San Jerónimo. After Independence they sold most of their properties. Sir Clement Markham visited Cusco in 1853 and mentioned Clemente Tisoc as a royal descendant.

The Obandos descend from Huayna Capac. Their royal family name, up to the 19th century, was Ramos Titu Atauchi and they were then the most prestigious among the main line of descendants. Around 1820 the name ceases to appear in official documents, leading historians to believe they had become extinct. A key moment in my research happened when the parish records of Santa Ana showed that they had in fact taken the Spanish name of Obando.

Beyond the trees
What became clear to me, after successive conversations with the people I met, is that being indigenous during the Republic did not lead to much good. Once prestige was gone, discrimination arrived.

All of them remember their days at school when having an Indian name was a pretext for bullying. Many of the former royal names are associated today, in the capital Lima, with the names of maids, gardeners, servants. It is understandable that at some point their ancestors stopped telling them who they were. And with that came the loss of memory and the loss of identity.

Am glad to say this research and the articles published in the main national newspaper, El Comercio, have had some impact. In early 2014 a few of them founded an association of Inca descendants, as a first step into what they consider the re-appropriation of their dignity and their memory which, in fact, is the dignity and the memory of one whole country.

In the end, I believe this work leaves questions open for the future. Is there a role for these former ruling families in XXI century Peru? Is there a role for the descendants of other kingdoms, like the Chimus, the Cajamarcas, the Chancays and others? Can their potential sense of continuity help heal this still fractured nation?

viernes, 24 de octubre de 2014


En los Siglos XVII y XVIII la familia Uclucana tenía el cargo de Caciques del ayllu Chachapoyas en la parroquia de Santa Ana en Cusco. El último representante, Don Gregorio Oclocana y Vera, murió alrededor 1850, terminando un linaje que vivió probablemente en este barrio desde la época de Tupac Yupanqui. Durante el cacicazgo de esta familia se comisionó la impresionante serie de cuadros del Corpus Cristi para la iglesia de Santa Ana, quizás para demostrar el poder del Cacique.

Originalmente, Santa Ana había sido el barrio inca de Carmenca, y se convirtió en una parroquia dedicada a Santa Ana para la población indígena, ya era el lugar donde vivían los Cañaris y Chachapoyas. Ellos fueron traídos de sus lugares de origen, cuando fueron conquistados por el Emperador Tupac Yupanqui alrededor el año 1460 y funcionaban como guardias del Inca. Después la muerte del emperador Huayna Capac ellos apoyaron a Huascar como el legitimo heredero del trono en contra de Atahualpa. Él los castigó por eso. En consecuencia, cuando llegaron los españoles, ellos fueron de los primeros que ofrecieron su apoyo. Por esto, recibieron la excepción de pagar tributo.

Uno de los cuadros de la serie del Corpus Cristi
Alrededor 1680 Francisco Uclucana era Cacique del ayllu Chachapoyas y casado con Juana Guaypar Topa. Ella era probablemente hermana de Miguel Pomayalli Guaypar Topa Ynga, uno de los nobles Incas más prestigiosos de su época y descendiente de Huayna Capac. El historiador cusqueño Donato Amado piensa que Francisco posiblemente comisionó la serie de cuadros de Corpus Cristi para demostrar su importancia y poder a su suegro y los otros nobles de sangre Inca, porque ellos consideraban a los nobles no-Inca como menos y los excluyeron de los cargos honoríficos como el Alférez Real de los Indios Nobles, el porta estandarte durante la procesión de Santiago.

La familia termina en línea masculina con la nieta de Francisco, Juana Uclucana Soria. Ella queda huérfana de menor edad alrededor 1730 y no sucede en el cacicazgo de su padre. Quien asumió el poder fue Don Asencio Ramos Titu Atauchi, otro descendiente de Huayna Capac. Al morir Asencio (1750) su hijo político Pablo Soria Condorpusa lo sucede, y años después éste lo pierde a manos de Juana, quien recupera su herencia en 1769/70. Juana, por su parte, tuvo tres esposos: Santos Ccayotupa, Simon Bustinza y al final Gregorio Tupa Sinchi Roca, hijo del Noble principal de Maras.

Su hijo de su segundo matrimonio, Isidro Bustinza y Oclacana, la sucede como Cacique en Santa Ana. El se casó con Rafaela Vera. Su hijo Gregorio Oclacana y Vera es el último de la familia. En su testamento del año 1850 dice que tenía como bienes la hacienda Huilcarpay en Santa Ana, heredado de su padre, una casa en Limacpampa Chica comprado por su padre, 30 cabezas de ganado vacuno, 100 de ganado lanar y una mula. Poco después, el 27 de Agosto 1850, vendió la hacienda Huilcarpay a Francisca Niño de Guzman. Es la última vez que su nombre aparece en los registros.