Published on November 25, 2010 by John
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Colonial image of Manco Cápac
Manco Cápac (Quechua Manqo Qhapaq “splendid foundation”, also Manku Qhapaq) was the legendary first Sapa Inca of the Kingdom of Cusco and a figure of Inca mythology. There are several versions of his origin story, which connect him to the foundation of Cusco.
In one myth, Manco Cápac was a son of the sun god Inti and Mama Quilla, and brother of Pacha Kamaq. Manco Cápac himself was worshipped as a fire and a Sun God. According to the Inti legend, Manco Cápac and his siblings were sent up to the earth by the sun god and emerged from the cave of Pacaritambo carrying a golden staff, called ‘tapac-yauri’. Instructed to create a Temple of the Sun in the spot where the staff sank into the earth, they traveled to Cusco via underground caves and there built a temple in honor of their father Inti.
In the Wiracocha legend, Manco Cápac (Ayar Manco) was the son of Tici Viracocha of Paqari-Tampu (today Pacaritambo, 25 km south of Cusco). He and his brothers (Ayar Anca, Ayar Cachi and Ayar Uchu) and sisters (Mama Ocllo, Mama Huaco, Mama Raua and Mama Cura) lived near Cusco at Pacaritambo, and they united their people with other tribes encountered in their travels. They sought to conquer the tribes of the Cusco Valley. This legend also incorporates the golden staff, thought to have been given to Manco Cápac by his father. Accounts vary, but according to some versions of the legend, the young Manco jealously betrayed his older brothers, killed them, and became the ruler of Cusco.
Manco Capac ruled the Kingdom of Cusco for about forty years, establishing a code of laws, and is thought to have abolished human sacrifice. The code of laws forbade marrying one’s sister, but these laws did not apply to Inca nobility and so he married his sister, Mama Ocllo or Mama Cello. With her, Manco had a son named Roca who became the next Sapa Inca. Manco Capac is thought to have reigned until about 1230, though some put his death in 1107.
Manco ruled before the title of Sapa Inca was invented, so in fact his title is Capac, which roughly translates as warlord.
The well-known Scrooge McDuck comic book Son of the Sun, written by Don Rosa, featured Manco Cápac as the original owner of various lost treasures that serve as the comic’s main plot devices, which Scrooge and his nephews are searching for.
Also in Herman Melville’s “The Confidence-Man”, first chapter, first sentence, in which Melville compares the appearance of a fictional protagonist to Cápac’s appearance out of Lake Titicaca.
In P.B. Kerr’s “Eye of the Forest”, the 5th book in the Children of the Lamp series, Manco Capac is said to be a powerful Djinn who took his place as a god amongst the Incas by displaying his power of matter manipulation.
In British author Anthony Horowitz’s fantasy-thriller book series The Power of Five, Manco Capac was the son of Inti, who was one of five children destined to keep the universe safe from the forces of evil. Capac is reincarnated in the 21st century as a Peruvian street beggar called Pedro.