One of my favourite’s questions during the trips is when the tourist ask for the Chakana when they buy souvenirs, it seems a particular simple object but behind his square-cross shape a whole world of ancestral meaning is hidden.
Let’s try to explain in easy words.
The Chakana has a huge meaning, is considered the most complete, holy, geometric design of the
Andean ancestors and it has been represented in many Holy places, as temples, elite ceramic and metal objects.
But what it represents?
Actually the Chakana represents the Southern Cross, the constellation seen in the southern hemisphere, the main guide before the Colonial times for the local people.
What the word chakana means?
The word came from the Quechua word “chakay,” which means “to cross” or “to bridge”.
And why has steps, and to cross where?
Well, here it comes the difficult part. It means many different things. So I will be using images to make you understand the concept.
What is that?!
Scary and the beginning but when you understand it will blow your mind.
Ok something obvious, is a cross so it has 4 directions: North, South, West And East and each one
connected with the 4 elements: Air, Earth, Water and Fire. With arrows the 4 seasons of the year goes around the cross: Spring, Summer , Autumn and Winter.
So each of the 4 parts of the cross has 3 steps, making a total of 12 corners…( like the 12 apostles?) but actually represents the Inca calendar with its 12 festivities.
Ok fair enough with the number 4, now let’s go with the number 3 as the Trilogy in the Catholicism.
The future, the present the past; that is understandable as Work, Love , Learn/knowledge and Live.
Those elements are part of our life and world itself and the virtues help you to keep the balance in on them.
But I Condor, a Puma and a snake; well that are the animals that were the main divinities during the pre-Incas and Incas times, and each one was linked to 3 parts of the world or universe.
As it follows:
Condor is the Upper World, The Hanan-Pacha ; where the divinities as the Sun, the Moon, the Stars and God are.
Puma is the Middle World, the Kay-Pacha; where the human beings, animals and vegetables are.
Snake: the Underground World, The Uqhu-Pacha; rivers, lava from volcanoes, the death and the mother earth.
And finally the 3 laws during the Inca Empire: do not lie; do not be lazy and do not steal.
And the circle of the middle?
Well, it supposed to represent Cuzco, the navel of the world, in the middle of the circle of life and is the passageway between the levels.
Unbelievable, all that meaning behind this little cross in a ceramic or stone!
As you can imagine, after telling the meaning the tourist buy a lot of little chakanas as souvenirs for their friends.
Oh I forgot something…
What about this red line crossing from one point to the other the Cross, and the circle, and square
and…do I see a triangle?
Oh that line is just the way of the righteous and the sacred geometry…but I will explain that in our next note.