Ushnu

Ushnu

An important part of Inca plazas was the ushnu, a structure of religious and political significance. The ushnu usually took the form of a low stone pyramid, but its defining feature was that it provided a channel for liquid to be poured out in libation. Some scholars argue that the pyramid was optional, while others argue that the pyramid and the channel must be understood as one construction. Ushnus signified Inca imperial power both through the rituals performed on them and through their construction, which often required moving stones long distances across the empire. Here, Guaman Poma depicts an ushnu as the “trono y aciento del Ynga.”

 


Reference:

F. M. Meddens et al., eds., Inca Sacred Space: Landscape, Site and Symbol in the Andes (London: Archetype Publications, 2014).

Image Source:

The Royal Library, Copenhagen, GKS 2232 4to: Guaman Poma, Nueva corónica y buen gobierno (1615), p. 398 [400], Drawing 160: “The newly reigning Manco Inka in his ceremonial throne in Cuzco.”

 

 

More Exhibit Items

Mixtec Plaza
Mixtec Plaza

A View of Lake Titicaca
A View of Lake Titicaca

Plan of Tiwanaku
Plan of Tiwanaku

Sketch of a Maya Plaza
Sketch of a Maya Plaza

Plaza with Sacbe
Plaza with Sacbe

Engraving of Palenque
Engraving of Palenque

Ushnu
Ushnu

Plazas of Cusco
Plazas of Cusco

Plaza of Tenochtitlan
Plaza of Tenochtitlan