The Inca Empire was the greatest empire in South America that stretched from Ecuador to Chile at its peak, and covered mountains, deserts, and plains. But how did the Inca Empire reach its great heights? Who was it that made it sustain such a complex civilization without ever collapsing? The Sapa Inca was the great totalitarian king that controlled anything and everything and it was under his guidance that the Incan empire grew and thrived.

Huayna Capac
The Sapa Inca’s greatness not just affected the residents of Cuzco, but all those under the rule of the Inca Empire. He was called by many names: the only Inca, the great emperor, and even, the direct descendant of Inti, the sun god. The Sapa Inca was always a son of the present king but it wasn’t necessarily the eldest son. There would be 2-4 candidates, and the present Inca would choose the most deserving of them all. The chosen candidate would then be sent off to a school especially for him that was different than the rest of the schools. Also, the crown prince would not be given any land or wealth as an inheritance and it was divided among the rest of the candidates. It was done to stimulate the crown prince to gain more land for the empire and become independent. The crown prince’s jobs started from even before his coronation and those jobs involved not just him, but his entire court of people.

The Sapa Inca was considered too pure and godly to fraternize among the nobles and lower classes. Therefore, he married his own sister, called the Coya, as his main wife to keep the blood pure. He later had other secondary wives, and some of the Sapa Incas had even hundreds! The important ceremonies and celebrations were taken care of by the main wife. Meanwhile, the other wives were responsible for picking up after the king. If even a hair fell out of his head, it was collected because it was considered to be sacred. The Inca wore clothes made by special ladies called the “Chosen Women” and it was their job to weave a different dress for the Sapa Inca everyday because the he only wore one dress once, and then it was burnt. The Sapa Inca wasn’t allowed to touch the ground, therefore he was carried everywhere in his litter and he had procession of girls throwing flowers on the ground, follow him everywhere. These people were specially selected to serve him and even amongst them only the best could actually become part of the Sapa Inca’s extensive court.pachacuti.jpg

The Sapa Inca was not just called the descendant of Inti, but he was treated like a god himself. The Sapa Inca was adorned in gold from head to toe. He had a golden headdress, his coat was covered in jewels, he had golden shoulder pads, golden jewelry, a golden royal badge and shield with an engraved picture of Inti, the sun god, and his shoes were of pure leather. His throne though, was made of wood due to its scarcity, and it was considered only special enough to be possessed only by the Sapa Inca. Probably the only “human” acts the Sapa Inca did were sleep on a specially woven mat that was laid on the ground like a normal person’s. It is very likely that even the mat was made of the very best llama wool. The Sapa Inca was forbidden to touch the ground, and whenever he went outside, his face was covered in a translucent cloth. No subject was allowed to look him in the face when talking and was ordered to bow while speaking. The Sapa Inca ruled like a king and lived like a god.

The Sapa Inca was the ultimate power in the Inca Empire. He controlled everything and his word was law. With many attendants and servants in waiting, he was treated like a god and was believed to be one to. With his extensive gold armor he shone in a crowd of commoners, and with the respect he earned, he added more fame to his name by conquering other lands and contributing his part to the growth of the majestic Inca Empire.

Works Cited:
Atahualpa. "Origin Stories." Incas HIstory (May 2008). 18 Feb. 2009 <
Huayna Capac. Geocities. 18 Feb. 2009 <>.
"The Inca Empire." EBSCO Host Student Research Center. 18 Feb. 2009 <
"The Sapa Inca." The Incredible Incas for Kids. 18 Feb. 2009 <
"Sapa Inca." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 18 Feb. 2009 <