If you ever visited Cusco, it is almost impossible to miss this gigantic mural in Avenida El Sol. While locals pass by this mural everyday, it shows the entire history of Peru, starting from the beginning of the Inca civilization. Done in 1992 by Juan Bravo, it shows the details of the brutal Spanish conquest and the freedom of Peru. You can watch the video below, or you can read on.
Beginning Of Inca Civilization:
The mural begins with the birth of the Inca civilization, where you can see god Viracocha who sends a man and a woman, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo to start a civilization. Manco Capac was given a golden staff and was ordered to travel around. Wherever the staff sank firmly into the ground, they would start the Inca civilization. The golden staff sun firmly in Cusco, and the civilization began in full swing.
At the bottom, you see men working hard to play their part for advancement. A man grinds herbs with pestle and mortar, making medicine. A few men start fire, which was instrumental in rapid development of the Inca civilization. Men starting to do construction work can also be seen. Another key factor was the cultivation of corn, which would become a staple food providing plenty of energy to create the massive stone structures.
Dominance and Lifestyle of the Incas:
Above, the man holding purple corn on one hand points to the Inca flag, which is the color of the rainbow. Right below the moon, you can see the six monstrous Megaliths found in Ollantaytambo. To the right, you can also see the mountain of Machu Picchu. You can see the raging internal battles between Incas. The native tribes sometimes put up a stiff resistance to the Inca rule and did not want to engage in the massive, sometimes brutal stone construction work. However, the Incas subdued them and rapidly progressed to create an advanced civilization.
You can see men wrap a huge boulder in a rope and try to move it towards Ollantaytambo. Although that this is generally the accepted theory, the sheer size of the Megaliths in Ollantaytambo have prompted alien theorists to suggest that extra terrestrials constructed these structures. You can also see llamas crossing a suspension bridge. The Incas had constructed quite a few suspension bridges all over the mountains of Peru, to create an excellent network for travel. Although most of the bridges have been destroyed by the Spanish invaders, you can still see a few, for example "The Inca Bridge" in Machu Picchu. Did Incas invent the suspension bridge?
In the center of the Mural, we see a woman weaving. It is almost (still) a ritual that every Quechua woman must weave. The Inca weaving is done in bright multicolored pattern till date.
Pachacutec, Celebrations and Architecture:
Above, we see a statue of a Puma, which is the sacred animal of the Incas. This is similar to statues of Jaguars worshiped by the Mayas of Mexico. Note that Cusco itself is believed to be designed in the shape of a Puma. Cusco was the long standing capital of the Inca civilization, until it was ended by the Spaniards. Now Cusco is a popular destination for tourists, especially for it New Year's Eve.
At the top center, we see the bright golden shield of Cusco, which is also the known as the coat of arms of Cusco. Below the shield, you can see Pachacuti, who was the most formidable of all the Inca rulers. He is believed to have constructed the best stone structures, including Machu Picchu. Architecture and social reforms soared during his regime.
Above, we can see people dressed in striped robes celebrating Inti Raymi or the "Sun Festival". Inti Raymi is still celebrated by the Quechua people in the Andes region. Other forms of Inca celebration and worship are also shown in the mural. You can see a woman offering a bowl of coca leaves to Gods. A golden mummified ancestor is worshiped, indicating that ancestor-worship was very common.
Spanish Invaders Arrive:
The arrival of the Spanish conquistadors is shown beautifully above. The Incas must have initially thought that the conquistadors were half-human and half-beast. This is quite possible, because the Incas had never seen horses before, and they had seldom seen fully armored people. Furthermore, the conquistadors were inhuman and executed untold brutalities on the Inca people.
Above, A Spaniard rapes a mother of a child, as she is desperately holding on to her son. Spaniards steal the Inca's golden idols and utensils. The Incas were bewildered by the Spanish greed for gold, as gold did not have any monetary value for them. To the Incas, gold was a symbol of the Sun god and was a sacred element. However for the Spaniards, gold meant wealth and robbery was at full swing.
Spaniards vs Incas:
Above, we can see the battle between the Incas and the Spaniards. The Inca flag is at the top firmly held by a soldier, while a Spaniard is trying to put up his own flag. The Spanish victory was due to two main advantages. First, they had fast moving horses while the Incas were on foot. Next, the Spaniards had the gift of "Flu" which they had brought along with them. The flu virus was unknown to the Incas, and it proved lethal for thousands of them. A simple sneeze from a Spaniard killed more Incas than he could ever kill by his sword.
The conversion of the Incas to the Spanish way of life is shown above . A local is taught to paint in Spanish style. Below, two locals chisel and do wood work in Spanish style. Some of the Incas were completely transformed to live the Spanish way of life who were also used as mercenaries against the Incas who were still rebelling.
Above, a local dressed in pants, belt and a hat used a torture device called the rack to rip apart a rebel. The rack is a famous European torture device and there are still some existing ones, for example in Chillingham Castle. The torture is overseen by a hooded figure reading a scroll. Behind them is a naked Inca woman hanging upside down. You can also see other forms of torture such as flagellation, hanging, etc.
Tupac Amaru II :
The mural shows the killing of Tupac Amaru II in a brutal method called "quartering". Tupac started a massive uprising against the Spanish in 1780. It was not successful, and he was captured alive during the struggle. His death was horrible, as his tongue was cut off and he was forced to watch the killing of all his loved ones. Then, his arms and legs were tied to horses which ran apart, tearing him into four pieces. Tupac Amaru II 's head was cut off and placed in a public place to humiliate and scare the Incas. His body parts were also cut off and strewn all over Cusco, as a lesson to anyone who ever thought of another uprising.
Tupac Amaru II became a legend all over Peru, and has influenced millions of people. Even in modern days, he has influenced many. The rapper Tupac took his name, as a symbol against the oppression of white people in the U.S. In the movie Braveheart, the scene where Mel Gibson screams "FREEDOM" as the last word , is directly taken from Tupac Amaru's life. Tupac Amaru II shouted "FREEDOM" as his last word, after which his tongue was cut off.
Modern Day Independent Peru:
At the end of the mural, we can see the people of independent Peru. Men writing and operating a textile industry, people fleecing a sheep. Kids are playing and a few families are happily looking towards a sunrise. We can also see the rise of an Inca man at the bottom right. This is probably Tupac Amaru's spirit, which is rising as a symbol of the Independent Peru, free of all oppression.