The purpose of this essay is, first, to provide a comprehensive overview of all known ethnographic and archaeological data concerning the Inka rock art site of Q'enqo (Kenko), which includes evidence from recent excavations conducted by the Instituto Nacional de Cultura. It offers an interpretive reconstruction of events that might have taken place there. Q'enqo is one of the most famous yet superficially known Inka ruins and is generally explained as a wak'a (shrine; Spanish huaca) on the first Chinchaysuyu zeq'e line and as the locale where Pachakuti died. Second, the essay explores ways in which Q'enqo and other rock art sites reflect broader concepts of Inka visual representation and the construction of a cultural landscape. In what ways do rock art complexes, such as Q'enqo, materialize concepts of Inka social organization and space? The theoretical framework to be used is derived from sign typologies developed by Charles Sanders Peirce. It is argued that Inka practices of copying mental concepts in material form can be understood through the “legisign-sinsign” model as formulated by Peirce. A legisign is a law or general type of sign that exists through instantiations of its application, which are its replicas, or sinsigns. The usefulness of this model with regard to Q'enqo rests in its emphasis that relations between a sign and its reproductions are not limited to visual resemblances and may extend to issues of inner and structural essences. An Andean parallel exists in the animating force of camac. The essay shows that Q'enqo and other dual rock art sites materialized aspects of Inka social and spatial divisions. While the Inka state organized the empire into complex and overlapping administrative units, certain rock art sites likely constituted microlevel models of such units.
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Research Article| July 01 2012
Jessica Joyce Christie; A New Look at Q'enqo as a Model of Inka Visual Representation, Reproduction, and Spatial Structure. Ethnohistory 1 July 2012; 59 (3): 597–630. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-1587478
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