Hay costumbre entre los indios casi generalmente no casarse sin primero haberse conocido y hecho vida maridable entre si. ... Ordeno y mando que se procure, así por los sacerdotes, corregidores, caciques y alcaldes, persuadir y quitar a los dichos indios esta costumbre tan nociva y perniciosa a su conversión, policía y cristiandad, haciendo castigos ejemplares.

Viceroy Francisco de Toledo

By 1759, Doña María Hincho and her husband, Don Mariano Puma, had been married for about 40 years. More fortunate in a material sense than many others in their community, this indigenous couple owned land—a small hacienda— and animals. Perhaps this derived from Don Mariano’s heritage as a noble Inca and the son of a cacique. Doña María and Don Mariano, however, had no children. Thus, when Don Mariano was in his 74th year, the couple, being Christians and not having offspring, decided to donate much of their wealth to the church. In so doing they also showed concern for the members of their community, Santa Lucía de Pichigua, as well as love for each other. They specified that some of the rent from the hacienda and the animals donated to the church be used to help defray community religious expenditures, especially expenses for the important religious fiesta of San Francisco Javier. And they specified that “for the salvation of our souls,” a capellanía (chaplaincy) also be established with the rents of the hacienda. The respect and love this aging Indian couple had for one another was very clear. Even though Don Mariano was the one who formally donated the lands, he made certain that it was “their” act and that the capellanía was for “their” souls, the donation of the hacienda reflecting their commitment to one another, their Christian devotion, and their concern for their community. Indeed, the donated hacienda was named Pumahincho, a combination of their two surnames.1

The values this couple expressed reflect the complex nature of Indian society in the late colonial period. By aiding the community in meeting its religious expenses they demonstrated the persistence of the value of communal solidarity. In expressing their devotion to one another they represented the ideal for married couples in both indigenous and Spanish society. And through their donations to the Catholic church they showed their commitment, and that of the community, to the religion brought by the Europeans. As native people in late colonial society, Don Mariano and Doña María saw no conflict or contradiction in subscribing to an array of values that reflected the complicated world in which they lived. Some of these values were primarily of indigenous origin; some were Spanish; and some were a mixture, or were indigenous values (recognizing that indigenous peoples did not necessarily share the same values) that paralleled and coexisted comfortably with those of Europeans. Thus, by the eighteenth century, the value systems of native peoples in rural Cuzco and other regions of the Andes, while sometimes reflecting their distinctive roots, were not clearly separated from European convictions but were intricate and heterogeneous systems of belief and understanding.

This article examines the personal lives, as well as the beliefs and values, of indigenous people such as Doña María and Don Mariano who lived in the Cuzco provinces of Quispicanchis and Canas y Canchis during the last century of colonial rule. It focuses on those points of interaction with European society, especially with the church and priests, that brought indigenous and European convictions face to face. In this colonial “crucible,” Indian and Spanish values were brought very close together in the course of day-to-day community existence, though not necessarily fused or amalgamated, despite a great deal of occasional “heat.”

To explore these interactions, this article focuses on attitudes and values related to the formation of heterosexual relationships, especially sirvinacuy, or trial marriage, as well as marriage and marital conflicts. Religion, a source of comfort and strength for many, was also a focal point of much contention. In the postconquest world, most naturales (a colonial term used to designate native peoples) became Christians; and in late colonial Cuzco, indigenous peoples considered themselves to be believers, Catholic Christians. Their conversion and the depth of their devotion to Christian values, however, were tempered by their continued adherence to Andean beliefs, as native peoples accommodated Catholicism to their spiritual and cultural world. The result was a mixture, a syncretic intertwining and blending, of Andean and European religions and beliefs. Syncretism provided indigenous peoples with a means to help them cope with and adjust to values from two worlds; values that in turn allowed them better to contend with colonialism.2

Not all indigenous and Spanish values coexisted or meshed so easily, however. Some priests and church officials informally winked at certain syncretic beliefs they did not view as important or threatening to “Christian” ways. But even in matters as personal as love and sex, conflicts between Indian and Spanish values developed and persisted. Often this dissension stemmed from differing views of gender relations and the “proper” roles of men and women, as viewed through indigenous and Spanish lenses. When Europeans sought to impose beliefs and morality that collided with deeply held Andean convictions, native peoples, even those, like Doña María and Don Mariano, who considered themselves good Christians, often struggled tenaciously to maintain their cultural ways despite threats and actual punishment. When values and beliefs coincided, however, and naturales lived within accepted Indian-European norms, the practical effect was to preserve, if not bolster, the existing legitimacy of the colonial church and state.


Late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century rural Cuzco had no Dr. Kinsey or Masters and Johnson conducting systematic surveys of indigenous sexual habits.3 Therefore, data on this aspect of the lives of naturales in Canas y Canchis and Quispicanchis remain impressionistic. Yet even if the documentation yields only glimpses of what went on behind closed doors, it does provide a good idea of public morality and the values that guided daily life.

While Don Mariano and Doña María may have represented the ideal in Andean marriage, most couples whose lives are revealed in colonial archival records appear there because of marital conflict or violence. Mutual interdependence and loving, emotional attachments between men and women may have been the norm, but in daily life, such sentiments were usually limited to personal conversations and private correspondence. Of course, the spoken words have disappeared, and in a world where most Indians, especially nonelite indigenous women, did not read or write, few personal documents pertaining to private life were generated, and even fewer remain. While colonial observers do provide insights, the leading sources of information on the more personal aspects of indigenous life are the documents generated by civil, criminal, and religious legal proceedings. The rich, detailed testimony in these cases brings us face to face with the people of Guaro, Sicuani, Coporaque, and other communities of Quispicanchis and Canas y Canchis. The criminal records focus, quite naturally, on what was considered abnormal or illegal. As Richard Boyer notes in his study of violence in marriage,

It may seem paradoxical, at first, to be trying to learn something of marriage by looking at troubled ones. In fact, however, “trouble” is the catalyst that moves us to order our thoughts about most matters. As long as norms and experience roughly coincide, one is unlikely to change course or analyze experience; the awareness of a disparity between them is what spurs thought and action.4

Thus, these documents dealing with abnormal and criminal behavior shed light on what both Spanish law and local indigenous practice deemed customary and acceptable; at the same time, they show how the emotions and passions that normally bind people together often were violated or ruptured and, instead of solidifying relationships, took conflictive, even violent directions. Family violence and sexual disputes were the leading causes of murder in Quispicanchis and Canas y Canchis in the late colonial period. These murders were more common than those resulting from robberies, tax disputes, or conflicts over land. Among 43 violent deaths tabulated in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Quispicanchis and Canas y Canchis, 28 of them (65 percent) derived from problems concerning love, jealousy, or other aspects of male-female relationships.5

The legal records, in combination with sources such as the manuals used by priests to confess naturales, also illuminate Spanish efforts to instill European values in the native people—to make the “other” more like themselves.6 As Asunción Lavrin notes, “confession and penitence, two essential elements in Roman Catholic spirituality, were the tools to correct errors and mold consciences into proper doctrinal observance.”7 And in the Andes, Regina Harrison argues, “confession became a means of instructing the Indians in norms of sexual behavior.”8

It was in questions dealing with the Sixth Commandment that the church focused its efforts to inculcate Christian sexual mores and root out indigenous practices that contradicted those mores. The questions confessors addressed to their indigenous flocks ran the gamut from bestiality, homosexuality, incest, and masturbation to the proper positions for intercourse, sexual dreams, and even sex with priests. So meticulous were the written inquiries—a manual from 1631 contained 236 questions on the Sixth Commandment while noting that many others could be asked—that they lead the modern reader to “wonder if in fact the Church was not serving to disseminate knowledge of sexual pleasure that perhaps never had crossed the minds of their newly converted Quechua-speaking parishioners.”9

While many confessional manuals of the era did not focus on gender-specific questions, those used in the Andes asked many distinct questions of men and women.10 For instance, men were asked, “Have you ‘forced’ a woman?” or “Touching the private parts or the breasts or some other part of the body or kissing or embracing your wife, or your mistress, or a woman relative of yours, or of your wife, have you polluted yourself or did you have an ejaculation?” Women were asked such questions as “Have you agreed to men sleeping with you utilizing other than your natural vessel [vagina]?” and “Have you kissed the private parts of a man or have you agreed that he may kiss yours, enjoying this very much?”11

The impact of the church’s efforts is very difficult to determine, and therefore “the degree of acceptance by the common folk of the behavioral models set by the church” remains questionable.

There was always a gap between religious canons and the actual behavior of people. Adaptation, confrontation, enforcement, and elusion in matters of personal behavior, especially in its sexual aspects, became important elements in the daily lives of many people.12

In colonial Mexico, Serge Gruzinski argues, confession did have an impact on the transformation of indigenous ways.

It would be difficult to deny that confession contributed in an indirectly and intellectual manner to the erosion of mental, social, and familial structures and to the crumbling of ancestral codes and ancient forms of solidarity that regulated the functioning of pre-Hispanic societies.13

By the late colonial period these efforts were hardly new, and unfortunately, in the communities and ayllus of Quispicanchis and Canas y Canchis, the historical record does not reveal information about the confessional in sexual matters during this era.14


The sexual habits of unmarried Indians were one source of serious tensions between the native peoples and the Catholic church. Indigenous men and women lived together before marriage. This cohabitation was part of a process of relationship formation that has become known as sirvinacuy, or trial marriage. The period or process of trial marriage was a fundamental cultural practice designed to ensure the strength of a couple’s relationship and thereby assure the success of the marriage. These “marriageways” were very important, for the married couple was the basic unit on which the social and biological reproduction of the indigenous community rested.15

While trial marriage was a source of continuing friction in Indian-church relations, more casual premarital sexual relations, though not condoned, provoked less hand-wringing among church officials. Even though the church sought to instill Spanish Catholic sexual values, in most circumstances it paid little attention to sexual relations between unmarried Indians who were not yet recognized as a couple. This attitude parallels those in more Spanish and mestizo regions, such as Argentina, where “poor girls, regardless of their race, were presumed to be sexually experienced past the age of puberty.”16 The Catholic church disapproved of, but tolerated, casual sexual relations between Indians and even more permanent liaisons between people of different social status, such as Spanish men and Indian women, liaisons in which marriage was not expected because of social distance. But when people lived together whose status or race would cause marriage to be expected, then the church might well object.17

Evidence conflicts concerning Indian attitudes toward premarital sex in the pre-Columbian and early colonial periods. Some differences undoubtedly stem from regional and ethnic variations. Other contradictions are rooted in class-based behavioral distinctions or the idealization of pre-Columbian sexual mores, as represented in the work of Felipe Guamán Poma de Ayala. According to Guamán Poma, the laws that guided Inca sexual behavior were very strict; unmarried lovers were severely punished or executed.18 While stricter laws may have applied to the nobility, Pedro Pizarro observed behavior even among nobles that contradicted Guamán Poma. Pizarro noted that sexual relations were very open between Inca warriors and the women who traveled with them, some of whom were noble. Although the Inca elite made an issue of virginity in some situations, such as for the “wives of the sun,” or aellas, they did not always do so.19

For the nonelite in the Inca empire and, it seems, throughout much of the Andes, premarital sexual relations were not only “common” but “socially sanctioned.”20 In contrast to Christian Spanish society, female virginity in indigenous society typically was not considered precious. Virginity bestowed no particular honor or moral superiority on a woman or her family. Loss of virginity did not stain a family’s honor or threaten the legitimacy of offspring, as it might in the Spanish world.21 The coming of Spanish rule and the introduction of Christianity, in which virginity was “emblematic of a chaste life and respect for the moral canons of the church,” did not alter this aspect of indigenous sexual behavior for common folk.22

From the period of conquest through the colonial era (and on down to the present), observers have borne witness to these attitudes. Spaniards who commented on the lack of indigenous concern for virginity, such as Pedro Pizarro (“their fathers did not pay any attention if they were good or bad: nor was it considered to be shameful among them”) and Father José de Acosta (“Virginity, which is viewed with esteem and honor by all men, is deprecated by those barbarians as something vile”), condemned not only Indian women but also indigenous men for not giving virginity what they considered “proper” importance.23 Neither indigenous men nor women lived by—or in the Europeans’ value system, “up to”—the moral codes of Spanish society and the church. Early in the seventeenth century, Father Arriaga reported that “mere fornication is not regarded as sinful.” He related the following incidents, which must have been very jarring even to this worldly-wise Jesuit.

In a town I was passing through an Indian boy asked me to marry him to his betrothed. One of her brothers, however, objected strongly, giving no other reason except that they had never slept together. I also know another Indian who refused to see his wife after their marriage and treated her harshly. He alleged that she was a woman of low condition since no one had ever loved her or had carnal knowledge of her before marriage.24

Even though it was condoned culturally, the harmonious acceptance of premarital sexual relations had significant exceptions, especially in men’s attitudes toward women.25 Sometimes fathers and husbands, their sense of morality and honor apparently transgressed, reacted with anger or violence to innuendoes of premarital sex or the knowledge of such relations involving their daughters or the women who were now their spouses. Did these feelings reflect the influence of Christian teachings and the impact of the confessional? While the messages of the European religious did not necessarily transform everyone, and certainly not all to the same degree, aspects of the new teachings undoubtedly influenced some people toward beliefs that did not resonate with most of their neighbors. Or did these feelings stem from contradictions between accepted cultural norms and individual beliefs that are part of life, to some degree, in most every society? Not everyone dances to the same tune.

In 1766, Visente León was killed as a result of the abuse he heaped on his wife because of her premarital relations. His wife had lived with another man before she and Visente were married and had borne a child from that relationship. Visente, consumed with his emotions, would get drunk, beat his wife, and accuse her of “having been a bad woman.” After one such incident the wife’s brother, angered at her treatment, hit Visente with a club and killed him.26 Unfortunately, the record leaves no clues as to the rationale behind Visente’s actions; nor does it tell if the brother reacted to the abuse alone or if he was further spurred by the cultural “irrationality” of Visente’s actions.

Visente was not alone in holding feelings that contradicted cultural norms. In Pomacanche a natural named Pascual Colque, in jail after another Indian accused him of a crime, maintained that the real reason he was jailed was that he had made public comments about the sexual activity of his accuser’s daughter. Colque claimed to have seen the daughter, Santusa, in “fragante delito” (sic) on three different occasions, and that his comments about her behavior, not any wrongdoing, had led to the charges against him.27 Why would Colque testify about his observations, true or not, if he did not believe that they would undermine the accusations? In a society in which premarital sex was supposed to be open, why were his comments objectionable? Was the young woman promised to another? Did her relations jeopardize the honor of her family, an indigenous family of considerable standing in the community? And could her family, because of its status, have been more influenced by or sensitive to Spanish teachings or opinions than others in the community? Did the father’s reaction stem from the influence of Christian sexual values?28

While the causes of such responses cannot be determined, it is clear that some naturales were deeply troubled by the premarital sexual relations of their wives and daughters, even though indigenous cultural norms held that such relations were proper. This reaction may well have stemmed from the influence of Spanish teachings or concern for the opinions and reactions of priests or other Europeans, or even other members of the community. Unfortunately, the documents do not provide clear answers to these innermost thoughts and motivations. Not everyone held the same opinion or was influenced by European ways to the same degree.29

While church officials may have decried Indian attitudes toward fornication, they did little to alter this behavior until relationships took on a more permanent character. It was the period of cohabitation before marriage, lasting from a few months up to two or three years, that most concerned governmental and church officials. In 1539, while Manco Inca was still threatening European control of the central highlands, Spaniards were already making reference to the “diabolical” practice of trial marriage among the native peoples; and complaints about the institution continued throughout the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries.30 In the 1550s, the Augustinians reported that the Indians “have a custom, and until today there is not anyone who can stop it, which is that before they marry with their woman they have to live together [probar y tener consigo].”31 In the 1570s, no less a figure than Viceroy Francisco de Toledo observed that if an Indian couple did not live together before marriage, they claimed that after they married they would not have “peace, contentment, and friendship.” Toledo, not sharing the Indians’ sentiments, thought this practice to be “noxious and pernicious to their conversion and .... Christianity” and recommended punishment for offenders.32 Despite admonitions and threats of punishment, the church had little impact on this deeply rooted practice, which naturales maintained was necessary to ensure stable, compatible marriage relationships. In 1649, church officials in Lima, aware that their efforts to instill Christian values opposed to premarital sex had been unsuccessful, noted that indigenous marriages not preceded by tincunakuspa(sirvinacuy) were quite rare.33

The strength and tenacity of the Spanish reaction to sirvinacuy are in some ways puzzling, because the practice was akin to the “promise of marriage” (palabra de casamiento) or betrothal in Spanish society. While the European ideal was not to have intercourse before marriage, once the palabra de casamiento was exchanged, the marriage process was considered to have begun, and church and society looked on the behavior of couples, particularly the woman, with more understanding.34 Children of such unions could be legitimated, even if the couple never married. And while

the strict dictates of honor might demand that engaged women who bore illegitimate children be rejected by their social peers, in practical day-to-day living such was not the case. Instead, neighbors apparently moved with ease and familiarity in and out of such houses. The illegitimate children of these unions played and were educated with legitimate offspring of equal rank.35

In the eyes of one’s neighbors, in both the indigenous and Spanish worlds, much depended on the character or “morality” of the persons involved. For the Catholic church, however, morality was also related to discretion. It was perhaps this sense that separated sirvinacuy from betrothal in the minds of priests. Sirvinacuy was public; and although trial marriage usually led to formal marriage, this was not always the case. Not everyone turned out to be compatible, and indigenous men and women terminated relationships without stigma. The children that sometimes resulted from these unions were accepted in indigenous society, and constituted a public affirmation, for the Europeans, of a relationship that existed outside the bonds of Catholic matrimony.36 Thus, while there were some parallels between sirvinacuy and Spanish relations after the palabra de casamiento, there were also marked differences.

Though colonial courtship practices are rarely glimpsed through archival information, mutual attraction and parental influence appear to be the forces behind most indigenous relationships in Quispicanchis and Canas y Canchis during the colonial period.37 Parents might influence the process of “mutual attraction” through their observations and comments about community members and in even more direct ways. If colonial Indian parents were like their modern counterparts, they sometimes took the initiative and acted on their child’s behalf, and perhaps the family’s behalf as well, in seeking a spouse, not necessarily with the child’s knowledge or permission. They might approach the parents of the prospective spouse and speak for their offspring, as well as encourage good feelings between the families; for marriage linked families, and such kinship ties were very important in the Andean world.38

Because most native peoples in rural Cuzco married within their community or region, potential marriage partners were not often strangers. Before entering into the semiformal arrangements of trial marriage, a period of courtship and sexual experimentation took place. Young people started noticing or flirting with one another, and then chance or arranged meetings while working in the fields or tending to chores, such as herding llamas or sheep, would provide the opportunity for sexual encounters. Community festivals, with their high spirits and gaiety, often aided by the consumption of chicha, also provided a mood and setting conducive to growing affection and sexual experimentation. A modern observer of courtship practices in the not very distant Lake Titicaca region writes,

Courting is informal. The suitor finds occasions to be with the girl. A popular site for casual encounters is provided by the hills. ... Young men seek out the girls who are pasturing their animals on the hills. And there they converse, fight, or make love. During the early stages of courtship the girls tend to offer resistance. The potential mates may engage in mutual insulting. They try to steal items of clothing from each other. But they may also give one another gifts of food, e.g., bread, candy and so forth. Eventually, if all goes well, they fall in love. Then they may arrange meetings. They may get together on market day . . . or they may see each other at fiestas, possibly dancing together in one of the dance groups formed for such events....

Serious courtship leads to sexual experimentation. The potential mates may sleep with each other regularly. These encounters are supposedly clandestine, of course, but the parents of the girl and the boy may know that this behavior is occurring. If they approve of the match they will not interfere. On the other hand, if they do not approve, they might try to put a stop to the courtship. If the girl becomes pregnant, the end of the courtship phase is hastened.39

If the couple got along well and the relationship progressed, the woman, although in some instances the man, eventually moved in with the lover’s parents until the couple married and were ready to establish a home of their own. The purpose of this period of cohabitation was to assure that the couple were compatible, a stable marriage being important not only to the couple but to the family and the community. During this period the man and woman deepened their relationship and learned more about one another. A sixteenth-century Augustinian noted that the process functioned not only to assure sexual compatibility but to determine if the woman was a good worker and cook. This observer commented that if this trial period went well, the young man asked the woman’s parents for permission to marry their daughter. If they said yes, the father would inform the young man of his daughter’s faults so that “the son-in-law does not complain or quarrel if his daughter is a mala mujer or lazy.”40 Bernabé Cobo also claimed that men lived with women before being married to determine if they could bien servir y regalar.41

Indian efforts to ensure stable, compatible relationships through trial marriage were seen very differently by the European Christians, whose references to the practice are numerous and condemnatory. Typical of such attacks are those made in the Sinodales del Arzobispado in 1613.

Chap. 6. That you endeavor to end the abuse that the Indians have of first living with those that they are going to marry: Because the Devil has introduced among the Indians, that, when they agree to marry with an Indian they live with her first, living in offense of Our Lord. It is just that it be remedied: We order that the priests in their Sermons very regularly exhort and threaten them that what they do is an abusive and grave sin; that they investigate those that are guilty of it and that the evidence be sent to the Curate so that they may be Punished.42

Sermons, admonishments in confession, and personal advice were undoubtedly used by priests to encourage adherence to Catholic morality. For the most part, however, priests did not use religious courts or the power of the state to force cohabiting indigenous couples to formalize their relationships. Far from the centers of religious authority, and living with their parishioners on a daily basis, most priests in rural Cuzco were more tolerant or understanding of behavior that their urban superiors sought to expunge. This “understanding” may have been enhanced by the complex nature of the church and theology. The church “had the power to impose stern spiritual condemnation but was also bound to pardon the sinners. In practical terms, it was often forced to forgive and forget.”43 Nevertheless, from time to time a priest did attempt to force young people to marry, and this evoked strong responses from the naturales.

In some of these instances, the relationship between the priest and the parishioners had soured, and the priest’s efforts to force a marriage were motivated by deeper tensions. Forcing marriage could also involve pecuniary gain for the priests, although in none of their complaints against forced marriage did Indians mention excessive demands, whether or not they existed. Even in late eighteenth-century Cuzco, moreover, some priests still sought to eradicate what they considered un-Christian behavior by compelling Indian couples to marry.

The tactic used to force the sacrament of marriage was simple and direct. The priest detained naturales in the church under lock and key until they acceded, even though this contradicted church teachings that marriage should be by consent and was invalidated by coercion.44 On occasion this heavy-handed action was also hasty. One religious official, at odds with both the Indians and the non-Indians in his community, locked up a chola and tried to force her to wed, only to discover that the prospective groom was already married.45 In another case, the people of Checacupe and Pitumarca complained that their priest, Don José Loaisa, locked young men and women in the church with “the end that they marry by force: this fact is public and notorious.”

The community sought an end not only to matrimony under duress but to the tragic consequences that, they argued, such measures provoked. So strong was resistance to coerced matrimony that community spokesmen claimed, “some single women have killed their children at birth and thrown them in the river and only in this way do they free themselves of punishment and being locked up ... [and] forced to marry.”46 In Yanaoca and San Pablo de Cacha, community elders argued that efforts to force their young people to marry were misguided and created hardships for the parents. They pleaded that not only was their children’s labor lost while they were incarcerated, but that the parents had the additional burden of bringing food to the “inmates.”47

In circumstances such as these, when European Christians sought to impose beliefs that clashed with deeply held cultural values, the naturales of Quispicanchis and Canas y Canchis aggressively defended their way of life. Pointing to the disruptive and harmful effects of Spanish mores, the villagers of rural Cuzco struggled to maintain their time-honored customs of courtship and marriage. The persistence today of premarital cohabitation as a cultural practice demonstrates how determined indigenous people in Canas y Canchis and Quispicanchis were and how effective day-to-day resistance could be, despite occasional setbacks such as these.

At the same time that naturales in rural Cuzco resisted efforts to eliminate trial marriage, they also filed complaints against priests for having sexual relations with unmarried women.48 Indigenous protests against such relations were common, but seemingly less frequent than the activity. Just as most priests tolerated trial marriage, most Indians tolerated priests’ indiscretions. Just as priests sometimes brought up the issue of cohabitation when they were in conflict with an Indian community, moreover, Indians sometimes brought up the sexual conduct of a priest when they were in conflict with him. The naturales of Checacupe and Pitumarca brought a long list of charges against their priest for abuses and dereliction of duty. Charges included having an “illicit friendship” with a woman with whom the priest lived “like a married couple” and another “illicit friendship” with a widow in Pitumarca.49 This was the same priest, Don José Loaisa, who later tried to force Indians to marry.

In cases in which priest-Indian conflict was not an obvious factor, the basis for indigenous protest against the sexual activities of a priest with an unmarried woman is unclear. It is always possible that the Indians had reasons they did not wish to express openly, and of which the priest was unaware or also did not wish to make public. In most such cases, however, knowledge that such conduct was not in keeping with priestly morality was given as the root cause of the charges. It could also be that because priests were not allowed to marry, the Indians believed that relations between unmarried women and priests served no acceptable social purpose.

Typical of such charges was the case brought by the people of Quiquijana, Quispicanchis, against their priest in 1758 for causing “great harm to his own conscience and the souls of his parishioners.” The priest had lived with and had children by a woman who had moved to the parish with him and then died. Another lover was rumored to have had a child by him, and it was “public and certain that the said priest was presently living, with scandal to this community and the parishioners, in public concubinage with the daughter of the sexton.”50 The syncretic mixture of Andean culture and Christianity formed a belief system for these naturales that justified cohabitation for themselves as Catholic believers, but also allowed them selectively to deny the right to priests who were supposed to be celibate. In the colonial crucible, right and wrong were not absolute values for the naturales, but depended on individual and cultural perspectives.


Marriage was considered to be the normal condition for adults. In the Andes, to a greater degree than in other regions, a recognized complementarity and equality between men and women existed. Writing of the Inca period, Irene Silverblatt states,

Andean men and women experienced their lives in gender-specific worlds, yet these worlds were also interdependent. Perhaps no Andean ritual more clearly expressed the interdependence and complementarity of male and female spheres than marriage—the rite of passage into Andean adulthood and the rite that joined parallel descent lines. Rituals surrounding marriage shouted an ideology of gender equality. Whether that ideology was true to the substance of gender relations is another question.

Marriage rites, whether binding together peasants or the Inca elite, celebrated the formation of a new unity made up of equals. Accordingly, wives and husbands saw themselves as contributing in complementary but commensurate ways to the formation of the household.51

In addition to uniting a couple, marriage brought together a network of kin who could be relied on for labor and mutual support. The married couple worked together to provide for the family and meet the demands of the state and community. For instance, in agriculture, men broke the ground and, with their wives’ help, prepared it for planting, while women, the symbolic bearers of fertility, sowed the seed. Silverblatt states that in the preconquest period, “the Incas implicitly recognized male and female labor as forming a unity necessary for the reproduction of social existence.”52

In the colonial period, the state recognized this unity in some aspects of life and not others, but it remained fundamental in the communities and ayllus of eighteenth-century Quispicanchis and Canas y Canchis. For instance, while only men were subject to the colonial state’s forced labor draft (mita) for the mines of Potosí, wives invariably accompanied their husbands. In the eyes of the community, the man’s required service was a requisition of the wife as well. The husband could not be expected to serve without the support of his spouse.

In community political matters, the husband normally represented the family to the outside world. This did not necessarily mean, however, that the wife’s voice was not represented. If the past was like the present, men in rural Cuzco did not make decisions before consulting their wives. And in confrontations with European authorities, indigenous women often figured prominently.53

The unity, especially the economic unity, of the married couple is further attested to by the custom among both indigenous and Spanish authorities of holding the wife responsible, even incarcerating her, for the husband’s debts. A cacique in Sicuani who had previously jailed a wife for her husband’s debts took the concept of shared obligation a step further when he jailed a woman whose betrothed (en palabra de casamiento) fled without paying his tribute. The cacique had hoped to force the woman to reveal her lover’s whereabouts. Unfortunately for the woman and the cacique, the betrothed had beaten and robbed his fiancée before disappearing, and most likely had no intention of returning.54 When a cacique’s ire was aroused, or even when he was just being abusive, both husband and wife might suffer his wrath. Such was the case in 1790, when the Spanish cacique of Checacupe not only took the land of an Indian couple but jailed the husband and beat the wife.55

The vast majority of Indian couples, having passed through courtship and trial marriage, assumed their rightful position in the community as an adult couple and became a source of stability in village life. They dealt with the pains and agonies that life presented. They raised and buried children and met their communal and state-imposed obligations. While such couples represented the norm, a sizable minority of relationships did not live up to those standards. Honor, jealousy, adultery, and spousal abuse disrupted private lives and made male-female conflict, as noted earlier, the leading cause of murder in Quispicanchis and Canas y Canchis.56

It was the defense of honor that led to the tragic death of Philipe Apacyupa. He had purchased a quantity of coca from a Spaniard, and to celebrate closing the deal they drank aguardiente. Somewhat inebriated, Apacyupa and his companion went out into the street, where the Spaniard, according to witnesses, accidentally bumped into the wife of Melchor Cansaya. Cansaya, who also had been drinking, took offense and “offered to cut out the entrails” of the Spaniard. In the scuffle that followed, Apacyupa was mortally wounded. Cansaya maintained that his stabbing of Apacyupa was an accident; he was coming to the defense of his wife, who, as he perceived it, had suffered an indignity. Despite the testimony of eyewitnesses who said the encounter had been accidental, Cansaya maintained that his wife had been kicked. Described as a tranquil man of good conduct, Cansaya, when his sense of honor (and perhaps an underlying antagonism toward Spaniards) was aroused, became very dangerous.57

While indigenous peoples viewed premarital sexual experimentation and the changing of partners after failed relationships as normal behavior, after marriage naturales, like Spanish Catholics, expected spouses to be faithful to each other. Here, indigenous and Spanish values once again coincided. Adultery and suspicions of adultery could give rise to jealousy and sometimes could lead to quarrels and violence.58 Javier Rafael “took the means of homicide ... [to] free himself of jealousy.” Believing that his wife had been “trampling the marriage” with Ventura Cusimayta, Rafael killed Cusimayta, who was hardly more than a child; he was described as 12 or 14 years old.59

The adulterous spouse was also subject to attack. Wives, however, seldom physically assaulted their husbands to the point of inflicting serious harm, but the opposite was less true. Irate spouses or their relatives took out their wrath on both the lover and the marriage partner. Juan Humpiri, no longer able to tolerate the longstanding illicit relationship between his sister-in-law and the curaca, went to the house where they lived late one Sunday night. Finding them together in bed, he chased the curaca away with blows and then reviled his brother’s wife, stating that “she was an easy woman and that it was her fault that the curaca treated them with ignominy.” Humpiri hit her, and when she tried to strike him back with a weaving staff he wrested it from her and hit her on the head with it.60

The Humpiri family was especially upset at the public dishonor the relationship caused. The wife and the curaca had even given the husband a baby to care for, born as a result of their illicit relationship, but the baby had died. The situation endured for so long because the curaca was powerful and, according to the brother-in-law, took lands away from the poor Indians while renting the best lands to Spaniards. The family finally received backing from a priest when the arrogant curaca tried to take lands belonging to the priest.

Thus for several years, the power of the curaca had forced humbler Indians to compromise their personal values and put up with humiliation out of fear of losing their lands. That power had also allowed the wife to live outside accepted community norms. The mounting sense of dishonor, plus the support of a priest who could use the power of the church to confront both the adultery and the economic situation, finally permitted the family to respond. Why the brother-in-law and not the husband took the initiative remains uncertain. The eldest brother normally looked after married sisters, but it is unclear if the same was true of brothers or if the action stemmed from the brother-in-law’s own anger.61

Adulterers who became especially attached to their paramours sometimes abused or even killed the rejected spouse. Lovers also tried to break up marriages by suggesting violence and resorting to more than just their charms. In 1706 a natural from near Ocongate, Quispicanchis, confessed that he had killed his wife “because the devil tempted him” and because his lover had told him that if he killed his wife “she would marry him and treat him very well.”62 Likewise, in 1773, Agustín Masa stated that he had killed his wife, and accidentally his child, who was on the mother’s back when he struck the lethal blow, because his widowed lover, María Cama, had urged him to do it. He claimed that he had been living in ilícita amistad with Cama and that she had told him his wife was “useless” and that they could go away and get married.63 The widow said that she had not favored the murder, but also maintained that she had not influenced or had “illicit commerce” with the accused.64

Some of those involved with a married person took direct action to clear the way for their own marriage. María Mamani was the lover of, and the mother of a child by, Domingo Utcca (Udcó). When Domingo’s wife awoke in the middle of the night with “a pain in her stomach and all of her body,” he went out in search of something to relieve her suffering. He brought back a “cure” that he claimed Mamani had provided. On taking the “medicine” the wife’s tongue immediately swelled up, and she vomited blood for the next three weeks.65

Wives trying to rid themselves of unwanted husbands sought the aid of others rather than confronting their spouses themselves. Esperanza Malqui, in an illicit relationship with Bias Condori, urged Condori to kill her spouse, whom she described as “useless.” She wanted to marry Condori and was, according to Condori and his accomplice, not only willing to pay to have her husband killed, but very happy at the news that they had lured him to a remote area under the pretext of stealing cattle, killed him, and thrown the body into the river.66

Domestic violence was, within limits, a normally tolerated aspect of married life. The Inca, according to Guamán Poma, had sought to control the physical abuse of women and wives through legal sanctions. It is likely that spousal violence increased during the colonial period because drinking became more common and much of the violence against spouses, most often women, occurred after the partner had imbibed.67 Spanish society also tolerated some physical abuse or “punishment” of wives by husbands as a patriarchal corrective for behavior the husband deemed unacceptable. Excessive abuse, however, became a concern, and “arbitrary punishments severely administered ... [were] a mortal sin.”68

As long as the violence remained within personal and cultural bounds, spouses, mainly wives, endured the bruises. All too frequently, however, domestic violence in both indigenous and Spanish society went far beyond tolerable limits, leaving spouses severely battered and in fear for their lives, if not dead. In 1749 a young Spanish boy in the community of Pichigua witnessed an Indian beating and kicking his wife to death. After the assault, the husband tied his wife to a horse and had the horse drag her body in order to make her death appear accidental.69 Such violence certainly was not limited to Indian culture. Martina Calle, an Indian, lived on an estancia near Pichigua with her mestizo husband. When her body was found the husband had disappeared. No one knew what had happened.70

Community members did intervene in marital conflicts, but such intervention was not always effective. On the night of Corpus Christi, 1691, screams shattered the silence in the community of Quiquijana. A Spaniard went to investigate and found Sebastián Poma whipping his wife, Francisca Poca. Trying to appeal to the Indian’s Christian values, the Spaniard asked how “he could do such cruelty being a Christian,” but the Indian responded by threatening him. The next day the witness returned to the house, where he found Francisca’s parents crying over their daughter’s lifeless body. The cadaver was horribly cut, “the flesh in pieces,” the result of being whipped.71

While many spouses tolerated some abuse, few would endure it continually or severely, and some countered violence with violence. Women often relied on family members, particularly brothers, to protect them. For example, Faviana Paucara, an Indian from Coporaque, appealed to her brother for help. She had wed Pablo Guana at the age of about 13, and in their 1½ years of marriage, Pablo had beaten her repeatedly; they had even lived apart for six months. Finally, after yet another beating, Faviana and her mother urged Faviana’s brother, Pasqual, to kill Pablo. Faviana gave her brother a sharp rock, and while the husband slept, Pasqual struck him on the head and killed him because “he gave Faviana a bad life.”72

When a relationship deteriorated or abuse became intolerable, the wife traditionally fled back to her family. This was the culturally accepted way of getting out of a bad relationship in the Andes.73 In colonial society, however, the church and the state sometimes used their considerable muscle to enforce the marriage contract by ordering couples to live together. On occasion, moreover, husbands or wives appealed to the church or the state to restore their marriage relationship or resolve their difficulties when a third person came between them. In 1771, several Indians from Coporaque sought such help from the vicar. Mathias Yanquera wanted the vicar to remove his wife’s lover from their life. Three months earlier, Mathias had left home in search of work to support his wife and children, but he began to hear bad things about his wife. Returning, he found an Indian named Bernardo with his spouse, and he wanted something done about this Indian and wife stealer.” Yanquera testified that he tolerated his wife’s behavior because of his love for the children and for her.74

In another case directed to the vicar, a woman asked to be released from jail. She had been put there for not living with her husband, but she maintained that he had been living with another woman and had treated her badly, even whipping her. Because of his violence and “diabolic cruelty” she, in keeping with indigenous norms, no longer recognized him as her husband.75 The documents do not reveal what action the church official took in these cases, but the church, as a matter of policy, typically went to considerable lengths to maintain marriages. For example, a Sicuani priest brought legal action against four men who had Indian concubines (although the men most likely were Indians, their race is not specified) in order to force them to live with their legal wives.76

Legal terminations of marriage were not unknown in the colonial world, but they were fairly rare. Even then, the term divorcio referred to a legal separation that did not include the right to remarry.77 Such permanent separations tended to be a tool of the well-to-do; few indigenous or lower-class people sought divorcio. Violence was the most common reason given by spouses, invariably women, wanting to end a relationship.78 Joana Ynquillay, desperately afraid that her husband might kill her, was one of the rare indigenous women who sought divorcio. Joana had long known of her husband’s adulterous relationship with a woman from the not-too-distant community of Pisac, but she had put up with it and had even tolerated being whipped until she was “bloody and full of welts.” She sought a divorce, however, after her husband sold their team of mules and later tied her hand and foot in a corral and whipped her. When he sold the mules, she feared that he planned to kill her and flee with his lover. She was eight months pregnant at the time.79

Besides using its power to end illicit relationships and hinder terminations of marriage, the church imposed severe penalties on those who ignored the law and formed new relationships without legally terminating the first marriage. Indians who wanted to be married, for either cultural or religious reasons, were in a very difficult position if one of them previously had been in a failed relationship. The suffering caused in the clash between Spanish Catholic and Indian syncretic values is revealed in the case of Teresa Sisa, an Indian woman who married twice. Sisa had wed Diego Quispi, but after a year of marriage she had fled due to “bad treatment.” A few years later, with her parents’ blessing, she remarried. When Sisa and her new husband, because of his work, returned to the region where her first husband lived, she was recognized by her former in-laws. The church brought charges against her for being married twice. The second marriage was declared null, and Sisa was sentenced to be “punished exemplarily.” She was mounted on a “beast of burden” and led through the streets, stripped to the waist except for a corosa (dunce cap), while a public crier called out her crime. After this public shaming she was lashed one hundred times. Sisa was also ordered to serve six months in a convent, after which she was to resume married life with her first husband, whom the church admonished not to hurt or maltreat her under threat of severe punishment.80

Such punishments may have served the example the church intended, but Indians caught between a violent spouse, their desire for married life, and a rigid church had much reason for despair. Most priests in rural Cuzco understood that humans had weaknesses and that profound changes could not be wrought overnight. When the priests were not so understanding, however, life could be harrowing and painful for Indian men and women, most of whom considered themselves nevertheless to be Catholic Christians.


The aftermath of conquest and the introduction of Christianity affected the lives of Indian peoples at even the most personal levels. Naturales’ rejection, acceptance, or accommodation of European cultural norms and attitudes was an uneven process that depended greatly on how extensively Indian and European values meshed or conflicted, as well as on face-to-face relations. By the eighteenth century, many indigenous and European values overlapped and intermingled, but significant areas of conflict also existed. In defense of their culture and their way of life, the peoples of rural Cuzco tenaciously resisted certain European values, and this day-to-day resistance could be very effective.

Even though the Europeans imposed their values through conquest and colonial rule, however, Andean Indians and Europeans actually shared many values, at least in their outward manifestations. Such overlapping tended to maintain, if not strengthen, colonial legitimacy. Most naturales in Quispicanchis and Canas y Canchis accepted, at least to a certain degree, some European beliefs, but they put their own stamp on them. For instance, almost all Indians became Catholic believers as they incorporated Jesus, Mary, and a host of saints into their spiritual world; but it was a syncretic, indigenous Catholicism, not Spanish Catholicism. The syncretism functioned to allow Indians to adapt, adjust, or accommodate European beliefs to their own value system in the manner that best suited their own cultural meaning.

In addition, the naturales of rural Cuzco learned to use the colonial legal system, along with European values, to defend and enforce their own values and practices against those, both non-Indian and Indian, who threatened their way of life. Most often, Spaniards and Indians were not overly rigid, and tried to find ways to coexist. Certain issues, however, the church and state were at times unwilling to compromise on or ignore, and they used their considerable coercive powers in the effort to impose their beliefs, making the naturales’ life difficult.

Indigenous peoples lived and functioned with a wide array of convictions that reflected the complexity of their lives. As scholars get ever closer to those lives, the complexities and contradictions become more pronounced, and it is increasingly difficult to be “blinded by the glare of a perfect and immaculate consciousness.”81 In this context, seeking to understand the intricate and entangled nature of the values held by peoples in Quispicanchis and Canas y Canchis may be helpful in comprehending and analyzing a wide range of Indian-European relations, not just sexual values, in the colonial world.

The author wishes to thank Arnold J. Bauer, Daniel Calhoun, Louis A. Pérez, Jr., Rollie Poppino, Ella Schmidt, and the HAHR readers for their valuable comments.


Archivo Arzobispal del Cusco (AAC), LXXVI, 2, 26, fol. 18, 2-15-9.3-26, Capellanías, 1759. Títulos de la hacienda Pumahincho ... de la iglesia de Santa Lucía de Pichigua.


The literature on syncretism, or religious resistance, is extensive. One might begin by looking at two issues of the journal Allpanchis (Cuzco, 1982): El cristianismo colonial, 16:19, and Religión, mito, y ritual en el Peru, 17:20. See also Sabine MacCormack, Religion in the Andes: Vision and Imagination in Early Colonial Peru (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1991), esp. chap. 6; idem, “Pachacuti: Miracles, Punishments, and Last Judgment: Visionary Past and Prophetic Future in Early Colonial Peru,” American Historical Review 93:4 (Oct. 1988), 960–1006; Karen Spalding, Huarochirí: An Andean Society Under Inca and Spanish Rule (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1984), esp. chap. 8; Father Pablo Joseph de Arriaga, The Extirpation of Idolatry in Peru, ed. and trans. L. Clark Keating (Lexington: Univ. of Kentucky Press, 1968).


Alfred C. Kinsey, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (Philadelphia: W. B. Sanders, 1948); William H. Masters, Virginia E. Johnson, and Robert C. Kolodny, Human Sexuality (New York: Harper Collins, 1992).


Richard Boyer, “Women, La Mala Vida, and the Politics of Marriage,” in Sexuality and Marriage in Colonial Latin America, ed. Asunción Lavrin (Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1989), 279.


Ward Stavig, Violencia cotidiana de los naturales de Quispicanchis y Canas y Canchis en el siglo XVIII,” Revista Andina (Cuzco) 3:2 (Dec. 1985), 460–61. I am referring to crimes found in the archives, which I realize are an incomplete record. Violence takes many forms, some of which are not criminal and some, even though criminal, are not prosecuted. Indian communities, being largely self-governing, resolved many violent disputes without going to outside authorities.


Serge Gruzinski, Individualization and Acculturation: Confession Among the Nahuas of Mexico from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Centuries,” in Lavrin, Sexuality and Marriage, 96–117; Regina Harrison, “The Theology of Concupiscence: Spanish-Quechua Confessional Manuals in the Andes,” in Coded Encounters: Writing, Gender, and Ethnicity in Colonial Latin America, ed. Francisco Javier Cevallos-Candau et al. (Amherst: Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 1994), 135–50.


Asunción Lavrin, “Sexuality in Colonial Mexico: A Church Dilemma,” in Lavrin, Sexuality and Marriage, 48–49.


Harrison, “Theology of Concupiscence,” 139.


Ibid., 148, citing Juan de Pérez Bocanegra, Ritual formulario e institución de Curas para administrar a los naturales de este Reyno los Santos Sacramentos (Lima, 1631).


Lavrin, Sexuality in Colonial Mexico, 74; Harrison, “Theology of Concupiscence,” 142.


Harrison, “Theology of Concupiscence,” 142-49.


Lavrin, “Sexuality in Colonial Mexico,” 48. See also Ann Twinam, “Honor, Sexuality, and Illegitimacy in Colonial Spanish America,” in Lavrin, Sexuality and Marriage, 123-24.


Gruzinski, “Individualization,” 103-4.


Confessional materials were revealed in some instances related to insurrection, however.


W. E. Carter, “Trial Marriage in the Andes?” in Andean Kinship and Marriage, ed. Ralph Bolton and Enrique Mayer (Washington, D.C.: American Anthropological Assn., 1977), esp. 210–12 for a discussion of “process.” In addition, on the marriage process see Ralph Bolton, “The Qolla Marriage Process,” in ibid., 217–39. For further discussion of trial marriage see Richard Price, “Trial Marriage in the Andes,” Ethnology 4:3 (July 1965), 310-22; C. A. Romero, “Tincunakuspa,” Revista Trimestral de Estudios Antropológicos 1 (Lima, 1923), 83-91. On the concept of marriageways, see Robert McCaa, “Marriageways in Mexico and Spain, 1500-1900,” Continuity and Change 9:1 (1994), 12–13.


Susan M. Socolow, “Acceptable Partners: Marriage Choice in Colonial Argentina, 1778–1810,” in Lavrin, Sexuality and Marriage, 234.


I have come across no cases in which high-status Indian men were living with Indian or non-Indian women of lower status in a situation in which they could be married. Thus, it is impossible to determine whether or not they received the same deference as well-to-do Spaniards.


Felipe Guamán Poma de Ayala, El primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno (Mexico City: Siglo Veintiuno, 1980), 283, 308 [310]–309 [311]. For a discussion of why Guamán Poma might have idealized or created archetypes, see two works by Rolena Adorno: “The Language of History in Guamán Pomas Nueva Coránica y Buen Gobierno,” in From Oral to Written Expression: Native Andean Chronicles of the Early Colonial Period, ed. Adorno (Syracuse: Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, 1982), and Guamán Poma. Writing and Resistance in Colonial Peru (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1986).


Pedro Pizarro, Relation of the Discovery and Conquest of the Kingdoms of Peru, vol. 1, trans. Phillip Ainsworth Means (New York: Cortés Society, 1921), 408-9. Father Martin Murúa supports Guamán Poma’s statements about punishment for premarital relations, but he also contradicts his own comments and says that such relations were sanctioned. Murúa, Historia del origen y genealogía real de los Reyes Incas del Perú (Madrid: CSIC, 1946), cited in Price, “Trial Marriage,” 311. On the aellas, see Irene Silverblatt, Moon, Sun, and Witches: Gender Ideologies and Class in Inca and Colonial Peru (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1987), 82–85, 101-3.


Price, “Trial Marriage,” 311; Pizarro, Relation, 408-9.


Socolow, “Acceptable Partners,” 226; Twinam, “Honor, Sexuality,” 124; Lavrin, Introduction to Sexuality and Marriage, 10–11.


Lavrin, Introduction, 10. For a modern view of attitudes toward virginity in the Andes, see Javier Izko Gastón, “Condores y mast’akus. Vida y muerte en los valles nortepotosinos,” in Tiempo de vida y muerte. Estudio de caso en dos contextos andinos de Bolivia, ed. Izko Gastón, Ramiro Molina Rivero, and René Pereira Morató (La Paz: CONAPO, 1986), 60. Izko writes, “La virginidad no es valorada por sí misma; constituye simplemente un estado biológico que debe desembocar en la etapa fecunda, destino de toda mujer.”


Pedro Pizarro, “Relación del descubrimiento y conquista de los reinos del Peru” [1571], in Biblioteca peruana, ser. 1, vol. 1 (Lima: Banco de Crédito del Perú, 1968), 579; José de Acosta, Historia natural y moral de las Indias [1590] (Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Españoles, Real Academia Española, 1954), 603; Silverblatt, Moon, Sun, and Witches, 101–8.


Arriaga, Extirpation of Idolatry, 55.


Izko Gastón, “Condores y mast’akus,” 60. Izko states that in the part of Bolivia he studied, young indigenous people engage in sexual relations before the process of marriage has begun “como siempre han sucedido.”


Archivo Departamental del Cusco (ADC), Corregimiento Provincial, Criminales, legajo 79, 1745-73, 1766. Criminales contra Diego Quispe, sobre la muerte de Visente Leon. (Archival citations retain their original orthography.)


ADC, Intendencia Provincial, Criminales, leg. 124, 1792-99, 1798, Pomacanche. Expediente criminal iniciado por Clemente Rayme y su hija Santusa contra Pasqual Colque Alcde Ordo del Pueblo de Pomacanche sobre barios excesos.


See Twinam, “Honor, Sexuality,” 123-25.


For a discussion of present-day sexual attitudes, see Olivia Harris, “The Power of Signs: Gender, Culture, and the Wild in the Bolivian Andes,” in Nature, Culture, and Gender, ed. Carol P. MacCormack and Marilyn Strathern (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1980).


Various words describe trial marriage. The two most common today are sirvinacuy and tincunacuy. Sirvinacuy is a Quechua term taken from the Spanish word for service, servir. Tincunacuspa, from tincunacuy, expresses the action and effect of two persons intimately meeting or joining. Early in the colonial period, pantanacuy was another term applied. See Roberto Maclean y Estenos, “Sirvinacuy o tincunacuspa,” Perú Indígena 2:4 (1952), 4-12; Carter, “Trial Marriage?” 178-79; Price, “Trial Marriage,” 311-16; Romero, “Tincunakuspa,” 85-87. Romero says the word comes from the Quechua of Ancash tincuna cushga (unirse, aliarse).


Romero, “Tincunakuspa,” 85-86.


Francisco de Toledo, “Ordenanza VIII. Ordenanzas para los indios de todos los departamentos y pueblos de este reino,” in Relaciones de los virreyes y audiencias que han gobernado el Perú, by Sebastián Lorente, vol. 1 (Lima, 1867). See also Carter, “Trial Marriage?” 177; Romero, “Tincunakuspa,” 88-89.


Romero, “Tincunakuspa,” 86-88. See also Price, “Trial Marriage,” 311.


Lavrin, Introduction, 6; Socolow, “Acceptable Partners, 226–27; Twinam, “Honor, Sexuality,” 125–42.


Twinam, “Honor, Sexuality,” 142.


Modern Andean peoples know of certain herbs and drinks used as contraceptives or to induce abortion. While some of this knowledge most likely existed during the colonial period, I found no confirmation of this in the region under investigation. See Carter, “Trial Marriage?” 180; Izko Gastón, “Condores y mast’akus,” 100-103.


Price, “Trial Marriage,” 310–13. Price refers to the contradictory information on relationship formation, especially choice and prearrangement. The process of relationship formation remains murky, largely because of the paucity of data and the class differences. During the Inca period, the sovereign had control over marriages in the empire, especially among elites. In many circumstances, however, couples or their parents may have arranged weddings, and the Inca merely confirmed and demonstrated his ultimate authority through control of the formal marriage rite. See Silverblatt, Moon, Sun, and Witches, 8, 87-94. My documentation for the late colonial period leads toward the notion of mutual attraction, although no document spells out how or why the relationship began.


McCaa, “Marriageways,” 13–14. McCaa draws attention to matchmakers and the elderly in relationship formation in colonial Mexico and notes the apparent absence of parents, relatives, and authorities, whereas in the preconquest era a variety of people were involved. For an arranged indigenous marriage in Mexico that did not work out, see Boyer, “Women, La Mala Vida” 271.


Bolton, “Qolla Marriage,” 230. See also Izko Gastón, “Condores y mast’akus,” 59-65. Izko implies that mutual attraction is the basis of relationships.


Romero, “Tincunakuspa,” 86.


Bernabé Cobo, Historia del Nuevo Mundo, vol. 3 (Seville: Imprenta de E. Rasco, 1893), cited in Price, “Trial Marriage,” 310.


Quoted in Romero, “Tincunakuspa,” 86-87.


Lavrin, Introduction, 9.


Socolow, “Acceptable Partners,” 210; Lavrin, Introduction, 7.


AAC, 27-29.1, XII, 1,14, Pareceres, Peticiones, Solicitud, 1786. Información recibida por Don Manuel de Tonnegra, subdelegado de Tinta, contra el licenciado Ildefonso Loaiza. On priests forcing marriage in an earlier period, see Guamán Poma, Primer nueva corónica, 542-43 [573–74]; and Silverblatt, Moon, Sun, and Witches, 138–47.


ADC, Inten. Ord., leg. 48, 1800. El comun de los Pueblos de Checacupi y Pitumarca puesto a los pies de V.S.... qe nro. cura el D. D. Jose Loaisa nos tiene en estado de un total desesperación. While such actions may well have taken place, native peoples did exaggerate at times to make an effective case.


ADC, Inten. Crim. leg. 107, 1792–94. Expediente relativo a la queja por el subdelegado del partido de Tinta, y otros contra el cura ynter ... de la Doctrina de Yanaoca sobre excesos.


Harrison, “Theology of Concupiscence,” 147. Harrison notes that questions about sex with priests were one matter that priests dealt with in the confessional.


AAC, 28.1-29.1, LXXIV, 1, lo.f. 10, Pleitos, 1794. Causa de varios capitulos criminales que Francisco Quispe, Jacinto Quispe y otros, sacristanes y alcaldes ordinarios de la Doctrina de Checacupe y Pitumarca le ponen a su cura propio Don Jose Maria Loaisa.


AAC, 27-29.1, XI, 3, 5, 50.f. 10, Pareceres, Peticiones, Solicitud, 1758. Sumaria información por el Obispo acerca de vida y costumbres de Juan de la Fuente y Centeno, cura propio de la Doctrina de Quiquijana. Twinam indicates that the word used for children of priests was espurios (illegitimates, bastards). “Honor, Sexuality,” 119.


Silverblatt, Moon, Sun, and Witches, 8.


Ibid., 15. On a similar ideal in Spanish marriage, see Boyer, “Women, La Mala Vida,” 256-58.


Silverblatt, 15. Silverblatt states that while equality existed in the rites of marriage, “men and not women represented the household to the imperial administration.” It is, of course, nearly impossible to determine the degree of women’s influence over men’s public actions. The Peruvian anthropologist Ella Schmidt has noted that in her fieldwork in the Cuzco region, men were the public spokespeople but wives were consulted before decisions were made. Schmidt, personal communication, 1986.


ADC, Inten. Ord. leg. 18, 1789, Sicuani. Cathalina Sisa viuda vesina del pueblo de Sicuani . . . estoy padeciendo en esta carcel. On the complementarity of man and woman, see Billie Jean Isbell, “La otra mitad esencial: un estudio de complementaridad sexual en los Andes,” Estudios Andinos 5:1 (1976); and Olivia Harris, “Complementarity and Conflict: An Andean View of Women and Men,” in Sex and Age as Principles of Social Differentiation, ed. J. La Fontaine (London: Academic Press, 1978). For women and tribute in colonial Peru, see Irene Silverblatt, “‘The Universe has turned inside out. ... There is no justice for us here’: Andean Women Under Spanish Rule,” in Women and Colonization: Anthropological Perspectives, ed. Mona Etienne and Eleanor Leacock (New York: Praeger, 1980), 168.


ADC, Inten. Crim. leg. 105, 1789-90, 1790, Checacupi. Criminal contra el casiq. D. Julian Vargas sobre agravios q. representan los yndios de los ayllos del pueblo de Checacupi.


Stavig, Violencia cotidiana,” 460–61. On jealousy and responses to adultery among indigenous peoples in colonial Mexico, see William B. Taylor, Drinking, Homicide, and Rebellion in Colonial Mexican Villages (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1979), 83–97.


ADC, Corrg. Prov. leg. 81, 1776–84, 1777, Sicuani. Criminal contra Melchor Cansaya, indio del ayllo de Chumo del pueblo de Sicuani por la muerte q. dio a Philipe Apacyupa indio de la Provincial de Calca. See also Olivia Harris, “Condor and Bull: The Ambiguities of Masculinity in Northern Potosí,” in Sex and Violence: Issues in Representation and Experience, ed. Peter Gow and Penelope Harvey (London: Routledge, 1994); Twinam, “Honor, Sexuality.” The article deals mainly with women, but gives a sense of honor; see esp. 123-24.


Lavrin, Sexuality in Colonial Mexico,” 68–69. Although she cites cases of violence related to adultery, Lavrin states, “violent revenge for adultery does not appear to have been common.” Because such matters often were handled privately or in the context of the community, it is next to impossible to ascertain the levels of violence. Only extreme cases of violence, such as severe beatings or homicide, were typical cause to resort to the colonial justice system. William B. Taylor writes that adultery and jealousy in indigenous villages “appear to be fundamental sources of violent conflict.” Drinking, Homicide, 85.


ADC, Corrg. Prov. Crim. leg. 121, 1789-90, 1789. Criminal contra Javier Rafael e Ygnacio Rafael yndios del pueblo Pitumarca sobre la muerte executada en Ventura Cusimayta, soltero yndio del mismo pueblo.


ADC, Corrg. Prov. leg. 61, 1679–1705, 1703, Urcos. Catalina Malqui y cuñado Juan Humpiri.


Ibid. The document does not reveal whether the brother was older. It was usually the older brother who protected female relatives from their husbands, and this could be a comparable situation; yet the husband’s lack of involvement is peculiar. See Olivia Harris, “Condor and Bull,” esp. section “The Contexts of Violence,” 44–49; idem, “Complementarity and Conflict,” 35.


ADC, Corrg. Prov. leg. 62, 1706-18, 1706, Ocongate. Estancia de Toctopata, Contra Bartolomé Mamani por la muerte de Ynes Sisa su mujer.


Both men and women used the term useless to describe mates they wished to have killed. In neither case did the supporting material shed light on the meaning of this term.


ADC, Corrg. Prov. Crim. leg. 79, 1745-73, 1773, Marangani. Criminal contra Agustin Masa, yndio del pueblo de Marangani y Maria Cama viuda yndia del pueblo de Nuñoa por la muerte de Maria Mamani Sisa y Salvador Masa ... mujer y hijo de dicho Agustin Masa.


ADC, Inten. Prov. Ord. leg. 91, 1788–90, 1790, Oropesa. Auto criminal que sigue de oficio de la R. Justicia contra Domingo Udco reo de causa crimen pr el beneno que dio a su muger Marsela Paez en el ayllo Choquepata terminos de este pueblo de Oropesa. The documentation ended before it was legally determined who was responsible for the poisoning. Only the spouse was accused, not the lover. No accusation of witchcraft or sorcery was made, either. For a discussion of witchcraft in the colonial world, see Ruth Behar, “Sexual Witchcraft, Colonialism, and Women’s Powers: Views from the Mexican Inquisition,” in Lavrin, Sexuality and Marriage, 178-206.


ADC, Inten. Prov. Crim. leg. 124, 1792-99, 1799, San Pablo de Cacha. Expediente promovido contra los reos Blas Condori y Cruz Mamani sobre el omecidio que estas executaron en la persona de Tomas Mendoza yndio originario del ayllo Charachapi Urinsaya en el pueblo de Sn Pablo de Cacha a instancia de su muger lexitima Esperanza Malqui.


Stavig, “Violencia cotidiana, 460; Taylor, Drinking, Homicide. On Guamán Poma see Silverblatt, Moon, Sun, and Witches, 145.


For Spanish attitudes toward violence, see Boyer, “Women, La Mala Vida,’’ 252-86, quotation, 256; Harris, “Condor and Bull,” esp. section on wife beating, 48, where Harris cites the expression, “Of course he beats me, that’s how husbands are.” An expression in modern Peru perhaps reflects and seeks to justify some of the spousal violence: “Cuanto más me pegas, más te quiero.” For a discussion of spousal violence in modern rural Cuzco see Penelope Harvey, “Domestic Violence in the Andes,” in Gow and Harvey, Sex and Violence, 66-89.


ADC, Corrg. Prov. Crim. leg. 79, 1745-73, 1749, Pichigua. Contra Bentura Laguna, yndio del pueblo de Pichigua por la muerte de su mujer, Esperanza Choque.


ADC, Corrg. Prov. Crim. leg. 79, 1745-73, 1771, Pichigua. Criminal contra Blas Rodriguez, mestizo, del pueblo de Pichigua por la muerte de Martina Calle yndia su mujer. For modern cases of wife abuse while drinking, see Harris, “Complementarity and Conflict,” 34–35


ADC, Corrg. Prov. leg. 61, 1679–1705, 1691, Quiquijana. La muerte de Francisca Poca.


ADC, Corrg. Prov. Crim. leg. 81, 1776–84, 1779, Coporaque. Criminal contra Pasqual Paucara y Faviana Paucara pr la muerte violenta q. ejecutaron en Pablo Guana yndio del pueblo de Coporaque.


For a similar case in Mexico, see Boyer, “Women, La Mala Vida,” 271.


ADC, Corrg. Prov. leg. 68, 1770–72, 1771. Varios papeles que se interceptaron a Dn. Eugenio Sinanyuca, Señor Vicario.


Ibid. On spousal abuse and solutions in Spanish society, see Boyer, “Women, La Mala Vida,” 252–86, esp. 264.


ADC, Inten. Crim. leg. 109, 1797–99, 1799, Siquani. Expedte. iniciado pr el Dr. Dn. Grego ... Sanchez cura de Siquani contra Mariano Maruri y otros sobre excesos y escandolos. In one of the cases, it is clear that the spouse had urged the cura to take such action.


Lavrin, Introduction, 27; Maria Beatriz Nizza Da Silva, “Divorce in Colonial Brazil: The Case of São Paulo,” in Lavrin, Sexuality and Marriage, 313–14; Bernard Lavallé, “Divorcio y nulidad de matrimonio en Lima (1651–1700): la desavenencia conyugal como indicador social,” Revista Andina 4:2 (Dec. 1986), 427–64.


Nizza Da Silva, “Divorce in Colonial Brazil,” 317-26. She argues that at least in colonial Brazil, the “moral and social rules guiding the behavior of the sexes endorsed the voicing of charges by women against men but inhibited a similar action for those men who might be chafing under dominant women” (317-18). Some separations were not necessarily permanent, but conditional.


AAC, 22.2-29.2-21.2, XLIX, 2, 40, 1671, Miserables-Población Indígena. El protector de naturales, a nombre de Joana Inquillay, mujer y conjunta persona de Domingo Lopez, pone demanda de divorcio contra su marido.


AAC, 21.2, LXXV, 2, 30, f.33, Liturgia. Auto, cabeza de proceso y comision contra una india nombrada Teresa Sisa, casada dos veces, en Urcos y Guanta causa promovida por el licenciado Dn. Diego Felipe de Albarca, Presbitero, 1698. The documentation ended after she was whipped. On bigamy see Boyer, “Women, La Mala Vida,” 258-59.


Ranajit Guha, “The Prose of Counter-Insurgency,” in Selected Subaltern Studies, ed. Ranajit Guha and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1988), 84.