Cobo Bernab 15821657

Our knowledge of the Inca empire as it was shortly after the time of first contact with the Europeans owes a great deal to ethnohistoric evidence, the first-hand accounts of a number of chroniclers in the first two or three generations following the conquest. Some of these were early settlers— priests, administrators, soldiers, and the like—and others were natives or of mixed blood.

Bernabé Cobo was a Spanish-born Jesuit priest and missionary who settled in Peru in 1599. He spent thirty years on various postings in South America, mostly in southern Peru and northern Bolivia, before moving to Mexico in 1630. During this time he observed and meticulously recorded a wealth of information about animals, plants, and people and their customs. In 1650 he returned to spend the last few years of his life in Peru.

Cobo is best known for his multivolume work History of the New World, eventually completed in 1653. Although it appeared over a century after the Spanish conqueror Pizarro first entered Cusco in 1533 and included a good deal of secondary material taken from earlier chronicles, some now lost, it provides one of the most detailed and wide-ranging accounts of practices and beliefs in the Inca world and is generally considered one of the most reliable. But for Cobo, we would know little if anything of the elaborate system of ceque lines that surround the Inca capital of Cusco, conceptual lines that defined and controlled social divisions as well as sacred space.

See also:

Ceque System; Cusco Sun Pillars; Island of the Sun.

References and further reading

D'Altroy, Terence. The Incas. Oxford: Blackwell, 2002.

Hamilton, Roland, ed. and trans. History of the Inca Empire [a translation of books 11 and 12 of Cobo's Historia del Nuevo Mundo, 1653]. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1979.

-. Inca Religion and Customs [a translation of books 13 and 14 of

Cobo's Historia del Nuevo Mundo, 1653]. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990.

Urton, Gary. Inca Myths, 28-32. Austin: University of Texas Press, and London: British Museum Press, 1999.

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