In the ancient Andes, the Moon was a venerated as a goddess and the Inka called her Mama Quilla. Mama Quilla will feature in my next short video, which I started work on this week. This video, called The Sky Maiden, will be included in our new Myth and Legends YouTube series.
The Sky Maiden will feature a reading of an Inkan poem, which was written down in the 17th century by Garcilaso de la Vega, a Spanish soldier and poet. Garcilaso was born in Cusco and was the son of an Inkan princess and Spanish noble and ambassador. In the latter years of his life, he wrote his famous chronicle called ‘The Royal Commentaries of the Inca’, which recount Inkan customs and fragments of Inkan history, stories and poetry. The version of the poem I will recite was translated from Spanish into English by H.V. Livermore and published by the University of Texas Press in 1966.
When sketching Mama Quilla, I have drawn inspiration from the ethnohistorical documents and also the archaeological evidence. As you will see in the video, the Moon goddess is adorned with a pilkokaya, a ceremonial headdress, which was worn by Inkan nobles during major ceremonies (see Betanzos 1996 , 47 [Pt.1, Chap. XI]; Cobo 1990, 187 [Bk. II, Chap. 2]). The pilkokaya is made of feathers, which are arranged in the shape of an arc (Reinhard and Ceruti 2010, 144–147; Reinhard 2012, 82, 87). In the video, as Mama Quilla rises in the sky, it seems as if she has a double-halo; her great light forms one, while the other second by the pilkokaya, which arches above her round head.
When drawing the pilkokaya, I studied the shape and form of a well-preserved archaeological example, which was excavated on the summit of Llullaillaco, a tall stratovolcano that sits on the border between Chile and Northwest Argentina. This white pilkokaya was worn by a maiden, who was buried in a platform on the mountain’s summit, along with two other children.
I hope to finish the video very soon and I can’t wait to share it with you! Until then, please be sure to download our free myth and legends bundle which children can use to study the myths we are showcasing in our series. Also, visit our channel, where you can view my reading of the Magic in the Rainforest, a Brazilian creation story, as retold by Naomi Alder in her book published by Barefoot Publishers.
Betanzos, J. de. 1996 . Narrative of the Incas. Translated and Edited by R.Hamilton and D. Buchanan. Austin, Texas: Texas.
Cobo, B. 1990 . Inca Religion and Customs. Translated and edited by R. Hamilton. Austin: University of Texas Press.