In the coming weeks, I will be releasing my next myths and legend video on YouTube called The Sky Maiden. The short video features a reading of an Inkan poem written by Garcilaso de la Vega in the 17th century. H.V.Livermore translated the poem into English and it was published in 1966 by the University of Texas Press (https://utpress.utexas.edu/books/garcilaso-royal-commentaries-of-the-incas-and-general-history-of-peru-part-two). I give thanks to the Press for granting me permission to work with this text.
In my last post (https://ancientexplorer.com.au/mama-quilla/), I shared that one of the main characters of this short video is Mama Quilla, the Inkan moon goddess. The other main character is the Sky Maiden. In the story, she is busy performing important tasks in the sky, including pouring aqa, a drink made from maize prized by the Inka. In the Inkan world, the sky was called Hanaq Pacha. Meanwhile, our world was called Kay Pacha.
Creating the Sky Maiden
When creating this maiden, I once again drew inspiration from the ethnohistorical documents and also the archaeological record. I especially examined one archaeological example: a 13-year old girl, who was buried in an Inkan platform on top of the stratovolcano, Llullaillaco, located on the border of Chile and Argentina in South America. Researchers have named this girl ‘the Llullaillaco maiden.’ In 1999, Johan Reinhard, Constanza Ceruti and their team of archaeologists excavated the girl and two other children, also buried alive in the same platform. (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2007/09/news-inca-argentina-la-doncella-sacrifice-archaeology/)
At the time of her burial, the Llullaillaco maiden was dressed in full Inkan ceremonial attire. She was wearing a beautifully made pilkokaya, a feathered headdress made of white bird feathers. Meanwhile she wore a shawl called an lliqlla, which was fastened with tupu or pins. Beneath the shawl, the maiden wore a dress, called aksu, and a belt (chumpi) around her waist (Reinhard and Ceruti 2010: 144–147). Alongside of her, the archaeological crew found objects, including a large ceramic vessel used to store liquid and plates (Reinhard and Ceruti 2010: 128). The Inka dedicated young children to important shrines. They believed that after death, the children would continue to serve their deities, such as the Sun or Inti, and also their ancestors. You can read more about this fascinating archaeological story in Johan Reinhard and Constanza Ceruti’s book, Inca Rituals and Sacred Mountains: A Study of the World’s Highest Archaeological Sites, published by the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, California.
In my myths and legends video, the Sky Maiden is wearing the ceremonial headdress known as the pilkokaya. She is dressed in similar attire as the real-life Inkan maiden. You will be able to learn more about Inkan maidens in my resource, which will compliment the video.
I can’t wait to share the short film with you. Stay tuned for our announcement of its release. Make sure you are following us on Instagram or Facebook.
Castro, J. Final Moments of Incan Child Mummies’ Lives Revealed, July 29, 2013
Reinhard, J. and C. Ceruti 2010. Inca Rituals and Sacred Mountains: A Study of the World’s Highest Archaeological Sites. UCLA (
Andrew S. Wilson, Emma L. Brown, Chiara Villa, Niels Lynnerup, Andrew Healey, Maria Constanza Ceruti, Johan Reinhard, Carlos H. Previgliano, Facundo Arias Araoz, Josefina Gonzalez Diez, and Timothy Taylor, Archaeological, radiological, and biological evidence offer insight into Inca child sacrifice, August 13, 2013 110 (33) 13322-13327 https://www.pnas.org/content/110/33/13322