What gods did the Chachapoya worship? We know very little about
local religion, in part because the Incas exiled so many Chachapoya
to other parts of the empire, leaving few native Chachapoya to preserve
their beliefs, and in part because the Incas imposed their solar
cult on the conquered province: “After they were subdued…[the
Chachapoya] assumed [Inca] laws and customs, by which they lived,
and worshipped the sun and other gods,” wrote Cieza de León.
What has trickled down to us in the chronicles is a mix of Inca
religion, local wakas (sacred places or objects), pacariscas (places
of origin), and ancestor worship, judging by the abundance of above-ground
burial structures that afforded descendants easy access to the mummies
placed in the tombs.
From left to right: Detail
of a painted textile; A Chachapoya huaca, or sacred site, at Tambo
las Lagunas between Cochabamba and Tajopampa; Detail of a pyro-engraved
gourd (Adriana von Hagen)