Work Groups: The common people were organized into groups.
Each group was like
a family unit. There were 10-20 people in each unit. Each unit was
called an ayllu. Within each ayllu, each person had a specific job to
Common people had
no freedom. They
could not own or run a business. They could not own luxury goods. The
only items common people could have in their homes were things they
needed to do their job. They
could not travel on the roads.
Still, life was not
all work. A small amount of
time was allotted for bathing and eating. They had lots of religious holidays. But they could not be
idle. That was the law. Either they were celebrating a state approved
holiday, working in the fields, or sleeping.
There were many
laws that kept a family (an ayllu) in its place.
dictated who should work, when, where, and at what time. Inspectors
stopped by frequently to check on things. Breaking a law usually meant
the death penalty. Very few people broke the law.
Most commoners were
emperor owned all the land. He controlled the use of the land through
administrators. Administrators divided the land into plots large
enough for a family to manage. Each ayllu planted enough food to feed
themselves and others. Family groups helped each other when they
Each fall, the administrators gave a family unit a little more
or a little less land to farm based on how many people they had in
their family unit. Farmers could only keep about one-third of their
harvest. The rest went to support other people.
Farmers had to pay taxes on the land they
worked. The Incas loved gold and silver. But they had no use
for money. Tax was paid in labor - in billions of man-hours. That is
how the Incas were able to build so much so rapidly.
The Incan people were very smart. The
children of the common people were not generally educated. When they
were old enough, each child would be assigned a job to do. That was
their job for life. The only training they received would be related to
People did not go hungry. The common people
ate two or three meals a day. Their breakfast was typically a food
called chicha, which was a kind of thick beer made from fermented corn.
Their main meal was eaten at night. It was hearty. They ate corn with
chili peppers seasoned with herbs, thick vegetable soups, and hot bread
made from cornmeal and water.
Everyone was required to marry. If an Incan man had not married by
the time he was twenty, a wife would be chosen for him. Although the
Inca royals had many wives, commoners could only have one wife.
When a baby was born, his or her arms were
tightly bound to their body for three months. The Incas believed this
binding made the baby stronger. Babies were rarely held. The Incas
believed that if you held a baby, it would cry more. Crying exhausted
the family. That interfered with farming. So, babies were not held. They
were touched only to clean or feed them. They were left in cradles all
babies, were left alone most of the day:
Children were fed three times a day, but they
also were not hugged. Again, they were only touched to clean or feed
them. Many Incan children died young from neglect.
Common homes were made of sun-baked brick
with thatched roofs. There were no doors and no windows. The doorway was
covered with a strip of hanging leather or woven cloth. Goods were
stored in baskets. On cold nights, people slept on mats, near the stone
stove. In the morning, the family left to work the fields.
and Social Life
Clothing, and Shelter