Daily Life of the Common People in the Inca Empire Illustration

Inca Empire for Kids
Daily Life of
the Common People

The common people had no freedom. By Inca law, they could not travel on the roads. By law, they could not be idle. They had a little time each day for bathing and eating and sleeping, and the rest of the time, they had to be working, unless they were attending a religious festival.

Units: The common people lived and worked in small groups or units. There were a dozen or so people in each unit. Each person in each unit had a job to do. If you did not do your work, you were breaking the law, and could be killed.

Farmers: Most commoners, as usual, were farmers. The emperor controlled all the land and each group worked a plot of land given to them by a government official. That official let them keep food to feed themselves. The rest was given to the nobles and the emperor.

Food: 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. Dinner was typically thrown together quickly in the morning, and left to cook all day in the sun while the family was working.

Service Tax: There was a tax on the food the common people kept. The Incas did not use money. This "tax" was paid in labor. When the farmers were not farming, they were mining, or fixing the roads (the only time they could walk on the roads), or building something.

Marriage: Everyone was required to marry. Inca boys became men at age 14 or so, and could then marry. Although the Inca royals had many wives, commoners could only have one wife. There were many laws that kept commoners tightly controlled. For example, if a man did not marry by the time he was twenty, a wife would be selected for him, and he had to marry her.

Babies: 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 day, alone.

Children, including 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 Inca children died young from neglect.

Homes: The common people, except for craftsmen, did not live in the city. Each unit lived together in a hut in their field. Homes had no windows and no way to leave except by the front door. The door was covered only by a piece of leather or woven cloth. Inspectors checked to make sure all people were in their homes only when they should be. Common homes were made of sun-baked brick with thatched roofs. 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.

Huts, Houses, Palaces & the Ayllu




Hair Styles

Courtship & Weddings

Kids and School

Religion & Gods

Daily Life in the Inca Empire

Incas for Kids