Homes in the Inca Empire Illustration

Inca Empire for Kids
Homes & the Ayllu

THE COMMON PEOPLE: The common people, except for craftsmen, did not live in the city. The common people lived and worked in small groups or units. Each unit was called an ayllu (pronounced EYE-yoos.)

In an ayllu, all the people were related; they had a common ancestor. Each ayllu was made up of about 12 people. Their actual extended family might be greater than 12 people, but they were grouped by the government into a specific ayllu. Each ayllu was assigned a plot of land they were to farm together. Each group or ayllu lived together in a hut in their field.

Most huts were one room. Some were made of stone, some of reed, occasionally one had an upper story, but there were 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. Roofs were thatched and there were no chimneys.

There was no furniture. People sat and slept on mats or animal skins.

Huts were pretty miserable, really, and were used for sleep and if it was decided by the inspector in the village that the weather made it impossible to work productively. Inspectors checked to make sure all people were in their huts only when they should be. If someone was found at home when they should be working, they were killed.

THE CRAFTSMEN: Craftsmen were assigned homes in the city. They weren't wonderful homes, but they were certainly a step up or two from a farmer's hut. Most craftsmen had two story homes, some even had three story homes. They usually had a window or two. Food, clothing, other necessities, and raw materials for their craft was provided for the craftsmen and his family by the government and delivered from government warehouses as needed. This was their pay for the crafts they produced. Craftsmen were not taxed in any other way. They did not have to worry about anything except producing their craft, be it weapons, fabric, bricks, jewelry or other works of art. They were commoners, and they worked very hard, but the goods they produced were important to the nobility. So they were treated with more respect than were the farmers.

THE NOBLES: The nobles lived a life of luxury. They lived in the cities. Their homes were built around a central plaza. The plaza was surrounded by temples and government offices and homes for the priests as well as the nobles. The nobles decorated their doors with gold and silver and anything shiny. Homes had slanted roofs and funny doorways, to strengthen them. The Incas were wonderful builders.

There was no furniture in these or any other Inca homes. Instead, there were a series of niches arranged in the walls. These acted as seats.

THE ROYALS: The Sapa Inca lived in a palace. Wall were covered with gold. There were beautiful hangings and glittering art. Pottery was covered with gold and silver. Some of the palaces had stone baths. But there was no furniture.

After his death, his body was mummified and remained in his palace. His royal family and all his servants remained in the palace with him, to wait on him, should he need anything. They were not entombed. They lived their life, and went to the marketplace to gab and shop, and ate wonderful foods, like always.

A new palace was built for the new Sapa Inca and his family. Cities had several palaces, but only one palace housed a living Sapa Inca.




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Inca Families

Daily Life in the Inca Empire

The Incas for Kids