The Sapa Inca Illustration

Inca Empire for Kids
The Sapa Inca

Very Short Story by Lin Donn: The Visit of the Sapa Incaís Son

Everyone in the palace is excited. The old rulerís son is coming to dinner. The old rulerís son is now emperor. Yet, he still makes time to visit his father. His son is good to him. The old king lives in splendor. His clothes are made of the finest materials. His subjects still revere him as a god.  

The palace is being readied for a royal visit. Servants come and go, checking on details. The old rulerís family pops in and out, seeking advice. Two aides are speaking with the old ruler. The temple at his summer home needs repair. One aid asks a question. The other answers it. The old ruler does not say a word, but you can tell that he is pleased. Itís good to know that although the old ruler has been dead for twenty-five years, his aids still know what he wants done. His servants still follow his every wish. His family still asks his advice on everything. And his son who is also dead Ė has it been five years already? Ė how time flies Ė the old rulerís son is coming to dinner.


  1. Who is coming to dinner?

  2. Why wonít the old ruler speak to his aids?

  3. Do people today seek advice and guidance from the dead?

The Sapa Inca:
In the Inca Empire, after his death, a Sapa Inca's 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, ate wonderful foods, and visited with friends, like always.

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

The Sapa Inca was not just a ruler. He was believed to be a direct descendant of the sun god. That made him a god.

The living Sapa Inca was all powerful. He owned everything. He ruled everything. He was the head of government. He made the laws. His word was final.

A Sapa Inca had many wives and many children. It was the job of his many wives to pick up anything he might have dropped, including a hair from his head. Everything about the Sapa Inca was sacred and had to be guarded and handled with care.

Only the Sapa Inca could wear a special hat made of gold and feathers. A fringe on the Sapa Inca's hat was a symbol of his office. It was not a solid piece of gold. It was an actual fringe. Only the Sapa Inca could wear a fringe. He wore heavy gold jewelry and extremely heavy gold earplugs. His clothes were embroidered and covered with jewels. His slippers were made of fur or the finest cloth.

The Sapa Inca only wore an outfit once. Once his clothes were removed, they were burned. The Sapa Inca kept many weavers busy making him a new outfit every day.

Each time the Sapa Inca left his palace, his face was covered with a translucent cloth. He was too important to be seen by just anybody. Everywhere the Sapa Inca went, so went an entire parade of hundreds of servants and assistants and nobles.

Some Sapa Incas had as many as 100 children. Before a Sapa Inca died, he chose the next Sapa Inca from his sons. The oldest son did not automatically get chosen. Each son had to prove themselves most worthy. Only the Sapa Inca could decide who was the most worthy.

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