Friday, May 28, 2010

UK Flag Institute Spring Meeting 2010: Part VIII

The Flag of the Incas, by Gustav Tracchia first Vice President of NAVA was the eighth presentation. This talk centered on the genesis of the rainbow flags of South America and their associated connection with Native Culture.

Like a splendid story teller Gus started the presentation with a background history of the Inca Empire. First he made a distinction in the common misuse of the word Inca. Inca is not the real name of the Empire, Inca actually refers to the title for the leader of the people.

Imagine if in 4000 years a technologically advanced civilization lands in the United States and people from the future refer to the USA as the President of Democracy. It would sound a little funny to us now. A teacher would say, "Less than 60 years after the Present of Democracy built the first airplane the Presidents broke the sound barrier."

Rainbow Flag of Cuzco
A more accurate name is Tawantinsuyu which can be translated as the Four United States or Four United Provinces (F.U.S. or F.U.P.). Anyways this Empire of Four States was united literally by string, called keepu. They didn't have a written language but an amazing system of string knots to keep track of social business.

Essentially the rainbow flag is based upon foggy memories of Spanish record keepers. Much of Inca civilization was condemned and oppressed when the Spanish Conquistadors arrived. It was only after wards that a primitive anthropological survey of the Native Culture was done by Spanish Priests. In this process in an interview with a Native South American it was recorded that the 'Celestial Arch' was an important symbol for the Inca (Tawantisuyu).

Wiphala Flag of Bolivia
Since the Tawantisuyu Empire once stood in Peru and Bolivia they have used a priest's testimonial as the source and inspiration for several rainbow flags. However there apparently was no drawing or further description of this assumed rainbow flag or vexilloid. In Bolivia a flag called the Wiphala has become a symbol of the nation. Also in the nation of Peru, the city Cuzco uses a rainbow flag.

You Can Visit NAVA Here (North American Vexillological Association)

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