The Intiwatana: The Ushnu of the Sun


When travelers reach the ushnu solar or intiwatana, they tend to use their hands like wings – showing a collective yearning to capture the cosmic energy that is entangled in the stone. They have heard that in this place where the sun permeates with its rays of energy when the sky is totally clear that touching the stone can transfer energy to the soul.

Starting in about 1920-1925, intellectuals, archaeologists, photographers and their families began visiting this place, or making pilgrimages to where the sun is ‘tied’. It was given the name “Intiwatana” or “Intihuanta”. These solar clocks were possibility called that the by the inhabitants of this place – they had that used figurative name in their own Quechua.


Pedro Pizarro mentions the ushnu that is in the main square of Cusco. The one in Machu Picchu would have also had a sacredness. The ushnu has a flat surface where the priests inkas often placed a package or bolus of ‘gold of the sun’.

Betanzos explained that the stone of the ushnu that was in the Hurinaukaypata or Qosqo’s (Cusco) Main Square was the make like a sugar loaf pointed up and lined with a strip of gold. Thus, the one that is in Machu Pichu would have been richly ornamented.

In the rainy season, the ornamentation may have had to be covered. The layer of gold, added as an afterthought, to which other layers interwoven were, possibly impervious to wet.

The beautiful platform stands out among the buildings of the sanctuary as a planned series of stairways and walls. From a hundred years ago it was called Intiwatana, or where the ‘sun is tied.’ Americo Yabar says ‘their Intiwaytana ‘planted’ the rays of the sun- keeping it in it’s place in the univers.

The ‘sun planting’ flourishes- its rays form the needle that emerge from the rock. In the Sanctuary the Inca architects used techniques adapted to the conditions of the terrain, taking advantage of its rocky outcrops. The great Wanka that was on this site would have seemed ideal for ushnu as received to its fullness the rays from the sun. The quarrymen were said to have possessed a mystical fire that did burn their hands and that was going to be the throne of the sun.

The way to deal with the sun has not changed. Manutupa Markusa of Ampay – Calca ensures that the sun is a young good guy that never grows old. Taitanchis Wayra Qhapaq lord almighty was sent to give light to the world that without it, it will be all dark and lifeless . His golden hair shine so much that it is impossible to look him in the face.

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