The representation of the Chakana is an archeological legacy, lithic with a cross staired shape. It can be found in uncountable places in South America, and it is thought to be more than 4000 years old. Its presence is constant in sacred enclosures and ritual objects. It is known as the Sacred Andin Cross, and it is the Andin emblem by excellence.

The etymology of the word Chakana comes from the union of the quechuan words “chaka” (bridge, union) and “hanan” (high, above, big) meaning in this way a mean of union between the human world and Hanan Pacha (what is it above or what it is big).

This cross has a square shape, and it has twelve staggered tips. Its form originated in a geometric development that takes as the beginning point a unitarian square that when growing by the diagonals conforms to a system.

It is an iconography of mysterious and natural encodings in which the center is a circle that expresses the central emptiness that God represents. It is the circularity of time that elapses and finishes to take another step to a new cycle.

The Chakana has a sideral correspondence with the South Cross constellation whose ancestral name was Jacha Qhana (big light); it is formed by four very bright stars: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta. Being a reference and guide in the pre-Inca cosmovision and later inherited by the Incas as a cosmic sorting principle, indicating the four seasons of the year and the times of sowing and harvest.

In the indigenous cosmovision, everything is in movement. The historical progression manifests itself in degrees and circles and extends to the individual and social context, with falls and rises, all of them characterized in the Chakana and in the majesty of the surrounding landscape.

The sides of the cross, with three steps each, represent the four worlds of the Andin cosmovision:

  • Hawa Pacha: the invisible universe that occupies different space and time, in the great ocean of the cosmos where times and systems vibrate but are not seen.
  • Hanan Pacha: the visible sky inhabited by Ti, the Sun; Mama Killa, the Moon; the constellations and stars.
  • Kay Pacha: the surface of the Earth and the sea, a region inhabited by men and living and inanimate beings, visible and invisible that are in a permanent process of transformation.
  • Ukhu Pacha: that world that occupies the interior of the planet, is the great matrix of nature, the nourishing source, but also the place where living beings end after their brief passage through the Earth. It is also inhabited by evil energies and also by the administrators of Chaos.

These four worlds are represented by four animals that dwell in these regions:

  • The Hummingbird: winged companion of Viracocha, a golden hummingbird whose food is the nectar of flowers, representing subtle virtues.
  • The Condor: the messenger of the gods and spirits.
  • The Puma: wisdom, strength, intelligence, and power.
  • The serpent: the world of the dead, the underworld.

Together, they make up the four worlds of the Incas: the world outside, the world above, the world here, and the world below.

The Chacana is a divine model that involves different levels of complexity; thus we also observe the four elements of nature linked to the cardinal points: 

  • Water – Unumama: located in the southern part, it represents the origin, from the subtle to the dense.
  • The Earth – Jallpa mama: located in the West, it is the support of the physical body.
  • The Air – Wayra: in the North zone, it connects us with the great mind, the breath as the key that allows the purification of our energies.
  • The Fire – Nina: to the East, it is the representation of the God Inti, the Sun, the fire in each one of us.

Likewise, the “Inca Trail” or “Qhapaq Ñan”, the central axis of the road system of the Inca Empire, is considered a reflection of the geometry of the Celestial Chakana, marking a line that crosses several cities of the empire, such as Cajamarca, Cuzco, Tiahuanaco, Oruro, and Potosi. It is the “Path of Viracocha” or “Path of the Righteous” as it is also known, through which initiation pilgrimages were made, promoting the discovery and inner development; undoubtedly, a path of self-knowledge and self-liberation.

Thus, we can find the Chakana in various works of architecture, petroglyphs, textiles, ceramics, sculptures, etc. in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, and Chile, all of them part of what was the great Inca Empire.

XXV International Congress of Gnostic Anthropology



1st to 7th August 2023

Montevideo Uruguay