By the 17th century, Catholic priests (some of whom were born in Peru) preached and wrote sermons in both Spanish and Quechua, one of the main indigenous languages in the Viceroyalty of Perú. The text excerpted here was originally written in Spanish and then translated into Quechua. Published with other sermons, it was sent throughout the Andes along with instructions to priests involved in campaigns to stamp out "idolatry" and they would have read it to Quechua–speaking audiences. Such published transmission of sermons was common at the time. Fernando de Avedaño, the priest who wrote this text in Lima, seems to have chosen a plain and direct style of Quechua which would be clearly comprehensible to common people. In this and other sermons, he argues forcefully that Inka teaching, particularly that of the ancestors, was incorrect. In his time, Avedaño gained considerable fame in Peru, largely because of his zealous pursuit of idolatry.
Visual Culture
In this sermon, the priest Fernando de Avedaño discredits Inka ideas about the origin of the earth, arguing that while Christians have books, giving them access to the word of God as well as the truth about the origin of all mankind, the Inka lack them. In the Quechua version of the speech, Avedaño mentions the khipu–reader, the indigenous interpreter of sophisticated knotted cord records used by the Inka and other Andeans. Whatever the histories registered by these cords and interpreters, in Avedaño’s eyes they are insufficient. Rather, the priest denies Inka origin narratives and instead links Andeans into the chain of Christian origins: all people––be they indigenous Andeans, Chinese or Japanese, black or white—descend from Adam and Eve. In this statement, the priest describes a world in which ethnic and racial difference would have been marked by language and skin color, yet, he insists, Adam and Eve are humanity’s only true ancestors.

Library > 16th Century    > 17th Century    > 18th Century