Vessel in the form of a digging stick

Peru, 15th-16th century

This rare ceremonial object is based on the chaquitaclla – the traditional Andean foot plough.

Each year, the Inca King as ruler of Tahuantinsuyu – or the Empire of the four Quarters – would be accompanied by provincial lords in the ‘opening of the earth’ ritual to signal the beginning of the agricultural cycle.

Wielding large foot ploughs, they would break the ground in unison accompanied by chanting, singing and drinking to mark chacra yapuy quilla, the festival of the first planting.

The paccha itself is hollow and has an opening at the top enabling chicha, which is a fermented maize beer, to be poured in at one end before escaping through a narrow hole at the tip to symbolically irrigate and inseminate the earth.



From their capital, Cuzco, in Peru, the Inca controlled a huge empire reaching over 2,400 miles along the length of the Andes mountains. The supreme head of state was the king, considered a living god ruling by divine right.

Incas world culture

Inca ushnus

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More information


Colin McEwan, Ancient American Art in Detail (London, The British Museum Press, 2009)


Inca colonial


Height: 42 cm


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This object features in A History of the World in 100 objects

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