Quichuas, the dominant people in the empire of Peru under the incas, who made their language the general one of their territory. The Quichuas extended from Lake Titicaca to Quito, and toward the coast to the territory of the Chinchas and Yuncas. The Aymaras, extending from Lake Titicaca to what is now the southern limit of Bolivia, were first reduced by the Quichuas under the incas. The Quichuas are gay, cheerful, energetic, and under the wise sway of the incas seem to have risen rapidly in many arts. They were assiduous cultivators of the soil; maize and other grains raised in Titicaca were sent to all parts of the empire as sacred presents, and the inca himself gave an example of the honor of agriculture. They wove and spun the wool of the llama, vicuńa, and alpaca; they worked mines of gold, silver, and copper; built suspension bridges; erected adobe houses with gables, niches, and arches, and temples of the same material or stone, cutting and fitting the blocks with an accuracy and finish that cannot be excelled; made sterile tracts productive by a wise and extended system of azequias and aqueducts, and also by excavating till moisture was reached.

In astronomy they had not reached as high a degree as the Mexicans; and in literature, though preserving records mainly by quipus or knotted cords, they cultivated poetry, and had dramas as well as touching songs that won the admiration of the Spaniards. The incas claimed to descend from the sun, and introduced the worship of that luminary. They reduced the Chancas and Huancas, apparently intrusive eastern tribes, and then attacked the Yuncas, the people of the coast, whose capital was at Chimu near Trujillo, and who worshipped Pa-chacamac, creator of the world, of whom there was a famous idol and temple at the place that still bears the name, the god Rimac, who had a famous oracle near Lima, and other deities. After a long and bloody war the inca Capac Yupanqui overthrew Chuqui Manca, king of Chimu, and reduced the Yuncas. They were compelled to accept the sun worship, but the inca allowed the temple of Pachacamac to stand, as its fame was spread through most of South America. There are remnants of the Yuncas still retaining their language at Moche, Eten, etc.; it is entirely different from the Quichua. The priests of the sun dressed in white, and practised celibacy and fasts; near each temple was also a convent of virgins of the sun.

The men wore woollen tunics and leggings, the women long skirts and short cloaks, joined by gold, silver, or copper clasps. The incas were distinguished by the llautu, a fillet with a ball descending between the eyes. After the Spanish conquest the Indians lost much of the arts they had gained, and retrograded generally. A desperate effort was made by the Quichuas in the last century to recover their freedom, but their leader, Tupac Amaru, a descendant of the incas, was taken and torn in pieces by horses in the plaza of Cuzco in 1780. - There is a series of grammars of the Quichua, beginning with that of Fray Domingo de San Tom as (Valla-dolid, 1560), and coming down to Markham, "Contributions toward a Grammar and Dictionary of Quichua" (London, 1864). Ollan-tay, a Quichua drama, and several songs of the haravecs or bards, have been published.