One of the most important aspects of the Inca daily life was the ayllu. The ayllu was a group of families that worked a portion of land together. They shared most of their belongings with each other just like a larger family. Everyone in the Inca Empire was a member of an ayllu. Once a person was born into an ayllu, they remained part of that ayllu their entire life.
Daily Life of a Peasant
The daily life of a peasant in the Inca Empire was full of hard work. The only time peasants were allowed not to work was during religious festivals. Other than that, they were expected to be working when they were not sleeping.
Most of the peasant men worked as farmers. They didn't own their own farms, but worked land owned by the government. They also had to pay taxes to the government.
The women worked hard at the home during the day. They cooked, made clothes, and took care of the children. Most girls were married by the time they were twelve years old.
Daily Life of a Noble
The Inca nobles lived a much easier lifestyle. They still had to work, but had important jobs in the government. They could own land and didn't have to pay taxes.
What type of clothes did they wear?
The men wore long sleeveless shirts or tunics. The women wore long dresses. Both men and women would wear capes or ponchos to keep them warm during the winter. The peasants and the nobles wore similar fashions. Of course the clothing of the rich was made from finer cloth and was more decorated.
A colorful Inca tunic (artists Unknown)
Hairstyles were an important part of Inca fashion. The type of hairstyle you wore told people your social status as well as what group, or ayllu, you were from.
In what kind of houses did they live?
Most of the people lived in adobe brick homes with thatched roofs. The homes were mostly single story with one room. There was typically very little furniture in the homes, just some baskets for storing things, thin mats to sleep on, and a stove.
What did they eat?
What people ate depended a lot on where they lived. Corn, squash, and beans were the main staples of their diet, but they ate other things as well including tomatoes, peppers, fish, and ducks.
In general, the people ate well and were taken care of. If someone couldn't work or was too old to work on the fields, the government took care of them and made sure they had enough food.
Did the kids go to school?
Only the wealthy children went to school. Peasant children began to work when they were still young and only learned the craft or skill that would be their job for the rest of their lives.
Children were not watched over like they are in most societies today. They were left alone throughout the day. Parents didn't hug or coddle their children. The mother would feed and clean the child, and then leave it to itself.
Interesting Facts about the Daily Life of an Inca Commoner
Many men carried a small bag around with them, almost like a purse. In this bag they kept coca leaves for chewing as well as good luck charms.
Starting at the age of 14, men of the nobility wore large gold earplugs. They would put in bigger and bigger plugs over time.
Many people had to pay their taxes through labor. They worked for the government as soldiers, builders, or farmers in order to pay their taxes.
The government had inspectors that would keep an eye on the commoners. They even checked to see if the people were keeping their house clean and tidy.
Most commoners were not allowed to travel within the empire. Only the rich and government officials were allowed to travel.