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Chacana Chakana Symbology

by Kathy Doore

The chakana (cruz cuadrada, chacana, or square cross), personifies the Southern Cross (Crux) constellation believed by the ancient Andeans to be the center of the Universe clearly discernable in the Andean night sky, one of the most important constellations in the Incan pantheon. The Crux is comprised of four main stars, each corresponding to the cardinal points of the compass and one of the most distinct constellations viewed from the Southern Hemisphere. The equal armed Chakana is often seen at important geomantic sites and sacred centers which formulate the mythical foundations of the ancient heavens.



Each step within the cross chakana represents a realm of the universe. The equal armed cross denotes the upper, middle, and lower worlds of Andean cosmology indicating the cardinal points of the compass, and a superimposed square. The square represents the other two levels of existence. The three levels of existence are Hana Pacha (the upper world inhabited by the Andean gods), Kay Pacha, (the world of our everyday existence) and Ucu or Uqhu Pacha (the underworld or otherworld inhabited by spirits of the dead, the ancestors, and those having close contact to the Earth plane). The hole through the centre of the cross is the Axis by means of which the shaman transits the cosmic vault to the other realms. It is also metaphorically the bridge of Heaven, uniting Heaven and Earth.


Geomantic Elements of the Landscape



Photos show chacana's denoting the sacred elements of the landscape. Below, a chakana surrounds the doorway of a sacred cave (chincana), entrance to the labyrinthine underground tunnel system at Sacsayhuaman Temple Complex, Cusco, Peru.









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