For the Incas, whose empire at its height stretched from Ecuador to Chile, “Mayu,”
(the Milky Way) was a life-giving river in the heavens with its earthly counterpart –
the Urubamba River in the Sacred Valley, high up in the Andes Mountains (it is now in Peru). The Incas grouped constellations into two different types – luminous and dark. The first was made up of sparkling stars that depicted geometric forms in the sky. These luminous constellations were seen as inanimate. The other kind – the dark cloud constellations – were contained within the dark blotches of the Milky Way, and were considered living forms, representing animals the Incas knew. These dark patches represented the silhouettes of animals that came to drink from the waters of celestial river, obscuring the heavenly glow of Mayu.