Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales

Long before people could read or write, they passed stories on by word of mouth. Every time they were told, they changed a little. From these ever-changing tales, myths and legends were born. Peru is no exception and many tales, myths and legends were composed in verse, which made them easier to remember.

Unfortunately, none have survived in the original form. But Spanish chroniclers who heard them during the first few decades after the Conquest and who wove them into European-style histories have left us reasonably trustworthy records.

Tales, myths and legends of old Peru are still related by the people of the country. Many have become traditions; others deal with political events; some tell of the adventures of the conquistadores and the Incas; others are just stories of love, and life, and death. All of them are fascinating, whether the person who hears them be of either a romantic or realistic turn of mind. Hoping a summary of a few of the tales of old Peru will help you absorb the atmosphere of this ancient country, our collection of tales, in condensed form, will be related in the present section.

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La Madre - The Mother

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
Pacha, (in allusion to “Pachamama” is a goddess revered by the indigenous peoples of the Andes. In Inca mythology she is the “Earth Mother”), worked day and night to feed her three little fatherless children. In her farm there were many kinds of potatoes, broad beans, quinoa, oca and sweet potato.

The incredible journey of the Shipibo

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
A long time ago, the Shipibo of the Ucayali River lived in Cumancava, a place surrounded by rain forests, enchanted animals, and exotic plants. The Shipibo had repopulated the land after a great flood. The god of water, dressed in his blanket of scales, saved a woman and a man from the waters by pointing out a magical tree that grew to the sky. ...

Ukuku - the son of the bear

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
Something or someone made a terrible noise in the bush. So long and deep was that noise that one of Paulita’s alpacas fled. Paulita had grown up high in the mountains, walking along the ravines, moving the stones on the road, and taking the alpacas along narrow paths on the edge of the abysses.

The Fox and the cunning Cuy (Guinea Pig)

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
Near the sea in the area of the Peruvian desert coast lay one of the most beautiful vegetable gardens. It is said that in the same place a long time ago there was a great kingdom of Mochica princes, famous for living in green valleys surrounded by endless expanses of sand and stone.

Martin de Porres – The Rose in the Desert

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
Ana Velázquez hurried out of the barrios of Lima and onto the plaza. She carried a quiet baby, wrapped closely so that no one could see him - but no one was looking. The enslaved boys sweeping the plaza saw only the dusty cobblestones. The Spanish royals sipping lemon ices saw only their ruby rings. And the priests standing on the cathedral step...

Hualachi and the Magic Sandals

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
Long ago, when men and women worshipped the sun for its warmth and life, there lived a mighty Inca Emperor. His name was Viracocha. Viracocha’s empire was large and rich.

Moon Rope

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
Along, long time ago, when animals could still talk, Fox and Mole were the best of friends. On full-moon nights, they both liked to sit outside in the moonlight. They would often stay up late into the night, telling stories and sharing dreams.

Chancay and the Secret of Fire

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
Many, many years ago, before the building of the great city of Chan Chan, or the hidden mountain temples; before the grand pyramids of the Sun and Moon, there lived a man called Chancay. 

Coniraya and Cavillaca

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
The spirit Coniraya was at times mischievous. He even pretended to be the mighty Viracocha, who the Incas believed was the force behind all creation. But in ancient times he wandered the world in the form of a very poor Indian clothed in rags, so that men reviled him and called him a wretch.

People from Stone

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
Long ago the people of ancient Peru believed that the god Viracocha created the world and its people. This is a story told by the Tiahuanacan. It tells about the beginning of the world. In the story, Viracocha creates people from stone, a common material in the mountainous country of Peru.
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