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.
The Tiahuanaco civilization was a pre-Inca culture that based its economy on agriculture, livestock, and architecture. They settled in the area between western Bolivia, southwestern Peru, northern Argentina and northern Chile.
The First People
In the beginning, there was only the darkness. Then Viracocha came forth from Lake Titicaca and formed the earth and the skies. He then made animals and a group of giant people.
These giant people did not please Viracocha. They were thoughtless and unkind. The ways of the giant people angered the god so much that he destroyed them all. He also destroyed all the animals and every other living thing. Viracocha continued to create parts of the world, though. His power was dominant.
Viracocha created everything with just a wave of his hand and a word. He created day by making the sun rise from an island in Lake Titicaca. He created the moon and stars. He set each form of light on its own path. He created streams and rivers. He made and moved mountains and valleys. Viracocha made animals to replace the ones he had destroyed. He first made birds to fly in the sky and fill the air with song. He gave a different song to each type of bird. He sent some birds to live in the mountains and some to live in the valleys. Then Viracocha created the animals that walked on four legs and those that crawled on their bellies. As he had with the birds, he sent the animals to live in the mountains and in the valleys.
Viracocha Makes People Once More
After creating the animals, Viracocha began once more to make people. He used stone to form men, women, and children. Then he painted them as he wanted them to look. Some of the stone women were pregnant. Other stone women were already caring for young children in cradles. He painted on the clothing that each person would wear. Viracocha fashioned the people as they would be in life. Then he created a stone village in Tiahuanaco for some of the stone people to live in.
Viracocha divided the stone people into groups. He gave each group its own foods, its own language, and its own songs. Then he directed all the stone people to sink underground. He ordered them to stay underground until he or one of his helpers called them.
Then Viracocha gathered his helpers, who had risen with him from Lake Titicaca. He said to them, “Some of you walk south, some walk west, and the others walk toward the morning sun. Divide the lands among yourselves. After you arrive in your own land, call forth the stone people from under the ground.”
The helpers did as Viracocha directed. One by one, the groups of stone figures came up from the ground. Viracocha walked north toward the future city of Cuzco. As he walked, he gave life to each group of people, as did his helpers. Viracocha said to them: “I command human beings to come out of these stone figures. Live on this land! Live here, and have your children.”
Viracocha and his helpers showed the people how to live on earth. They told these new people the names of trees and other plants. They taught the people which plants were good for eating. They taught them which plants were good for healing and which plants would cause sickness and death. Viracocha gave instructions for the people to be kind, to respect one another, and to live in peace.
The End of the Journey
After he had made the stone people come to life, Viracocha continued walking and teaching. Once he came to a group of people who carried rocks. They did not recognize Viracocha, and they threw the rocks at him. This made Viracocha angry, but he did not destroy them. He made fire fall from the sky onto the people. At once, the people put down their rocks and dropped to the ground at Viracocha’s feet. Viracocha then put out the fire and explained to the people that he was their creator.
When they heard this, the people built a colossal stone statue of Viracocha. With this statue, the people thanked the god who had made them. They set the statue at the spot where Viracocha had caused the fire to fall. They offered gold and silver to honor the god. Ever since that time, people have continued to place gold and silver at that sacred place in honor of Viracocha.
At last, Viracocha was at the end of his journey in the world. Since his work on earth was completed, he went back to the water. His helpers joined him, and they walked out into the ocean. The people watched in wonder. Viracocha and his helpers walked upon the sea as though it were land!
Viracocha and his helpers kept walking on the sea toward the setting sun. It was the last time the people ever saw Viracocha. The people said the creator was named Viracocha because Viracocha meant “foam of the sea.”