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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Place of Rainbows

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
Between the ranges of the towering Cordilleras, which gleam as blindingly as though the Children of the Sun had covered them with gold leaf - just as they covered the tip of that grim red Rock at Titicaca where the Sun once hid - the plateau is very wide and high, the air so rarefied that it seems scarcely breathable. Lake Titicaca ripples on an...

The Burnt Skeleton in the Convent

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
Many years ago, a Peruvian family, with wealth inherited from its conquistador ancestors, founded the church of Nuestra Senora de los Dolores. They decided it that one woman of the family should always take the veil and devote her life to serving as the abbess of the convent.

The Jeweled Frog and the Condor

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
By a quiet pond, at the side of a cloud-topped mountain in Peru, lived a small green frog and his large green family. When the early evenings darkened the sky, the frogs would gather on the slippery banks by the water and listen to family legends and to stories of the land that lay beyond their tranquil home. The little frog was the youngest of ...

The Pied Piper of Peru

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
My name is Juana. For many years I lived with a colony of mice in a priory in Lima, Peru. We had a good life with the friars who lived there and found plenty of food in the kitchen and pantry. We had snug little homes in nearby nooks and crannies.

The Fox and the Gulls

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
Once upon a time a gull laid her eggs on the shore of Lake Titicaca in Peru. There were three eggs altogether and the whole day long the mother gull sat on them to keep them warm, only leaving the nest occasionally to catch herself a fish from the lake.

The Crying Llama

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
The world almost ended long time ago. The seas rose, and the people of the earth were lost forever in the swirling waters - not all the people, fortunately, one man was saved. This is how it happened…

The Legend of Viracocha

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
Viracocha the great creator god in the pre-Inca and Inca mythology was the one that created the universe, sun, moon, stars, time and civilization itself. He also created mankind by breathing into stones, but his first creation were brainless giants that displeased him. So, he destroyed them with a flood and made new, better ones from smaller sto...

The Rod of Gold

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
The legend of the Rod of Gold is a beautiful story about the origins and the foundation of the city of Cusco that became the historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th until the 16th-century before the Spanish conquest. The story also mentions Manco Capac, who was the first governor and founder of the Inca civilization in Cusco. He is as ...

Mayta Capac

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
Mayta Capac was the fourth Sapa Inca (ruler and governor of the Inca Kingdom). This legend gives us an insight about his youth and his fierce personality winning many battles fighting the enemies of the empire. He is known to have conquered territories as far as Lake Titicaca, Arequipa, and Potosí. In 1134 he put the regions of Arequipa and Moqu...

The Storm

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
Topa Inca Yupanqui or Túpac Inca Yupanqui was the tenth Sapa Inca (ruler and governor of the Inca Kingdom) from 1471–93. He was appointed by his father Pachacuti to head the Inca army in 1463 and extended the realm northward along the Andes through modern Ecuador. This story in this legend shows how deeply the relationship was towards their gods...
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