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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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...

The Vanishing Bride

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
Viracocha is the great creator god in the pre-Inca and Inca mythology. He was one of the most important gods and seen as the creator of all things, or the substance from which all things are created. In the legend of the Vanishing Bride he appeared before the Inca Huayna Capac who was the eleventh Sapa Inca (ruler and governor of the Inca Kingdo...

A Messenger in Black

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
Inca Huayna Capac was the eleventh Sapa Inca (ruler and governor of the Inca Kingdom from 1493–1524). There are many theories about his death and the most common version is that he died from a fever likely resulting from the introduction of European disease like measles or smallpox. Legend has a different story for us, and surprisingly new ...

The Oracle at Huamachuco

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
The Inca Atahualpa mentioned in this legend was the last Inca Emperor. After defeating his brother, Atahualpa became briefly the last Sapa Inca (ruler and governor of the Inca Kingdom) before the Spanish conquest ended his reign. The Spaniard Francisco Pizarro captured Atahualpa in November 1532, used him to control the Inca Empire and later exc...

The Llama Herder and the Daughter of the Sun

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
Along the slopes of the snow-capped peak called Sahuasiray, high above the valley of the Yucay River, there lived a native Indian of the Lare tribe, called Acoynapa, a handsome and most charming young man who tended the white llamas used by the Incas as sacrificial offerings to the Sun. As he followed his grazing herd, he would play softly and s...

Utca Paucar

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
These things happened a long time ago, how long no one knows. Some say the story goes back to the days of the Inca empire. Others believe it is even older. On the slopes of a great mountain stood the palace of an aged lord called Ahuapanti, ruler of a vast domain. Above the palace rose a mountain, crowned with snow; below ran the swift waters of...

Huatya Curi and the Five Condors

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
A long time ago, at the jagged top of the world where the snow lives, there was a poor young man named Huatya Curi. His name meant Potato Eater, for he lived off the vegetables he found in the mountain fields of the Yauyo villagers. His name also meant orphan, because love for him was a cold wind, not a gentle touch.

The Macaw Woman

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
There came a time long ago when the earth was covered with water. As the water rose, it drowned the people, all but two brothers, who fled to the mountain called Huacayñán. Still the water kept rising. It threatened to cover the mountain.

The Serpents of the Jauja Valley

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
There was once a time when the Valley of Jauja, where the Mantaro River now flows, was covered by the waters of an enormous lake. In the middle of this lake there lived a serpent.

The Condor Seeks a Wife

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
A condor fell in love with a young woman tending her flock of sheep. He changed himself into a handsome young man and came and stood beside her where her flock was grazing.
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