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 Boy Who Rose to the Sky

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
There once lived a man and a woman who had an only son. The man grew wonderful potatoes in a plot far from the house. They were luxuriant, and he alone had the seed to grow them. But at night thieves would come and tear up the plants and steal the potatoes.

The Moth

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
A man and a woman lived happily together with their only child, a little boy. But the man went off on a journey, leaving his wife in tears, and while he was away, she spent the nights sleeplessly spinning.

Why the Fox Has a Huge Mouth

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
One day many years ago, at a time when his mouth was still small and delicate, as in fact it used to be, the fox was out walking and happened to notice a Huaychao (native Peruvian bird) singing on a hilltop.

The Dancing Fox

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
Foxes love to dance. They dance in the dark with young women who slip quietly from their beds and come running out into the night. But the fox who dances must wear a disguise.

The Mouse Husband

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
A mouse fell in love with a pretty young woman and changed himself into a slender young man, long-faced, however, and with tiny, bright eyes. He spoke with a thin, whistling voice, and his manners were excellent.

The Grateful Dove

Peruvian Legends, Myths & Tales
Once there were two bad boys who liked to torture animals. They hated to work in the vegetable patch, and they did not care to do chores for their old parents. They wanted to do no work at all. One day they ran away from home, bringing along their little brother, whom they had tricked with false promises.
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