Peruvian legends are characterized by a mystical and religious content whose main characters are the elements of nature. Taking as their setting lagoons, forests, jungles, beaches, rivers, hills and mountains, Peruvian legends explore natural and supernatural phenomena, as well as everyday experiences, religious events and historical accounts of the colonial era.
In the following article we will see several of the most popular Peruvian legends.
10 Peruvian legends
Legends and myths are part of the historical and cultural heritage of humanity . They tell us about the origins of towns, cities, women, men, animals and ecosystems. They speak of loves, secrets, enigmas and fantasies, in addition to explaining to us a multiplicity of religious and supernatural phenomena.
Precisely, the legends of Latin America have common themes such as enchanted forests, witches and ghost women, mystical and protective animals, among others. In this line, we will see below 10 typical legends of Peru.
1. The enchanted bull (Ayacucho)
In the province of Huanta, region of Ayacucho, there is a lagoon called Razuhuillca. It is the largest of three lakes and is located at the entrance to the town, on a hill that has been converted into a dam. Legend has it that in this lake there is a beautiful and corpulent black bull that an old woman with white hair has held with a gold chain. It is said that once the bull managed to defeat the old woman to come to the surface, but this resulted in the flooding of Huanta. The villagers had no choice but to put the bull back in chains and constantly watch that it does not escape again.
2. La Huega (Ica)
The city of Ica is home to this legend that tells of a beautiful woman with long blonde hair who always looked in the mirror. One day, a traveler walking in the area got lost. Suddenly he found himself among the hills and palm trees, where he found the beautiful woman. Guided by her beauty, he approached her to ask why she was alone in the forest. The woman was surprised and afraid, so she ran out, throwing her beloved mirror into the bushes. The villagers say that from this mirror the Huega lagoon has been formed .
3. The Enchanted Child (Lima)
Legend has it that one day, a 12-year-old boy lost his ration of meat and corn. Crying, he went to a pond, from which a young woman emerged and asked him why he was crying. The boy explained that he was hungry and she offered him food. He took her hand and led her to the depths of the pond, from where they never emerged. After looking for him for several days, the parents found the boy and the young woman in a cave in Huayanqui .
To remove the spell from the boy, the father wrapped him in a wool scarf and, after asking him how he got there, the boy explained that he had walked with the young woman across the lake to the cave in search of food.
4. The Mysterious Lagoon (Lima)
Near the city of Cañete there is a river that has a part shaped like a lagoon, which they call “the mysterious lagoon”. They say that this lagoon has the divine blessing, since every time the river grows and increases its volume of water, the lagoon is the only part that remains in its original course, surrounded by beautiful trees and flowers. It is said that every year, during the San Juan festivities, a beautiful leg appears in the lagoon followed by small ducklings, which represents a good omen.
5. The Stone Toad (Pasco)
Legend has it that many years ago an old woman dressed in black lived near the Pasco hill. Every harvest, the old woman had the biggest potatoes, which aroused the envy and curiosity of the neighbors. One night, while the old woman was sleeping, a huge toad that had snuck into her harvest, killed all her potatoes. Waking up from the toad scandal, the angry old woman cast a spell so strong that it blew up roofs and tree roots .
The toad flew through the air until it was caught by a gigantic rock, where it remains to this day, converted into stone. In addition to ending the life of the potato-stealing toad, the neighbours confirmed the suspicion that the old woman was in fact a powerful sorceress.
6. The hill of the old woman and the old man (Lambayeque)
In the center of the road from Lambayeque to Motupe there is a big hill. It is said that a couple of old men lived there, to whom Jesus Christ was introduced one day. He was thirsty and asked them for water, but the elders refused to offer it. As a punishment, Jesus Christ turned them into a couple of hills, and they say that every time a stone falls, it is a sign of their mourning .
7. The stone that cures the evil of love (Ancash)
This is the story of one of the many recipes for soothing wounded hearts. Many years ago, there was a jealous father who decided to poison his beautiful daughter’s suitor, considering him unlovely. He soon realized the enormous sadness he had caused his beloved daughter, who had taken refuge in the Cotacocha Lagoon indefinitely.
So, repenting, the father went to the hills of Quito, Educador, to pick up an enchanted and healing stone that had fallen from the heavens. He took it to the Cotacocha lagoon to heal his daughter’s sorrows. He prepared the stone in a mate, and by drinking it, the daughter was healed and forgave her father. They say that the stone is still there , and that it has been wasted for every evil of love it heals.
8. The Lord of Chacos (Huánuco)
Legend has it that many years ago, in the town of Chacos, a shepherdess heard a hammering coming from an old man carving an enormous cross. The shepherdess asked the old man who he was and why he was doing that. He answers that he is a carpenter, and that he was building a cross for himself. The shepherdess offers him her basket of food and the carpenter refuses, but asks him to bring her a bouquet of flowers the next day.
So the shepherdess returns with flowers, and with surprise finds the carpenter dissected and crucified. The inhabitants of Chacos tried to move the carpenter and his cross to the village, but it was impossible: he always appeared again in the same place. Since then, the carpenter is known as the Lord of Chacos and has been attributed numerous miracles and annual celebrations. In other versions of this legend, it is not a shepherdess but a group of children who meet the carpenter.
9. The Mysterious Little Boat (Piura)
Legend has it that, mysteriously, the people who devoted themselves to night fishing in the Cabo Blanco cove never returned from their work. What did return after several days was their boat, alone under the current of the same waves.
It is said that the disappearance of the fishermen is the result of a charm and that, in Easter, a small boat appears at midnight. It causes fear and even paralyzes the observer , while slowly disappearing into the cove.
10. The town of Narihualá (Piura)
Near the city of Catacaos there is a town called Narihualá. It is a town that has been inhabited by different tribes. When they heard about the arrival of the conquerors, the last inhabitants of Narihualá decided to bury themselves alive, along with all their wealth, so that they could not be possessed.
Among his most precious objects was a huge golden bell. It was hanging from a large temple that the Spanish soon found. In the attempt to capture it, the bell collapsed in sleep and sank into the earth, and the conquistadors could not find it. They say that every Good Friday a small man from this ancient tribe appears .
He is holding a lit candle and a small bell that makes a noise. He guides the villagers to the buried objects, who have found pearls and gold objects. They also tell that there is a curse on any outsider who tries to possess these treasures.
- Arguedas, J.M. and Izquierdo, F. (2013). Myths, legends and Peruvian tales. Reading Point: Peru.
- Ocampo, J. (2006). Latin American Myths and Legends. Plaza & Janes: Colombia.