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The Llama Herder and the Daughter of the Sun - A Legend about the twin cliffs called Pitusiray

The Llama Herder and the Daughter of the Sun

A Legend about the twin cliffs called Pitusiray

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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 sweetly upon a flute that he carried, untroubled by the amorous adventures’ youth is inclined to and free even from the desire for love.

One day, as he was playing his flute, he was approached by two daughters of the Sun, come out from one of the dwelling places that are found throughout the land and where these young women are sheltered and carefully guarded. During the day they may walk out and see the green fields and go wherever they wish, but they must always return to their houses at nightfall, and as they enter they are examined by their guards and keepers to make certain they have not brought anything with them that could do them harm. As we have said, these two came up to the llama herder as he was playing his flute, and as they stood before him, they began asking him about his flock and his fields.

The startled herdsman had not even noticed their approach and fell at once to his knees, believing that these were two of the four crystal-clear fountains, famous throughout the realm, now appearing before him in human form; and he was speechless. But they continued to ask him about his llamas, telling him not to be afraid. They told him they were daughters of the Sun, mistresses of all the land, and to reassure him they took him by the arm and told him once again that there was nothing to fear.

At last the herdsman rose to his feet. Still awestruck by the great beauty of the two young women, he kissed their hands, and after conversing calmly with them at some length, he asked to be excused, saying it was time for him to gather his llamas. In order to prolong the conversation, the elder of the two maidens, whose name was Chuquillanto and who had been much taken by the manner and appearance of this young herdsman, asked him to tell her his name and where his home was. He answered that he was a member of the Lare tribe and that his name was Acoynapa. As he spoke, her eyes were drawn to his forehead, where a piece of silver, usually called campu by the Indians, gleamed and shimmered most beautifully. Removing the campu, he permitted her to examine it, and at once she noticed the delicately wrought figure of a bloodsucking tick, then another; and as her eyes followed the design, she saw that the ticks were eating a heart. Chuquillanto asked him what this ornament was called, and he said it was called utusi.

The sun maiden gave him back his utusi and took leave of him, carrying with her a vivid memory of this ornament with its ticks so finely wrought that they seemed to be alive and, indeed, to be eating a heart, as we have said. All along the way she talked with her sister about the llama herder, and when they reached the palace, the doorkeepers eyed them closely and examined them to see if they were carrying anything that might harm them. For it was well known that there were women in many parts of the country who carried love charms, small round tokens hidden by their lovers in the folds of their sashes or among the beads of their necklaces. Aware of this practice, the doorkeepers were on their guard and inspected the maidens carefully. At last they were allowed to enter the palace, where they were met by other sun women, who awaited them with all the greatest delicacies the land could provide, served in dishes of fine gold.

Chuquillanto did not care to eat. She went directly to her chamber, saying only that she was tired, exhausted after her long walk. Her sister, however, ate with the other women, and if she had thoughts of Acoynapa, they did not seem to trouble her, though she did in fact let out an occasional sigh. But Chuquillanto had not a moment's peace. She had fallen deeply in love with the llama herder and was suffering all the more for not being able to express what she felt within her. She was a wise and sensible young woman, however, and so she lay down to rest and was soon fast asleep.

Now there were many richly appointed chambers in this great house of the Sun, and in these chambers lived the numerous sun women who had been brought from the four quarters of the Inca's realm: the northwest, the southwest, the northeast, and the southeast. And within the palace walls were four fountains of sweet, crystal-clear water, each of which flowed toward one of the four quarters, and in these fountains the women bathed, each in the one that ran toward the region from which she herself had been brought. The four fountains were named as follows: to the northwest flowed the fountain of pebbles, to the southwest the fountain of frogs, to the northeast the fountain of the water weed, to the southeast the fountain of algae.

Chuquillanto slept on, and as she slept, she dreamed she saw a little night bird flying from tree to tree. As it flew and perched, it sang softly and sweetly. And when it had sung for a while, it came and rested in the folds of her skirt telling her not to be unhappy or to think of anything that would make her sad. She asked it if it could relieve her suffering, for she felt as though she would die, and the little bird agreed to do so, asking her to tell it why she suffered. Then she confessed her love for the keeper of the white llamas, whose name was Acoynapa, saying that she feared she might be killed unless she ran away with him. If she did not, and should she be found out by one of the women belonging to her Sun father, she would be put to death.

In reply the little night bird ordered her to rise from her bed and go out to the four fountains and sit among them and sing aloud whatever thought was uppermost in her mind. If the fountains approved, they would repeat her sang, empowering her to do the thing she wished. So saying, the bird flew away. The sun maiden awoke. Fearfully and in great haste she put on her clothing; and as all the occupants of the palace were asleep, she was able to move about without being heard. She went at once to the four fountains, and placing herself among them, thinking only of the silver ornament with its heart consumed by ticks, she chanted:

Suck, Tick, Move, Heart, Come

One after another the four fountains began to sing her song. They picked it up one by one, then they sang it in harmony. Seeing that the fountains were favorable, the sun maiden withdrew. She rested comfortably during the remainder of the night, while the fountains murmured on.

As for the llama herder, when he returned to his, he found that he could not stop thinking of the beautiful Chuquillanto. Troubled by his thoughts, he began to mourn. A new feeling had taken root in his innocent breast, causing him to long for love's fulfillment, and he took up his flute and began to play, so mournfully that the very rocks were moved to pity. At last, overwhelmed, he lost consciousness and fell to the ground. When he regained his senses, he wept many tears, crying, "Alas, alas for you! Sad, unhappy, unfortunate herdsman! The day of your death approaches, for there is no relief from this desire. Poor herdsman, what can you do? The only comfort is beyond reach, even out of sight." And with that he went inside his little hut. Exhausted by his suffering, he lay down to sleep.

Now in the village of Lares lived the llama herder's mother. She had been told by fortunetellers that her son was desperately ill and that unless she could find a way to cure him, he would die. Well aware of the cause of his misfortune, she obtained a wooden staff, which was most elegant and which, in a case such as this, could be very useful, and without stopping to rest she set out on the road toward the high country.

Being quick and agile, she reached the herdsman's home before daybreak. Inside she found her son unconscious, his face all wet with flowing tears. As he came to his senses and opened his eyes, he saw his mother and began moaning loudly. She consoled him as best she could, telling him not to despair and that she would have him cured within a few days.

She went outside then and among the mountains began gathering nettles (The prickly, itching nettles, to be eaten by Chuquillanto, will cure the hero's melancholy by causing his beloved to yearn for him irresistibly). When she had collected a sufficient quantity, she prepared a nettle stew, which was not yet completely cooked, however, when the two sun maidens appeared. Chuquillanto had risen and dressed at dawn; as soon as it had come time to go walking among the green meadows of the high country, she had slipped out, accompanied by her sister, and come directly to Acoynapa's hut, for her heart allowed her to do nothing else.

When the maidens had reached the hut, they sat down by the doorway, tired from their journey. Noticing the old mother, they greeted her and asked if she could give them something to eat. The old woman knelt before them, explaining that she had only a nettle stew. But as soon as it was cooked, she served it to them, and they ate with great relish.

Sadly, Chuquillanto looked about her, discovering not a trace of the one she had hoped to find. The reason she did not see him is that the moment she and her sister had come into view the boy's mother had ordered him to put himself inside the wooden staff she had brought. And so, the maiden assumed he had gone off with his llamas and did not even bother to ask where he might be. But seeing the staff, she commented on how pretty it was and asked the old woman where she had obtained it.

The old woman replied that the staff had formerly belonged to one of the mistresses of the god Pachacamac, whose name was famous throughout the high country, and as an inheritance it had come down to her. No sooner had Chuquillanto heard this than she begged to have it, and so insistently that at last the old woman gave it to her. Taking it in her hands she found it even finer than she had thought at first, and after staying a while longer in the but she took leave of the old woman and went off through the meadows, looking in all directions to see if her beloved herdsman might not appear.

We need make no special mention of the sister at this point, for she does not concern us. Rather, we speak only of Chuquillanto, who remained sad and pensive all along the way, watching for her herdsman, who did not appear. Greatly distressed, she continued on toward her palace. As usual, when she entered, the guards examined her closely. but seeing nothing new except for the staff, which was carried openly, they locked the doors behind her and were completely deceived.

The maidens proceeded to the inner rooms, where a splendid meal was set before them. When it had grown dark, everyone retired. Chuquillanto took her staff with her and placed it next to her bed, for this seemed to her the proper thing to do. As she lay down, thinking she was all alone, she began to cry, remembering the herdsman and the dream she had had the night before.

But her cares were short-lived, for already the staff had changed into its former self, and someone was calling her name: "Chuquillanto!" Startled, she arose and went to find a torch. Lighting it, she returned to her bed without making a sound, and there, kneeling before her, was the herdsman, shedding many tears. Shaken by the sight of him and satisfying herself that this indeed was he, she spoke to him, asking him how he had entered the palace. Then he told her about the staff, and Chuquillanto embraced him and covered him in her robes of fine cloth, patterned with the most exquisite designs. He slept with her then, but when dawn came he reentered the staff, and when he had concealed himself completely, and as soon as the daylight had spread over the land, his sun maiden and mistress set out once again from her father's palace.

Alone with her staff she roamed through the meadows, but in a mountain ravine she was together again with her beloved herdsman, who had changed back into his own self. It seems, however, that one of the guards had followed her. He discovered her in this hiding place, and seeing what had happened, he cried aloud. Chuquillanto and Acoynapa heard his cries and fled toward the mountains that rise above the town of Calca. Exhausted, they stopped to rest at the summit of a cliff, and there they fell asleep. But hearing great noises in their dreams, they rose up, she with one sandal held in her hand, the other still on her foot; and facing toward Calca, the two of them were turned into stone.

The statues can still be seen from Calca and also from Haillabamba and from many other places as well, and I myself have seen them often. Those twin cliffs were called Pitusiray, and they are still so called to this day.

Source(s):

Freely translated with omissions, from Martin de Morua’s “Historia del origen y genealogía real de los Reyes Incas del Peru”.