7 junio, 2024

The 10 most popular legends and myths of Cajamarca

Some legends and myths of Cajamarca The most popular are that of Cerro Campana, of the Pampa de la Culebra or the lost gold of Atahualpa. Cajamarca is one of the twenty-four departments that, together with the Constitutional Province of Callao, make up the Republic of Peru.

Its capital, Cajamarca, is one of the oldest provinces in the northern highlands of Peru, and its capital, the city of Cajamarca, has been part of the Historical and Cultural Heritage of the Americas since 1986, declared as such by the Organization of American States.

Its myths and legends come from an extensive Quechua tradition, which dates back to the expansion of the Inca Empire in the 15th century. They are characterized by dealing with issues related to the formation of landscapes and lost treasures.

These stories did not stop evolving and spreading until long after the independence of Peru in 1821 and are part of the culture and tradition of Cajamarca.

Main legends and myths of Cajamarca

1. The legend of Cerro Campana

Cerro Campana is a hill located in the north of the province of San Ignacio. Legend has it that an important city was located here, whose inhabitants were at war with the chief of a nearby tribe.

This, in a fit of anger, decided to seek the help of a witch, who cast a spell on the population and turned them into rocks.

After this event, every Holy Thursday or Friday you can hear roosters crowing, a band of musicians and the sound of a bell on this hill.

On the top of the hill is the stone figure of a woman sitting in an armchair, enchanted by the sorcerer’s spell hundreds of years ago. Under the rocks that surround the figure is a spring of crystalline water that never gets cloudy.

It is said that in this spring you can sometimes find a small golden bird, and those who see it go crazy with its capture.

2. The Shururo Lagoon

According to this myth, the Shururo lagoon was formed with the waters that remained after the evil geniuses made the sacred lagoon disappear. So, the god Inti arranged for a black puma to be the mother and to protect its waters from other attacks.

One day the puma went out to sunbathe and a condor lifted it into the air to kill it. The lagoon rose and defended it in the midst of the thunder and the storm that broke out.

In the end, the lagoon won, but it reduced its waters and the injured puma never came out to sunbathe.

3. The appearance of the huanca man

According to this legend, Con Ticsi Viracocha created the world and its inhabitants. The Huanca couple —Atay Imapuramcapia and Uruchumpi— came out of a spring that they made sprout.

They formed the first town. However, their descendants began to worship the god Huallallo Carhuancho. As punishment, Viracocha made the invaders subdue them and turned Huallallo into snowy Huaytapallana.

The repentant Huancas built the temple of Huarivilca to once again honor their creator.

4. Legend about the appearance of La Dolorosa de Cajamarca

Many myths and legends of Cajamarca are intermingled with the traditions of the Catholic faith, due to colonial times. Such is the case of the devotion of its inhabitants to the Virgen de los Dolores, patron saint of this entity. Since 1942, every June 14, its faithful gather to ask for its blessing.

Now, there are several versions as to the origin of this image. One of the most popular stories is that the carpenters who carved it were really angels turned into humans.

They asked to carve the Virgin where they could not be disturbed and never ate the food that was brought to them. When they finished the image, they disappeared without a trace.

5. Legend of the Pampa de la Culebra

This legend is born from the Quechua tradition and dates back to pre-Hispanic times. The legend says that the gods of the jungle sent a snake, at harvest times, heading to Cajamarca, to show their power over the inhabitants due to their sins.

This snake was growing step by step as it climbed the mountain range, devastating trees and crops, leaving ruin and destruction in its wake. Hundreds of residents fled the city in panic. Those who remained implored the gods for mercy.

Calmed by the pleas, the gods decided to stop the serpent, letting lightning fall on it. This left his corpse to rest throughout the mountain range, becoming a pampa.

The inhabitants say that when lightning strikes the pampa, it is the gods who cause it, whipping the pampa so that it does not turn into a snake again.

Today it is located on the Polloc hacienda, where indeed it seems that the shape of a serpent rested on the pampa that surrounds it, and whose head points to the city of Cajamarca.

This pampa has served for centuries as a lightning rod for unknown reasons, which led to hundreds of versions of this same legend.

6. Atahualpa’s lost gold

In 1533, the last Inca ruler, Atahualpa, was a prisoner of the Spanish empire in the city of Cajamarca. He ordered, for his ransom, a large amount of gold, silver and precious gems to his empire, to be delivered to his captor, Commander Francisco Pizarro, and thus obtain his freedom.

However, Pizarro reneged on his promise and sentenced Atahualpa to death before the last shipment of these treasures was delivered.

There is then the belief that all these riches are hidden in a secret cave, somewhere on the route by which these goods were taken to Cajamarca.

7. Gentle Hualash

One of the most widespread mythical figures in Peru is that of the gentiles. Bones of the first Indians who inhabited the earth, take on a human appearance at night.

They attend the festivals that are celebrated in the nearby towns to rejoice. Before dawn they return to the hill where their home is, and become once again the old bones of the first settlers.

In Cajamarca the story is told of a gentile who came down from the hills, called by the jarachupas and the añases for the Marcavalle threshing floor, where the young Hualash danced energetically on the threshing floors. He was a tall, fine Gentile. He was wearing a poncho and a white wool hat.

He danced so well that when the Gentile announced his departure before dawn, he was surrounded by a group of women imploring him not to leave the party.

No one at the party knew he was a Gentile, so they surrounded him singing and dancing, delaying his departure and ignoring his warnings.

The gentile shouted «gentil tullo shallallan», which means «Don’t you hear how my gentile bones sound?» As the sun rose, the gentile fell to the ground in bones and dust, along with the poncho and white hat, empty on the ground.

8. The lost bell of Rodeopampa

Rodeopampa is a rural population located in the province of San Miguel. The inhabitants of it say that a long time ago, a shepherd was driving his flock of sheep through the pastures on the outskirts of town, when suddenly he heard the sound of a bell.

Following the sound, he discovered that it was underground, so he decided to call his neighbors to help him dig. After digging all day, they found it ten feet underground. It was a splendid golden bell.

They decided to take it to the town and celebrate a big party, but it was so heavy that not even the strength of ten oxen could move it. They decided to mount her on the back of a mule, which carried her without any effort.

Upon reaching the town they found a great celebration, full of bands of musicians and fireworks, which scared the mule.

The sound of the rockets terrified the animal and, in an instant, it turned into fire, fleeing to the Mischacocha lagoon, where it sank along with the bell. The inhabitants believe that this solid gold bell is still at the bottom of this lagoon.

9. The Pishtaco

He is a very tall, robust character, with white skin and a beard, who can be blond or red-haired. It is believed that the ancient Quechuas associated it with the first conquerors, who were bloodthirsty and ruthless. He’s some kind of assassin who killed to harvest human fat. Perhaps in the time of the Inca Empire, he would have represented the official commissioners, in charge of bringing people to the sacrifices.

10. The Apu

The Apu is, in the Andean world, an ancient creator of the world. He lives high in the mountains or in the Hanan Pacha (heaven). The Spanish replaced this figure with that of the Christian God, representing it on a cross, and today the festival of the crosses is celebrated in May, where each town lowers its crosses from the hills and takes them to the main church.


cajamarca. Retrieved from whc.unesco.org.
The hill bell. Recovered from unaleyendacorta.com.

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