8 junio, 2024

The 8 most famous Puno legends

The Puno legends They are accounts of fictitious stories that tell the supernatural origin of certain phenomena that lack a logical explanation. These legends are based on some event that could have happened in reality or a real person to whom the inhabitants of the area give extraordinary traits and characteristics to magnify them.

The legends have gone by word of mouth between the generations of Puno and whoever the account contributes or deletes content to give it what they consider most exciting or frightening.

The hundred-year-old cities of Puno keep hundreds of stories that in one way or another take root in their inhabitants, forming part of the identity of the town and its roots.

Puno’s best-known legends

The legend of Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo

This story was published in 1609, in Lisbon, in the First Book published by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, a renowned Peruvian writer.

The work recounts how the origins of the Incas were. It tells how the Sun decides to create two creatures with human characteristics. Both emerged from the foam of Lake Titicaca and would be in charge of civilizing the inhabitants of the region.

The Sun gave the creatures a golden scepter, which would indicate the place to settle. He assigned them the mission of creating a kingdom.

To achieve their mission they had to separate, Manco Capac went to the north and Mama Ocllo to the south. After traveling a long way where they managed to subdue the people, their scepter sank in the Huanacauri hill, where they established their kingdom.

The legend of the three young sloths

The story tells about an old woman who lived with her three children. This old woman was the one who worked the land, and what she produced she and her children ate.

Already tired from work, with scarce food and close to planting time, the woman asked her children to go out to harvest. For them she prepared food and that is how her children went out daily.

When harvest time arrived, his children would go out to steal the best crops in the area to bring back their mother, whom they deceived.

One day the old mother went to the plantation where she thought were the potatoes that her children brought her and was surprised by a man who said he was the owner. The man told her what her children, the lazy ones, really did.

The woman claimed her children and they stormed out of the house, one turning into wind, the other into hail and the eldest into frost. Since then, these three natural phenomena have been known as the three sloths.

The legend of the origin of Lake Titicaca

The legend tells of a flourishing town that disappeared after a stranger with a large jar on her back left it in a house where she was given shelter, but not fed or a comfortable place to sleep.

Given the fatigue, the woman requested to continue her journey that they keep the jar until her return, warning the members of the place not to remove the lid of the jar.

As the days went by, those present could not stand their curiosity about the content and the warning, and when they uncovered it, the water gushed out non-stop, flooding the entire town until it was submerged. From the jar sprouted all the fauna and flora existing until today in the lagoon.

The inhabitants of the surroundings of the lagoon say that at night a reflection can be seen coming out of the bottom of the lagoon.

The legend of Q’ota Anchacho, the demon of the lake

It is said that a giant demon emerged from the depths of the lake that brought misfortune with its presence and swallowed everything that came its way. The inhabitants of the place feared him and fled in terror.

To try to attenuate their fury, totems were built, they performed rites and offered sacrifices. Then they talked about the benefits of the great clouds that formed after their fury, which provided irrigation to the region.

The legend of the fox that went to heaven

This legend tells of a very impertinent fox who went to heaven with the condor. The fox ate non-stop and did not want to return to Earth.

A star gave him a single grain of cañihua and the fox complained that it was too little. The star gave him more grains and the fox wanted to cook them all at once. The pot overflowed and the star was upset.

At that moment the fox wanted to return to earth and when the star sent him with a rope, he began to fight with a parrot, it cut the fox’s rope, causing it to fall on the rocks, bursting its belly.

From this came the cañihua seeds to the ground. This story is told by the grandparents of the region to justify the arrival of the plant in the area.

The mermaid of Lake Titicaca

Legend says that a mermaid lived on Titicaca, and only children could ask her for a wish, which she always fulfilled. The adults forced them to ask for gold and silver. Greedy, the adults decided to bring out the mermaid so that she could tell them where she got so much wealth from. She began to transform and became a normal woman. She was never able to dive into the lake again.

the kharisiri

The kharisiri is a mythical character, whose name means «fat sucker» in Quechua. He is giant, with yellow hair, cruel and nocturnal habits. Those who meet him end up hypnotized, dizzy, something that the being takes advantage of to extract all the fat from which he feeds.

Ayaviri’s traveling coffin

In Ayaviri, before electricity, after midnight, a coffin wandered through the dark streets. This coffin was kept in the cathedral, and when I went out at night, bones fell to the ground. One day, someone decided to climb the tower of the cathedral to see what was happening.

At the stroke of midnight, the coffin came out and entered the house of a well-known family, from where 4 men dressed in black came out, carrying a candle in one hand, and the coffin in the other. The following week, someone in that family died. Since then it is said that the coffin announces death.


Aguirre, EB (2006). Peruvian oral tradition: ancestral and popular literatures, Lima: Fondo Editorial PUCP.
Sosa, MQ (1998). History and legend of Mariano Melgar (1790-1815). Madrid: UNMSM.

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