Native American Legends
Viracocha and the coming of the Incas
An Inca Legend
The Natives of this land affirm that in the beginning, and before
this world was created, there was a being called Viracocha. He created
a dark world without sun, moon or stars.
Owing to this creation he was named Viracocha Pachayachachi, which
means "Creator of all things." And when he had created
the world he formed a race of giants of disproportioned greatness
painted and sculptured, to see whether it would be well to make
real men of that size.
He then created men in his likeness as they are now; and they lived
Viracocha ordered these people that they should live without quarreling,
and that they should know and serve him. He gave them a certain
precept which they were to observe on pain of being confounded if
they should break it.
They kept this precept for some time, but it is not mentioned what
it was. But as there arose among them the vices of pride and covetousness,
they transgressed the precept of Viracocha Pachayachachi and falling,
through this sin, under his indignation, he confounded and cursed
Then some were turned into stones, others into other things, some
were swallowed up by the earth, others by the sea, and over all
there came a general flood which they call uñu pachacuti,
which means "water that overturns the land." They say
that it rained 60 days and nights, that it drowned all created things,
and that there alone remained some vestiges of those who were turned
into stones, as a memorial of the event, and as an example to posterity,
in the edifices of Pucara, which are 60 leagues from Cuzco.
Some of the nations, besides the Cuzcos, also say that a few were
saved from this flood to leave descendants for a future age. Each
nation has its special fable which is told by its people, of how
their first ancestors were saved from the waters of the deluge.
That the ideas they had in their blindness may be understood, I
will insert only one, told by the nation of the Cañaris,
a land of Quito and Tumibamba, 400 leagues from Cuzco and more.
They say that in the time of the deluge called uñu pachacuti
there was a mountain named Guasano in the province of Quito and
near a town called Tumipampa. The natives still point it out. Up
this mountain went two of the Cañaris named Ataorupagui and
Cusicayo. As the waters increased the mountain kept rising and keeping
above them in such a way that it was never covered by the waters
of the flood.
In this way the two Cañaris escaped. These two, who were
brothers, when the waters abated after the flood, began to sow.
One day when they had been at work, on returning to their but, they
found in it some small loaves of bread, and a jar of chicha, which
is the beverage used in this country in place of wine, made of boiled
maize. They did not know who had brought it, but they gave thanks
to the Creator, eating and drinking of that provision. Next day
the same thing happened. As they marveled at this mystery, they
were anxious to find out who brought the meals. So one day they
hid themselves, to spy out the bringers of their food.
While they were watching they saw two Cañari women preparing
the victuals and putting them in the accustomed place. When about
to depart the men tried to seize them, but they evaded their would-be
captors and escaped. The Cañaris, seeing the mistake they
had made in molesting those who had done them so much good, became
sad and prayed to Viracocha for pardon for their sins, entreating
him to let the women come back and give them the accustomed meals.
The Creator granted their petition.
The women came back and said to the Cañaris--"The Creator
has thought it well that we should return to you, lest you should
die of hunger." They brought them food. Then there was friendship
between the women and the Cañari brothers, and one of the
Cañari brothers had connection with one of the women.
Then, as the elder brother was drowned in a lake which was near,
the survivor married one of the women, and had the other as a concubine.
By them he had ten sons who formed two lineages of five each, and
increasing in numbers they called one Hanansaya which is the same
as to say the upper party, and the other Hurinsaya, or the lower
party. From these all the Cañaris that now exist are descended.
In the same way the other nations have fables of how some of their
people were saved, from whom they trace their origin and descent.
But the Incas and most of those of Cuzco, those among them who
are believed to know most, do not say that anyone escaped from the
flood, but that Viracocha began to create men afresh, as will be
related further on.
One thing is believed among all the nations of these parts, for
they all speak generally and as well known of the general flood
which they call uñu pachacuti. From this we may clearly understand
that if, in these parts they have a tradition of the great flood,
this great mass of the floating islands which they afterwards called
the Atlanticas, and now the Indies of Castille, or America, must
have begun to receive a population immediately after the flood,
although, by their account, the details are different from those
which the true Scriptures teach us.
This must have been done by divine Providence, through the first
people coming over the land of the Atlantic Island, which was joined
to this, as has been already said. For as the natives, though barbarous,
give reasons for their very ancient settlement, by recording the
flood, there is no necessity for setting aside the Scriptures by
quoting authorities to establish this origin.
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