Tales

El Niño Manuelito and Julián

Niño Manuelito (Walter Coraza)

A traditional story from the city of Cusco tells us about a shepherd boy named Julian. He spent all his time caring for his sheep while his father was engaged in drinking alcohol due to the loss of his wife.

Julian had a strong connection with his sheep because he spent all day every day with them. All the sheep had curious names and of course Julian could distinguish them without exception.

One night, as usual, Julian was in bed when suddenly his father came in and with his voice raised he told Julian: “Tomorrow I want you to shear all the sheep. If you do not, I’ll sell all the sheep and you will pay.”

The poor boy was desperate. He was thinking about how to shear more than a hundred sheep in a single day. The shears were old and could maybe shear a single sheep in a couple of hours.

When he was grazing his sheep very discouraged, a very faint voice asked him: “Why are you sad?” And, without thinking who had asked him, he answered: “It’s because my father told me to do something impossible and I do not want to lose my beloved sheep.”

The faint voice said: “Do not worry, I will help you with your work”. Julian turned around and saw another child just like him. He asked: What’s your name? and what are you doing here? The other child answered my name is Manuel and I have come to help you.

Manuel called with a loud voice: “Chaska (star in the Quechua language),” and a dazzling light approached the children. It was a black sheep wearing a necklace that shone very much like a star.

This my little sheep will help us to shear your sheep. This sheep began to cut the wool of the other sheep with its teeth, making a teeth grinding sound very fast. He went one by one until he finished.

It was amazing. When Julian’s father arrived he was surprised to see that all the sheep were sheared. He asked Julian how he had sheared all the sheep. Julian replied: “I did it with my own little hands, mocking a bit”.

The father, a little angry and gave him an even more difficult task. Julian had to spin all the wool and, if he did not, his father would kill all the sheep and punish the child. He quickly sought Manuel to ask for his help and tell him what his father had asked him to do.

Manuel told him that it was a very easy task. Their sheep Chaska would help them with the task of spinning all the wool. Chaska began to eat the wool and all the wool already spun came out from the back. Who would have imagined it? It was little believable what was happening. After a few hours, Manuel’s sheep had finished spinning the wool and they had more time to play.

The father, upon arriving at the house, saw that all the wool was spun. Upset because he did not think Julian had done it, he gave him one last job. Julian had to dye all the wool of the sheep in different colors, but the father would be present when he worked.

Luck for Julian was running out. He ran to find Manuel and his sheep to tell him the latest news. He found him in front of the river, but Manuel told Julian to sing a song to help him.

Julián did not know songs since he stopped all day with his sheep. Then he saw what was around him and began to compose a song. “Niño Manuelito, I can give you. Roses and carnations to defoliate … ” Manuel accepted and they went to the house.

Luckily Julian’s father had fallen asleep. Manuel’s sheep began to eat green leaves along with the spun wool, and the wool that had already been dyed came out of his back. The same happened with other colors. It ate fruits and plants to get the colors.

Before they finished the job, Julian’s father woke up and saw everything that was happening. The children started running to escape Julian’s father, who had a whip in his hand. If the children reached the river bridge, Julián’s father could no longer reach them.

But before they arrived Manuel stepped on a thorn and fell to the ground in pain. Julian got in front of his father and said: “Father, you can punish me all you want, but help my friend who is hurt.”

The father picked up Manuel and took some wax out of his ear to help the child. He spread the wax on the part where the thorn was and slowly removed it. Manuel was cured and was able to go home.

Julian’s father changed completely and to remember the boy Manuelito decided to make replicas in clay with all the details even the thorn he stepped on. Since then, the little Christ children have been made and sold in the Santurantikuy in the city of Cusco.

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