Customs

Tales of Gold from Cusco

The Inca Sun of Gold in Inti Raymi (Gabriela Filgquiera)

Gold is one of the most precious metals and has significant value, both economic and symbolic. There are various ways of extracting gold; one is the manual form of washing sand for gold on river banks. Another way is to work in mines with heavy machinery.

In Cuzco you hear many stories about places where gold is found. For example people narrate that women are “salty” or bringers of “bad luck”. This means that people think that gold has strange feelings for women and when they are present hides and will not let itself be found.

Once there were some miners who worked ever day in the mine extracting gold. One morning they ran into a bull made of pure gold. Surprised and at the same time filled with emotion they began to clean it from its matrix. They wanted to ready it to be taken out.

After a few hours of work they sat back to rest for a bit from the heavy work. At that moment the miner’s cook came up. When she arrived the miners looked at the bull and it shook and began to make the entire mine collapse. It buried all the people who were inside.

An Ancient Pot Like Those Thought to Come with Gold
An Ancient Pot Like Those Thought to Come with Gold

Days later people found a note on the side of a stream which said: “Get us out. We are still here.”
Other people are dedicated to looking for buried treasure, or tapados, gold that his hidden. They use metal detectors. When they find the gold they consider it theirs. However many of these tapados come with curses or tricks, such as what they call antimonio, or antimony.

There is also the evil air that can cause head aches and even cause people to foam at the mouth. Other tricks of the gases in the tapados are also talked about. They can affect people’s bodies.
Those who look for hidden treasure are called huaqueros They say there are different ways of avoiding these evil consequences and get the gold. They have special clothing which keeps the effects of the gases away since they gather around the gold. People will also make a payment, and offering, to the earth to ask its permission to extract the gold. They will smoke cigarettes and chew coca leaves as well as drink alcohol so that the evil air will not have effect on them.

Another way of finding gold, people say, is to look for the base of a rainbow. Just like in the story of the leprechauns who have pots of gold at the end of the rainbow that we learn about on TV. we think there is gold where the rainbow begins.

People also say that the rainbow is very powerful and you must be careful around if. If somehow you show it your teeth they will rot.

These are just some of our many beliefs and stories about gold.

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