folklore and legends

The Inca’s Secret for Working Stone and the Ñaqacho

Stones of Sacsayhuaman (Wayra)

Cuzco has many stories, legends, and myths about the amazing buildings and other structures our ancestors, the Incas, left. We often ask how they could have carved or molded huge stones and carried them to where they are found today in ancient constructions.

Many people thing that these were the work of beings from another planet, or that they must have been the work of Gods. Others say the Incas must have had a very advanced set of knowledge and skills in order to realize wonderful structures like Sacsayhuaman that today sits above the city and amazes the whole world.

A popular story tells us that when the Incas were building these sites a bird saw how they shaped the stones with special herbs that the Incas obtained. People say that the stone became soft and moldable like dough and enabled the Inca to mold the stones into the shapes they desired.

People say this bird used the same plants in order to shape a hollow in the highest parts of cliffs and other stones just by scratching with their beaks using the herbs. With a bit of effort they could convert it into something soft and, in this way make deep holes to make safe and secure nest to protect them from predators.

Many people say that this bird, a ñaqacho, is the only one, animal or human, who knows the secret of the Incas for shaping the enormous stones of our famed archeological sites. They show their nests prove it.

Since the secret only exists now in the beaks and feet of this bird, there is a worry. The bird is on the edge of extinction, although it has relatives who still make holes for nests in the high rocks.

This small story of a bird leaves us much to think about. We can imagine that maybe the Incas would rub these plants on stone to make them soft and workable. Nevertheless, that is just one idea, even if it is an idea in our folklore.

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1 Comment

  1. Lovely story! but the bird name in local language is JACACHO (andean flicker – Colaptes rupicola), and it’s not in edge of extinction. Its habitat has been affected by farming but people can see it all through the andes including Peru, bolivia, Chile & Ecuador

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