Pisac and the Legend of the Enchanted Princess

In the memory of the traditional town of Pisac, a picturesque place in the Sacred Valley of ancient customs, lives a mysterious legend. It is a mix of romanticism and tragedy and is called the Enchanted Ñusta, or princess.

On top of a wild mountain slope in front of the town stands a monolith of stone some seven to eight meters high. When you see it from some distance it looks like the figure of an indigenous woman, with her profile folded back into her head, she looks out eternally on the Sacred Valley.

The legend tells that a beautiful woman called Inquil Chumpi, a Quechua name which means princess of the flowery belt. This name was probably given her because of her great ability to weave. She was the only child of Huallaypuma, her father, and the heir of the chieftanship of Pisac.

In those times the Amautas, the wise ones, consulted the oracles to know what their destiny was. During one of the consultations, the oracles predicted that men would come from many places to ask for the hand of the princess but that only he who could build in a single night a great bridge to connect the town of Pisac with the mountain would be successful.

Years later the prediction came to pass. Young men started arriving from all over. The first to ask for the hand of the princess where from the area near the city of Cuzco. When they were informed of the superhuman conditions they had to meet in order to marry her. Then the Qollas came, the Chinchas, and people from all the different regions to ask for the hand of Inquil Chumpi. But just like those of Cuzco, one by one they returned to their homes because of the impossibility of the task placed before them.

River Valley and Fields of Pisac
River Valley and Fields of Pisac

Time passed and then a new young man came to seek her hand from the region of Antisuyo, down river from Pisac. He was the son of the Chief of the Huallas. He came to Pisac with a cage of precious stones in which lived a strange bird. The legend narrates that the bird had mysterious abilities and a profound knowledge of nature’s great secrets. These worthy present was destined to the princess as a symbol of his love. This young man was called Asto Rimac and he was ready to fulfill the orders of the oracle. But he also had a petition for the princess that on awakening from the night in which he would build the bridge, the princess would climb up the mountain, leaving coca leaves to show her path. She should not turn around even once until she reached the top, if she accepted his petition.

Asto Rimac gave his gift to the princess and the celebrations began. Corn chicha was the ever present drink. When night fell people began to hear the sound of stones falling from the mountains and coming out of the river. With them the bridge was built.

Fulfilling her promise, at dawn the princess began her ascent of the mountain. She left leaves of coca to mark her steps. Her curiosity was so intense, however, that she could not help but turning to look. Because of that she turned into stone and stands forever on the mountain’s slope. You can see her every time you visit Pisac. Just like the princess, Asto Rimac also turned into stone and was carried away by the river.

Inca Buildings in Pisac
Inca Buildings in Pisac

Because of that happening the priests were very sad and were filled with anguish. They could not understand why the gods had punished them. Soon they saw the bird who was considered the totem of Asto Rimac and they asked it why this had all taken place The bird responded that the high gods had given their power and authority to the kings of Cuzco and that it would be impossible to resist them. They would be the lords of the land and would be called the Children of the Sun. On saying this the bird died. Later the people of Pisac suffered the military invasion by the Incas of Cuzco.

This is a marvelous legend that continues to live in the hearts and the people of Pisac. They maintain it as part of their peculiarity and tradition. It also encloses an explanation of much of the history of the place, from its independence, to its existence as part of the Inca domain.

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