Stories and Legends

Mama Puma

"My grandmother told me that there was a girl who had become pregnant with a spirit, she was the only daughter, the most loved and had no husband. The parents didn't want to see her because she got pregnant. Then the girl left home, walked a long way to a family home. In this house lived a grandmother who had three children, she was Puma Mama: her children were Siku Puma, Venado Puma, Pakai Puma.

"They had gone hunting. The grandmother took the girl in, fed her, gave her chicha and warned her that she had three children who eat people and that they were dangerous, so she had to hide in the corn. When the children arrive they ask her what she has hidden, that there is a strange smell, the mother said it was nothing, but they weren't convinced, they searched until they found the girl, who was high among the corn. Siku Puma tried to catch her, but he couldn't. Then it was Venado Puma’s turn, he couldn't reach her either. Pakai Puma who was the strongest made it. They caught her and ate the young woman.

"Since the grandmother had no teeth, the guts and the young woman's stomach were left behind because they were soft. The grandmother placed everything in a clay jar, she found two babies in between the guts. Thanks to grandmother's powers they survived, and the next day they were big. Every day they grew bigger, grandmother changed they every time to a bigger jar. When the pumas returned, she kept them in the jar so they wouldn't be eaten.

The grandmother raised them, when they were young the grandmother used them to work for her. One day she asked them to harvest the corn, the boys worked a small part and then they called the grandmother and showed her their work. Grandma got angry, she said: I don't want this, it's too little. As these boys were miraculous, by the next day they had already worked a very large farm. They said, "Granny, there's the corn farm you asked for. It was a huge farm, so huge that Grandma got lost in it. Grandma was screaming, screaming and screaming, she didn't know where to go. They went looking for her and took her back to the house.

"Then, the grandmother asks the young people for firewood, they bring firewood, but the grandmother says: I want more, it is not enough. The young men left again and cut a pile of firewood and left a hole in the middle, called the grandmother to come in to see, and when she came in they pushed the firewood to collapse on her. Grandma got trapped and they couldn't get her out. Grandma was bad, she mistreated them. It's said that from that moment, there is fungus on the firewood.

"Then Grandma asked them to carry water. They brought a little bit, but Grandma replied: "I want plenty of water, it is not enough! Then they filled a big drawer with water, she opened the door and the water took grandma away.

"The boys were growing and decided that they had to kill the pumas, that they already had a big family and ate a lot of people to feed themselves. Then they made a very big bridge, over a big river, where if someone fell, the piranha or the caiman would eat them. Then they said to the family of the pumas: This bridge is for you, you can use it whenever you want. When the puma family crossed the bridge, the brothers cut it and some pumas fell and died. Pakai Puma and another puma were saved. They realized that the young twins wanted to end the family. So they decided to set a trap for them. In that last fight, the twin brothers and the pumas who had escaped from the bridge died. They say when it's going to be the end of the world, that puma is going to come out and kill all the people. He's locked up in galley Ruco. Pumas sometimes come out of there, they are like a future from there, they are here now, the jaguar, the puma. People who take puma yuyo die and go there.

While the brothers are now two stars, Luciro and Lucero: they are two boys, two stars that come out at dawn and another at dusk”.

The Married

"My grandmother told me about a couple that lived together with their daughter. A boy came and married the daughter, she went to live with her husband. The daughter didn't treat the parents well, she spoiled their food, and the parents were over 70, 75 years old. They waited for the son-in-law or daughter to come and give them something, before, they killed the guatusa, the deer, the saíno, the mountain pig. They waited cooking cassava, thinking they were coming to give them food. Father and mother suffered and cried. Why has their daughter become so mean?

"One day, Grandpa and the daughter’s husband went hunting. Grandpa caught very little, while the husband caught several prey. The father-in-law thought he was going to share them, but instead the son-in-law prepared his Maito and did not share the food with his father-in-law. The father suffered for this reason.

"The elders were wise, and one night they saw a devil coming. He took his things, climbed up some lianas to a ceibo. The devil came and ate all the people and everything around them, including the son-in-law. That was God's punishment. But it left his head alive. The next day the father-in-law came down. The son-in-law calls him and says, 'I'm sorry, I thought you were going to live if I didn’t give you food. Take me home and tell my wife to come, bring some chicha, tell her that I'm tired and that she should come and help me carry the firewood I've brought.

"The father-in-law calls his daughter and tells her where to find her husband. When she got there, she was trapped in a branch of a tree that bit her and sucked her blood. She screamed and screamed, until she fell into the river. They say there's been a two-headed boa there ever since. Lesson: the families in the community are very supportive, they are always looking after their parents.

Stories about nature

There are also some stories about nature that are told by one of the community guides, Mauricio Jipa:

"Centipedes live beneath dry leaves and branches. We believe that if the centipede passes through our hands we can be good musicians, guitarists or violinists. If you're not going to be a good musician, the centipede rolls up in your hand.

"The hummingbird. Our parents woke up at four in the morning to take the guayusa, they gave us the knowledge from parents to children. We drank leaf tobacco from the Amazon and then they put chili pepper in our eyes. This is not a punishment, it's protection for us, if you find yourself with an anaconda or a boa it protects you because the jaguars or pumas put their eyes towards you, and since you have chili pepper in the eyes, they get scared and go away, they don't hunt you. After all this we go to bathe, we return to take a mocahua de chicha and then walk to the forest, we were told by the elders that we have to go to the forest and hunt hummingbirds. The hummingbird is a very small bird that cannot be hunted very fast, we have to walk many kilometers into the forest to hunt. When you eat its brain it will turn you into a hunter, strong and intelligent, its brain is very small.

"Python: it is an edible fruit, it has only one main root, inwards, and two secondary ones, it does not have many roots. Many times the Kichwa women of the Amazon go to this plant, which bears many fruits, and dance around the python so that they can also have many fruits, yucca, peanuts, beans, bananas. The women danced so that they would bear more fruit. They don't do it much now."

Doña Enma Cerda also shares some of her stories and tells how animals relate to the knowledge of nature:

"Inti Mama is a beetle. When the sun goes down, that beetle screams. We know if it's going to rain from the ants Tamia Añangu, that's what we call them. They walk around with a bird. As the little bird whistles, where the bird whistles, the ant follows. The bird's name is Añangu Mama, mother of ants".

Another well-known myth in the community is the story of the bird Butú: "Killa Mama (mother moon): that bird had a husband, they lived in the house. The time has come to move elsewhere and the husband says to her: "Come on, take all things”. But the woman couldn't grab the things quickly. The husband says, "Come on, I'm leaving now”. She's just starting to put on her piyuna to carry things. She has not wrapped it well, things fall off, and then the husband has left and the wife has stayed. That's why on moonlit nights she says "ñuka kusaya", in English it means "my husband". She's always alone, seeing the moon rise. The moon was the lady's husband. That's why women have to get ready or else they are left behind.