The Legend of Amancay

December 30th, 2008 Posted in culture

Written by Shanie

The romantic legend of the local Amancay flower dates back to the days of the native Tehuelche Indians. The folklore is ingrained in the meaning of the flower even today.

The story is based on love as is common in mythology.

The tale begins with the forbidden love between a young maiden named Amancay and the tribe leader’s son, Quintral. Believing that his father would forbid the relationship, Quintal kept the love affair a secret.

Despite his joy with his new found romance, Quintal became deathly ill. Amancay, in desperation to save her lover, fled to the tribe’s healer, Machi. Machi told the young woman that she must go to the top of the mountains, find a yellow flower known only to grow upon the summits and deliver it to her beloved Quintal.

She heroically made the climb to the top of the Andes and found the magical flower, only to learn from a great condor that it was a sacred blossom and was not to be touched. She explained her plight to the giant of the skies. The condor, feeling her desperation, made a deal with the young maiden. In exchange for her heart, he would deliver the flower to Quintal. Believing that her heart was of minimal importance if her lover was to die, she agreed to the swap.

The immense condor took Amancay in one claw and the flower in the other. While in flight, Amancay started to bleed tiny droplets of blood, which fell to the ground far below and upon a yellow flower. The condor began to realize the bravery and love that Amancay was showing for Quintal and it made him feel for her situation. He asked the gods to assist him in helping cure the fallen lover and to give an offering in show of respect for Amancay’s selfless love. The gods obliged. Quintal was cured and a flower was created from the drops of blood into a new bloom of yellow with splashes of red.

The flower is now considered a symbol of unconditional love. If someone gives you an Amancay flower it is said that they are giving you their heart.

  1. 4 Responses to “The Legend of Amancay”

  2. By Emii on Jan 14, 2009

    What a beautiful story! As well as the flower!

  3. By Patagonia on Jan 14, 2009

    Thanks Emii! I so agree. I love stories that match the beauty of the object.


  4. By Gordon on Jun 7, 2009

    The Amancay is clearly a plant of the Alstroemeria genus. But it also features in a famous 17th century Qechua (Runasimi) hymn to the Virgin Mary ‘Hanaqpachap kusykuinin’ where the Virgin is likened to the Amancay flower.

  5. By Patagonia on Jun 7, 2009

    Very interesting Gordon! Thanks for the info.


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