Monday, December 28, 2020

Four Peruvian Versions of the White God Legend - Part I

Four chronilers who wrote about the White God; LtoR: Pedro Cieza de Leon; Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa; Juan de Betanzos; and Don Juan de Santacruz Pachacuti Yamqui

Four Spanish 16th Century Chroniclers have left us a nearly complete record of the history of Andean Peru. And specifically a record of the “White God” legends. According to Kirk Magleby on the LDS Church website, “It is well-known that almost all Indian tribes in the Western Hemisphere preserve oral traditions about the ancient appearance of a White God who came down from heaven to instruct and organize his people. Some of the most interesting versions of this widespread tradition come from Peru, where this legendary deity is known variously as Kon-Ticci, Viracocha, Tunupa, Pachacamac, Tarapaca, or Arnauan, depending on the region of the country being considered.

Four of the more highly acclaimed Peruvian historians, Pedro Cieza de Leon, Sarmiento de Gamboa, Juan de Betanzos, and Santacruz Pachacuti, have written especially interesting accounts of this white and bearded god, and when considered together, they give us a reasonably detailed description of the traditional hero’s physical appearance, personality, and activities among the ancestors of the Andean Indians.

Pedro Cieza de León was a Spanish conqueror, outstanding for his work as a chronicler and historian of the Andean world. The scholar Marcos Jiménez de la Espada called him "the prince of the Spanish chroniclers


The first of these four was Pedro Cieza de León, a Spanish shopkeeper’s son, who as a Spanish Conquistador and chronicler, he arrived in Peru in 1546 as a simple 16-year-soldier who was immediately sent to quell an uprising that had turned into a civil war between the Spanish rulers of the country. He was with Francisco Pizzaro in the conquest of Peru, and remained in that country until 1550, during which time he visited almost every part of the newly conquered land, observing and recording descriptions of the terrain, the plants, the customs of the natives, and the major facets of their history.

He is known primarily today for his history and description of Peru, Crónicas del Perú. A book he wrote in four parts, but only the first, which he wrote upon entering was published during his lifetime; the remaining sections were translated by not published until the 19th and 20th centuries.

Cieza had been keeping a journal of his observations ever since beginning his travels in Colombia. Later, he became fascinated with the idea of writing a history of Peru and its peoples. After completing his military duties, he interviewed the Peruvian amautas (teachers) and orejones (Inca nobility), the surviving wise men and noblemen of the Incas, as well as qualified Spaniards to learn all he could about the history and traditions of the conquered Inca empire.

“These things that I write here are true, and things of importance and benefit,” he wrote in the foreword of his first book, “because many times while the other soldiers slept, I wrote into the night until I wearied.” Cieza’s first work, La Cronica del Peru, was originally published in Seville in 1553, while the later El Senorio de los Incas remained unpublished until 1880. In chapter five of his Senorio, Cieza recorded the followingent legend about the appearance of a white god to the forebears of the Incas:

“Before the Incas ruled, or were even heard of in these kingdoms, these Indians speak of another thing much greater than all others which they tell, because they affirm that they went for a long time without seeing the sun, and, that, suffering tremendously with this deficiency, they raised great prayers and supplications to those they revered as gods, asking them to restore the light they lacked; and in this manner, there arose from the island of Titicaca, which is in the great lake of Collao, the sun shining brilliantly, which made them all very happy. And afterwards, they say that from the land of the noon sun, there came and appeared to them a white man of large build whose aspect and person showed great authority and veneration, and this man had such supreme power that he levelled the mountains and raised up the plains into large hills, making water flow from boulders; and since they recognized his supreme power, they called him the creator of all things, their originator, father of the sun, because even this notwithstanding, they say that he did many greater things, because he gave life to men and animals, and from his hand, they received notable benefit. According to the Indians who told it to me, who heard it from their fathers, who also heard it in the songs they preserve from antiquity; this man went towards the north, working many miracles in his journey through the mountains, and they never saw him again. In many places they say that he gave commandments to the men about how to live, and that he spoke with love and much humility, admonishing them to be good and not cause harm or injury to one another, but instead, to love each other and have charity. Generally they call him Ticiviracocha, even though in the province of Collao, they call him Tuapaca, and in other places he is known as Arnauan. Many temples were built to him in different places, where they erected stone statues in his likeness before which they offered sacrifices. The large stone figures in the city of Tiahuanacu are said to date from that era, and even though by tradition inherited from the past, they recount this that I tell of Ticiviracocha, they say nothing else about him, nor that he ever returned to any part of this kingdom.

Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, was a Spanish explorer, author, historian, mathematician, astronomer. At the age of 18, Sarmiento de Gamboa entered the royal military in the European wars. Between 1550 and 1555 the future navigator fought in the armies of Emperor Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon, as well as titular Duke of Burgundy


The second of the Chroniclers was Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, who was a celebrated navigator and captain in the Spanish army. While stationed in Cuzco, Peru, he was ordered by the Viceroy, Francisco de Toledo, to compile a history of the Incas. Summoning some of the oldest wise men still living in the ancient Inca capital, Sarmiento interviewed them individually, then compared their testimonies to draw his conclusions and make his compilation. The manuscript he prepared was called Historia de Los Incas, La Segunda Parte de La Historia Llamada Indica, the second of what was originally projected to be three separate books. The manuscript remained unpublished in the custody of the Spanish crown for many years, finally finding its way by sale to the library at the University of Göttingen, [Germany], where it was discovered and published in 1906. Sarmiento’s version of the white god legend states:

“All the Indians agree that they were created by this Viracocha, who they believe was a man of medium height, white and clothed in a white robe gathered around his body, and that he carried a staff and a book in his hands. After this, they tell a strange story; that is, that after this Viracocha created all the people, he came walking to a place where a large group had congregated … Viracocha continued his journey, doing the works of piety and instructing the people he had created … and wishing to leave the land of Peru, he gave a speech to those he had created, advising them of things which were to happen in the future. He warned them that people would come saying that they were the Viracocha, their creator, and that the people should not believe the impostors, but that in the coming ages he would send his messengers to teach and support them. And having said this, he and his two companions went into the ocean and walked away over the waters, without sinking, as if they had been walking on land.”

Juan de Betanzos or the art of mediation in the first Andean colonial society (1530 – 1570)


The third Chronicler was Juan de Betanzos, who was among the first conquistadores who invaded Peru with Francisco Pizarro. Immediately upon entering the country, he began studying Quechua, the language of the Incas, until he became proficient enough to be named official interpreter for the royal court. He was skilled enough in the native language that his first publications were Spanish-Quechua dictionaries. Betanzos married one of the former Inca princesses and lived in Cuzco, compiling data and observations first hand until 1551, when his major treatise on the traditions and history of the Andean Indians, Suma y Narracion de Los Incas, appeared. He took special care to preserve the “order of speaking of the natives” in his writings. This is Betanzo’s description of the god Viracocha:

“Asking the Indians what idea or figure they had of this Viracocha when the ancients saw him according to their traditions they had received, they told me that he was a man of tall stature, and that he had white clothing that came to his feet, and that this robe he had drawn at the waist, and that he had short hair, and that he had a crown on his head like a priest would wear, and that he walked with his head bare, and that he had a certain thing in his hands that looked to them like the small religious books the priests carry around with them today. … I asked them the name of this person in whose honor the stone monument was erected and they told me that he was called Con Tici Viracocha Pachayachachic, which in their tongue, means, ‘god, creator of the earth.’”

(See the next post, “Four Peruvian Versions of the White God Legend  - Part II,” for more information regarding These “White God” legends of Peru, and specifically a description of the fourth chronicler)



  1. This is incredibly important thank you for researching this

  2. Due to the far left = Communist Democrats controlling all mainstream media, social media, universities, public schools, even various Christian churches, they are rewriting history.
    ( Tearing down statues of White men, renaming buildings on campuses, burning books, White privilege workshops, Critical Race Theory taught in schools, etc etc etc is what totalirarian dictators do and is happening in the entire Western world today thanks to the Democrats and even many on the Republican side known as RINOs)

    Caucasians are evil, colonialism is evil and on and on. Upon searching information about the "White God" of native tribes of the Americas I have found articles from a few universities that have published articles that claim the native people of the Americas never believed in a White God and the Spaniards (and others) were never welcomed or treated as the god/gods returning.
    The authors of theses articles claim that the Spaniards and whomever else made the native people believe the Spaniards were gods, demanded to be treated as gods and made the native people believe that the natives had stories of White gods that were lost in the natives history, and the Spaniards were restoring this history to the natives. The articles also state that not one native tribe/group of native people of the Americas ever had oral histories of a White God who once visited and promised to return. The evil White people made it all up.

  3. JR, thanks for that. The very foundations of our history is being destroyed.