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     Land of winds > Traditions > Legend | Issue 13 (Jan.-Feb. 2013)
    By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

The legend of the siku


The legend of the siku

There are many legends associated with the Pan flute. In the area surrounding Italaque (Bolivia) the story goes that an old man cut down a stem of barley trying to soothe an inconsolable weeping child. Sound was produced by blowing through it. One tiny note followed another and another till a string of notes was constructed giving birth to the zampoña (panpipe).

Another account tells that while returning from the fields one evening, a peasant heard the wind whistling through the reeds by a stream. Trying to take the sound with him, the man cut down a bunch of reeds and, in the cosiness of home, arranged them into the first panpipe.

The classic legend is also heard here and there along the Andes, possibly thanks to the influence of musicians with some classical training.

According to Roman poet Ovid, Syrinx was a nymph from Arcadia (Greece) who enjoyed hunting. One day, descending from the Mount Lycaeus, she came across the god Pan, who took off in pursuit of the nymph. Fleeing him, Syrinx reached the river Ladon and appealed to the naiads to rescue her, and she was turned into a reed to avoid Pan. The god embraced the reeds, sighing sadly when he realized it was not Syrinx in his arms. His breath on the reeds created a sweet moaning sound. To comfort himself in his sorrow Pan cut down seven reeds and created a panpipe by attaching them together and went on playing his flute in remembrance of his lost love.


Picture A.


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