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     Land of winds > Traditions > Legend | Issue 18 (Mar.-Apr. 2014)
    By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

Chaya and Pujllay


Chaya and Pujllay

The Chaya of La Rioja (north-western Argentina) is surrounded by ancient stories and traditions; some of them have Diaguita origins, the pre-Hispanic culture that was present in the area at the time of the conquest; while others are much newer, and have been created by the fruitful imagination of the locals. Perhaps one of the most widely known legends is that of Chaya and Pujllay.

One of its many versions goes like this: Chaya was a young indigenous woman, who, one day, hurt by the love not corresponded of Pujllay, a happy-go-lucky and carefree fellow from her village, decided to leave her community and disappeared in the Andean range. Wandering lost in the high mountains, she turned into a cloud. And it is said that, under the guidance of the moon of February, she comes back to visit her family and friends under the (much awaited) form of the light rain that fall on the plains and mountains of La Rioja, alleviating the hot weather that the region has been facing until then.

Knowing that he was the cause of the young woman's disappearing and feeling remorse for it afterwards, Pujllay went on, unsuccessfully, to look for her. He ended up getting drunk day after day and night after night, until one day, being completely intoxicated, he fell down in the flames of the fireplace and died burnt. At it is, Pujllay represents the sharp, crazy, drunk spirit that prevails when it comes to celebrating this festive occasion; year after year, he is burnt to ashes at the end of the festivities and will appear the next year in the hope of finding Chaya.


Article. "La leyenda de la Chaya y el príncipe Pujllay", in La Rioja Chayera [es].


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