Pururauca—When Andean God Viracocha Turned Stones Into Soldiers
The legend of the Pururaucas soldiers or stone soldiers is an Inca legend that mystifies the victory of the Inca army over the Chanca army in 1438.
Mainstream scholars see the event an attempt to magnify the feat of the surprise Inca victory of the battle of Yahuarpampa.
The Andean legend speaks of a massive battle where the Incas saw themselves outnumbered against a terrifying enemy, but invoked their greatest deity, asking for help.
The god Viracocha responded to their call by turning rocks into soldiers, helping the Inca defend their city causing the enemy to retreat in fear.
But, is this a mere legend or is there more to this story than initially thought?
Let’s start from scratch.
The conflict of the Incas with the Chanca is perhaps the most known and decisive episode in Andean history.
It was in 1438 when Hanan Chanca Anccu Hualloc gathered more than 40,000 soldiers and undertook the conquest of Cusco, destroying everything in its path, eventually surrounding the city.
Legend has it that the Inca ruler Hatun Tópac (Huiracocha Inca) and his son, the Crown Prince Urco, cowardly fled the capital leaving the Cusco people to defend themselves upon the imminent arrival of the powerful Chanca army.
Anarchy reigned until the young Prince Cusi Yupanqui (Pachacutec Inca), who happens to be Urco’s younger brother and second in succession, courageously led a resistance. The young prince recruited a small army to defend the city from the enemy army, but nobody wanted to join them more than the ethnic group of the Canas.
Before this adversity, the prince turned to the gods. The young prince called for Viracocha, the mighty Andean god who eventually responded.
The Andean creator god Viracocha, appeared in a dream and told Prince Cusi Yupanqui that he will send soldiers to assist in the unequal fight, promising an overwhelming victory for the Inca.
After having dreamt what Prince Cusi Yupanqui saw as a powerful message from the Gods, the battle came.
The powerful Chanca army thought that an easy battle was upon them, waiting for an easy conquest. As the Chanca Army advanced, Prince Pachacutec’s dream comes true; the surrounding stones all of a sudden are transformed into warriors that attack the Chanca causing them retreat.
Just as the god Viracocha had promised the prince in the dream, the Incas—motivated by this “divine act”—win the battle and, once the Chanca Army retreated, the mysterious lithic soldiers returned to their original form.
But what really happened that day?
Mainstream scholars believe that the stone soldiers, called Pururaucas, were only part of a clever strategy put together by the young prince, and consisted of disguising mounds of rocks as soldiers and positioning them in such a way that the Chanca thought that the Incas had a much larger army.
Other historical sources suggest that many of the local ethnic groups that initially refused to participate in the conflict, audaciously waited to see which side would gain an advantage on the battlefield and then join it, thus, say some historians, giving off the impression as having come out of nowhere, and perhaps even from the rocks themselves.
But, the Chanca were bloodthirsty and extremely violent. They were great fearless soldiers and for this reason, it is hard to believe that they would have retreated from the battlefield thanks to stones dressed up as soldiers.
Something much more powerful must have occurred for the powerful Chanca army to retreat.
Another version of this legend is that the Chanca army fled when they saw the large number of soldiers that the Inca army had, but it was not mounds of stone but llamas which Pachacutec had disguised after seeing the numerical disadvantage.
However, many say a much more incredible event occurred that day, pointing towards an otherworldly influence.
Is it possible that Viracocha, who is often referred to as an ancient alien god by numerous authors, did, in fact, create a ‘miraculous’ army thousands of years ago, that helped defend the Inca against the powerful Chanca army?