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Feminine spirit of the Andean world: ´Apu Mama Simona´

Home / Travel Blog / Feminine spirit of the Andean world: ´Apu Mama Simona´
Feminine spirit of the Andean world: ´Apu Mama Simona´

The route to the Mama Simona shelter includes approximately two kilometers of walking along a path that heads to the top of this mountain.


The hill with delicate shapes of women is located in an area adjacent to the Sacsayhuamán Sanctuary, halfway to the Ccorca district.

Apu, according to the Quechua language dictionary, is the tutelary spirit that lives at the top of a hill or snow-capped mountain.


In the case of Cusco, the tutelary gods of the city are Apu Salkantay, Apu Pachatusan, Apu Awsangati, Apu Wanakawri, Apu Senqa and Apu Mama Simona.


Almost all the apus are male, but one female stands out: the Apu Mama Simona, which is located northwest of Cusco in an area neighboring the Saqsaywaman Sanctuary, located in the projection of the ravine between the area of Killke and Piqchu.


That is to say, the Apu Mama Simona is practically halfway to the Ccorca district.


Where does the name Mama Simona come from to a hill and tutelary spirit in Cusco?

According to Dr. Ángel Avendaño Farfán, a writer and renowned social science researcher, there are two popular versions that may have some truth. One, that Simona was the name of a hacienda in this jurisdiction whose owner was called that; and the other, that Simona was the name of a “malera” witch who settled her estate in these lands.


Regarding the name of Mama Simona, this Cusco scholar offers an interesting interpretation, which establishes that since all apus are masculine, the need to have a complementary feminine element to create life is generated in the collective imagination, generating an identity.


Mama Simona differs greatly from the other apus, since the male hills have sullen, rough and rustic peaks and bushes, while Mama Simona has soft lines similar to the bust of a woman.


Avendaño Farfán, in his Encyclopedic Dictionary of Qosqo, tells us that Apu is a tutelary spirit of a community or town that presided over its life, from the Waka that it inhabited, locating itself around the Apu, the Awkis, who were minor gods housed in the surrounding hills.


To closely observe the Apu Mama Simona, one has to be located in the main square or at the intersection of Plaza del Cabildo and Santa Teresa Street; From Sacsayhuamán you can access it on foot and at a good pace you can reach it in half an hour.


Whatever the name of “Mama Simona”, her presence was highlighted in our city this week, because in recent days this hill woke up snowed after 30 years in a rainy season.


Qaranka's conquest of Mama Simona

The man shouted, “Puriy! Puriy! Chayarushan hwñan niamanchis simonaman.” (Come on! We're almost there at Mama Simona!) Inside the bags, jewelry made of gold and silver clattered and clanged. The farmer was surprised. He didn't know what to do so he decided to follow the man. They walked to the tip of Apu Mama Simona.


Once there, the man shouted, “Mamay Simona puncuta quichamuway nan chayaramuniña Apú Qarankay Kachamashan.” (Apu Mother Simona, open the door. I am here because Apu Qaranka sent me.)


At that moment, a rock began to move from one side of the cave to the other and a bright light came out, just like the sun during a dark night. From that light, a beautiful woman emerged.


“Son, what have you brought me?”


“These bags full of silver and gold in exchange for your heart.”


Mama Simona allowed him to enter. When the rock began to return to its place, closing the entrance, the farmer shouted: “Mama Simona!” Mama Simona appeared again, with a special glow, and asked him, “What are you doing here? Come in, please." And so she did it.


When the farmer entered. He saw mountains of jewels and other objects covered in silver and gold. Mama Simona asked him what he needed and he told her about his terrible financial situation, between sobs. Mama Simona took two gold horns: one yellow and one white. She told him to take them and that she would never suffer again. But she warned him that, if he was lying, the rock would not move and he would never be able to escape from the mountain. Trusting in his honesty, the man left the cave and went to his house to meet his wife. Grateful, they both planted the horns and were able to harvest more gold and silver. The farmer and his wife became millionaires.


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