Month: May 2021

The Amazing Story of Apu Ollantay

The Story’s Background:

Before I discuss the important scenes of Apu Ollantay and a closer reading over Cusi and Apu Ollantay, it is a good idea to get into the background, such as how it was created.

Before the story was created, it was considered a drama that “…was cultivated by the Incas and the dramatic performance were enacted before them” (Markham). It was also popular for the Incas during the time and was included in their theaters as well. Also, I believe that the performances were done in Inca as they wore colorful and animal costumes. That is what I have noticed in the illustrations from Caroline Picard that are included below.

Also, since the story was mainly performed for the Incas, some information I found was that it was “…first reduced to writing and arranged for acting by Dr. Don Antonio Valdez, the Cura of Tinto. It was acted before his friend José Gabriel Condorcanqui” (Markham). It is interesting how these three people brought in the writing of Apu Ollantay and creating it in a play. It is also noted that the first print of Apu Ollantay “…appeared in the Museo Erudio, Nos 5 to 9, published at Cuzco in 1837 and edited by Don Jose Palacios” (“Apu Ollantay”). This was a while back when it was first printed, but it’s interesting how it ended up being used in plays.

Apu Ollantay Important Scenes:

The story of Apu Ollantay is a story about Apu Ollantay, who despite not being of royal blood, wants to marry Cusi Coyllur; however, the problem is Cusi’s father, Inca Pachacuti, disapproves of their love thus many trials occur in the story. Throughout the story, three acts occur, and these are some of their important scenes as without them it wouldn’t make sense.

The importance in the first act that the readers should take into consideration is to learn that Cusi has a child with Apu Ollantay and she tells her mother about it (Picard 319). In this scene, she even tells her mother to keep it a secret which she did. With this scene, I found it very enduring how her mother cared for Cusi despite her not following the Inca’s traditions of marrying someone from royal blood.

The image below shows the interaction with her mother about Cusi’s child.

Image one: Picard, pp. 319

Also, during act three, right after Cusi’s father disapproves of Apu Ollantay’s blessing, the queen and the daughter disappear (Picard 320). This is when Apu Ollantay runs in search of Cusi. Now, what the readers weren’t aware of later on were the mother’s whereabouts. I wasn’t sure if the story just skipped it or it was unclear to understand her whereabouts; however, this act does make it clear that Apu Ollantay did appreciate looking for Cusi.

The image below is the scene where the palace is informed of the disappearance of both the queen and Cusi.

Image Two: Picard, pp. 320

In Act Two, what’s important here is the introduction of the daughter of both Apu Ollantay and Cusi named Yma Sumac (Picard 321). This act is also where Yma asks to see her mother to which she does near the end of the act (Picard 322). During this scene, I started to question why was Cusi in jail in the first place and it did become difficult to understand that. Also, I believe many years did pass later as Yma is already older in act two. Meaning that the illustrations shown here did skip over a lot of scenes that occur during this time skip.

The image below shows the reunion between both the daughter and the mother as she is placed in a jail setting.

Image Three: Picard, pp. 323

Finally, in Act Three, the most important point here is the father of Cusi is dead, and Mama Ccacca is ordered to open the jail cell where Cusi is located (Picard 324). Right after this scene, the reunion of Cusi and Apu Ollantay happens where Apu Ollantay describes how long she was away from him and the family lived happily ever after (Picard 325). During act three, with these illustrations, readers can start to notice how fast the end turned out with Cusi’s father dying and the family reuniting. I wonder how the story would have turned out if Cusi’s mother lived or her father would have been alive, then what would have happened?

Below, is a picture of the reunion of the family where Apu Ollantay is describing what I have mentioned previously.

Image Four: Picard, pp. 325

Apu Ollantay And Cusi Coyllur Nusta Marriage Vs How It Is in The Inca Culture:

The story of Apu Ollantay ended pretty cute and the story received a happy ending; however, would this ending even be true in the Inca culture?

In the story of Apu Ollantay, despite Apu Ollantay’s financial situation, both he and Cusi ended up together. Now when it comes to the Inca Culture during this time, the website under “The Project Gutenberg” mentions that this kind of ending wouldn’t be allowed as “…for the marriage of a sister by the sovereign or his heir, and the marriage of princesses only with princes of the blood-royal were rules first introduced by Pachacuti… ” ( Markham). This quote from The Project Gutenberg is a bit long. However, it does describe that during that time, it was forbidden for royalty to marry someone who wasn’t of their status. That’s why I believe if the father wasn’t dead, maybe the happily ever after wouldn’t exist at all. Even when after Act 2, Ollantay becomes much stronger, and “…he appoints the Mountain Chief.” (Markham). Even after that, I would see this story play out to how the Incas married would turn out to be in real life.

To end this short blog response, I do believe the Apu Ollantay was a good tale. I did enjoy the illustration from Caroline Picard and even the context of the story itself. Even when the text was hard to understand, it was still good!

Below, I have included one last illustration to show both Apu Ollantay and Cusi hugging as they did deserve that happy ending, even when their Inca culture tells them otherwise.

Image 5:

Images Taken:

Image 1-4: Apu Ollantay Illustration (Caroline Picard)

Image 5: Apu Ollantay Illustration (The Graphic Canon)

Works Cited:

“Apu Ollantay.” Edited by Clements R. Markham, The Project Gutenberg EBook of Apu Ollantay, Project Gutenberg, 9 Apr. 2021,,of%20a%20Tucuyricuo%20or%20Viceroy.

Markham, Clements. Apu Ollantay: Introduction, Sacred Text,

Picard, Caroline. “Apu Ollantay.” pages 315-325. The Graphic Canon, Vol. 2. Editor Russ Kick. Publisher Seven Stories Press. 2013. New York.

Popol Vuh, The Twins Defeat Seven Macaw

The Popol Vuh is a collection of stories cherished by the ancient, the colonial, and even the modern Quiché Maya people of Guatemala. The Popol Vuh covers the creation of the world and humankind. The Popol Vuh borrows from ancient council “screen-folds.” The following illustrations are of the hero-gods, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, defeating the over-proud Seven Macaw. Their work prepares the world for society and for the well-being of individuals within society.

Lugh of the Long Arm, An Irish Epic


The following is an account of the life of Lugh of the Long Arm. In Irish mythology this man is the savior of the people of Danaa, the true rulers of Ireland. This story covers Lughs origin as son of Kian, the sun god, and the battle between the people of Danaa and their oppressors the Fomorians. This particular text was found inscribed in a cliff face of the western coast of Ireland. Battered by wind and waves, the text was hard to transcribe. The order of the story is as follows : Intro to the epic, the origins of Lugh, his time in the palace of Nuada of the Silver hand and cultivates in the battle between the people of Danaa and the Fomorians in which the evil king Balor is finally slain. 



Three sons, 

from their mothers breast 

untimely ripped, by the hand 

of the one whose legacy 

preserved by this heinous act


Balor, king of those evil peoples

the Fomorians whose darkness

covers all of Ireland 

ne’er letting a drop of light through. 


But o, what luck is this 

that all seeing druidess 

Birog snatched from the surf

the infant Lugh, the savior of Ireland. 


For the origins of our hero true 

we look to a tower, a jealous king, 

and the theft of a calf

that one belonging to the sun king. 


For once Balor, that evil man, 

heard of his foretold demise

by the hand of a grandson, 


he locked his infant daughter

Ethlinn, that maiden fair,

in the tallest tower

out in the middle of nowhere


his plan foolproof, 

his life secured, 

Balor continued to rule without remorse


but he, that evil king, 

fell victim to greed, that fatal flaw

when he eyed the calf 

of that sun god


Kian, the one who bears the light, 

held prized his calf 

ne’er letting it out of his sight.


One fateful day, while three brothers bickered, 

that prized calf, yes, the sun gods own 

was spirited away

Balor, disguised as a little boy, 

did steal from the king of the sun. 


looking to reclaim what was stole from him

Kian comes across the tower 

where Ethlinn is held. 


Aided by that magical druidess Birog

Kian steals to the bedchamber 

of that maiden fair 


to fulfill the prophecy spoke long ago, 

“Balor will not be slain by foe, 

but rather kin, a grandson

who he will never know” 


The seasons change and soon

fair Ethlinn, maiden no more, 

bears three sons.


Learning of the babes, the king orders them 

ripped from her breast and thrown from the sea. 

Balor, that patricide complete

goes off to rule once more assured of his peace. 


But o, that fair, that great druidess 

Birog had other plans 

she who uttered the prophecy 

was determined to see it through till the very end


plucking that infant Lugh from the surf

Birog spirited him away

to learn the trade of his uncle 

Goba the Smith.


Under the tutelage of his uncle

and his father, Kian the sun, 

Lugh grows into a man unmatched 

in all of Ireland.


Learned of all the great skills, 

Lugh was sent to the palace of Tara

to work in service of Nuada of the silver hand. 


Reaching the doors of that great place, 

the hero Lugh was halted. 

That doorkeeper, the highly regarded man

questioned his skills 


“of what are you capable?”

“I am a carpenter sir, 

I fashion wood into carvings, statues, and more”

the doorkeeper looked down 

at the heroes face,

 “we’ve no need for you here, find another place.”


“but doorkeeper,” the young hero said

“do not turn me away so soon, I am a smith too. 

I have skill in the forge fashioning weapons and swords”

“boy” said the doorkeeper, “as I’ve told you before, 

we’ve no need for you here. We have a smith. 

We do not need one more.” 


At this the hero began to take fright 

his father had led him to this place, 

could it not be right? 


Refusing to turn back,

the hero Lugh tried again to gain entrance 

into the palace of Nuada, the one of the silver hand.


“Listen to me once more I plead with you sir, 

you say you have a carpenter, a smith too, 

but have you a warrior?” 


The doorkeeper looks down 

“Boy, give up your quest 

the greatest warrior in the land rests in this palace. 

We’ve no need for you here” 


Turning to close to heavy iron door, 

the man looks back once more, 

“have you any other skills? 

Perchance you’ll find a place here.”


filled up with hope the young man 

lists each of those arts that he has mastery in 

“I am an artist, a poet, a harper, a bard, 

a healer, a spencer.” 


The doorkeeper simply shakes his head

“boy we already have the most accomplished artists in all the land. 

How are you to compare to the great warrior Ogma 

or the most accomplished poet in the court of Nuada?” 


“Just give me one more chance. 

Go in, ask that king if he knows any man 

accomplished in all these arts. If so, I will be on my way. 

If not, perchance he will let me stay.”


The king searches for three days 

to find a man as accomplished as that stranger at his gate. 

Finding none to match the skill of young Lugh, 

the hero was welcomed through the gates

into the place of Nuada of the Silver hand. 


It soon came to pass that the elders of Ireland 

weary of the Fomoroians tyranny 

called to that young man, Lugh of the Long Arm 

to fight in battle for them. 


One day, the one in which their payment was due, 

the chiefs of Danaa gathered to get council from Lugh 

“Oh what are we to do? These peoples, these Fomorians 

do take our wealth our land and our health. 

Help us Lugh you’re our only hope.” 


The hero, no longer a young man, fashioned a plan.

 Instead of paying the tribute 

like they’d done so many times before, 

the chiefs were to fight, to pick up their powerful swords. 


At last the day of the battle came. 

The Fomorians, those evil peoples, 

came to take the wealth of the Danaans

those people of good, those people of light. 


Instead of a cowering chief, 

they were met with an envoy of swords. 

Soon all lay slain, but nine escaped, 

reported to their king, Balor of the Evil Eye

all that had happened and all they had seen. 


“A man, one whom on ne’er we laid eyes

led a charge and now your men, dead they lie. 

With the strength of a bull and the speed of a steed 

he did slay all those who dared to fight. 


Since that dreadful day 

we heard rumors of his might, 

Lugh of the Long Arm they call him

for his sword is quite a sight.” 


That king, that evil man, 

did thunder and roar at the news 

that power he had no more. 


“Lugh of the Long arm ye say, 

this man who dare to take my money

who dare to attack my men

he will regret ever laying a hand against the Fomorians.” 


The king then called for his sword

“Get ready for battle, bring in all the ships,

slaughter the cattle and prepare to defeat 

those peoples led by that hero Lugh 

the Danaans they are now, dead they will be soon.” 


Soon the very ground cried out for war, 

rumbles of battle were on every shore. 

Lugh noticed the stirrings and prepared his men. 


In an omitted section, Lugh goes out to find magical instruments essential for the defeat of Balor. 

While he’s passing a spot of rock, the stones cry out with his fathers blood. Kian, the sun god, had been murdered by three brothers. Wanting retribution for this heinous act, Lugh sends the three on an series of quests to gather impossible items (much like the 12 labors of Heracles) 

The story resumes with the long awaited battle between the Fomorians and the people of Danaa. 


On that fateful day 

the people of Danaa gathered on the plains of Mortya

determined to face down their foe. 

The brave hero Lugh rallies the peoples

the warriors and speaks of their great foe. 


“Men, we have lived under their tyranny for too long. 

How many of you have lost daughters, have lost sons

to those evil peoples these Fomorians? 

No longer will we sit under their evil hand. 

No longer will we let them rape our land. 

No longer will we let them reign over all of Ireland.”


At this the warriors gave up a great shout. 

They charged into battle assured of their victory

“For Ireland!” 


For two long weeks they toiled, 

for two long weeks they bled

those people the light of Ireland. 


At this point the text becomes distorted. 


Goban the Smith, that wondrous man

along with the most talented smiths in all of Ireland 

repaired weapons with the speed of swallows 

those fast strong african swallows. 


As men bled out on the battlefield, 

the people of Danaa pulled out

they pushed back those Fomorians 

gained more and more ground. 

Oh what a happy sight! 

Oh what a happy sound that clashing of sword upon sword! 

Victory for the Danaans seemed assured. 


But O, the Fomorians had tricks of their own. 

Their king they brought out to stare at their enemies, 

those people of Danaa. 


Balor of the Evil Eye 

was named such because his gaze 

had a lethal, a deadly tone.

The eye on the left had power to kill 

held venom in it’s gaze. 


When Balor was wheeled out on the battlefield, 

his attendants lifted up his eyelid,

he was an old man you see and the 

eyelid dropped ever so slightly, 

and Danaan warriors begin to fall


Those people, the light of Ireland

became smothered by the king of darkness. 

Among those who fell was that great man, 

that Nuada of the Silver Hand. 


Alas, the king of the Danaan people fought no more

if not for Lugh of the Long Arm, what a man, what a sight

all would have been lost in the battle for Ireland. 


That warrior, that clever Lugh 

found a way to win the fight. 

With the eyelid of Balor dropped ever so slightly 

Lugh picked up a bolder, that man strong as an ox 

and threw landing right in that Evil Eye that cause of such death


The stones throw was true 

so there Balor fell, the king of the Fomorians 

that evil man, lay dead on the field 

slain by the hand of his grandson. 


Lugh, hero of Ireland slaid that great beast

and fulfilled a long ago spoke prophecy


Hail Lugh of the Long Arm, 

Hero of Ireland!


At this point the text ends. Popular Mythic tradition holds that after his great success in battle, Lugh became king of Ireland. He enjoyed a peaceful reign of 20 years and is held as a deity in the Irish Mythic Canon. 

Vikatanitambā: Three Women Poets

Who is she?

Not much is known about Vikatanitambā. We do know she is one of the Three Women Poets that are mentioned in The Classical Sanskrit Lyrics. It is stated in our book that based solely on her name alone, it is believed she is from southern India. So perhaps she looked something like this:

  The history of sari: The nine yard wonder - Times of India

What is known about her is that she lived sometime between the fifth and seventh centuries. But even that is a very wide idea of when she was alive. I think to truly understand Vikatanitambā’s work, we need to understand the role of classical Sanskrit lyrics. These works of art are defined as being a short snapshot of a singular fleeting moment. As the book states it is “seeking to forever capture an intensely emotional experience.” Sanskrit lyrical poetry is called subhāsita, meaning “something beautifully expressed in language”, it has to be short, well-crafted and thought out, and a self contained thought. And boy, oh boy, does our girl Vikatanitambā deliver on all of that. Despite our book saying she has a few poetic pieces, I was unable to find any other than the one below. 


Her work

As we will soon read, Vikatanitambā had no issues using erotic themes in her writings. But she showed us images through skillfully crafted words instead of using vulgar descriptions. Because of this, we can focus on the emotions she shares about the love making with her partner rather than being distracted by the details. I want to share the entire poem instead of just excerpts because it really is such a beautiful poem that I think should be viewed in its entirety.

As we see, her poem is a breathtaking view of love making and we, as the audience, get to experience the emotion and passion that took place during this act. It’s beautiful and intense, without being uncomfortably sexually charged. The poem conveys sensual images instead of overtly sexual ones. We are left imagining the act itself. We get to experience the intense and intimate idea of losing yourself in your partner during sex. Of everything becoming a blur, of forgetting the meaning of anything in life and just being enthralled in being wrapped up in the emotions and feelings that making love with someone you care deeply for brings.

The picture above is what I imagine when I read her poem. The idea that everything “real” fades into the background and all we are left with is a cosmic feeling. The last two lines when she mentioned that she forgot everything, that she couldn’t even remember who each of them were. Maybe she means that their bodies became one and mixed in a magical and atomic way.

Even though we know essentially nothing about Vikatanitambā, we all know the emotions she speaks of. We can feel that we are kindred spirits with her.



image sources:

photo one:

photo two: a creation of Mika Sweetman

photo three: