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.