The Aymara people are an indigenous group predominantly found in the Andean region of South America, primarily in modern-day Bolivia, Peru, and Chile. Their rich culture and history are preserved through oral tradition, which encompasses an intricate belief system, mythology, and rituals centered around deities, heroes, and mythological creatures.


The Aymara belief system is deeply rooted in the worship of natural forces and elements, with a strong emphasis on the Earth, sun, moon, and water. They practice animism, attributing a living soul to all natural phenomena, and believe in a divine force called Pachamama, or Mother Earth. Pachamama is considered the source of all life, and the Aymara people hold her in high regard, offering prayers, rituals, and sacrifices to ensure her favor and maintain balance in the world.


Aymara mythology is a complex tapestry of stories, characters, and moral lessons that serve to explain the natural world and reinforce the society's core values. Central to these stories are deities, heroes, and mythological creatures that embody various aspects of nature, the cosmos, and the human experience.


  • Pachamama: As previously mentioned, Pachamama is the Earth goddess, and her prominence in Aymara mythology reflects the culture's deep connection with the land. She is often depicted as a nurturing, maternal figure who provides sustenance and protection to all living beings.

  • Inti: The sun god, Inti, is another vital deity in Aymara beliefs. Inti is considered the father of the Aymara people and is often represented by the golden sun disk. As the source of warmth, light, and life, Inti is revered as a benevolent deity who ensures bountiful harvests and prosperity.

  • Mama Killa: The moon goddess, Mama Killa, is the sister and wife of Inti. She is associated with fertility, femininity, and the cycles of life. Mama Killa is also believed to protect women and children and is invoked during childbirth.

  • Tunupa: Tunupa is the god of thunder and lightning, often portrayed as a mighty warrior wielding a thunderbolt. Tunupa is also believed to be responsible for rain, which is essential for agricultural success. The Aymara people celebrate the onset of the rainy season with rituals and offerings to please Tunupa, in hopes of receiving ample rainfall for their crops.

Unique Beliefs

The Aymara people have a unique belief in the concept of "ayni," which is a principle of reciprocity and mutual support. This idea is deeply rooted in their understanding of the world as an interconnected system, in which humans, nature, and the divine are all bound together. Ayni serves as a guiding principle for social interactions, as well as the relationship between the Aymara people and their deities. By honoring the gods through rituals and offerings, the people ensure the continued flow of blessings and protection from the divine realm.

Heroes and Mythological Creatures

  • Thunupa: Thunupa is a cultural hero and demigod in Aymara mythology. He is said to have been a great teacher and wise man, responsible for bringing knowledge of agriculture, weaving, and social organization to the Aymara people. Thunupa's legendary journeys are said to have carved out the path of the Desaguadero River, a vital water source in the Andean highlands.

  • Akeko: Akeko is a mythological creature often depicted as a small, mischievous being with a human-like appearance. Akeko is known to be the protector of animals and is associated with the management of livestock. Despite his playful nature, Akeko is also a symbol of respect for the natural world, teaching the Aymara people to care for their animals and maintain a harmonious relationship with nature.

  • Kantuta and Patujú: These two supernatural beings are central to an Aymara love story that has become a symbol of unity and harmony. Kantuta, a beautiful girl, and Patujú, a brave warrior, fell in love but were tragically separated due to a rivalry between their respective families. Their tears of sorrow gave rise to the Kantuta and Patujú flowers, which are now the national flowers of Bolivia and symbolize the strength of love and the importance of unity within the Aymara community.


The Aymara people observe various rituals to maintain their connection with the divine, to honor their deities, and to ensure the continued well-being of their community. Some of these rituals include:

  • Ch'alla: This ritual involves the offering of food, drink, and coca leaves to Pachamama to express gratitude for her gifts and to ask for her continued blessings. The Ch'alla is usually performed at the beginning of the agricultural season or during times of uncertainty and hardship.

  • Wiñoy Tripantu: Celebrated during the winter solstice, Wiñoy Tripantu is an important festival that marks the Aymara New Year. This celebration honors Inti, Mama Killa, and Pachamama and is a time of renewal and rejuvenation. The Aymara people engage in various rituals, such as offering food, drink, and coca leaves, as well as dancing and singing to express their gratitude and to ensure a prosperous year ahead.

  • Phujllay: The Phujllay festival is held in honor of Thunupa, commemorating his legendary journey and the knowledge he bestowed upon the Aymara people. During the festival, participants engage in music, dance, and processions, often wearing elaborate costumes and headdresses. The Phujllay festival is a testament to the importance of preserving cultural heritage and honoring the wisdom of ancestral figures.