Cueca is a family of musical styles and associated dances from Chile, Bolivia and Peru. In Chile, cueca holds the status of national dance, where it was officially selected on September 18, 1979.
One of the most popular myths among the fishermen of Chiloé Island is the one about a mermaid named “La Pincoya.” Sometimes, they say, she is accompanied by her husband, “Pincoy.” She rarely leaves the sea for the rivers and lakes. This sea nymph fertilizes the fish and shellfish beneath the water, and therefore the fishermen’s abundance or lack of food depend on her. When Pincoya appears, dancing on the beach, her arms open and looking towards the sea, it is good news for the fishermen because her dance announces that there will be abundant fishing. If she dances looking towards the coast, it is a bad omen because her dance will make the fish go away. However, the bad omen may be good for others, because Pincoya leads the abundance to those in need.
Joy, even if it comes from poverty, attracts Pincoya, and this is why chilotes, or the inhabitants of Chiloé, sing, dance and prepare curantos – their traditional way of cooking seafood in a hole in the ground, over stones and live coals covered with leaves, branches and earth – so that she will see their cheer and favor them. Part of the myth tells that Pincoya was born in beautiful Lake Huelde, near Cucao; that she is a gorgeous woman with fair, lightly-tanned skin, golden hair, and that from the waist down she has the tail of a fish. On certain nights she whistles or sings irresistibly haunting love songs.
The creation of the world
On Rapa Nui, Easter Island, the story is told that when there was nothing on the earth, everything had yet to be done. Then, an argument arose among the spirits. A powerful spirit that lived in the air imposed his will over the weaker spirits, who had started a rebellion. The powerful one transformed them into mountains and volcanoes. The repentant ones he turned into stars. To inhabit the world, the powerful one transformed a spirit who was his son into a man; he hurled him down to Earth and, upon hitting the ground, the spirit was left dazed. The young man’s mother felt sad and wanted to see him, so she opened a small window in the sky.
Her pale face is sometimes seen, looking through the window. The powerful one took a star and converted it into a woman so that she could accompany his son.To reach the young man, the woman had to walk barefoot, but she didn’t get hurt because the powerful one ordered grass and flowers to grow along her path. She played with the flowers, and every time she touched them, they became birds and butterflies. And the grass that her foot had touched was transformed into a gigantic jungle. The couple met and found that the world was beautiful. In the daytime, the powerful one looked at them through a small round window, and it was the sun. At night, it was the mother who would look through the window, and that was the moon.