There are many legends about the origin of these mountains, two of the four highest in the Andes, but only a pair are the most known ones: the Legend of the Kantuta and the one that follows: Viracocha had decided four lords would rule peacefully over the Andean territories, but one of them was arrogant and a troublemaker and had begun a thousand-years-long war against the other three.
Tired of this never-ending feud, Viracocha sent his envoy Tunupa to solve the question once and for all. After hearing everyone’s arguments, Tunupa ruled that only three lords would remain in their posts: the Lord of Light, Illampu, the Lord of Water, Illimani, and the Lord of Stone, Huayna Potosi.
The Lord of Air would be punished for his rebelliousness with death by beheading and isolation, Tunupa sentenced. Since then, the headless mountain is known as Mururata, and his head lies solitary in the Andean plains, turned into the Sajama volcano.
In another version of this tale, young Mururata, the Lord of Air, was jealous of his older brother Illimani, the Lord of Water, and tried to kill him in a duel, but Illimani, whom Viracocha favored, won. Mururata was then beheaded by Illimani on orders from their father Viracocha, and his head became the Sajama Volcano.