The Terrifying Legend of El Imbunche

Imbunche statue in Plaza de Ancud, Chile. Wikimedia Commons

The legend begins with a family selling its firstborn son before he even turned 9 days. The boy would then become a member of a special guild of warlocks mentioned in the Chilean mythology.

But this was far from easy life. The warlocks would start to deform the baby and dislocate its limbs. Two months after the initial deformations, they would split its tongue in half and after that they would start to gradually twist its head backwards. At the end of this horrifying process the boy’s head would have turned 180 degrees from its original position.

In some legends, it is said that warlocks also made a big incision under the right shoulder and put the boy’s right arm into the gap. Then, they would sew the wound and let it heal. When the wounds have all healed up, Imbunche was complete and ready to become protector of a warlock’s cave.


“Imbunche” could only be a firstborn son, no more than nine days old. It is said that if the boy was baptized, the warlock would debaptize him through a mystical ritual. After that, the priest would break one of his legs and twist it behind the back. After forking the tongue, it was time for mysterious magical cream, causing extreme hair growth all over the young boy’s body. According to legend, Imbunche could only eat cat milk and goat meat, but warlocks sometimes fed him with human flesh, too.

Apart from guarding the warlock’s cave, Imbunche was used as an instrument for revenge, for when a certain warlock is in conflict with another or the whole village. It is believed that all the years spent in the darkness of the cave have gifted Imbunche with magical powers. Although Imbunche was not a magician or warlock himself, he often served as advisor to his master.

Legends say that Imbunche had the right to leave the cave only if it was destroyed or discovered and his master had to move to another one, or if there was an assembly between local warlocks. Imbunche had the right to look for food only if there was none in the cave.