By A. Kissajikian
In honor of the ‘mês do Indigena’ in April, I have decided to bring some indigenous myths and legends for you to have fun reading while still extolling our rich Brazilian culture. Do you know them all? Test your knowledge in order of most famous to least famous.
In first place we have the prominent Saci-Pererê! The mischievous one-legged man is always looking to mess with anyone on their Friday nights. He uses a common shirt, a red cap, has bright eyes, pointy teeth and is always holding a clay pipe. His task is to carry disobedient kids into the woods, gurgle brood eggs, burn balloons, souring milk, and attacking unwary travelers. If someone declines his request, he will tickle them to death.
First up on our list of indigenous myths, the famous Yara or Iara. The queen of the seas is a beautiful young woman that lives in the Amazon River. All animals and living things adored her. According to the myths, she was a normal girl until sa group of violent men attacked her and threw her in the water. The sea took pity on her, so they turned her into a half fish and half human species, forming a sort of mermaid. Her singing and voice make her irresistible, and deadly, to men, luring them into the water as vengeance for their cruel ways.
The Curupira is another classic Brazilian myth. The Curupira, aka the protector of woods and forests, is as small as a child and as furry as a bear. He has long and pointy nails, walks nearly naked in the forests, but more importantly, has feet pointing in the opposite direction; his heels and forward and his toes are backward. The protector helps hunters and fishermen who offer cachaça, phosphorus and tobacco; they will be successful in their journeys. On the other hand, people that do not follow him may be used as toys for his contentment. The Curupira will make you get lost in the woods. Beware!
The Boitatá is a big fire serpent that protects animals and punishes their evildoers, including deforesters. The serpent may turn themselves into a tree to trick invaders, one look at this giant serpent may turn you blind and crazy. He burns and hurts anyone that means harm to nature.
The Anhangá is known to be a powerful spirit protector of the woods, animals and rivers. He may appear as a white glowing deer, red eyes and big horns as well as a man, armadillo or an ox. Legend says he punished the hunters of animals and nature by giving them invisible horns and kicks, creating reality-distorting images and leading them to loose themselves in the woods.
The lake princess
Amelia was the most beautiful girl of the land, she had long blonde hair and bright eyes. Because she was a princess, she had to marry as soon as possible. But even with her good looks and charisma, she did not want that. All she wanted was to talk to her beloved flowers every day for the rest of her life. She knew each and every one of them and appreciated all of nature.
One day, her father, the King, was sick of her childishness and decided to wed her to a horrible old rich man. She was heartbroken. As she spoke to her flowers and told them her problems, one told the princess she could get rid of her unwanted wedding. All she had to do was throw herself into the water, that she would sleep there forever. So she did.
Did you get them all? Let us know!
Do you want to get to know more of our own Brazilian culture?
Go check out the picture gallery we set up with photos taken by indigenous tribes in Brazil: http://www.thelionstpauls.net/global-print.html :)