Curupira – about the legend
Curupira, from “curu”, abbreviation of “curumi” and “pora”, boy body. In some cases the Curupira is said to be a woman. She is the “Mother of the Weeds”, the Guardian of the Forest. He or she, protect the forest and the animals. You, that dare walk in the woods, be good to it and its inhabitants, or you will know the Curupira´s fury. Respect and be respected.
Curupira is described as a small boy, red fire hair and feet with heels in the front which confuse the hunters. Moreover, it´s said Curupira likes to seat under the shades of hoses to eat fruits, but if feel is being watched or threatened soon run in a so great speed that human eyes cannot follow him. Curupiras cast speels on children and then takes them to the forest, for some time, but after he send them back to their parents, with the age of seven-years-old. He do that because he like kids…But the children never are the same, because they never forget the wonder that they saw in the forest.
To protect the animals, Curupira always uses a thousand cunnings, looking for to mess up with the hunter´s perception, using shouts, moans, making with that the hunter thinks he is in the trail of a wild animal, but he is chasing the Curupira, and when he realize, he is lost in the forest. When a storm is coming, the Curupira runs through the forest, beating at the trunks of the trees, to verify if they strong to support the storm. If he notice that some tree could be knocked down by the wind, he warn the animals to avoid be near from the trees.
He can cast speel on adults. In many counted cases, he “mundia” (cast spells) on the hunters who are in the forest, they try to leave the woods, but they can´t. They always noticed that they are crossing the same places and walking in circles. Near, the Curupira is watching, many times laughing. He has an alternative: stop walking, get a liana piece and make a small ball. The liana must itself be weaved well hiding the tip very, of form that is very difficult to uncurl the hank. After this, he has to trow away the person must row away the ball and shout: “I can´t bet you can´t find out the tip!”. The “mundiada” (enchanted) person shall waits and do it again and again. Then, so curious is the Curupira, that he appear and get the ball. He seats, he sit and try to uncurl the ball, to find the tip and well, he forget the mundiada person. The enchantment is broken and the hunter find his way to home.
The Curupira has several looks: a boy of red hair, hairy, turned feet stops backwards (in Negro river region); without sexual identification (Pará); with long, blue or green teeth ( Solimões river). Under his protection is the hunting and he is angry with the hunter who kills without need. And he is furious with the ones with kill pregnant females or lyounglings. They turn himself, through spell, into a human, a hunter and disguise the hunters, leaving them in the middle of the woods. This entity is able to imitate the voice human to attract the hunters, and so they lose in the forest.
The Curupira is called the Mr. of the Trees, because he protect the animals and forest, among aboriginal myths, the Curupira is no doubt the oldest. If no, maybe a legacy from the primitive population that inhabited Brazil in the pre-Columbian period and that descended of the Asian invaders.
Under this hypothesis, it would begin with the Nauas, they gave it to Caraibas and then to Tupis and Guaranis. Anchieta priest, 1560), Fernão Cardim (1584), Laet (1640) and Acuña (1641) talk about the myth. Time and space change the way people see the curupira and what is told about. Thus, crossing ages and geographies, the Curupira was suffering inevitable influences, acquiring new “faces” and gaining new attributes. For belief in general, is the Mother, the Guardian of the Forests and the Hunting, that one who punishs everyone who destroys, giving “prizes” to who is good with the forest.
The Curupira, however is sometimes brutal, he is too delicate and compassionate, he dosn´t disrespect or disobedience, behaving as child. In each region I acquired a characteristic type, which varies. Armed with a hoof of jaboti (turtle), he beats at the trees to see if they are strong, but in High Amazon, however, it beats is jaboti´s heel. He can assume the form of a man, woman or even two sexs, is androgynous in appearance. His strange feet remind of a current belief in Asia in “Men with come back feet stops backwards”, as well as that they had “great ears” were common. Curupira has different names: the “Maguare”, in Venezuela; the “Selvaje”, in Colombia; the “Chudiachaque”, in Peru; the “Kaná”, in Bolivia.
When Curupira appear in Maranhão, he is there, sitting under Tucunzeiros trees, looking the edges of the river and asking for tobacco to the one that are crossing river. He turns the canoes they do not give it. He run through forest as he do in Amazon. Crossing for the Great River of the North and to Paraíba, he is called Caapora. He is enemy of the hunting dogs. He make the dogs chase him, then the hunters foloow the dogs and then of a sudden, he disappear, leaving the dogs and hunters lost. In these places it always ride a horse, a deer or a rabbit. In some occasions, he is described as an Indian, dark skinned, naked, agile, smoking tobacco and drinking “cachaça” (a kind of liquor).
The hunter must has some tobacco and finding the Caapora, if the Curupira ask for tobacoo, the hunter must give to him, then he (the hunter) will have success in the hunting. He hates garlic and pepper, which can make him furious. In Ceará he has too the name of Caapora, dumb again in aspect, there he had a long red hair and sharp teeth. In Pernambuco, he rides a jaw, has in his hand a twig of iapekanga or bow and arrow, with him a dog called of “Honey Eater”.
In a 1560 letter, the priest Jose de Anchieta includes this duende between the nocturnal appearances that use to scare the Indians. The Curupira, many times, attacked the indians in the forests, beating them, killing them. The indians use to give him birds feathers, arrows and other similar things, in some point of the forest, when they cross it. So the Curupira wouldn´t harm them. In Sergipe, funny he plays with the traveler or hunter so he laughs too much, till he dead. Then he is venerated as “comic spirit”. In Bahia, he become a woman under the name of “caiçara”, small woman indian, almost a dwarf, that rides a pig. The Curupira and the Caapora are the same thing,the Guardian of Forests.