Paraguayan Myths

In order to explain how things occur, we as humans tend to explain things through stories. These stories can teach or are told for entertainment. As time goes by these stories then become myths and legends. Paraguayan myths started with the Guaraní people, who are the indigenous people in Paraguay. Since they had no written language until modern times, their entire religious beliefs were passed down orally, and because of this some beliefs may vary from one place to the other. Although today the Guaraní people have become more modern, and now have a written language (mainly due to the help of the Jesuit missionaries in the 16th century), they have kept many of the beliefs of their ancestors.


The main character in the creation myths of the Guaraní people is Tupa, the god of all creation. Tupa had the help of the moon goddess, Arasy, so that he could come to here, where he first descended in Paraguay on a hill in the region of Aregua. From this location Tupa created the heavens, earth, and animals. Along with the animals, Tupa created the devil, Aña (genious in evil tricks). After this Tupa went on to create the first humans, who were the Guarani. He did this through an elaborate ceremony, where Tupa made clay statues of a man and a woman and mixed other elements of nature to for the first Guaranies. He then breathed life into them and gave them the spirits of good and evil, and after this he left.


The first people that Tupa created were named Rupave and Sypave, meaning “Father of the people” and “Mother of the people”. Rupave and Sypave had three sons, and a great number of daughters. Their first son was named Tume Arandu, who was the wisest of all men and the great prophet of the Guarani. Their second son, Marangatu, was a great leader to his people. He was also the father of Kerana, who was the mother of the seven legendary monsters. The third son, Japeusa, was considered a liar and a hustler since the day he was born. He later committed suicide by drowning himself, and resurrected as a crab. For this reason, crabs walk backwards today.

The seven legendary monsters were born from Kerana. She was believed to have been captured by the personified evil spirit called Tau. Together they had seven children. These children were cursed by Arasy, who was the high goddess. All but one of the children were born with a horrific form. These seven legendary monsters make up much of the Paraguayan myths, and some are still even believed today in rural areas. The seven sons names, in order of age, where as follows: Teju Jagua (god of the cavern and fruit), Mboi Tu’I (god of bodies of water and aquatic animals), Moñai (god of open fields), Jasy Jaterei (god of siesta, naps. The only one who did not appear as a monster), Kurupi (god of sexuality and fertility), Ao Ao (god of hills and mountains), and Luison (god of death and everything related to it).


The Kurupi is a very interesting legendary monster, and is still believed today by many people. The Kurupi is a very short, ugly, and hairy being. He lives in the forests and takes care of the animals. Another characteristic that makes the Kurupi stand out was that he is said to have an enormous penis that is wound around his waste several times, and for this reason he was said to be the god of fertility. As being the god of fertility, the Kurupi is blamed for unwanted or unexpected pregnancies. The Kurupi was said to be able to impregnate girls without even entering the house because his long penis would go through windows, doors, or other openings in a house. The Kurupi was used as someone who the women would blame on for cheating on their husbands. He was also said to take women at night, and take them to the forest to satisfy his desires.
Another myth that is commonly believed in the rural areas of Paraguay is that if women eat honey during pregnancy it produces blond children. Blonde children that are well behaved are commonly nicknamed after the mythical character Jasy- Jatere.


Jasy- Jatere was one of the offspring of Kerana, who bore the seven monsters. Jasy- Jatere was the fourth offspring and was the delight of his mother because she had finally given birth to a human being and not a monster. Jasy- Jatere did not seem to have any deformities like all the previous children.
Although human, Jasy- Jatere had something strange about him from the time of his birth because he was born with a golden walking stick in his right hand. With this golden stick, Jasy- Jatere has the ability to make himself invisible when he applies slight pressure on the stick. This ability of his made his mother very worried because he was able to disappear from his mother’s sight as often as he wanted.
In the Guarani culture, Jasy- Jatere is the elf of the nap, which is a great time for kids to do their naughty deeds. He knows how to imitate the sounds of the birds and other animals. He can also transform himself into a friendly and tame bird and does this to attract children. When the child tries to catch him, he jumps from one tree to another. By doing this he leads the children into the depths of the forest, and before they know it, they are lost. When they have no where else to go, this is where Jasy- Jatere shows himself as he really is, a boy who is naked, blond curly hair, blue eyes, and holding a golden walking stick.
Jasy- Jatere loves to play with the children. He casts a spell on the children so that they follow him wherever he goes. Together they go into unknown places, eat fruits, and sing songs. They ride on tapirs, jaguars, deer, and do many adventurous things. They also cover themselves in magic mud in order to get honey because the mud makes them invisible to the bees. But all these wonderful things come to an end when Jasy- Jatere kisses the children on the mouth. The child that gets kissed becomes mute and faints, and is unable to play anymore. Because of this Jasy- Jatere abandons the child tangled in the lianas of a tree and goes out looking for someone else to play with.
This myth is a Paraguayan favorite. It is told by mothers to her children so they do not behave bad while she is napping. The mother tells her children to beware of the Jasy- Jatere while they are wondering in the forest because it can appear as an innocent bird and take them away.


Another Guarani myth is the Teju- Jagua, which means Alligator- Dog. This treacherous monster was the first of the seven legendary monsters bore by Kerana. Teju- Jagua was a monster with seven dog heads with radiant eyes and had the body of an alligator. The seven heads of this Teju- Jagua were a sign of condemnation because these seven heads could never agree with each other. This scary monster did not match his eating habits because he only ate fruits and honey. The honey that Teju- Jagua ate was provided by his future brother Jasy- Jatere.
There is another legendary monster that has the name Aó Aó. This monster is like a sheep but is a cannibal. The Aó Aó has powerful claws which he uses to demolish his prey. Aó Aó roams around and eats anyone that he finds on his way. He is the king of the hills and forests. Aó Aó is said to have several offspring who are also cannibalistic and ferocious like him. If the victim tries to escape and climb a tree, the heard gathers around the tree and to the scream of “Aó Aó” they dig and knock down the tree.
There is only one way to save oneself from the Aó Aó, and that is to climb up a pindo or palm tree. The Aó Aó is scared of this tree, blessed by Tupa, and therefore does not get near it. So if you ever see an Aó Aó, don’t forget to climb a Palm tree.

The seventh and last legendary monster was given the name Luison. This seventh child of Kerana is one of the few myths that have been changed over time. The original version of the myth of Luison was that he was born with a horrendous figure. He was pale and had long dirty hair that covered much of his body. He had a long pale face and his eyes were quite frightening. It is said that his bodily odor was of death and decay. His appearance was so daunting that the mere sight of him would infuse terror into any normal being.

In the original myth, Luison was characterized as the Lord of the night and was associated with death. Luison’s diet consisted of solely decaying and dead flesh. For this reason he would rummage around and lived in places that were associated with death such as the cemeteries or other burial grounds. Luison was much like the European myth of the Grimm Reaper. It was said that the mere touch of him was a sure sign that death was imminent.
As Europeans settlers arrived, many of the Guarani myths were mixed with that of the European’s. The myth of Luison went so astray and mixed with the European myths that he was not even associated as much with death. Rather Luison was typified as the classical European myth of the werewolf. Luison is usually now seen as a half man, half wolf that prowls around and hunts by the light of the moon. Also some believe that Luison’s curse is transferred if he bites his prey, much like the legend of the werewolf.

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