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
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
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
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.