terça-feira, 7 de dezembro de 2010


In Brazilian indigenous culture there is a gnome called Curupira. He is small like a very ugly child, has red hair painted thick with urucum (anato seeds). Sometimes he walks on bare foot, sometimes he rides a caititu - a wild boar.

He carries an empty tortoise shell with which he beats a big tree called sumaúma to immitate a thunder even if the day is bright.

He wanders in the forest looking for tobacco leaves to chew or smoke and - this is the intersting part - chasing hunters and wood gatherers. Yes, Curupira is like a jungle guardian, a wild child like imp.

The funny thing about this character is that he has his feet turned backwards, and whistles like an uirapuru, a small bird that sings so marvelously that all the other birds and creatures keep silent to listen to its song. It sings only once a year.

This legendary bird brings good luck to the ones who own it. So if you find one you are lucky forever. Any hunter will certainly go for it.

Soon he will find footprints and thinks someone else is searching for the bird, so he has to get it first. Sooner or later he will encounter the gnome who will ask him for a smoke.

If he doesn't fulfill his wish, Curupira will kill and eat the hunter. Nobody can go into the jungle to fell a tree unless they make Curupira a gift of tobacco and meat.

Of course the Curupira is only a legend for innocent people like children and indians. If he was real he would protect the jungles of Brazil against greed, depletion and degradation.

All this is by way of explaining why I called my homestead Sítio Curupira, where I am at this moment.

It is sunny and silent. Only the birds are singing.

I am going to go out.

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