The Curupira myth
The Curupira folklore was, probably, the first ever to be documented in Brazil, by the priest José de Anchieta on 1560. Long before the arrival of the colonizers, the natives used to tell stories about the fantastic being that lived in the forest and protect it from any harm.
The name Curupira means "child's body" in the tupi-guarani language. Although there are some regional variations about his description, his most popular version is the form of boy with flame-colored hair and feet turned to face backwards. Also, there are various powers attributed to him, among them: cast illusions and enchantments, super speed, transmutation and great strength. There is only one consensus: the Curupira is a guardian of the fauna and flora.
The Curupira is a fair and brave entity. He does not tolerate those who threaten to harm the environment, but he helps those who are lost or in need. Like all children, he enjoys gifts and harmless mischief.
His most powerful weapon against hunters, loggers and other villains is his cunning. Full of tricks, he misleads the wrongdoers making them get lost in the woods. His backward feet, for example, have the effect of confusing hunters who may try to follow his tracks. He also uses whistles and imitates sounds of both nature and human voice to confuse his targets. His most severe punishment would be to transform the predator into prey, for example, make an evil hunter become a helpless woodland critter.
We can summarize the legend of Curupira as myth of nature protection. He is a supernatural force that defends plants and animals from harmful hunting, fishing and resource extraction made by men. It's an unforgettable mark in the Brazilian culture, especially useful to enhance environmental awareness on children and grown-ups alike.
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