Jungle Folklore

Home
Expeditions
General Information
About Us
Contact Us
Amazon Information
Photo Gallery

The following four tales are very popular ones in the Peruvian Amazon. My father told me each of these stories when I was just a young boy. I have since then heard them many times, and in many versions, but the basic legend remains the same. ~Orlando Hoyos

El Bufeo Colorado
El Chulla Chaqui
La Tanrrilla
La Sachamama

El Bufeo Colorado
The legend of the Bufeo Colorado, or pink river dolphin, is perhaps the most popular of the Amazon myths. According to the story, the dolphin can transform into a handsome man in order to attract a beautiful village girl. When a riverside village has a fiesta, there will often appear a stranger among the guests, and he will choose the most beautiful young girl. She becomes completely enchanted, and he tries to convince her to leave with him. If he is unsuccessful at first, he will reappear and keep trying. The story at this point has two different versions.

In the first version, the girl is so enthralled that she leaves with the man, she becomes pregnant, and he then disappears. When the baby is born, the baby is actually part dolphin, and the girl knows her lover was really the Bufeo Colorado. (This story is often used in the Amazon to explain an unmarried woman’s pregnancy, since she would never have allowed any sexual advances.)

In the second version, the girl’s father becomes suspicious of the stranger and decides to trick the man. All Amazon jungle houses are built on stilts and have a ladder at the doorway. When the stranger next visits and is alone inside the house with his daughter, the father removes the ladder from the door. He waits outside for some time and then calls to his daughter that he is back home. She becomes frightened and tells her lover that he must leave quickly. He runs from the house and, with no stairway, falls down onto the ground. The shock of the fall breaks the stranger’s magical powers and the family can now see the real Bufeo Colorado, or pink dolphin, laying in their yard. Strewn around him are a stingray (which had been his hat), two walking catfish (which were his shoes), an anaconda (which was his belt), and a crab (which was his wrist watch).

……………………………………………………………

El Chulla Chaqui
The Chulla Chaqui is an elf or demon who lives in the Amazon jungle. The name of the Chulla Chaqui originates from the Incan Quecha language. Chulla is “unequal” and Chaqui is “feet”; therefore the Chulla Chaqui has feet of different sizes. He has the magical ability to transform his appearance so that he can look like anyone. When native people are working or hunting in the jungle, the Chulla Chaqui will appear in the disguise of a friend or relative and take the person along with him deeper into the forest until he is lost. The Chulla Chaqui will then disappear into an impassable part of the jungle. The legend says that during the Rubber boom period, many people were lured by the Chulla Chaqui - especially women. The men would be out tapping rubber trees and the wife would be in camp alone cooking. The Chulla Chaqui would disguise himself as her husband and call to her to come into the jungle to help him. She would never be seen again.

The only way to uncover the identity of El Chulla Chaqui is to look at his feet, which he tries to hide, to see if they are uneven in size.

……………………………………………………………

La Tanrrilla
The Tanrrilla, or Sunbittern, is a small Amazon bird with long legs who lives near the banks of the Amazon rivers. The bird has beautiful dappled black, brown, and gray plumage which serves as camouflage while the bird hides waiting to spear fish with its sharp beak.

According to jungle legend, the bird can help unlucky men attract the woman they desire. The man will kill the tanrrilla and bury it for several weeks or months until the flesh rots away. He then digs up the bones and takes the long leg bone which is now hollow. He will then seek out the girl he wants for his “enamorada”, or sweetheart, and he will hide until she is nearby. He will then take out the leg bone, which acts as his talisman, and he will look at her through the hollow bone. A spell is cast on the girl, and she will suddenly accept his attentions.

……………………………………………………………

La Sachamama
The Sachamama is a boa constrictor of enormous size. Legend tells that as the snake grows and grows and grows it can no longer move through the jungle, so it searches for a swampy area to make its permanent home. As time passes, jungle trees, ferns, and flowers grow around and over the boa. It becomes completely camouflaged from view by people or jungle animals. At this point the Sachamama is said to be imbued with a magical, magnetic power to attract prey. As the poor, unsuspecting animal or native passes by, he is pulled into the boa’s enormous mouth and devoured.

The story I was told as a small boy told of a hunter who was deep in the jungle searching for animals. The man was clearing his path with a machete when he slashed into a large tree root, but instead of tree sap, the “root” began to bleed. The “root” then began to have convulsive contractions and the hunter realized he had actually cut into the Sachamama’s tail instead of a tree root. He immediately ran away and considered himself very fortunate to have escaped the boa’s mouth.

Top
Amazon Information  |  The Learning Center  |  Iquitos  |  Jungle Folklore


Copyright © 2002, 2011 Peruvian Amazon Rainforest Expedition
All Rights Reserved. Email: nkhoyos@yahoo.com