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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The term Brazilian mythology is used to describe a series of cultural elements of diverse origin that are found in Brazil, comprising folk tales, traditions, characters and beliefs regarding places, peoples and entities. It is a subset of the Brazilian folklore. The term was originally restricted to indigenous elements, but has been extended to include:

  • Medieval iberic traditions brought by the Portuguese settlers, some of which are forgotten or very disminished in Portugal itself; as well as other European nations folklore, such as Italy, Germany and Poland.
  • African traditions brought by Africans to Brazil as slaves during the colonial times—including their religious beliefs;
  • Lives of Saints and other devotional elements propagated by the Catholic Church which were appropriated by the folklore;
  • Elements originated in Brazil by the contact of the three different traditions;
  • Contemporary elements that are re-elaborations of old traditions.

Because Brazil is a melting pot of cultures, many elements of Brazilian mythology are shared by the traditions of other countries, especially its South American neighbors and Portugal.

Also, the huge size of the territory prevents any folklore element from being prevalent all over the country.

Prominent figures

  • Alemoa - the ghost of a blond woman that is somehow connected to the island of Fernando de Noronha.
  • Anhangá — the Indian devil.
  • Bestial beast — a centaur-like creature, thought to be the Devil.
  • Bernunça — strange beast of the folk tales of the state of Santa Catarina (state).
  • Boi-Bumbá (see Bumba-meu-boi).
  • Boitatá — a fiery snake-dragon-bull that crawls over the open fields at night.
  • Boiúna ("Black snake") — a gigantic, nocturnal serpent that is the personification of the Amazonian rivers and feared by many fishers who live in that area.
  • Boto — an enchanted dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) that shapeshifts into a handsome man to seduce young women (Amazon).
  • Bumba-meu-Boi — an ox that is part of strange folk tale celebrated with dance and music by the peoples of the Brazilian north (states of Maranhão and Amazonas, where it is known as Boi-Bumbá).
  • Caipora — jungle spirits that lived in trees but came out at night to haunt those who were astray.
  • Ci — Tupian primeval goddess (the name means simply "mother").
  • Corpo-Seco (Dry-Corpse) — a man so evil that the earth would not rot its flesh and the devil would return his soul. Condemned to wander fruitlessly the earth until the judgment day.
  • Cuca — menacing, supernatural, female entity that does evil things to small children who do not go to bed early.
  • Curupira — a (male) jungle genie that protects the animals and the trees.
  • Cobra-Encantada (Enchanted snake) — a beautiful woman shapeshifted into a hideous snake to guard an immense treasure. One who breaks the spell will have the gold and marry the maiden.
  • Cobra-Grande (see Boiúna).
  • Encantado — someone who is magically trapped into another dimension, living an eternal, but unfruitful life (usually a punishment for pursuing riches at any cost or doing some wrong).
  • Exu — a demonic, trickster or simply mischievous (depending on the tradition) supernatural being of African origin that is worshipped by the Quimbanda, banished by Umbanda, exorcised by Catholics or ignored by Kardecists.
  • Mula sem cabeça Headless Mule — the shape taken by the woman accursed for having sex with a priest (South-East, North-East, Centre, South).
  • Iara — a type of freshwater mermaid (Centre, South-East, North).
  • Iemanjá — the Afro-Brazilian sea goddess.
  • Jurupari — another Amazonian jungle devil.
  • Lady in White — the most widespread type of ghost seen in Brazil.
  • Lobisomem — the Brazilian version of the Werewolf.
  • Mother of the Gold — a powerful and lethal being that protects gold ores. Nobody has survived seeing it, so no description exists. It is usually seen from afar as a globe of fire that flies from mountain to mountain (South-East).
  • Mapinguari — a large, bipedal, furry animal that wanders the Amazon jungle. Considered the Brazilian version of the Yeti or the last memory of the now extinct giant sloths passed through generations by the Indians.
  • Matinta-Pererâ — a malevolent hag with supernatural powers whose legend is very well-known in the state of Pará.
  • Muiraquitã, a greenish amulet of suprenatural qualities.
  • Negrinho do Pastoreio — a slave boy that died an awful death (similar to Candyman's) for not keeping his owner's horses. He helps people who are looking for lost things.
  • Saci Pererê — a mischievous single-legged black elf-like creature who is blamed as the culprit of anything that goes wrong at a farm (Centre, South-East) and is the mascot of Sport Club Internacional (South).
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