Alternatively known as Kurupira, Curupiri and Matuyu.
South American mystical creature and/or nature spirit, described as a wild boy with pointed ears, green teeth, fiery eyes and hair, his feet pointing backwards, which supposedly help the wild animals and is a defender of nature and ecology. His name comes from "tupi": curu, boy, and pira, body.
According to legend, Curupira is unpredictable and can occasionally seem wicked. His dedication to nature and knowledge of mankind wickedness and weaknesses can often make him seem cruel. His most interesting features are his feet. They are backwards, so an enemy who is tracking him will go the wrong way, and an enemy who is fleeing will run right to him. Sometimes the Curupira appears riding a wild animal, usually a wild pig. He is credited with having a wife and children living with him in the trees and undergrowth.
The Curupira protects the forest from the destructive habits of man. It happily tolerates those who hunt for food but is infuriated by those who hunt for the pleasure of it and will lay traps and confuse them so that they become eternally lost in the forest. It is considered wise to propitiate the Curupiras with their favorite rum, tobacco and honey to avert such a trick. Curupira and his family have been blamed for the theft or destruction of crops where the forest has been cleared.
These spirits are 'encantados' (enchanteds) of the Afro-Brazilian cult Batuque. The Curupira are tree spirits whose usual abode is the dense thorn trees in the rain forest. When a medium is possessed by a Curupira, it may be known by the wild manner in which the human will dance and make yelping noises and is able to climb the thorn trees without feeling the thorns. The Curupiras belong to the Japetequara "family" of spirits, and when they materialize are said to look like black children.
The Curupira blends many features of West-African and European fairies but was usually regarded as a demonic figure. It is said to be the first Brazilian legend, being told by Josι de Anchieta when he wrote about Indians fears.
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Sources: (1) Rose, Carol, Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia, W. W. Norton & Company; (2) Anderson, Ivan T., Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life, Adventures Unlimited Press; (3) Wilson, Colin and Damon, The Mammoth Encyclopedia of the Unsolved, Carroll & Graf.
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