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Brazilian myths and haunts on the Lusosphere – Part 2

On the first article of this series, we searched Brazilian websites that could tell us some stories about the haunts and the mythical beings of Brazilian folklore. Now, in the second article, we will sit and listen to the tales of myth, legend and fear told by Brazilian bloggers; tales about Cabeça de Cuia and Caboclo D'Água, and about the beautiful and sad tale of the Vitória Régia, and give more details about the mysterious Loira do Banheiro and her terrible death. And in the end, a somewhat mythical blogger-being will tell us about the Boto, that becomes a man and leaves the river to seduce young women and leaves them to carry and raise his offspring.

Alma Vagando, by DPadua
Alma Vagando (Wandering Soul), by DPadua on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

As we promised in the first article of the series, we will delve deeper into the macabre story of the mysterious Loira do Banheiro. And no the less than Claudio, known also as Uncle Craudio, the keeper of the Casos Sobrenaturais (“Supernatural Cases”) blog [Pt], will tell us the details of the terrible death that turned a vain young girl into a vile ghost:

“Conta-se que , havia uma garota loira (para variar) muito vaidosa que sempre filava aula para ficar no banheiro da escola se admirando no espelho.Ela era sempre protegida pelo zelador ,que encobria suas fugas.Este,mantinha um desejo platônico pela garota que aumentava exponencialmente durante o passar dos anos.
Um belo dia o zelador resolveu esperar a loira na saida do banheiro e declarou os seus sentimentos.Ela, sem pestanejar, caiu na gargalhada e mostrou todo seu desprezo pelo rapaz de forma humilhante.Ele, tomado por um misto de ódio e decepção, a arremessou dentro do banheiro e a espancou violentamente, abafando seus gritos com as mãos.
Após o ato inconsequente , o zelador fugiu do colégio e nunca mais voltou.Dizem que ela ,antes de morrer, conseguiu se levantar e ver seu rosto deformado pelos edemas e cortes no espelho,soltando um grito de pavor que fez todo o colégio se arrepiar.
Varias pessoas se dirigiram ao banheiro em busca do que havia acontecido mas nada encontraram.Não havia ninguém alí.
Como a garota sumiu, a polícia associou o desaparecimento com a fuga do zelador e o prendeu.Ele acabou confessando a agressão mas não soube dizer onde o corpo estava.”

“They say that there was a very vain blond girl who was always playing truant hiding inside the school toilet, spending all her time admiring herself in the mirror. She was always helped by the school janitor, who covered her escapes. But he kept to himself a silent desire for the girl that only grew exponentially as the years passed.
One day, this janitor made up his mind and waited for the young blond to leave the toilet and declared all he felt for her. She, without a blink, laughed out loud and showed complete her disdain for the young man, humiliating him. He, then, feeling a deep loss and taken by furious rage, pushed her back into the toilet and beat her violently, muffling her screams with his hands.
After the reckless act, the janitor ran away from the school and never came back. Some say that the girl, before dying, could stand up for a moment and see her own face, deformed by bruises and cuts, in the mirror and let out a scream of panic that sent a shiver down the spine of everyone in the school.
Many students ran to the toilet, to discover what had happened, but found nothing. There was no one there.
After the disappearance of the girl, the police associated her vanishing with the janitor's escape, and arrested him. He ended up confessing the aggression, but was never able to explain where the body was.”

Uncle Craudio swears the story is as true as the legendary carrot cakes prepared by his mythical mother. But, as we said before, everything about the Loira do Banheiro is deeply mysterious.

On Ulysse's Site [Pt], Multiply user lord85 tells us about many Brazilian myths and popular legends. Among others, he brings us the story of Cabeça de Cuia (Bowl Head) and the legend of Caboclo D'Água (Water Caboclo), and recounts the beautiful and tragic indigenous legend of Vitória Régia (the Brazilian waterlilies):

Cabeça de Cuia

Cabeca de CuiaDurante as cheias, sempre à noite e mais freqüentemente às sextas-feiras, costuma aparecer nas águas dos rios Poti e Parnaíba, um monstro. Trata-se de um sujeito alto, magro, com longos cabelos caídos pela testa e cheios de lodo, a que chamam cabeça de cuia.

Dizem que, há muitos anos, em uma pequena aldeia do vilarejo denominado Poti Velho vivia uma pequena família, cujo arrimo era um jovem pescador, a que alguns dão o nome de Crispim. Certo dia, o rapaz retornou da pesca muito aborrecido. À hora da refeição, composta de carne de vaca, pegou um enorme pedaço de osso e, a fim de tirar o tutano, bateu com ele na cabeça da velha mãe. A pobre senhora, indignada e enfurecida, rogou-lhe uma praga, amaldiçoando-o. O filho, com o coração tomado de remorso, pôs-se a correr como um louco e atirou-se às águas do rio Poti, desaparecendo.

Desde esse dia, o cabeça de cuia nada errante pelas águas dos dois rios, surgindo ora aqui, ora ali, na época das enchentes e nas noites de sexta-feira. Aparece de repente e agarra banhistas desavisados, principalmente crianças, arrastando-os para o fundo das águas. De sete em sete anos, devora uma moça chamada Maria. Após apoderar-se de sete Marias, seu encanto estará quebrado e ele retornará ao seu estado natural. Contam que sua mãe permanecerá viva até que o filho esteja livre de sua sina.

É o principal mito do estado do Piauí. A Prefeitura de Teresina instituiu, em 2003, o Dia do Cabeça de Cuia, a ser comemorado na última sexta-feira do mês de abril

Cabeça de Cuia
During the flood season, always at night and more frequently on Fridays, a monster usually appears on the banks of the Poti and Parnaíba rivers. Its a tall, very thin, man, with long hair cascading over his forehead and caked with mud, whose name is Cabeça de Cuia.
It is said that, many years ago, in a small fishing hamlet named Poti Velho, there was a small family that lived off the work of a young fisherman, who some say was called Crispim. One day, the young man came back from fishing in a very dark mood. At meal time, while they were eating beef, he took a large bone and wanted to eat its marrow, so he hit it against his old mother's head. The poor old lady, shocked and enraged, threw a hex over him, cursing him. The son, his heart taken by anguish, ran away like a madman and jumped into the Poti river, disappearing.
Since that day, cabeça de cuia swims aimlessly in the two rivers, showing up here and there, in the flood season and on Friday nights. He appears all of a sudden, grabs an unsuspecting swimmer, usualy a child, and takes them to the bottom of the waters. Once every seven years, he devours a girl named Maria. As soon as he eats seven Marias, the enchantment will be broken and he will return to his natural state. Some say that his mother will live up to the day her son is freed from his fate.
This is the main myth from the Brazilian northern State of Piauí. The prefecture of the capital Teresina proclaimed, in the year of 2003, that a Cabeça de Cuia day would be observed every last Friday of April.”

Caboclo Dágua
Caboclo D'Água, as depicted on Ulysse's Site.

Caboclo D'Água

O caboclo-dágua, também chamado negro-dágua e bicho-dágua, é um dos mitos aquáticos mais populares na região do vale do rio São Francisco. Ninguém sabe de onde surgiu. Vive nas barrancas e alagadiços. Segundo as descrições mais comuns, é baixo, troncudo, musculoso, muito forte, tem a pele cor de bronze e um só olho no meio da testa. Apesar de seu tipo físico, movimenta-se de forma muito rápida e ágil. Às vezes sai do rio e caminha pela terra, geralmente para praticar alguma vingança ou fazer algum favor, mas nunca se afasta muito das margens. Para muitos, é um só e possui poderes para estar em vários lugares ao mesmo tempo.

Dizem que possui o temperamento enfezado e não nutre grandes simpatias para com os pescadores e remeiros. Agarra o fundo das canoas e barcos, balançando-os até os virar ou encalhando-os. Seu corpo é à prova de balas. Para evitar encontrá-lo, deve-se fincar uma faca no fundo da embarcação. Porém, se for bem tratado, o caboclo torna-se benfazejo, ajudando nas pescarias e evitando enchentes. Para agradá-lo, basta oferecer-lhe fumo.

Caboclo D'Água
Caboclo-d'água [water caboclo], also known as negro-d'água and bicho-d'água [water-negro or water-creature], is one of the most popular aquatic myths in the region of the São Francisco valley, in Brazil. Nobody knows where he comes from. He lives on the banks and flood lands. According to the most common descriptions, he is short, barrel chested, with big muscles, very strong, has bronze colored skin and a single eye on his forehead. Despite his physical build, his movements are very quick and agile. Sometimes he comes out of the river and walks on dry land, usually to exact some vengeance or perform some favors, but he never goes very far from the water. To many, he is just one entity but has the power to be in many places at the same time.
They say he has a very short temper and has not much sympathy for fishers and rowers. He usually grabs the bottom of boats and shakes them until they capsize or get stranded at the water's margins. His body is bulletproof. To keep him at bay, one has to drive a knife through the bottom of the boat. But, if he is treated well, the caboclo may become helpful, helping  with fishing and avoiding floods. To appease him, just offer him some tobacco.”

Vitória Régia

Flor da Vitória Régia Numa Tribo de índios que vivia às margens do Grande Rio. Nos igarapés silenciosos as jovens índias cantavam e sonhavam.As índias ficavam por muitas horas olhando a Lua ( Jaci como a chamavam a Deusa), a beleza das estrelas. Um dia, Neca-Neca, uma bela jovem índia , subiu numa árvore mais alta para ver se tocava na lua. Não conseguiu. Impacientes as índias, noutro dia, foram as montanhas distantes para tocarem com as mãos a lua e as estrelas. Nada, quando lá chegaram a lua estava tão distante que voltaram tristonhas para suas malocas, e na rede todas ficaram deitadas muito tristes. Ficaram tristes, porque, caso tocassem a lua ou as estrelas, tornar-se iam uma delas com toda a sua beleza.
Numa outra noite, Neca-neca, deixou sua rede, muito tristonha, desiludida porque não conseguira tocar a lua. Era uma noite de lua cheia. Lá estava a lua grande bela, refletida nas águas. Ela então resolveu pedir a Lua para Tocá-la,e resolveu atirar-se no Rio para tentar tocá-la (o Reflexo da Lua no Rio) e desapareceu. A lua (Iaci) ficou com muita pena e resolveu imortalizá-la na terra pois era impossível para ela levá-la para seu reino espiritual e transformá-la numa estrela ,então transformou-a numa flor, a vitória-régia.

“Vitória Régia
In a tribe of indians who lived on the banks of the Great River; in the silent igarapés, the young indigenous girls sang and dreamed. They spent hours staring at the Moon (Jaci, as they called the Goddess) and the beauty of the stars. One day, Neca-Neca, a beautiful young indigenous girl, climbed up the top of the tallest tree and tried to reach and touch the moon. She couldn't. Impatient, on the next day the other indigenous girls went to the distant mountains to try to touch the Moon and the Stars with their hands. But they couldn't. When they reached the distant mountains, the moon was so far away that they came back to their malocas with long faces and lied in their sleeping nets in deep sadness. They felt so sad because if they could touch the moon or the stars they would themselves become a star and have their beauty.
Thus on the next night, Neca-Neca left her sleeping net, feeling very sad, disillusioned because she was not able to touch the moon. It was a night with a full moon. And there She was, large and beautiful, reflected in the waters. She then decided to ask the Moon if she could touch Her, and jumped into the River to try to touch the reflection of the Moon in the River), and disappeared. The Moon (Iaci) felt really sorry for her, and decided to immortalize Neca-Neca on earth, as She couldn't take her to the spirit realm and turn her into a Star she turned her into a flower instead– the Vitória-Régia (a kind of water lily).”

The Victora Waterlilly picture used in the above quotation was taken by CelsoAbreu and is published under a Creative Commons license.

In her blog Diário de Lisboa [Lisboa Diary, in Portuguese], a Luso-Brazilian blogger who calls herself only a “Word-Warrior Atlantic Nereid“, tells us the story of the Boto [Pt], the aquatic animal that turns into a man to seduce the young women who live at the riverside:

O Boto

Personagem de grande importância na mitologia amazônica, principalmente no Pará. Segundo a lenda, o Boto Rosa deixa as águas do Rio Amazonas e transforma-se em um rapaz cuja beleza, fala meiga e sedutora, magnetismo do olhar atraem irresistivelmente todas as mulheres.

Contam que em noites de festa, ele se transforma em um rapaz alto, claro, forte,bonito e sempre se apresenta muito bem vestido, sempre de branco, sem nunca remover o chapéu que usa para ocultar o orifício para respiração no alto da cabeça. O boto bebe, dança, seduz as moças interioranas que comparecem as festas de beira de rio. Antes da alvorada, pula na água e volta à sua condição primitiva. Porém acabando o encanto, na hora que tem de transformar-se em boto, seus acessórios voltam a ser habitantes das águas: a espada é um poraquê, o chapéu é uma arraia e assim por diante.

A lenda serve de aviso às moças para tomarem cuidado com flertes que recebiam de belos rapazes em bailes ou festas. Por detrás deles poderia estar a figura do Boto, um conquistador de corações, que pode engravidá-las e abandoná-las.

Boto
He's a very important character in Amazonian mythology, mainly in [the State of] Pará. According to the legend, the Boto Rosa [Pink River Dolphin] leaves the waters of the Amazon River and turns into a young man whose beauty, sweet and seductive voice and magnetic eyes attract irresistibly all women.
It is said that on festive nights, he turns into a tall, fair and beautiful young man, always well dressed, always wearing white, and never takes his hat off, as he uses it to hide the breathing hole at the top of his head. Boto drinks and dances and seduces the naive girls who attend these riverside parties. Before dawn, he jumps back into the water and returns to his primitive condition. When the enchantment is over, in the moment he turns back into a dolphin, his accessories become water inhabitants again: the sword is a poraquê, the hat is a ray, and so on. This legend serves as a caution to the girls, to be careful about the flirtations from the handsome men at balls and parties. Behind them, there could be the figure of the Boto, the conqueror of hearts, who could make them pregnant and leave them behind.”

These are just some few, very few, of the stories and legends that are told and re-told inside and outside the Portuguese speaking blogosphere. In the third and last article of this series, we will focus on the search for the Saci Pererê — maybe the most famous and mysterious being in the whole of Brazilian mythology. We will follow his winding tracks, blog after blog, and discover who is he, where to find him and, if we are lucky enough, find out how to be safe from his pranks. Stay tuned.

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