Brazil - Mythology And Folklore
Myths, legends and folkloric tales are stories, beliefs and customs that have been passed down from one generation to the next and are usually conveyed by word of mouth. These tales usually combine a loosely accurate (if at all) account of historical events together with a mythological character (often a hero or villain) and a moral to the story. The actions of the characters are frequently used to convey a lesson or a warning to the listeners.
Brazil was occupied by hunter gatherer tribes centuries ago. In fact, evidence indicates that there were human civilisations occupying this part of South America as far back as 9 000 BCE (Before our Common Era). These ones had many tales that they passed down through the generations. Gradually, as South America was colonised and inhabited by other cultures from the 16th century onwards, the folklore and myths became infused with influences from the African slaves, Portuguese settlers, and other European folklore (from places like Poland and Germany, for example). The saints that have existed through the ages have also left their mark on the folklore of Brazil.
Of course, there are also modern traditions that have mingled with the folklore of old to evolve and shape these into newer, more current tales that children and the young at heart continue to enjoy.
There are dozens of well-known figures within the Brazilian folklore. Just some of these are:
Drawing of Saci Pererê by André Koehne
• Alemoa – this ghost is placed on the Fernando de Noronha Island and is believed to be the ghost of a blonde (therefore German-like) woman. She seduces wreckless men and then carries them to their death.
• Saci Pererê – this one-legged youngster is certainly one of the most popular characters of Brazilian folklore. He is mischievous and is blamed for anything that goes wrong on the farm. The Saci is known as a con artist that can disappear and reappear at will. Whoever can grab his red cap is granted a wish by the Saci, but legend has it that the cap’s smell is so bad, you may never rid yourself of it.