Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Korupira, the red haired Amazonian man

Korupira, Kurupira, Corupira
O Curupira - Lenda Amazônica. The Curupira, Amazonian legend),[2] by Manoel Santiago (1926) from [3].

The romantic style painting shown above, by Manoel Santiago, depicts a half-naked native sleeping on a hammock by the sea while a lewd satyre covered with reddish hair looks at her and caresses her leg. The satyre is no other than the Brazilian Corupira or Korupira (also Curupira or Kurupira as it has many other names as we will see below).

This “hominid” has been reported across a vast area of South America and may be, together with the other ape-men mentioned in my previous posts (found in Peru, Venezuela and Guyana) belong to the same species although they are known by different names.

map showing distribution of Korupira ape man
Korupira area of distribution. The places mentioned in this blog. The red circles show other places with ape-men (see my previous posts). Copyright ©2012. A. Whittall

The map above shows the distribution range of Korupira has been reported: the Amazonian basin and surrounding areas is this hominid’s territory. The red circles show places where other hominids (or all are the same being?) have been sighted.

First written account 1560
The first written reference about it dates back to the end of May,1560. In a letter written by father José de Anchieta to the General Fatehr at Sao Vicente.
Anchieta ( 1534 – 1597) was a Spanish Jesuit missionary who was living at that time in the oldest permanent town of Brazil, Sao Vicente, in the Bay of Santos, very close to modern Sao Paulo.
I will quote his letter (you can check the original Portuguese text online at the link shown below at [1]). After dealing with real animals found in the area (sloths, tapir, etc.), he goes on to tell his superior about the other creatures:

I will now add some few words abouth the nocturnal spirits or rather demons with which the Indians frighten themselves with. It is well known, and all say that there are certain demons which the Brazilians call corupira that often attack the Indians in the jungle, beating them and bruising them, and killing them. Proof of this is given by our Brothers who have sometimes seen those killed by them. [...].[1]

He added that the natives used to leave on the summits of high mountains, feathers, arrows and similar presents, praying fervently to the Curupiras, so they do nota harm them.[1]

About the Korupira
The name Corupira or Korupira, Kurupira comes from the Tupi language and means curu,a contraction of curumi, boy and pira, body, that is “with the body of a boy”.
There is an excellent book by Joao Barbosa Rodrigues (1890), which you can read in full (Portuguese) by following the link shown below at [4] which deals entirely with this mythical being. He transcribes many native stories about it. He also describes it and its natural distribution over a vast area of South America. Below I will cite Barbosa Rodrigues: [4]
  • In Matto Grosso it is also known as Korupira. But some mistake him for the “wolf-man” or werewolf (Lobis-homem in Portuguese). He is a small sized black man that mounts a wild boar.
  • In Paraguay he is known as Kaapora and looks like an old native who is master of the forest.
  • In Amazonas and Pará states he is known as Kurumi, has only one leg and “Red hair, which civilization has turned into a red bertet (Pará).
  • He has a wife Yatacy (Amazonas) or Tatámanha (Pará) is an old dark native dressed in rags. They have children.
  • It is known as Máguare in Venezuela, Salvaje (savage) in Colombia and Chudiachaque in the Inca Peru. In Bolivia it is the Kauá of the Cocamas.
  • In Perú, in the mountains it is a nearly black satyre whose hair reacheas his waist, and who kidnaps women for his orgies.
  • The Makuchys of the jungles in Roraima (Brazil), call it Pokái and the Parikys of Yatapú River know it as Iurokó.
  • it carried about a wooden axe

Red hair: a Neanderthal?
The description of Korupira as being red headed is interesting if we believe that homind with red hair was shown on Piri Reis 1513 map of South America.

It was widely distributed
As we can see Joao Barbosa Rodriguez believed that the myth was indeed Pan-American and shared by the native peoples of Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Perú, Bolivia and Parguay . These people believed that Korupira protected and reigned over the jungles and its creatures.
In its northern reaches, in Colombia, it was also known with a different name: Boraro.

The Boraro skin
In Colombia, Corupira is also known as Boraro , Pírrarro and Hojarasquín and is described as a brown skinned giant with thick fingers [5].
There is a very odd story involving this creature which I will transcribe below [6], it deals with the The Bará, or Fish People (Tukanoans), of the Northwest Amazon, along the area shared by Brazil and Colombia.
These people which call themselves “Waípinõmakã”, live along the upper Tiquié and upper Igarapé Inambú rivers (see the map).
The Boraro’s skin myth is the following: a man found the skin of a boraro while its owner was fishing shrimps, “the skin was like clothing; the boraro always removed it to swim”, the man put the skin on, and it took control over him. It made him do some dreadfull things: kill and ate he boraro, go to his home and take over his place there –even sleep with his wife. Years later he returned to his tribe and told his story. He went back with a relative to the boraro territory and the relative donned the boraro wife’s skinn while she was fishing. They ate the woman and returned home. Their kinsmen refused to believe them so all went back to the boraro land. The two original men put on the boraro furs and killed and ate the other men.
So it seems that the “furry” “hairy” ape-man, the Boraro = Korupira is just a man wearing a fur, otherwise there is no explanation for a furry man to remove his fur. Could this imply that they were primitive beings wearing skins as clothing, just as our distant ancestors did?
Is this legend a myth about primitive Neanderthal men and their barbaric (i.e. murderous and cannibalistic) ways?


[1] Anchieta, José de, S. J. (1933). Cartas, informações, fragmentos historicos e sermões / Padre Joseph de Anchieta. Rio de Janeiro : Civilização Brasileira, 1933. Pp.128 Carta X.
[2] Painting: Manoel Santiago (1897-1987): O Curupira - Lenda Amazônica (The Curupira, Amazonian legend), 1926. Oil on cloth 96 x 157 cm. Taken from [3]
[3] Neto, João Augusto da Silva, Figueiredo, Aldrin Moura de. Uma imagem, duas narrativas: as representações de uma lenda amazônica em Manoel Santiago. 19&20, Rio de Janeiro, v. VII, n. 1, jan./mar. 2012.
[4] Barbosa Rodrigues, João, (1890). Poranduba amazonense, ou kochiyma-uara porandub, 1872-1887. Rio de Janeiro: Typ. de G. Leuzinger & Filhos. pp. 6, 12, 13
[5] Guillermo Abadía, (1994). 2.300 adiciones al vocabulario folklórico colombiano. Volumen 142, Biblioteca Banco Popular.Fondo de Promoción de la Cultura del Banco Popular
[6] Jean Ellizabeth Jackson, (1983). The Fish People: Linguistic Exogamy and Tukanoan Identity in Northwest Amazonia. Cambridge Studies in Social Anthropology. Nbr. 39. Cambridge University Press, 1983. Pp 108 – 111.

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2012 by Austin Whittall © 

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