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

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mythical "Magallanica" and the Furufuhue



Detail of the 1607 Kaerius World Map, showing an allegorical painting of Magallanica.

The allegory of "Magallanica" drawn in the 1607 World Map drawn by Kaerius, shows some interesting creatures that were believed to live in the mysterious Terra Australis south of America, in the South Polar regions.

Tierra del Fuego was then believed to be part of this unknown southern continent, and the Strait of Magellan was then thought to be the only route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Though Francis Drake had already noted in the 1570s that there may be a passage between both oceans south of Tierra del Fuego, it would be discovered in 1616 by a Dutch expedition led by Willem Schouten and Jacob Le Maire. They identified an island named by them Cape Horn as the southernmost tip of the Americas and the passage now known as Drake Passage.

Detail of the 1607 Kaerius World Map, showing Magallanica, a part of Terra Australis with its Terra del Fuego region and also, Patagonia just above it.

Surprisingly, "Magallanica" was not portrayed as a frozen icy realm but, quite the opposite, a balmy tropical zone.

The animals depicted in Kaerius' map are definitively not polar creatures: white elephants, a dog (or sheep? or bear?) like creature and a peculiar bird with long flowing feathers which reminds me of a mythical Patagonian bird,Furufuhue.

Furufuhue, the "wind bird"

There is a myth which explains the bitter Patagonian winds as being created by an enormous and mysterious creature resembling a cross between an eagle and a fish.

This bird is the size of a Mapuche hut and its body is covered with shiny scales instead of feathers.[1][2]

Scales are a definitively reptilian feature, which is quite strange for a bird. Furufuhue is seldom seen, but its song is heard at a great distance “even in the whole world”.[3]

[1] Noticias de Antropología y Arqueología, (2002). El Diccionario de Mitos y Leyendas. Online.
[2] Batic, L., (2005). Seres mitológicos argentinos. Diario 1. Patagonia. B. Aires: Ed. Albatros. pp 54.
[3] Alvarez, G., (1969). Donde estuvo el paraiso, del Tronador a Copáhue. B. Aires: Ed. Pehuen. pp 303.

Copyright 2009 by Austin Whittall ©

Patagonian Monsters


  1. hey austin,

    i posted a link to this site on somebody's flickr photo of a map dating to 1596 that also has the magallanica region.

    here is the rather lengthy comment i (made) <- (still authorizing my google account):

    i have this map in less colorful contrast (perhaps faded by sunlight) pasted to a wooden board. my mom says its from her parents but cant say anything more about it. There is a seam down the middle which makes me think it was part of a book at some time.

    I did some snooping around and the university of southern maine has a non-colored version of this 1596 map attributed to both Joanem Baptistam Vrient and petrus plancius. I couldn't find any information about who Joanem Baptistam Vrient was, but petrus plancius was a cartographer of 100+ maps and one of the founders of the dutch east india company. petrus plancius created a colored map nearly identical in basic features, layout and even conceptual basis for the images around the margins in 1594 to those of this map.,12_MB.jpg

    Note the use of armies in 1594 instead of animals as in 1596. There is also different placement of seamonsters, sailing ships, etc., and greater delineation of country borders and their associated colors(especially in europe). The themes of the graphics around the maps are organized a bit different:

    1594 1596
    Europa (Woman and food) Europa (Woman and sword)
    Asia (emperor on rhino) Asia (emperor on camel)
    Mexicana(nude fighter America(nude fighter on armadillo) on armadillo)
    Peruana (nude warrior on cheetah?)
    Magallanica (woman on elephant)
    Africa (nude man on Africa (clothed man on
    crocodile) crocodile)

    Also note that the latin?(top) and greek? (bottom) zodiacs are the same in both. i dont know why 2 years later a woman would be associated with violence, africa clothed, or asia on a camel instead of a rhino and magallanica and peruana are not pictoralized, but the following could explain:

    a long series of wars ended about that time:
    Joanem Baptistam Vrient didn't find magallanica fantasmal:
    peruana isn't so different from mexicana, so group them as America

    Neat find. I'd love to more about where the map i have came from. The lighting in the flickr map from 1596 suggests it is on display somewhere. I wonder where...

  2. I think that youtube's Floridamaquis would be interested in hearing anything you can say about magallanica.

  3. Youtube's Floridamaquis would be interested in whatever you have to offer about Magallanica.


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