Sunday, April 2, 2017

Scattered stories (Following folktales around the world 19. - Uruguay)

Today I continue new blog series titled Following folktales around the world! If you would like to know what the series is all about, you can find the introduction post here. You can find all posts under the Following Folktales label, or you can follow the series on Facebook!

For the duration of the A to Z Challenge, Following Folktales post will go online on Sundays.

Today's post is a little bit different than usual - given that I did not manage to locate a collection of traditional tales from Uruguay. Instead, I hunted down a bunch of collections that had at least some stories from Uruguay in them.

This is a bilingual edition of traditional tales from the southern countries of South America (Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay). It contains five tales from the latter, as well as games, folk recipes, and a short introduction to the country's landscape and culture.

The river of painted birds
A short story; mostly a list of indigenous bird species. It concludes with the Guaraní arriving to this land, and naming it Uruguay, which means "river of painted birds", after the rich local wildlife.

Candombe drums
Again, a tiny tale that paints a picture of how the sound of drums first arrived to Uruguay with people taken from Africa as slaves, and how it made the local wildlife dance.

Ingele thinks he is dead
I knew this as a Hodja story, but apparently it exists in other cultures as well. Ingele, the simpleton, believes that he is dead, because a random stranger told him so. Later, he "comes back to life," and scares the daylights out of some travelers.

Yerba mate
A really beautiful guaraní legend about how Yasí, the moon, wanted to come down to earth to marvel at it up close. She gets attacked by a jaguar, and rescued by a mortal man; as a gift, she creates the mate plant for him, so that he has mate to drink to keep himself alert, strong, and healthy.

The legend of the lajau (ombú) tree
Another really beautiful guarnaí legend, re-told by a children's author. Tupá, the creator, asks each tree what they wish for. The ombú viszes for light and porous wood, and a large canopy so that it can shelter many creatures. Tupá also grants the tree immortality for its generosity.
It is truly a remarkable tree:

Uruguayan tales from other books:

The Green Moss Prince (Stories from the Americas)
A tale of European, probably Italian origins; I knew a variation of it as Prince Canary, from Italo Calvino's collection. Here, the prince visits his lover in the form of a green parrot; when her evil stepsisters hurt the bird and chase him away, the girl sets out to find and rescue him with the help of the Wind, the Moon, and the Sun.

The origin of the camlet (camalote) flower (Ride with the Sun)
Indigenous legends from the colonial era. It tells of the daughter of a white settler, who rescued a native boy from a flood; the boy survived, but the white girl was swept away. Tupá, the creator, turned her into a lovely blue water flower as a reward for her bravery.

The sad tale of a foolish fellow (The King of the Mountains)
The same tale as Ingele, told a little differently.

Oversmart is bad luck (The King of the Mountains)
The Fox tries to lure a rooster off a tree by lying to him, claiming there is a decree that no animal shall eat another (therefore it is safe to come down). The rooster tricks the fox into thinking the hutner is coming with his dogs, and then yells after the fleeing fox: "Tell them about the decree!"

Where to next?


  1. Omg, "Tell them about the decree!" literally made me LOL, which awarded me strange looks in the lunchroom! Loving both your current series, and after April I'll have to come back to explore the archives!
    Jamie Lyn Weigt | Writing Dragons Blog | AtoZ 2017 - Dragons in Our Fandoms

  2. I'm amazed at the breadth of your knowledge of folktales.