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South American Folklore

Maconaura and Anuanaitu

Maconaura and Anuanaïtu

In a time long past, so long past that even the grandmothers of our grandmothers were not yet born, the Caribs of Suriname say, the world was quite other than what it is today: the trees were forever in fruit; the animals lived in perfect harmony, and the little agouti played fearlessly with the beard of the jaguar; the serpents had no venom; the rivers flowed evenly, without drought or flood; and even the waters of cascades glided gently down from the high rocks.

The Gentle People of Patagonia

The Gentle People of Patagonia

Long, long ago, when there were giants and before there were horses in this land, there lived a gentle people who did not know sickness or pain or anger. They moved about among the animals and the birds as we move about among the flowers in the garden, and men were much kinder and the maidens more graceful and beautiful than any on the earth to-day.

Na-ha, whose spear is like lightning

Na-Ha, Whose Spear is Like Lightning

Long years ago, the people of Chile were sadly at the mercy of the wild folk who lived under the sea. To be sure, there were long periods when they were left in peace to do their fishing, though from their canoes they could look down into the waters and see the under-sea people walking on the sands at the bottom, very shadowy and vague, though, in the greenish light. Still, it was clear enough, for those who watched, to see their hair-covered bodies, their long and serpent-like arms and their noseless faces.

Why Monkey Still has a Tail

Why Monkey Still Has a Tail

Once upon a time the monkey and the rabbit made a contract. The monkey was to kill all the butterflies and the rabbit was to kill all the snakes. One day the rabbit was taking a nap when the monkey passed that way. The monkey thought that he would play a trick on the rabbit, so he pulled the rabbit’s ears, pretending that he thought they were butterflies. The rabbit awoke very angry at the monkey, and he plotted how he might revenge himself on the monkey.

How Night Came

How Night Came

Years and years ago, at the very beginning of time, when the world had just been made, there was no night. It was day all the time. No one had ever heard of sunrise or sunset, starlight or moonbeams. There were no night birds, nor night beasts, nor night flowers. There were no lengthening shadows, nor soft night air, heavy with perfume.

Armadillo’s Song

There once lived an armadillo who loved music more than anything else in the world. After every rainfall, the armadillo would drag his shell over to the large pond filled with frogs and he would listen to the big green frogs singing back and forth, back and forth to each other in the most amazing voices.