MYTHOLOGY OF AMAZON RIVER BASIN is an art-environment-informative installation and presents a colection of myths from the indigenous culture of  Amazon region


An original native Brazilian wooden sculpture representing a two headed bird Carcará is placed at the centre of the installation area.  It is a ceremonial bench for shamanic rituals and it´s placed under a mock-up tree representing a Sumaúma, a very Amazonian tree species. Hanging under the branches of the tree - as metaphors of fruits - there are dozens of paper leaflets, depicting a selection of myths  from  Amazon region´s culture. The visitor is expected to sit on the ceremonial bench under the tree and pick the leaflets in order to read the printed contents.

 At the extreme sides of the area we have two large paintings on the south and north sides.

The northern painting depicts a young girl. She lays on a rug decorated with native Brazilians patterns and turn her back to a big window through which one can see night sky behind big trees. The girl is holding an electronic device, aiming a source of cool light - a TV set ? that amuses and completely catches her attention.

The southern painting depicts a military camouflage fabric beside a whole leopard fur. In my view,  very symbolic patterns in nowadays Amazon River culture.  Ten other small size paintings are spread all over the area, floating at a low height near the floor. They are symbolic metaphors of thousands of river streams flowing into the mighty Amazon River.

As a globalized emerging country and facing the homogenization of world´s cultures, Brazil is a source of inspiration in all senses. A progressive country full of all kinds of sustainable initiatives. Globalization has introduced an array of progressive trends. Protection of traditional features of culture and environmental stewardship are very important topics amidst a huge multi faceted scenario corroded by historic corruption in all social classes of society. 

Through the optics of art I foresee the rebirth of primordial relationship of mankind with  water resources. Perspectives for a conscious society in minds, hearts and souls of contemporary individuals. 

Water is  alive, sensitive and sacred, the Unifying Element of Mankind.


A quick glance at a dictionary shows: Water - A clear, colorless, odorless, and tasteless liquid, H2O, essential for most plant and animal life. 

Due to its essentialness, water flows profoundly in the veins of all cultures? mythical imagination. One of the most evident symbols associated with the crystal clear liquid is Purification. Beyond the meaning of ?purifying baths?, peaceful ponds and roaring rivers, there are secrets, mysteries and wishes. Liquid of all Liquids, Water is obviously associated with Feminine Nature, as the Sun is associated with Masculine Nature: embryos are formed in the warmth of the placenta´s liquid.

The placenta´s rupture results in Birth. It seems that this ?rupture? leaves profound traces in human unconsciousness, The realm where myths are born. Diving into Unconsciousness may give an insight into the Enlightenment experience, just as one´s surrender to total impulses of seduction can lead to Death. The myths represent the dive into the unknown waters of Unconsciousness, full of fears, wishes, longings, passions. The Depth of Waters is mysterious, nebulous, frightening, but extremely seducing. The Water that calms thirst can also drown.

 In Amazon Region, natives tells about Serek-á, an aquatic being, primarily a woman transformed by her unloved husband into a serpent according to the teachings of  the Aruá Tribe, as portrayed in the body paintings with ¨¨Jenipapo¨ ink. Or the tale of Siboob and  Taakar, two brothers who go to catch crabs, hear the music of the Goanei spirits of waters and finally drown, becoming entities who protect the Suruí community. Among the Macurap, the rainbow is a serpent which shows the people how to cross a bridge between Live and Death realms. 

Many of mythological beings associated to Water represent aspects clearly linked to sex. In the Amazon Region it is common to hear about the pink dolphin who seduces the bathing women, provoking pregnancy. A Fish, living  in a liquid universe, humid and mysterious, is linked in several Amazonian cultures to the  representation of the penis and testes as an embodiment of generative power.

In the Afro-Brazilian myths, we find Oxum, Godess of Love, Beauty, Fertility, mother of birds and fishes, protector of the rivers and fresh water. One narrative tells that Xangô, Oranian´s son and Ogum´s grandson, is virile and a justice maker. After losing his material wealth, with his feet he has hit the ground with such a violence that he falls into the Earth, becoming an Orixá. His wife, OiáIansa follows him on this journey as do two of his other wives, the sweet Oxum and the brave Obá, transforming themselves into rivers.

We realize all these myths build a mysterious network of Imaginary Landscapes, a mirror directly reflecting the collective unconsciousness. Looking at a water well, Narcissus has fallen in love with himself and drowned.

            Cleaning this mirror, unveiling the mythological meaning of the Waters shall be a true journey into the depth of ourselves.



About 1.000 rivers, including 17 major rivers flow into the Amazon River coming from 3 different regions: The Ucayali, Marañón, Pastaza, Urubamba, Putamayo come with its white yellow waters from the Andes mountains. The Negro with its black waters, Branco, Mapuera, Trombetas, Paru, Jari  come with their yellowish waters from the North. The Xingú, Tocantins, Araguaia, Tapajós, Madeira, Purús, Juruá and others come with their clean blue waters from the Southern Brazilian Savannah.  Adding to these rivers, scientists believe 100.000 other small streams of waters flow into it.

Tales are part of Amazon collective unconsciousness. At cities, children get to know them at school.   But in country side, on distant villages in the forests, where mysticism is stronger, tales turn into myths. They are told at house´s front door, on evening gatherings as a matter of entertainment. But somehow people keep a special belief on them. In Amazon region, is part of human culture to nurture such beliefs. Is something collected from people´s mouths. Myths, tales, hazards, good and bad whishes towards others, beliefs, folklore, taboos, jokes?

As the Amazon river, it is a vivid and everlasting flux in collective unconsciousness of population.


Curupira is the most famous mythological figure in Amazon Region. He is a red haired hermaphrodite boy, with lots of hair all over the body. He is the one who protects fauna and flora. He severely punish predator hunters who kill pregnant animals - either by sport or killing without need. He can easily transform himself into any animal and no good hunter can shoot him. Then he attracts the hunters into the forest and makes them get forever lost deep in the jungle and ultimately been devoured by the animals they wanted to kill. He will swiftly vanish leaving no clues. He is known for resurrecting animals without their will.

Whenever he sees a killing attempt, he also can make the prey turn into a human being and face the hunter who falls terrorized not being able to aim the prey and then run away in despair and fear . Nowadays, he is environment´s protector iconic figure par excellence.


Boto also called Uauiara is a pink dolphin from the rivers. He is the guardian of all fishes. People say that evenings he comes to the river shore and turn into a handsome young man wearing white clothes and go into the villages looking after the ladies to seduce and dance with them. He wears a white hat to hide a hole at the top of his head through it, he breaths. In his dolphin form he protects women bringing them to the river shore whenever happens a sinking ship.

Ladies are not able to resist him.  Caboclas are used to say they were seduced by the Boto by listening his melodious chants at moonlight or during the popular folk fests near the rivers.  Female natives says they were seduced by him when they went bathing along the river shore. Boto is mentioned as being the father of all kids from single mothers.


Boitatá is the protector of the fields enlightening the nights. Known as Fire Snake with big eyes he scares people and animals. He fights against incendiary men destroying the forests. Lives in the Waters and is very scary to people, sometimes is seen as a white transparent ghost running and illuminating the fields. Whenever dies his light remains spread all over the region he use to live.


Saci Pererê is a black joyful young boy wearing a red hat and smoking a pipe who likes to run after animals on his one single leg, just to scare them out. He likes to ride the horses meanwhile he makes knots in their hairs. He is smart and fast and suddenly vanishes laughing and whistling loud mainly at dark nights with no moonlight. He is very known all over Brazil and is the master of making small things go wrong: Hide objects so people are not able to find it easily, let food get burnt in the pans, dry the kitchen water supply in the pots?

He always comes in a small tornado like wind twirl hitting doors and windows  and a way to get him out is to throw a table knife into the wind twirl. He embodies a particular humor and provocative vibe.


Once upon a time the city of Belem did not exist yet, there was a big native tribe living there.

During a period of food shortage it was difficult to feed properly all tribe´s members.

Then the main chief Itaki decided the all newborn babies would be sacrificed to avoid over population. IAÇÃ, his daugther also gave birth to a cute girl who merciless also had to be sacrificed. IAÇÃ was everyday crying in despair, mourning and missing her baby. She was days long closed in her tent asking the god TUPÃ to her father another way to help his tribe without sacrifying the children.

One night she heard a baby cry and saw her daughter smiling outside near a palm tree. First she couldn´t move but finaly she grabs her daughter in the arms but eventually she vanishes leaving no traces. Day after people found her embracing the palm tree, smiling with her black eyes wide open staring the top full of little dark round fruits. The chief Itaki ordered to pick the fruits and made a strong red juice that he named AÇAÍ to honor his daughter IAÇÃ. Then he fed his people and lifted the sacrifice law. And this is the native tale of the tasteful AÇAÍ that we eat and enjoy nowadays.


On native brazilian tribe MAUÉS  there was a couple with a single handsome son, healthy and joyful. He was loved by all members of the tribe and was expected to be a future great warrior chief. This arose enviousness of JURUPARI the God of Evil, who decided to kill him and turning into a serpent, kill the boy while he was playing at river shore. Their parents did not know about the event and were waiting the boy until the sunset. The night came and moonlight spread all over. The whole tribe gathered and went out to look after the boy. They were all crying when his lifeless body was found. Then a huge storm came and a lighting hit the place were the boy was. They were all very scared and the mother said that TUPÃ the God of Thunder was showing his compassion and telling them to bury her son´s eyes at that spot, so a fruit tree will grow and bring happiness to all. And that was done.

After a while an unknown plant was growing. And turn out to be the Guaraná tree which grows fruits that are round black seeds with a thin white skin around it, leaving a black spot uncovered resembling the human eye.. And this is the native tale for the Guaraná, the stimulating fruit we enjoy it´s juice.


Whistheling loud and strong on the full moon nights, scaring everyone,  this weird old lady with her white hair falling and covering her face is one of the most well known tales of Amazon Region. She also can appear in form of a pig, a horse, duck, bird, chicken just to get on people´s nerves. On the next morning if some strange shows up at one´s window asking for a cigarette or a cup of coffee, one can be sure is Matinta disguising in another being.

When she is about to die, her voice keeps saying and asking: Who wants?! Who wants?! And if someone unaware ? believing is about getting something for free as a jeweler or money, as matter of fact becomes a new born Matinta.


Muiraquitã is a real luckiness fetiche. Resembles a small frog made out of stone, clay or green Jade. 

Natives tells the following: After a days long fest dedicated to Iaci - entity believed to be the mother of Muiraquitã ?  these frogs were made by the Icamiabas, female natives living on Amazon river shores.  After having sex with their partners Guacaris, the handsome indian ladies would go bathing in a pound near the river Nhamundá at the moon shining nights.

There, they would swimm and dive to collect the precious stones from the bottom and rapidly they would sculpt the small frogs and offer them to their beloved ones. These warriors would wear them constantly to bring luck in their hunting excursions . After giving birth the Icamiabas would raise only the female babies.

Still nowadays, people have this little stone frog  as a luck bringer.  Muiraquitã also take other forms like: crocodile, turtle, panther but the frog is the most popular amulet.   


A Young native warrior fell in Love with the main chief´s wife. As he could not approach her , he asked the god TUPÃ to transform him  into a bird. Tupã did it and the young man turned into a red brownish bird who sang every night to his beloved. Nevertheless the chief has noticed his chant and becoming so fascinated he would follow him trying to catch him. Uirapuru flew into the jungle and the chief got lost. During the nights Uirapuru sings continuously expecting his beloved will finally notice him and his magic. That?s why Uirapuru is considered being an amulet for happiness and good venture in love and business.  



The origin of Xingu and Amazonas rivers are also part of native Brazilians imaginary.

They say that in past everything was dry. Juruna lived in the forest and there was no water or rivers. Juriti was the entity who possessed the water and kept them in 3 big round drums. Eventually, the 3 sons of Cinaã were thirsty and ask the bird a bit of water. Juriti didn´t give them water and said: ?Your father is a mighty xaman! Why he does not give you water? Crying, they returned home and told their mother what happened. Then Cinaã warned they should not go there again because was very dangerous and there were big fishes in the drums. But despite been warned, they went there and broke the drums. When the waters flew away the bird Juriti turned into an animal. The brothers jumped out of the scene but Rubiatá (one of the brothers) was swallowed by a big fish which was hidden in the drum and one could only see his legs coming out of the fish´s mouth.

The other two brothers started to run and on their way they were creating the rivers and waterfalls, followed by the big fish who bringing the waters finally created the Xingu river. They ran until the Amazonas river. There, the brothers found Rubiatá dead. Then they cut his legs, got his blood and blew it. Rubiatá turned into human again. They blew water and that made the Amazon river be so wide. After that they returned home and told their mother they have broken the drums and now they would have drinking water forever.


For some native brazilians the Sun  was a human being named KUANDÚ, who had three sons. One would come up during the dry season. The other would come up in the rain season. The third would help both brothers in their duties whenever they needed help.

Long time ago a native from Juruna tribe was supposed to have eaten KUANDÚ´s father. Eventually Kuandú was angry and went to the forest to pick coconuts. There he met Juruna and told him he would die. But Juruna acted faster and managed to hit Kuandú first with a bench of coconuts. Then everything turned into darkness. Children started to starve because Juruna couldn´t work at the crops or either go fishing. All was in the darkness.

At his house, Kuandú´s wife told one of their sons to go out of the house and suddenly there was light again. The boy couldn´t stand the heat and the light and got back into the house. The darkness came back again. And so the three boys kept doing. Going out, coming into the house. So, during the dry season is the older son who is outside the house. When the sun rays are milder is the younger son who is outside the house. The third son only appears when both are tired. And this is how the tale explains the day and night and the power of the sun during the seasons.


MAPINGUARI is a fantastic being of the jungle. Feared by hunters and caboclos in the deep Amazon region. Is know for running and yehling throughout the jungle. If someone come cross his way he eventually will attack, kill and devour his body starting with the head. He got ahir all over the body, one single eye and a mighty mouth in his belly.


People says that in a unknown tribe deep in the forests lived the young Indian girl Naiá. She believed the Moon would choose the most beautiful ladies and turn them into a star glowing forever in the night sky. She wished that would happen to her and every night would leave her house expecting she would be noticed by the moon. Bu this never happened. She could not sleep any longer spending all night walking around a lake trying to catch Moon´s attention. 

Then she saw the moon mirroring on the lake´s surface and believed finally her time was there. Jumping into the deep waters she never came back. The Moon,  deeply moved by the lady´s sacrifice decided to turn her into another star but not glittering in the sky.

So, she turn the lady into a delicate white flower growing on a huge round green leave floating on lakes water mirrors. The Vitoria Régia.

Curiouslly these flowers only blossom during the nights. With a very strong scent, it´s petals are white turning into a light pink when the sun is rising.


.At the Macuxi native tribe there was a strong and inteligent man who fell in love with a handsome woman of his tribe. Eventually they became a couple and enjoyed a happy life until she got ill and handicap.  The Macuxi would hold and  carry her everywhere he would go. One say he felt a heavier weight and found out she was dead. Macuxi made a grave near a water stream and buried himself along his beloved once he had no reason to live any longer.

Several full moon went away and one night a gracious and unknown plant started to grow at the same spot they were buried. It was the Tamba-Tajá with it´s triangle shaped dark green leaves having attached in the rear another small leave which shape resembles the feminine sexual vulva. The union of both leaves symbolize the great love among the dead Macuxi couple.

The caboclo from Amazon region grows this plant because he believes it´s a mystical plant.  If it grows well and has the small one in it´s back it does means there is lots of love in the house. But if there is no sign of the small leaves in the back, there is no love in the house. But if there are more then  one small leave in the back is because there is unfaithfulness among the couple.

So.. this is why people like to have Tamba-Tajá at home in Amazon Region.


In a certain native brasilians tribe the daugther of the chief got pregnant.

The chief was up set because was his dream to have his daughter married to a great warrior.

Then he dreamt there was a white man at his door saying he shouldn´t be sad because his daughter wouldn´t disappoint him, she was still virgin. From that day on he was happy again and was nice to his daughter.

Months later she gave birth to a cue little girl with a very white skin. She was named MANI and was very intelligent and joyful. But one morning she was found dead at her bed.

Her mother in despair decided to bury the child inside her house. Every day she would be found crying, with her eyedrops watering her daugther´s grave.

One of these days she realized there was a unknown little plant growing at the spot.  She started to take care of the little plant until she saw the ground around the plant getting bigger and imagined her daughter was coming to life again.

But nevertheless she just found very thick and white roots which happened to become the main food of all Indian tribes. The MANDIOCA which means MANI´s house.



A tale tells about the origin of the moon.

Manduka was in love with his sister. Every night he would go and sleep with her but he wouldn´t show his face so she couldn´t recognize him. 

But she was very curious and meanwhile he was sleeping she rubbed the black Jenipapo juice on his face. Next morning Manduka tryied to was his face but had no success. Jenipapo ink cannot be washed away so easily. Then she and the whole family and the people of her tribe found out what Manduka has been up to. She was ashamed and also Manduka who finaly climbed a tree going until the limits of the sky trying to hide himself from the people.

One day he came down and told the Juruna people that he would go back to his tree and would never come back to the tribe. This time he took a Cotia, a little animal with him, so he wouldn´t fell alone. Then he turn himself into the moon. And these are the reason the moon has those black shadows on it´s surface. They are the Jenipapo ink his sister once has painted his face. And from time to time the Cotia also appears at moon´s surface eating coconuts. And this is another black spot on the moon..

NASA image
Revaler Strasse 7, 10245
Berlin, Germany
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