Variations: Munuane, Munuani


Munuanë is either a single entity or an entire species of ogres native to the Guahibo people of Colombia and Venezuela. Many stories end with him being outsmarted and killed, which would be slightly inconvenient if he was one person.

Munuanë plies the waterways of the jungle on a makeshift raft. He is tall and powerful, with long grey hair, but his mouth is as toothless as a turtle’s. He loves eating human flesh, but his lack of teeth forces him to prepare his meals before eating them. Munuanë lacks eyes in his head, instead having them in his knees. Those eyes are his weak spot, as he is invulnerable everywhere but his knees. His wife is called Matasoropapénayo, or “Little-bone-of-the-crown”, and they live together in a hut in the deepest part of the jungle.

He is the “grandfather of fish”, and claims ownership over all the fish in the river. Fishermen are advised to bring in their catch as quickly as possible and not fish more than they need, as Munuanë hates greed, and mesmerizes overfishers into walking off ravines. Other times he shoots offenders with his arrow – Munuanë always carries around only one arrow, as he never misses his target. He is also an insatiable sexual predator, and his victims turn into termites.

It is said that a man once met Munuanë while out fishing, and did not manage to escape in time. Fortunately, Munuanë is not particularly bright, and accidentally shot the man’s reflection in the water instead of the man himself. By the time Munuanë had retrieved the arrow, his quarry had managed to swim away. Munuanë chased after the man and followed him to his village, where he ran rampant. But the man realized what Munuanë’s weakness was, shot him in the eye, and killed him instantly.

Such are the tales of Munuanë. Sometimes he is outsmarted by a powerful shaman. At other times a friendly spirit – Banajuli or Banaxuruni – is there to reveal his weak spot. Sometimes he is transformed into a rotten tree stump when he dies, with the arrow that killed him still embedded in the trunk. The entire forest cries out upon his death; he may be an ogre, but he also cares for the jungle and the fish of the river.


Kondo, R. L. W.; Kondo, V. F.; Maltoni, R.; Gómez, F. O.; Queixalós, F.; and Vargas, E.; Wilbert, J. and Simoneau, K. eds. (1992) Folk Literature of the Sikuani Indians. UCLA Latin American Center Publications, University of California, Los Angeles.