Variations: Kayéri, Cayeri


When it rains, the Kayeri are sure to appear. These creatures from the folklore of the Cuiva of Colombia and Venezuela are seasonal beings, seen in the rainy season and especially after a recent rainfall. In drier seasons they remain underground or underneath the roots of a tree, and use the holes made by ants to reach the surface. The presence of anthills in the rainy season is a sure sign of kayeri presence.

The appearance of a kayeri is nebulous at best. He is clearly humanoid in shape, and acts as such; he also has a yellow or blue-green hat. All the mushrooms of the forest are kayeri. The agouti, the broad-leaved unkuaju plant, and the Ficus vine are also kayeri, and dragonflies can become Kayeri. The coyoweri fruit is their invention. The only word in their vocabulary is “mu” or “mü“.

Kayeri are strong and run fast. They feed exclusively on cows, and they can easily pick up a cow and run away with it. When they eat a cow, they devour flesh, entrails, horn, hoof, and bone in one sitting, leaving nothing behind. The virile kayeri are bigamous by nature, and have two wives each, but they are fond of human females as well, whom they entrance and bewitch into coming to them. In addition to decimating herds of cattle, they rob, murder, kidnap, rape, and cause all sorts of evil.

The best way to kill a kayeri is to shoot it in the kidneys with a bone-tipped arrow, as they are quite invulnerable elsewhere. Once dead, the kayeri turns into a harmless stone.

One story is told of a hunter whose two daughters were abducted by a kayeri. The father managed to catch up with him and shoot him with a bone-tipped arrow before he could harm the daughters, and the kayeri fell into the river and became a pebble. As the family made for safety they could hear the ominous “mu, mu, mu” of kayeri beating trees with sticks, as they do when they are upset. “He fell out of his hammock and broke his back!” yelled the father, and they reached home without further trouble.


Arcand, B.; Coppens, W.; Kerr, I.; and Gómez, F. O.; Wilbert, J. and Simoneau, K. eds. (1991) Folk Literature of the Cuiva Indians. UCLA Latin American Center Publications, University of California, Los Angeles.