Variations: Aíge, Spirit-Tadpole
The Aíǰe is associated with the Bororo of Brazil and Bolivia, and in particular the Páiwoe and Aróroe clans. It is a gigantic tadpole, somewhat like a hippopotamus.
Rubúgu of the Páiwoe first found the aíǰe while walking through a swamp. He liked the little animal and decided to keep it, taking it home in a vessel of water. Rubúgu had great plans for his little pet, and wanted it to become something great and amazing, so before covering its container with a fan he told it “Grow for me; thrive and become an extraordinary creature”.
And grow the aíǰe did. It became larger, and stronger, and it could sing a loud, buzzing song. Rubúgu had to keep switching it to increasingly large containers to support its bulk, and eventually he had nowhere left to put it. He tried doing a dance for the aíǰe, but the tadpole rejected Rubúgu’s mediocre talents. Instead, Chief Baitogógo of the Aróroe took the aíǰe, and honored it with a macaw-feather headdress and a marvelous dance, both of which pleased the tadpole greatly. Baitogógo told the aíǰe that it had to live in ponds, swamps, and lakes away from the Bororo, for it was so big and the magic of its song so powerful, it could pose a serious threat.
The aíǰe accepted, and before leaving it told Baitogógo that if the Bororo missed it, then they should fashion little tadpole sculptures in remembrance. Those figurines could be tied to a stick and swung in the air, making an amphibian buzzing much like aíǰe did. Thus the aíǰe went on to become one of the totems of the Bororo.
Albisetti, C.,; Colbacchini, A.; and Venturelli, A. J.; Wilbert, J. and Simoneau, K. eds. (1983) Folk Literature of the Bororo Indians. UCLA Latin American Center Publications, University of California, Los Angeles.