Carbunclo

Variations: Carbunco, Carbúnculo; Añapitan, Agnapitan; Inuyucoy (Pira); Oñánge-píta (“Devil”, Guaranani); Carbuncle, Glow Beast (English)

Carbunclo

Carbunclo (Spanish) and carbuncle (English) are both derived from the Latin carbunculus, “little coal”. This has been used historically to refer to the garnet and the ruby, medically to a type of abscess, and teratologically to a glowing South American creature associated with riches.

Sightings of the carbunclo come from the southernmost countries – Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay. Multiple accounts of its appearance are given, and it may vary from area to area. A carbunclo has a shining mirror on its head, like a glowing coal, from which it gets its name. The creature itself produces a bright bluish-white glow from its body, easily distinguishable from wood fires and visible from over a league away. A carbunclo is larger than a mouse, perhaps cat-sized, and has a segmented body shaped like a small corn cob. The light is produced from within and shines out through junctures in the body segments. A bivalved shell resembling a rock is present. If an enemy is detected, the shell clamps shut, extinguishing the light and camouflaging the creature as an ordinary stone. Father Narciso y Barcel wrote in 1791 that the “lid” is covered in exquisite plumage, and there are beautiful spots on its breast. Carbunclos are also capable of leaping and running swiftly. Eulogio Rojas, observing a carbunclo from one meter away in 1879, noted more than four legs. In Chiloé carbunclos guard treasure and are cat-sized quadrupeds with glowing beards on their chins.

Carbunclos move about at night like enormous glow-worms in search of food and water. They have keen senses and are quick to escape or close their shells at the slightest sound. During the drought of 1925, flashing lights were seen descending the hill of Tulahuén to the valley of the Rio Grande; this was interpreted as a family of carbunclos desperate for water.

These glowing creatures have long been sought by miners and prospectors, as they are believed to hold untold riches within their bodies. Nobody as yet has succeeded in capturing one. Martin del Barco Centenera hunted the carbunclo in vain, and said that whoever could obtain the creature’s stone would be assured joy and fortune. By virtue of their excellent camouflage, sharp hearing, and impenetrable habitat, the carbunclos have kept their secrets, and no amount of careful searching has shed further light on them.

References

Aguirre, S. M. (2003) Mitos de Chile. Random House, Editorial Sudamericana Chilena.

Borges, J. L.; trans. di Giovanni, N. T. (1969) The Book of Imaginary Beings. Clarke, Irwin, & Co., Toronto.

Centenera, M. B. (1836) La Argentina o la Conquista del Rio de la Plata. Imprenta del Estado, Buenos Aires.

Cifuentes, J. V. (1947) Mitos y supersticiones (3rd Ed.). Editorial Nascimento, Santiago, Chile.

Oviedo, G. F. (1852) Historia General y Natural de las Indias, v. II: 1. Imprenta de la Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid.

Southey, R. (1812) Omniana, or Horae Otiosiores, v. II.  Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, Paternoster Row, London.

Tosetáx

Variations: Tsamtáx, Tsamtás (pl.)

Tosetax

According to the Nivaklé of Paraguay, dry seasons are exacerbated by the Tsamtás serpents, which lie in the middle of the sky and radiate heat. A tsamtáx will intercept and eat the Fanxás or thunderbirds flying from the south and bringing rain with them. Only the shamans can prevent this state of things by tearing down the tsamtás nest, making them fall to their death and allowing the rainy season to return.

Tosetáx is even more terrifying. He arrived after the tsamtás had been dealt with, and installed himself in the center of the sky. Tosetáx is an enormous green and red snake, with three mouths – one at the head, one at the tail, and one in the middle of his body. As with the tsamtás, Tosetáx was waiting to ambush the returning thunderbirds.

Tosetáx was defeated by five powerful shamans who turned themselves into snakes. One of the shamans coiled himself around Tosetáx and, by turning and coiling, took him to the north out of the thunderbirds’ flight path. There the shamans cut off the serpent’s three mouths and cut him in half, killing him.

References

Chase-Sardi, M.; Costa, M. M.; Mashnshnek, C. O.; Siffredi, A.; Tomasini, J. A.; Wilbert, J. and Simoneau, K. eds. (1987) Folk Literature of the Nivaklé Indians. UCLA Latin American Center Publications, University of California, Los Angeles.

Eintykára

Variations: Tapezu’á, Honey Man

Eintykara multiple

The Eintykára stingless bees, as told by the Chamacoco of Paraguay, are those that produce the golden honey. This honey can induce mild hallucinogenic effects, due to the presence of an ergot fungus on the plants the bees visit. But even more remarkable is their ability to swarm together and shapeshift into a man.

Eintykára hives have long, tubular wax entrances through which the bees enter and leave. An older single woman used to pass by such a hive every day, and its suggestive appearance made her mind wander. “Oh, what a beautiful eintykára hive!” she would say. “If only it were a handsome man who would make love to me…”

She continued to fantasize about the phallic hive, day in and day out. Eventually she started referring to it as her husband. “Ah, there is my husband again. He’s still there. If only he were a man, I would marry him on the spot”.

Finally, one night she was visited by a stranger. He was unlike any man she had seen – his skin was milky white, and his hair was as golden as honey. “Who are you?” she asked, stunned by his beauty. “I am Eintykára, the hive you desired and talked to for so long. I wish to take you as my wife, and support you and your people”.

And so it came to pass that the woman married Eintykára, and they had children together. He was unnaturally intelligent, and a diligent, tireless worker admired by the entire village. He never seemed to eat; instead, he would go into the forest, transform into a swarm of bees, and then reintegrate after collecting enough nectar. His “waste” was beeswax and eintykára honey, which he would distribute to all. That is why some of the Chamacoco are fair-skinned, for they are among his descendants.

Another eintykára was also known to have joined a Chamacoco village, but he and his adopted people were tragically killed in a raid by a neighboring tribe. They set fire to the houses, and though he tried to turn into an eintykára swarm and fly away, enough of his bees were incinerated to kill him.

References

Cañedo, J. A.; Belaieff, J.; Cordeu, E. J.; Frič, A. V.; Métraux, A.; and Pittini, R.; Wilbert, J. and Simoneau, K. eds. (1992) Folk Literature of the Chamacoco Indians. UCLA Latin American Center Publications, University of California, Los Angeles.