Friday, June 4, 2010


While on the Amazon in 1853, Henri de Büren, explorer, naturalist and artist, ate a great deal of salted fish. He says the fish was Pirarucu. The Pirarucu is a South American tropical freshwater fish related to the catfish. It is a living fossil and one of the largest freshwater fishes in the world. It it said that the Pirarucu is so large and agile it can jump out of the river to eat small birds.

That is one big fish.

The Pirarucu Legend

Pirarucu was an indian who belonged to the Uaiás tribe that lived around the Lábrean plains in the Southwestern Amazon. He was a brave, but heartless warrior, even though Pindarô, his father and chief of the tribe, was a good man.

Pirarucu was full of vanities, egoism and excessively proud of his power. While his father visited with friendly neighboring tribes, Pirarucu took advantage of his absence to take village people hostage and execute them for any reason. He also criticized the gods.

Tupã, the god of the gods, observed Pirarucu for a long time, until, tired of the man's behavior, he decided to punish Pirarucu. Tupã called Polo and demanded that he spread his most powerful lightening in the whole area. He also called Iururaruaçú, the goddess of torrents, and demanded that she provoke the strongest torrents of rain over Pirarucú, who was fishing along with other indians on the margins of the Tocantins river, not so far from the longhouse.

The fires of Tupã were seen throughout the forest. When Pirarucu saw the wild waters of the river, and heard the voice and felt the hate of Tupã, he just ignored them with a laugh and crazy words. Then, Tupã sent Xandoré, the demon that hates men, who threw lightenings and thunder that filled the air and cut it with sparks. Pirarucu tried to escape, but while he ran among the falling branches and trees, a lightening bolt sent by Xandoré, struck into the heart of the warrior who refused to ask for forgiviness.

All of those who were with Pirarucu ran from the jungle in total fright, while the body of Pirarucu, still alive, was taken to the depths of the Tocantins river and transformed into a giant and dark fish. Pirarucu remained there and for a long time he was the terror of the region.

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