An Introduction to Mythology

Page: 80


During their voyage of exploration along the Rio Maraca, a tributary on the right bank of the Amazon, the mightiest river of the world, the leaders of the Croatian Scientific Mission in South America heard from native lips an interesting creation legend concerning the brothers Tupi and Guarani, the first forefathers of the tribes speaking the sister tongues called after them. This legend freely translated, runs as follows:

Tupi was once proceeding on a great journey to Pará, with his bow and arrow in his hands, and his inseparable companion, the wise parrot Maitá, on his shoulders. His younger brother Guarani followed in his track with the evil purpose of stealing[Pg 185] Maitá, because Fortune (Toryba) had decreed that the possessor of this bird should have his daughter, the beautiful maiden Maricá ('fine leaf'), as his wife.

Maitá, endowed with all magic wisdom, was a unique bird. He spoke with his companion, knew exactly the spots in the primeval forest where game and fruits were to be found, and likewise kept watch and gave warning of the approach and the number of enemies. Tupi, although aware of the evil intentions of his younger brother, went cheerily and carelessly on his way, the magic bird shielding him against all surprise. The steps of the two brothers were to bring them to the banks of the Pará. Guarani, fitly known as 'the patient one,' did not fret. Maricá, the amiable daughter of Toryba, had long been in love with the younger of the brothers; their hearts had long been united in the primeval forest, where the world had often been forgotten in sweet kisses and embraces.

"Wait three days for me!" said the maiden, "I will bring you Maitá or be the prisoner of Tupi."

In the meantime Tupi reached the banks of the Pará and lay fast asleep under the shade of a great banana-tree (Pacobahyba).

"Awake, comrade!" cried Maitá. "The enemy is yet far distant, but the treacherous Maricá is in sight."

Hastily the warrior sprang up, and became aware of a mocking titter from the neighbouring bushes.

"Do not fear to come nearer, Maricá, my love. I will marry you, and you shall become the mother of my children,"

"Thou liest, Tupi!" answered the girl. "Give me thy bird and I will believe it!"

The eyes of the charming wood-nymph flashed alluringly upon the youth; he could not resist their magic and ordered the parrot to fly to the shoulder of his new companion; but the wise bird had no intention of furthering the false designs of the maiden, and did not move from the spot.

Tupi angrily repeated his order and made as if to strike the inattentive bird. Then Maitá flew to the very top of a slender palm, while the fleet-footed maiden endeavoured to disappear into the depths of the forest.

[Pg 186]

Tupi was by no means willing to lose the beauty, and set out after her with swinging strides, but in vain. Laughing heartily, the active little maid clambered up a thousand-year-old giant tree and would not be caught.