USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘rape’
Folk Beliefs
Gestation, birth, and infancy


My friend from Paraguay has a lot of folklore about the seven Guarani monsters and the legends behind them. The Kurupi was the strangest of all the seven that he told me about.

Friend: “There are several Guarani monsters I learned about growing up in Paraguay. One of them is the Kurupi, a weird gremlin-like dude with a really long penis. I think he represents the spirit of fertility or something. ”

Me: Were there any stories about him?

Friend:  “Yes. In ‘the old days’ a lot of people would say (if they had an unwanted pregnancy) that Kurupi had impregnated them without even entering their home. For example, if you were a single woman or if you had cheated on your husband and didn’t want to get into trouble, you would blame it on Kurupi. His penis is so long that he can go through windows and doors in the night. There are also a lot of stories about the Kurupi taking young women and raping them.”

Me: Did you ever believe the stories?

Friend: “No, I never really believed in the Kurupi. Mostly he’s just a funny little demon that we’d laugh about in grade school.” 

Analysis: The Kurupi is certainly the strangest looking creature I’ve ever seen. Besides the initial hilarity of his appearance, the tale of the Kurupi is creative and disturbing. In a place and time where modern medicine cannot explain pregnancies and sex, legends will replace science. This is a clear example where women would become pregnant (by someone other than their intended) and the only way to protect their virtue would be to blame it on the Kurupi. In many ways, belief in a creature like this can settle marital disputes before they even arise. Additionally, however, the Kurupi could have taken the blame for many rape incidents– when a real person was the perpetrator.



The Haunted Forest

Parin Patel

Los Angeles, California

March 8, 2012

Folklore Type: Ghost Story

Informant Bio: Parin Patel is a friend I met when we both went on an archaeological excavation in Rome the summer of 2011. He is a Junior and double major in Archaeology and Business at the University of Southern California. Parin is Indian and thus interested in Indian Archaeology and stories, particularly of the supernatural sort. He is actually interested in spirituality and the supernatural in general.

Context: There were several Archaeology majors and one Visual Anthropology Graduate student sitting around drinking after a long day of survey at Catalina Island. We were there for the weekend as a Directed Research Experience. Parin was the only guy in this group hanging out. We were talking and laughing in general. We played Never Have I Ever, and then Parin says, “Guys, guys let’s tell ghost stories.” About four or five people shared some sort of real life encounter that they heard from a friend or relative. Parin told two stories. This was the second one he told.

Item: So here’s the next one. (which burial ground? Then we can talk.) um my uncle is an engineer and a developer in India, uh he lives in Gujarat. But he basically takes land and from like forested land and just like chops it down and builds entire sub-divisions. So he took this forested area and uh built up the land and built houses and stuff. And built uh my other uncle, his brother, a house there as well. And so they’re living there. My cousin uh one day this was um back in 2002 or so. He’s in, he’s like in the bathroom uh just like uh taking a shower or whatever. And he like. First of all his house, his house is kind of scary anyway ‘cause he has this photo of this woman with no face like posted up right in the hallway when you enter the second floor. When you walk up the stairs there’s this woman with no face. So like every time I’m there I just run through, but that has nothing to do with this story. Um so my cousin’s in the bathroom, he just got through taking a shower and he looks out of the window ‘cause he hears, hears something, something or somebody and he looks out of the window. And all of a sudden like the entire area’s just forest. Like all he sees is like trees everywhere. And this whole place is like built with houses. There’s no trees around. Um it’s just entire forest and he sees a woman scream, and he hears her scream like as loud as like… (stammer) uh if somebody’s next to you screaming. He looks out of the window and he sees her running through the forest with like a white gown on. And he just freaks out he just runs downstairs. He’s like, “did’jou guys hear that? Did’jou guys see that?” And nobody heard about it. And they like did their research or whatever, and it turns out like a girl was like raped and killed in that area… twenty or thirty years before that. (so creepy, murmurings, o my god) And he’s, he’s not one to believe in ghosts or anything and that’s the first time he’s ever had that kind of experience. (that’s horrible).

Informant’s Analysis: Parin trusts his cousin because as he said his cousin is not the type to believe in ghosts. Parin said that he believed in the supernatural and was very interested in it. He believes the story to be true based on his trust in his cousin.

Analysis: Everyone that shared a story was sharing a second account of a personal experience, and everyone that night agreed that they believe in the supernatural on some level. Yet, we are all a major that is grounded in material data and theory. Sharing and believing in the ghost stories fulfills a need for an explanation that in most circumstances is impossible in Archaeology. Although material culture is available the answers to Archaeological questions are mostly theory with no way to truly know if the theory is correct. The supernatural provides an answer that is acceptably unexplained, which could provide comfort to Archaeologists that it is all right that their questions may also never truly be answered. The story itself reflects a clash between old occurrences on specific land and modern changes to said land. The area used to be a forest, and then it got disturbed by being torn down and turned into houses. In many ghost stories the correlation of modern people disturbing the land is fairly common. Older ideas of spirits living within the land or the land being alive come out in these stories of modern change to an old area.

Annotation: In the film An American Haunting there is a scene of a girl running through a forest, she has been raped, rape is a central issue in the film, and there is a reference to the Bell Witch which is the other story Parin told that evening. There is also a house that burns down and connection between the past and present through the story in a journal which relates two similar tales of rape in the past and present of the film.


Alex Williams

Los Angeles, California

University of Southern California

ANTH 333m   Spring 2012