Curupira, Brazilian Protector of the Forest


M: we have a creature called Curupira. Which is a guy that his feet are on the opposite side. Like if you’re walking like this [forward walking] the feet are like this [facing backwards].

Me: oh, they’re like reversed? Like backwards?

M: yes, and he’ll walk like forward normally, but then his footprints would seem like he was walking the other way

Me: are his knees the right way?

M: umm I

Me: is that too niche of a question?

M: I think its the opposite like he would walk like, you know those birds that like flex the other way

Me: yeah

M: yes!

Me: Okay so he did have backwards knees

M: yes. And the whole thing is like he did that because he was the protector of the forest. So he would go after the people that were like cutting trees and stuff like that. He was the defender of the forest. And his feet were like that so when people would go after him, they would think he was going the opposite way.

Me: ahhhhh [realisation]

M: and that’s why his feet are like that

Me: and he was just like shaped like a guy?

M: shaped like a guy.

Me shaped like a guy

M: oh, did he have fire in his head? He might have fire as hair

Me: respectable

M: yeah, we like fire apparently

Me: what’s your take on that? whats your analysis? if you will

M: this is very much like indigenous folklore. So it’s very mu— probably like it, cause indigenous cultures were very like in touch with nature and like giving and receiving. And they had a big problem with like when Europeans came they were. The first thing that started to take in brazil was the trees. The tree that was called ‘Brazil stick’, that’s why they gave the name to the land for as Brazil. Cause of the tree they were taking.

Me: oh I had no idea

M: yeah, ’cause they used to make red ink from it. And so that was like the tale they used to tell, so like: do not mess with nature, it will mess back!

ME: and he would, and he would kill them?

M: yes

Me: he would kill the loggers, okay

M: yes, he will 


The informant, M, is a 19-year-old USC international student from Brazil. She delivered this piece in the workroom of a campus center before class alongside other pieces in order to share some personal and Brazilian folklore. She learned about this legend growing up in Brazil.

M says that this legend originates in indigenous Brazilian culture.


This figure and legend, Curupira, does feel very indigenous. As a “protector of the forest” figure who hunts and kills people destroying forests, Curupira’s values align well with the values of protecting nature and the forest (commonly held indigenous values). Curupira’s connection would also be an indicator of these pro-nature values in the people who share his story.