C is a 26-year-old Brazilian immigrant from Sao Paolo and another city. He lived in areas like Utah and some other states before moving to Austin, TX .
The context of this piece was at a Brazilian barber shop after customers were asked if there were any folklore they remembered. I had a Portuguese-speaking friend with me who translated the conversation/story for me after the fact.
“Go ahead and tell her, well it was this myth from the indigenous people. I’m not sure if it came from the Amazon or some other region of Brazil. But the myth goes that I tribe once tortured a young fawn and because there is a white Angel watching or somewhere in the story I don’t remember where, then an indigenous deity that was the protector of young female animals came out and created a trickster. He was known to set farm animals loose, spill milk, Tease cattle dogs, cursed chickens and spoil their eggs. What everyone remembers though and still says they hear sometimes today; is this bird he transforms into that sings a sad end haunting song. the only way to escape this prankster apparently, is to run across the stream, he doesn’t hurt you but a lot of tribes when asked about why they moved, say they crossed the river to escape a Saci Perrere that was haunting them on their old land.”
This myth in Brazilian culture, emblematizes an interesting aspect of the culture which is known as “tipos” and gives a flair from one of Latino America’s largest African demographics in Brazil. In this myth, indigeneity of Brazil takes on an African representation in this mythical deity’s imagery. The Saci Perrere’s standing as a trickster figure could be construed as more racialized than most. Although, cited as an indigenous diety here, all of the genie like imagery depicts an African prankster. Unfortunately, what I mentioned about racial identities and tipos plays into this myth in a negative way. Many emphasize that the cap that the magical genie is known to smell bad and that in fact this is a very dangerous deity. As time passes too, this reading can also take on a life of its own in today’s stereotypes that derived from the days of slavery that immigrant populations and especially diasporic African communities cannot swim because of migrating overseas and lack of resources. Otherwise, this myth carries on a waning value of indigenous Brazil, to preserve the wildlife and nature, but also tells a bit about gender roles too by imbuing the value of protecting the feminine.