The Chullachaqui is the main figure of a representative legend of the culture of the Amazon tribes. Its name comes from the Quechua language which means “foot” ( chaqui ) and “odd” or “different” ( chulla) . This responds to the fact that, according to the legends, his left foot is arranged in the opposite direction to the right.
References to this spirit can be found throughout the dense Amazon jungle. Legends describe him as a goblin with an androgynous figure that has the ability to shapeshift and can even turn into a human. This is his method of attracting people who roam the forest, then capturing them and making them disappear.
He is also known as a protective spirit of the Amazon, owner of animals and plants. It is also said to defend rubber trees from unconscious exploitation by humans.
There are stories that relate that the inhabitants of the indigenous communities of the Amazon often exchange gifts with the spirit of the Chullachaqui as a token of gratitude.
Another characteristic of the Chullachaqui is that it does not have buttocks or anus, a particular trait of the jungle goblins. This makes it easily recognizable when it is not converted into another item.
Some indicate that their preferred victims are children who roam the jungle; it turns into some brightly colored bird to get their attention, then captures them and makes them disappear in the most remote places. In addition to her metamorphosis power, she also has the ability to turn coral snakes into flutes, and vice versa.
The grandfather of the settlers
The legend highlights the kinship between the Chullachaqui and the inhabitants of the jungle, who refer to him as the grandfather.
This relationship has its explanation within the collective imagination, through popular belief that establishes a kinship connection between spirits or mystical beings and man from its origins.
Chullachaqui is usually attributed the care of some cultivation plots or “chacras”. The stories tell that he takes animals that have been attacked by human hands to these places in order to heal them. This conception confirms the connotation given to it as the guardian of all the animals and plants of the jungle.
In history, special emphasis is also placed on human actions related to accumulating wealth through the exploitation of natural resources and the fauna of the jungle, without taking into account the negative impact that this entails for the species.
Near the Nanay River lived a shiringuero who worked very intensely every day. However, the rubber trees did not give him the milk he needed to survive. One day he came across a man with a prominent belly and one foot smaller than the other.
It was the Chullachaqui, considered the owner of animals and trees. He approached the rubber tapper and asked him: “How are you doing?” He replied: “Very bad, I have a lot of debts.”
El Chullachaqui told him that if he wanted to have a better production of rubber trees, he could give him a virtue. Excited, the shiringuero asked him to please help him.
Faced with the affirmative answer, the Chullachaqui replied that he would help him but first he needed him to do him a favor. The shiringuero had to give him one of his cigars; The agreement was that the Chullachaqui would smoke it and then go to sleep, and at that moment the shiringuero had to give him punches and kicks until he was able to wake him up.
The man agreed. The other fell asleep and was immediately beaten. Once awake, the Chullachaqui thanked him and proposed a new challenge.
They had to start fighting; If the man managed to knock down the Chullachaqui three times, he promised to make the trees provide the necessary rubber so that the man could pay his debts. On the other hand, if the man was defeated, a disease would strike him as soon as he got home.
The man looked at Chullachaqui and thought he could beat him, especially considering that he had a rather tiny foot. They fought and the man was able to beat him three times, always stomping on the little foot; there he kept his strength.
The Chullachaqui kept his promise and told the man that from then on the trees would give him more rubber. However, he warned him not to be so greedy as to extract too much milk from the logs, because this would be bad for the trees and make them cry. Likewise, he threatened to kill him if he told this story to someone.
The shiringuero obtained the milk he needed from the trees and realized that the Chullachaqui was kind: he would settle in the shiringal and heal the animals, or he would braid the trees with the vines. Over time, the man paid off his debts with the owner of the shiringales and bought shoes for his children.
However, it happened that the owner of the shiringales – an evil being who had mistreated many indigenous people – learned of the worker’s fortune. He got up very early and spied on the shiringuero with the intention of finding out which trees were the most productive.
After gathering this information, he returned with large buckets instead of using the traditional tichelas, small containers that were used by the shiringueros. This man ended up making very deep cuts to the trees; at the end of the extraction the product was water instead of milk.
Time passed and the shiringuero drank only the amount of milk that Chullachaqui had recommended, while the other drank excessively.
One day, when the greedy man was waiting hidden among the trees, the Chullachaqui approached them both and indicated that virtue was ending.
He forgave Chullachaqui, but ordered him to leave and not return. Then he turned to the boss and accused him of having no compassion for the trees, which at the end of the extraction did not give milk but water.
That same afternoon the owner of the shiringal became seriously ill, had headaches and a high fever. They had to move him in a canoe to a health post on the river and there was no doctor who could tell him what was the origin of his pain. No one was able to cure him and he eventually died.
In contrast, the lucky shiringuero — a man with the last name Flores, who is believed to be still alive — never returned to the Shiringales and moved to the Peruvian district of Pebas, where he built a brick house.
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