Why are Folktales and Fairy Tales Strange?

This Argentine Folktale Left Me Scratching My Head

USC Digital Folklore Archives

Currently, I’m rewriting and editing my next novel. While rewriting one chapter yesterday, I decided that I wanted to include an Argentine folktale. I want the main character to share a folktale, but even though both of my parents are Argentine, I don’t know many folktales. In fact, I don’t know any.

So, I turned to our good friend Google to find some.

I came away asking the question, why are folktales, fairy tales, and myths often so strange? Creatures who want to harm us seem to abound in these stories. And we are supposed to learn some type of lesson, I suppose, but most of the time, I scratch my head and wonder, who came up with these bizarre tales.

Argentine folktales seem especially obsessed with animal like creatures. One of them is the Curupi, I learned last night.

This creature comes from the Guaraní lore. He is a short, hairy and scary, human looking but animal-like beast. He lives in the Argentine forests where he rules over the wild animals.

The weird thing about him is that he has a super long penis. Yep, you didn’t misread this. Curupi’s penis is so long that he has to wrap it around his waist.

According to myth, to the Guaraní Curupi was a spirit of fertility. This isn’t so unusual, many early cultures had spirits, goddesses or deities of fertility. The Aztecs had Tonacatecuhtli, a god of fertility who warmed the earth and was responsible for life. The Celtics also had a scary looking horned god named Cernunnos who was associated with fertility. The Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians, all had various gods and goddesses of fertility.

What is unique about Curupi is that the people claimed that Curupi used his phallus to impregnate sleeping single women or women whose husbands were infertile. His long penis would enter through open windows and create unwanted or surprise pregnancies. Hmm, I wonder how many husbands bought that story.

If a baby was small, hairy, or ugly people would claim it was Curupi’s child, unclear if this was a joke or if they really believed this. I’m sure it would be said as a joke today.



Julia Amante - Fiction author, Speaker, Mentor.