a Brazilian myth
written and illustrated by Maria Lucia Guimaraes Maier
When the earth was very young the night and the animals didn’t exist.
There were only trees, plants and people. During this time, the sun shined very brightly. The people were always very tired because they didn’t sleep well. The trees were faded because of the hot weather.
Only the Big Snake who was a witch could make the night appear.
She was a very big snake who lived near a river. She kept night on the bottom of the river, inside a coconut.
The snake enjoyed seeing the people very tired and asleep. The indians implored her to give them night, but it was useless.
One day, the snake’s beautiful Indian daughter married. Like her mother, she didn’t need the night to rest. But her husband and the other people of the village were always tired. She didn’t like to see them suffer. So she told her husband that she would ask to her mother to give her the night. Her mother never refused her requests.
Her husband had three faithful servants. He sent them to take the night from the witch. Immediately the three indians took a boat and went to meet the Big Snake.
Although the three men were very tired they rowed fast.
When the trees saw the scene, they asked were the Indians were going so fast. When the trees learned that night would come they started to dance and shout wih joy.
The three servants arrived at the place where the witch lived. They told her why they had come. She didn’t like the idea about giving them night, but she couldn’t refuse her daughter’s request.
She gave them the coconut with the night inside and told them that only her daughter must open it. If another person opened the coconut, the darkness would cover the earth forever. The servants agreed and returned to the village. During their return they heard strange noises from inside the coconut. They were the sounds of toads, crickets and other animals of the night.
They became very curious. They could wait no longer and opened the coconut. When they did it, they were astonished. The animals and the darkness escaped. All was very dark. No one could see anything . All the things without life seemed like pieces of wood or stones. Leaves changed into fishes, birds and insects.
Far away at the village, the witch’s daughter told her husband that his three servants had opened the coconut. He was shocked and very disappointed because he thought they were faithful. How could the people live with the darkness?
But his wife had powers and thought of a solution. She had a way to control the darkness. She took a string of her hair and cut the sky with it. Soon the dawn appeared. Now there would be both day and night.
The three foolish servants tried to explain what they had done but it was useless. The witch’s daughter turned them into three monkeys.
“The Creation of the Night” Translation and Illustrations Copyright © 1997
by Maria Lucia Guimaraes Maier
All Rights Reserved