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El Chullachaqui - Quistococha (Iquitos, Peru)

The legend of the Chullachaqui Mural (Iquitos - Peru)

Chullachaqui, in Spanish el Chullachaqui, and also known as Shapishico, is a legendary devil of the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazonian jungle.

Some say he appears disguised as prey to hunters and tricks them deep in the jungle where even experienced trackers can not find a way back. Others say that the Chullachaqui takes the physical form of a family member or a loved one long not seen, and persuades his victim to follow him to unknown places in the jungle where they are led into traps or left at the edge of cliffs with no way out. Others say that he appears in the shape of a very short man dressed in rags waving his closed fists in the air looking for a fight. In this case, natives believe a man must accept his challenge and beat him until he uncovers all the richness he has hidden in the jungle. He who declines this challenge is cursed with the inability to hunt and foul luck: family and friends turn into enemies, wife leaves with another man, etc.

In some recent incarnations, the Chullachaqui is described as a bipedal creature, similar in appearance to an imp or some reports of el chupacabra. In these cases, the creature is said to be aggressive and extremely lethal, and has, according to some tribes, killed a number of humans.

The most common Chullachaqui tales are accounts of him impersonating someone familiar to his victim. Folks claim that his uncanny ability to replicate others makes him impossible to tell apart but for a limping on his left leg which he can not change from its original state: that of a goat's leg.

Chullachaqui is said to have an ability to turn into any animal of the rainforest. Chullachaqui is a kind of a forest spirit who guards the lands and the animals and punishes a man if he breaks a taboo or otherwise acts unwisely in the forest. According to a local legend, Chullachaqui is a member of an older species, a species that lived there long before humans. Most of the time they remain quite uninterested in humans. They inhabit forestspots far from human inhabitance where they supposedly have their own gardens and fields to tend. If a human being dwells too close to those gardens, they might attack and put a spell on the unlucky human. Sometimes a Chullachaqui might also steal a human child and raise it as its own, or lure humans into its trap for mating purposes. A human thus stolen by the Chullachaqui becomes one of them.

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