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Okpe


Many of the oral narratives of the Tehuelche—indigenous people from South America (Argentina and Chile)—are filled with creatures, both real and mythical. One of the most interesting mythical creatures contained in the Tehuelche’s bestiaries is the Okpe.

The Okpe is a massive, quadrupedal ogre that looks like a pig made of solid rock. As hunters, the Tehuelche were very well aware of the fact that the rock exterior of the Okpe didn’t have any soft spots or weaknesses, so it was virtually impossible to kill it. Okpe’s favorite prey are young children. It lures them away of their parents with braised meat before carrying them off on his back into the jungle to be devoured. Generally, attempts to stop his actions fail, as he is impervious to conventional weaponry.


Most interestingly the Okpe is credited as the beast responsible for the Great Flood, not as it is presented in the Bible but as it has been recorded in the oral Indo-American tradition.


Legend has it, the Okpe once saw a group of children playing on the muddy banks of a river. Hungry as it was, and knowing itself undefeatable, the Okpe ran after the children, but the ground was slippery and the children too fast. Distracted when one of the children pass close to its snout, the Okpe slip, its legs spreading wide as it fell to the ground hitting its ribs with such a clamor, the children thought it was the thunder of an incoming storm.


The stony armor of the Okpe rattled, its ribs were broken, and in pain and defeat the Okpe cried, and it cried so hard and for so long, that the water rose as high as its teeth. At last the tears stopped, but only because the Okpe feared drowning. The lands dried after a while, but the Opke never bothered with Tehuelche children again.


References

-Moss, C., 2008. Patagonia: A cultural history. Oxford University Press.

-Peña, E.M., 1997. El mito del diluvio en la tradición oral indoamericana (No. 51). Editorial Universidad de Costa Rica.

#RSouthAmerica #AStrength #HJungle

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