Legends, Fables, Myths and Stories of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico, like so many other countries, has a rich cultural background with legends, fairytales, myths and folklore. The folklore heritage of Puerto Rico reflects the culture of the various national groups who have lived in the country over the years, including the Taíno, the black slaves and the Spaniards.

Folklore in Puerto Rico includes stories that have become legendary and which are handed down orally from generation to generation. The author of the story is usually unknown. This oral tradition was widely used with the Taíno Indians and their stories were only recorded in writing when Spanish colonialists decided to become the first to write and record the Taíno legends. Fray Damian López de Haro and Juan de Castellanos played a large part in recording some of the Taíno Indian’s more well-known mythologies in the 16th and 17th century. In general, however, there are relatively few legends and stories that have been recorded and many of them have been lost forever.

Many of Puerto Rico’s legends incorporate the forces of nature, ghost tales or stories about pirates and treasure that has been hidden long ago. The African beliefs and customs that came with the slaves also contributed a lot to the Puerto Rican Folklore. Their stories were often about the struggles they had and their attempt to gain freedom from the slave industry.

Friar Ramon recorded a myth of Taíno origins, which tells the tale about how the sea came about. It talks about a man called Yaya who found out that his son Yayael wanted to kill him. Before Yayael could do anything his father banished him and then killed him himself. Yaya placed his son’s bones in a container and this he hung from the ceiling. Later on Yaya found the need to see his son’s bones again, but when they turned the container over fish in a variety of sizes came out. When the father and mother realized that the fish were from their son’s bones they decided to eat them. A woman called Itiba Tahuvava died after giving birth to four identical boys. Only one boy out of the four was given a name Caracaracol, which means leprous or scabby. When the boys were older they decided to go to Yaya’s house to steal the container with Yayael’s bones. Caracaracol was the only brother that was willing to remove the container from the ceiling so that his brothers could eat the fish found in it. As the boys were eating they heard the father, Yaya, return. The boys panicked as they tried to put the container back where they had found but it fell and broke. People say that when the container broke enough water to fill the earth came out. With the water, fishes of varying types and sizes came out, producing the sea we see today.

Each legend and folklore story of Puerto Rico gives you a better understanding of the culture and history of the country and tells you a bit about the people who helped shape and mold Puerto Rico into the country it is today.

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