Cultural Tidbit: The Guarani Creation Story

Although the Guarani people are spread across Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia, they retain a strong cultural identity as an indigenous people. Their language is commonly spoken, especially in Paraguay where it is an official language. The Guarani also maintain their identity through a strong oral tradition of passing down myths and stories from generation to generation. Their spiritual beliefs in animistic pantheism are also passed down in these stories.

The Guaraní believe that the world was created by Ñande Ramõi Jusu Papa, or “Our Eternal Great Grandfather.” This deity created other divine beings in Guarani mythology including “Our Grandmother.” He also created all of the Guaraní land.

Ñande Ramõi Jusu Papa lived on earth for a time before mankind came about, but ended up leaving due to a disagreement with his wife. He became so enraged that he nearly destroyed the earth as he left. However, Ñande Jari, his wife, prevented him from doing so by creating the first sacred song.

Ñande Ramõi Jusu Papa’s son Ñande Ru Paven (“Our Father of All”) and his wife Ñande Sy (“Our Mother”) are also an important part of the culture’s mythology. These deities settled people into different territories and also created the mountains to set apart the Guaraní’s land. Ñande Ru Paven was also responsible for giving men fire. In fact, he stole fire from the crows to give it to man. Similarly to Ñande Ramõi Jusu Papa, Ñande Ru Paven also ended up leaving Earth after a misunderstanding with his wife.

Also popular in Guaraní mythology is the tale of the four caretakers of the souls of men. Each one is located in one of the heavens. There are also special entities that handle water, animals and plants. Aside from the creation myth, many of the Guaraní stories involve animal heroes. They also have detailed stories that explain the wars with the Brazilians and Paraguayans who occupied their territories.

The Guaraní people have a vivid and rich history of mythology and oral storytelling. Aside from their creation myths, there are also a host of different spirits, monsters and legends. These rich stories are passed down from one generation to the next and still remain important to the Guaraní to this very day.