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Bribri Creation Myth

This legend comes to us from this Spanish-language source, http://www.cedin.iwarp.com/leyendas.htm. It was translated into English for us by Andrea López Delgado.

Sibú, the Creator God, was thinking about how to create the earth. His sister Tapir had a daughter (Iriria.) Sibú thought he would send a vampire bat down to where the sun rises to bite Tapir's daughter and test whether she could become the earth. So the vampire bat went down and bit Tapir's daughter. Then the bat came back to where Sibú was resting in his hammock and vines and bushes began to grow from his excrement, so Sibú saw that this idea was a good one to continue. Iriria's grandmother was Bikakra, who was the one in charge of the chocolate ceremony. Sibú needed Bikakra to come and bring the Tapir's daughter to him, so that he could change her into the earth.

Sibú went to Bikakra and invited her to celebrate a festival of the clans that were going to grow like corn kernels. He invited her to perform corn and chocolate ceremonies for them, and said he would return in four days. . It was all to inaugurate the great conical house and the corn seed. Sibú set up a huge festival and invited everyone who worked with him, and also the mother and grandmother of the tapir girl.

Sibú thought that they should dance the Sorbón dance at this festival and that he should invite all the devils to dance, because they had worked on the construction of the great house as well. Of course, if the devils knew that the house was going to create the clans, they would never have worked on its construction. Sibú had tricked them. This place, Suláyum, is the center of the world to the Bribri people.

Before the sun rose, Sibú prepared the banquet, the tables, and the festival and called everyone to dance the Sorbón. When the Sorbón dance began, Tapir got up to dance and her mother gave out chocolate. They danced one dance, two dances, three dances, and then during the fourth dance the young girl fell and her blood spilled across the floor. All the devils who were dancing the Sorbón trampled Tapir's daughter until her body was completely disintegrated and became pure earth. Mother Tapir began to cry and said to Sibú:

"How my brother has betrayed me! If you had told me what you were going to do, I would never have come."

Because of how the earth was created, the Bribris consider the tapir a sacred animal and never consume its flesh except during a special ritual.

More stories to read:

 Indian creation myths
 Legends about tapir
 Legends about the earth

Learn more about:

 Bribri mythology
 The Bribri language
 Central American Native Americans



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