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     Land of winds > Traditions > Legend | Issue 07 (Sep.-Oct. 2011)
    By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

Kai kai filu


(A Mapuche legend)

The story goes that before the white man arrived in the land of the araucarias and killed him, God lived with his wife and children in the highs, from where he ruled over the sky and the earth. Just as God would receive various names such as Chaw (father), Antü (sun) or Ngenechen (the world’s creator), the same would his wife, who was known as Kushe (old/wise woman), Ñuke (mother) or Kuyen (moon).

God had created the sky and the earth. He covered the sky with clouds and stars and placed animals and man on the earth, where he shaped mountains covered with forest and dug valleys where rivers run through merging in the extensive prairies. From the sky, God lighted and kept guard over the earth and, at night, when he rested, his wife watched over the dreams of the creatures living on it.

As time went by, his two older sons grew proud of their power and wanted to create and rule things of their own, no longer content to serve his master. Against God’s wishes, they attempted to descend to earth but his father caught them in the act and grabbing both of them from the heir threw them against the mountains. Their bodies hit the ground and the force of the impacts opened up two craters. Kushe’s tears filled up both holes, turning them into the lakes Lácar and Lolog, in whose watery surface reflected her face. Moved by his wife’s sadness, Antü agreed to return their sons to live as a huge winged serpent, Kai kai filu, who would run through the seas, the lagoons and the rivers shaking and overflowing their waters and making the core of earth tremble.

Kai kai filu’s hatred towards God and men knew no bounds. So Chaw made the decision to shape a new being from clay and called her Tren tren, the good serpent. She was endowed with the mission to defend people against Kai kai filu’s fury warning them each time she began whipping the waters or shaking the ground.

Soon afterwards, God descended to earth and went unnoticed among people, helping them know how to choose the best seeds, when and how to plant them, when to harvest crops and how to preserve their food. He also made sure that they learnt to breed animals and gave them the fire. God’s love and dedication to teach those many things to people won him the name of Küme Huenu (literally, the good from the sky).

Then, God went back to the highs and, in the course of time, people started to forget his teachings and began to fight each other. When Chaw saw what was happening he was enraged and in his madness turned to Kai kai filu to teach mankind a lesson. Shortly after the earth shook and the waters flooded much of the land. Tren tren came to their help and warned people to run to higher ground. Some went tumbling down the slopes as small boulders while the rest were hit by the lightning bolts God was throwing at them. Hidden in a crack in the rock, two children, a boy and a girl, managed to survive being nursed by fox and a puma and feeding themselves on yokones (wild potatoes) later on.

Mapuche people are descended from them.

After the waters went back down and the earth became dry again, Kuyen hid herself behind the clouds, the crops withered, diseases ravaged the population and family ties were broken.

This is why the Mapuche believe that God should have died a bit inside when their creatures disappeared, but it was the white man’s arrival what definitely killed him.


Article. “Una historia Mapuche: la serpiente Tren tren y el diluvio” (“A Mapuche story: the serpent Tren tren and the Flood”) , in Temakel.com [es].
Article. “Tren-Tren y Kai-Kai Filu”, in Escaner Cultural [es].
Article. “Txeg txeg ka kay kay filu” [es].


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