Amazon Legend of the Ayamamas

Iquitos Legends:

The Ayaymamas

Ayaymama Iquitos Legend


he Ayaymama is a small bird from the rainforest whose onomatopoeic (a word that sounds like what it means) name comes from the sound that it makes which is similar to the eerie cry of a young child calling “Ay-Ay Mama.” According to the Iquitos legend, the Ayaymama originated from two children whose mother passed away and their father married a cold-hearted woman who saw the children as obstacles to her happiness. The evil stepmother convinced her husband to abandon the children. Therefore, one day they staged a picnic to the forest, whose real purpose was to abandon the children and leave them to fend for themselves. During the night, the children magically grew wings and were able to fly and return to their home and sadly sang, “Ay-Ay Mama Huischuhuarca” which means “Our mother has died and abandoned us.”

Another version of the Iquitos legend says that an indigenous Amazonian mother, wanting to save her children from an epidemic that was decimating her village, brought them far from their native village to the interior of the forest and left them in a safe place at the side of a creek with many tree and fruits around. They ate and played during the day, but at dusk, they began to miss their mother. In order to find their mother, they left the refuge that their mother had made for them and became lost deep in the middle of the forest. The spirit of the forest was sad when it saw them crying and changed them into birds. The children then flew to their village, but everyone had died and until this day, they can be heard throughout the forest crying out their song of  “Ay-Ay Mama.”  


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