Tupan is a demon from the pantheon of the Tupinambas of the Amazonian Rainforest. Tupan receives no worship and no prayers. He is the demon of thunder and lightning, the youngest son of the civilising hero Nanderevusu and his wife Nandecy. On coming of age, Tupan was sent to live in the West. However, homesickness and love for his mother meant Tupan frequently travelled back to visit her in the East. He travelled through the sky in his boat of two birds, causing a storm, with thunder and lightning and yet more rain. The black birds are considered to be heralds of storms.

The story is thought to be social engineering, conditioning young boys who are sent to live in neighbouring villages when they reach puberty not to return to their home villages.

The model of Tupan was displayed in Mythstories museum from the very start with it being the first thing visitors saw when they entered the first museum in Carnarvon Lane, Shrewsbury. Visitors had to climb stairs to the first floor premises the museum occupied, and as they did so Tupan’s story was hand-written in gold letters above the banister. The story ended at the top of the stairs where Tupan flew above the stairwell in his boat of two birds surrounded by storm clouds.

photos of Rick Wilson working with Whitchurch Infants School pupils to make Soundscapes in 2006

The exhibit was later to be added to at Mythstories museum The Morgan Library, Wem where an ‘illuminate’ grant from nesta (The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) provided a rainforest of replica plants native to the Amazon Rainforest and soundscapes of three Rainforest stories by composer / percussionist Rick Wilson made working with a pre-literate group of reception children from Whitchurch Primary School in North Shropshire.

Use the link below to go to a workshop using the Tupan story, which also features the Tupan soundscape…

“Bufeo Colorado” copyright Dez Quarréll

The second tale to be illuminated with a soundscape was the tale of Bufeo Colorado, a shape-shifting pink river dolphin who can transform into a charming man in a white linen suit with a straw boater to disguise his blow hole.

This traditional tale from the Orinoco / Amazon Rainforest region caused the near-extinction of pink river dolphins. Hunters who found the dolphins stranded after river floods assumed they were really Bufeo out to abduct the women of their tribes. They clubbed the dolphins to death rather than returning them to the rivers. Be careful what stories you tell they can have the repercussions you least suspect.

The Bufeo Colorado story and soundscape are featured on the creativity challenge below…

The third tale featured in the Rainforest Constellation was a creation myth from South America called “One Tree And Many” its story and soundscape can be found on the creativity challenge to make your own soundscape of a story on the page below…

The page above also feature videos of some marvellous Junk Instruments made by Mal Brown of Whack-It, Smack-it. These instruments were donated by Mal to the museum to augment the Constellations collection of Rainforest percussion instruments which enabled visitors to play along to the soundscapes.

The display was completed with this jigsaw of flood stories of South America. The phrases on the map are from stories told along the valleys, mountain ridges or rivers where you can see them. Most of these flood myths derive from a single source – the story ‘One Tree and Many’.

The jigsaw allowed visitors to trace how a story changes as it flows from one environment to another. The featured tales were taken from the Talk Origins Archive of Flood Stories from around the World, Mark Isaak 1996-2002http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/flood-myths.html.

Oh, and there were Peruvian Finger Puppets too for younger visitors to create their own stories.