Imbunche

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Invunche & Wizard

In the Chilote folklore and Chilote mythology of the Chiloé Island in southern Chile, the imbunche or invunche (mapudungun ifünche: "deformed person", also "short person") is a legendary monster that protects the entrance to a warlock's cave.

Description[edit]

The invunche is a deformed human with its head twisted backwards, besided having twisted arms, fingers, nose, mouth and ears. This creature walks on one foot or on three feet (one leg and two hands), because one of its legs is attached to the back of its neck. The invunche can't talk, communicating only by guttural, rough and unpleasant sounds.

Legend[edit]

According to legend, the invunche was a first-born son, that had not become nine days old, that was kidnapped, or sold by his parents to a Brujo Chilote (a type of sorcerer or warlock of Chiloé). If the baby had been christened, the warlock would debaptize him.

The Brujo chilote transformed the child into a deformed hairy monster by breaking his right leg and twisting it over his back. When the boy was three months old then his tongue was forked and the warlock would apply a magic cream over the boy's back to cause thick hairs. During its first months the invunche was fed on black cat's milk and goat flesh,[1] and then with human flesh from cemeteries.[2]

Besides guarding the cave's entrace, the invunche is used by warlocks as an instrument for revenge or curses and, even if the invunche is not initated on wizardry, it has acquired a lot of knowledge over all his lifetime spent guarding the cave, so it, sometimes, acts as a warlock's advisor.

The invunche leaves the cave only a number of times, like when he moves to another cave, or when it has been destroyed or discovered; and when the warlocks need of him: For this they would carry him while he's thrashing and yelling, scaring the townspeople, announcing misfortune to come. The invunche also comes out when the warlocks take it to the next Warlock's Council.

The invunche is fed solely by warlocks and is only admitted to search for its own edibles if food is lacking inside the cave.

Popular culture[edit]

Travel writer Bruce Chatwin gives an interesting account of Chilote witchcraft and the imbunche in his book "In Patagonia".

British comic book writer Alan Moore wrote a version of the Imbunche which is very similar to Chatwin's description during his run on Swamp Thing.

Jose Donoso's magical realist book The Obscene Bird of Night reinterprets imbunche folklore as a way to bind a male child in a sack to prohibit escape and bodily growth.

References[edit]