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Iara, Brazil's mythical enchantresses

In Brazilian folklore, Iara, also known as Uiara or Yara, is a captivating and enchanting figure associated with water, particularly rivers and streams. She is often depicted as a beautiful, seductive mermaid or water nymph with long, flowing hair and enchanting eyes.


According to the legend, Iara was once a beautiful indigenous woman living in the Amazon rainforest. Her beauty captured the attention of a water spirit or river god, and she was transformed into a mermaid-like creature with the lower body of a fish. This transformation granted her immortality and a mesmerizing allure.


Immortal creatures who can breathe underwater, the Iara love nothing more than lounging in the sun by the water's edge. They sing and brush their hair, luring men with their enchanting songs and irresistible beauty. Those who succumb to their charms are never seen again, and are believed to be taken to the underwater realm, willingly abandoning solid land for a watery grave.


Iara is just one of many watery temptresses in the world of legends, including the Sirens of ancient Greece, the Rusalki of Slavic mytholgy and the Selki of Celtic lore. Mermaids are the tamed and domesticated modern distillation of this enduring, near-universal trope. It's interesting how so many ancient sea-faring societies found ways of explaining the tragic disappearances of sailors and fishermen by imagining that their men had fallen victim to the tempting wiles of underwater maidens, who beckoned irresistibly from the depths of the oceans, rather than the more pedestrian (and far more likely) fates of drowning, drunkenness and scurvy.


It's also interesting how mermaids started out as sinister, almost monstrous creatures but have (mostly) become cartoonishly harmless (thanks, Disney!) in their modern incarnation.


(Background photo by Arnie Chou.)


Check out my RedBubble shop for art prints, products, apparel and much more with Iara's likeness.


Order my Badass Goddesses book in paperback, hardback and Kindle/tablet formats.

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