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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Modern representation of a golden Alicanto.
Modern representation of a golden Alicanto.

The Alicanto is a mythological nocturnal bird of the desert of Atacama, pertaining to Chilean mythology.[1][2] Legend says that the alicanto's wings shine at night with beautiful, metallic colors, and their eyes emit strange lights.[1] The color of the wings may indicate the type of ore it eats, golden if from a gold mine and silvery if from a silver mine.[1][2] Some descriptions also portray the color of the wings as copper-green.[1]

The bird runs on the ground and can't fly because of the weight of the ore it eats, this means that it runs faster if it hasn't eaten recently.[2] According to legend, a miner that follows an alicanto without being noticed by the bird can find rich mineral outcrops or treasures such as an entierro.[1][2] But if the Alicanto discovers that it's being followed it will turn off the shining of its wings, and scuttle away in the darkness of the night.[2] Also, if the miner is not of "good heart" the alicanto will guide the miner off a cliff.[1][2] Accordingly, the miner will not be able to see the cliff in time because of the "intensity of the darkness".[2] It is said that it was an alicanto that guided Juan Godoy to the rich silver outcrops of Chañarcillo on May 16, 1832,[1] sparking the Chilean silver rush.[3]

The account of the Alicanto of folklorist Julio Vicuña Cifuentes is mentioned in the Book of Imaginary Beings in the chapter "Fauna of Chile".[4]

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  1. ^ a b c d e f g Montecino Aguirre, Sonia (2015). "Alicanto". Mitos de Chile: Enciclopedia de seres, apariciones y encantos (in Spanish). Catalonia. pp. 47–48. ISBN 978-956-324-375-8.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Vicuña Cifuentes, Julio (1915). Mitos y supersticiones recogidos de la tradición oral chilena (in Spanish). Santiago de Chile: Imprenta Universitaria. pp. 1–2.
  3. ^ Villalobos R., Sergio; Silva G., Osvaldo; Silva V., Fernando; Patricio, Estelle M., eds. (1995) [1974]. Historia de Chile [History of Chile] (in Spanish). Santiago de Chile: Editorial Universitaria. pp. 469–472.
  4. ^ Borges, Jorge Luis; Guerrero, Margarita (1974). "Fauna of Chile". In Thomas di Giovanni, Norman (ed.). Book of Imaginary Beings (4th ed.). London: Penguin Books. p. 63.
  • Keller Rueff Keller R. (1972). "Mitos y leyendas de Chile". In Jerónimo de Vivar (ed.). Enciclopedia moderna de Chile (in Spanish).

This page was last edited on 9 September 2020, at 12:21
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