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Iara is the name of a figure from Brazilian mythology based on ancient Tupi and Guaraní mythology. The word derives from Old Tupi yîara = y + îara (water + lord/lady) = lady of the lake (water queen). She is seen as either a water nymph, siren, or mermaid depending upon the context of the story told about her. The Brazilian town of Nova Olinda claims the Cama da Mãe D’água as the home of Iara.

Iara was a beautiful young woman, sometimes described as having green hair and light skin, connected to a freshwater water body who would sit on a rock by the river combing her hair or dozing under the sun. When she felt a man around she would start to sing gently to lure him. Once under the spell of the Iara a man would leave anything to live with her underwater forever, which was not necessarily a bad thing, as she was pretty and would cater for all needs of her lover for the rest of his life.

Iaras are immortal (like the nymphs of Greek mythology), but her lovers do age and die, which means that they live most of eternity alone. The legend of the Iara was one of the usual explanations for the disappearance of those who ventured alone in the jungle.

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