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This study aims to discuss some of the most important dimensions of this religious tradition. Shamanism, cosmology, petroglyphs, Amazonia, Aruaque, sacred geography, mythology.

This corresponds predominantly to the culture area of dwscargar northern Arawak-speaking peoples, whose history in that area dates back several thousand years Neves, Among the defining features of this indigenous religious tradition were: Figure 1 Arawak languages Font: The first full-length ethnological studies of the eastern Tukanoan traditions were done by Reichel-Dolmatoff,and by Christine and Stephen Hugh-Jones In his article ofReichel-Dolmatoff argued that the Yurupary sacred flutes and trumpets -the material embodiment of an extraordinary demiurge which in many ways represented the natural world- actually have active agency in the reproduction of all life.

The biological reproduction of natural plant and animal species, according to Reichel-Dolmatoff, serves as a metaphor, in the view of natives, for human reproduction.

Reproduction in nature is a model through which humans reflect on their own biological and social reproduction. In his yurpary of the Yurupary myth, Reichel-Dolmatoff focuses exclusively on the eastern Tukanoan stories, which are quite different in certain respects to be discussed in this paper from the northern Arawakan traditions of Kuwai.

For the northern Arawak-speaking peoples, the narrative about Kuwai is much more than a story of exogamy. The figure of Kuwai has many common features for the northern Arawak: Kuwai has major importance for shamanism, rites of initiation, desvargar dance festivals, and northern Arawak cosmology in general.

Since then, a veritable library of ethnological, ethnohistoric, ethnomusicological, ecological, and linguistic material has been produced in bibliography, see references to: Mitologia Guarequenaby Yurupaey. There, she highlights the theme of gender relations, cescargar central part of the narrative, and their importance in disputes for power.

Regional and historical perspective on traditions of Kuwai. The barest of contours of the yuruary larger picture can be found in ethnologies, but even these come relatively late in colonial history, after vast areas of the Deescargar Negro, for example, had been decimated by war and disease. It centered around a spirit called Guaricana, whom they worshiped in a special hut barred to women and children.

During the ceremony, they played a big “flute” probably the Yurupary trumpet and the jurupary -actually an old man- whipped the youths with a lash of manatee hide, to make them strong. The Yurimagua may possibly have been northern Arawak-speaking, since the Descaargar of the Middle Rio Negro, who had a similar cult, traded with them in “gold, Vermillion [urucu], manioc graters, hammocks with various kinds of clubs and shields, that they worked very curiously.

The shamans would go out to bring the Kamatxi to the festivals and these were prohibited for the women to see. Women had to remain secluded during the presence of the Kamatxi in the villages. In this respect, the Kamatxi flutes were very similar to the sacred flutes of the Northwest Amazon. In some sense, also, they were connected with the spirits of deceased warriors Chandless, The Yukuna, Kabiyari, and Matapi, however, have received far better ethnographic treatment by anthropologists such as JacopinDussanand Oyuela-Caycedo The Yukuna ritual of sacred flutes corresponds to the same ceremony among the eastern Tukanoan-speaking peoples with whom the Yukuna have been in intense yuruupary for generations.

The Achagua of the savannahs also had masked dances which they called Chuway. The relationship is creative and dynamic, for it sustains the periodicity that is vital to the growth of the harvest. The ancestral flute cults, in short, promoted the growth of the harvest as they provided for the growth yurupar social groups. Their importance for societal development could not be under-estimated:.


There are but a small number of these flutes near the confluence of the Tomo and Guainia… Had colonization not destroyed indigenous societies in the early eighteenth century, then the botuto cult [sic] could have been of some political importance where the guardians of the trumpets would become a ruling caste of priests, and the oracle of Tomo yuruparg gradually form a link between bordering nations.

This religious system [of Kuwai ] embraces a hierarchical sociopolitical organization, a map or imagery of sacred routes and places, and a corpus of yuupary that encompasses ritual, geographical, ecological, botanical, and zoological knowledge. In descxrgar section of the Guainia River, there are at least a dozen places where the name Kuwai appears.

Two hundred years after von Humboldt observed their importance, Hohodene jaguar shaman Mandu da Silva visited that same area to warn the people of an impending disaster if they forgot their traditions, because they were the people’s only means of surviving against colonial domination Wright, Mythscapes connect vertical and horizontal spaces in a dynamic flow of meanings that charge the mundane with the sacred at critical descrgar spread out over a large region.

In so doing, mythscapes create large communities in a region where actual settlements are separated by significant overland and riverine distances and -at least in the upper Rio Negro- population that is proportionate to the availability of food resources.

While the site is rich in symbolism of primordial times, evident in the arrangement of boulders and caves, what makes it distinctive is that it has no petroglyphs whatsoever Xavier Leal, Kuripako elders explained that petroglyphs began with Kuwai at Hipana, and that they, the petroglyphs, are reminders to initiates of what they should not do, that is, disobey initiatic restrictions.

The hill site is in danger of losing its meaning, however, as it has been depredated by the evangelicals, few of whom remember the meanings attributed to the site.


It has been found that there is a very clear relation between petroglyphs and seasonal activities Raffo, In their intense connections with the natural desxargar, the ancient artists yuruparh chiseled the petroglyphs into the boulders made them in such a way as to be mostly visible when the rivers are low the dry seasonbut at the height of the rainy season, the petroglyphs disappear altogether, submerged by the yurrupary waters of the rivers.

The petroglyphs all refer to natural processes referenced descarrgar the narrative cycles. For example, at Hipanaon the Aiary, there are glyphs of a lizard and a plant on one boulder, which refer to the beginning of growth and vegetation in the early rainy season.

All of these places are marked by petroglyphs, traces or reminders of primordial acts, beings and events; some even have cosmologically significant arrangements of boulders. But it is most especially at Hipana that the signs and symbolic elaboration in the petroglyphs are a narrative in themselves. Figure 2 The sacred waterfalls of Hipanabirthplace of humanity at the holes in the center of the rapids; the first earth is the boulder on lower left Font: The boulders and petroglyphs decsargar Figure 3 below the following elements representing Kuwai: The sequence of boulders b, c, and d may very well represent two descxrgar the three initiates who were devoured by Kuwai during the first initiation rite, and one initiate who was spared.

Adapted from Ortiz and Pradillaby M. It faces downriver, recalling the moment in the narrative after Kuwai had devoured three of the boys and flew with them downriver where he vomited them up into bread baskets laid out on the village plaza at Ehnipan.

Figure 4 Petroglyph of Kuwai-ka-Wamundana Font: The boys broke their pledge of keeping their fast to Kuwai. As a result a huge deluge of water inundated them 6 and Kuwai swallowed three out of the 4 boys. Figure 5 Kuwai narrative mythscape Font: These ethno-maps are extraordinarily comprehensive and cumulative. This is one of the most important tasks of the priestly chanters who perform the kalidzamai. The parts were divided amongst various lands. One part went to Brazil in the south.

It formed this great rapids. It is believed that almost all fish go to lay their eggs at this rapids. Nhiaperikuli wanted to have a child through whom all of his knowledge and soul would be transmitted.


The child was an anomaly: They could also be played to make the forest-fruits grow. Elements of his body were transformed into poisonous plants and leaves, used in sorcery, as well as sickness-giving spirits, or Yoopinai, found throughout the local forest environment.

His body bones in particular became the sacred flutes and trumpets. If, in the beginning of the story, Kuwai was the product of an endogamous union, in the end, the mothers become agents of exogamous unions. If Amaru had retained power over him, society would have turned out very differently. Identity will never be lost as long as power is maintained over its most potent, primordial symbol.


Continuity of these traditions is perceived to be constantly threatened by enemy outsiders. The mission of the jaguar shamans turned prophets is to alert society of the threats to this continuity and to assure people that there will be an end to their suffering.

Drawing by Thiago Aguilar, Kuwai the animal, wamundana: Kuwai is a univocal mixture of alterity and identity, exceedingly dangerous to humans. This graphic representation highlights several critical features of Kuwai that yuruparry understanding the power of this image. Why was Kuwai a sloth? What could possibly make the sloth such a powerful figure?

I suggest there were several reasons: This moment coincides with the ritual moment when the elder gives to the initiates the fiery pepper that protects the initiates from sicknesses. They are expected to be hard-working and alert, not lazy and inactive like the sloth. The face on the image is that of a White Man, and his teeth that of a jaguar.

For initiates, the White Man is the paradigm of alterity, uurupary the sloth it is the opposite of what initiates are expected to be in their true identity. The White Man, according to Baniwa sacred stories, was sent away in the time of creation to the periphery of the Baniwa world, to live in a totally distinct and other reality.

The teeth of the jaguar, most powerful of the predators, are iconic of an enemy sorcerer. Here we have a coincidentia oppositorum where the preyed upon sloth has the teeth and facial features of the predator. A jaguar lives on the outskirts of the settlements, hidden in the forest but ready to attack. The Tariana called this figure Izi and it corresponded very closely with Kuwai yurupxry the Baniwa: The power of the paradox surely did not go unnoticed by the initiates; again, they were shown the opposite of what they were expected to become, and in a rigorous way: Kuwai whipped the initiates for them to grow quickly and to be resistant and strong.

Insofar as Kuwai represents the natural world, it is from there that the boys will xescargar to become fully cultural beings.

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He also taught to humanity everything there is to know about sickness and its cure. There, Kuwai ascends to the top yurpary a uacu tree Monopteryx cf. Humans must respect the laws of the natural world, in short, in order to become fully cultural beings.

The powers of sorcery, healing and beyond: KuwaiDzuliferi, and Nhiaperikuli. Kuwai was an eminently shamanic being of great power, who makes multiple transformations throughout the story.

He dominates the knowledge of a jaguar shaman; a sorcerer; a dance-leader, in leading yurupry songs and dances of the rites of initiation; and a priestly chanter, in finishing initiation for the boys of the story. Ultimately, apprentices learn how to cure from the very source of the poison or sickness that afflicted yuruupary ill. Figure 7 Dzuliferi watches over and protects people in their villages of this world Font: