DOBES Archive

Dance and songs of the ear pearcing ritual, called tiponhü in the Kuikuro language (tiponhü means "the one who was ear-pearced"). It is a performance made during the ritual cycle that precedes the ear pearcing of the boys to be initiated to the adulthood. The boys of chiefly lines are at the center of the group of singers and dancers. With feather headresses and all the male ornaments, they show their white skin and the beauty of their strong and fat bodies. Around them and taking their hands, men are dancing and singing, conducted by the ritual leader. The songs are ritual formulas with some near inintelligible karib words. At the end, one of the dancers/singers, a Kuikuro leader, Jumu, seated on the bench in front of the kwakutu (menÂ?s house), explains the meaning of the performance and the continuity of the kuikuro tradition.
Narrative about the first generation of the Upper Xingu peopleÂ?s ancestors: Bat (Atsiji) and Uhaku (a tree) give birth to the brothers responsible for the creation of the true humanity, the whites and the wild indians, as well as the upper Xingu phisical and cultural world.
The old Agatsipá tells to the researcher BF a traditional story about the life and death of Tamakahi, called the "bow master" (tahaku oto). Tamakahi is a hero, a warrior, the prototype of a (fierce) man, a defender of his own people from the attacks of savages indians in the old times. Tamakahi is the personnage of narratives at the border between memories of a distant past and myth.
The narrative tells the story of the origin of the pequi, whose fruits are an important food resource at the end of the dry season in the Upper Xingu. The pequi (and the mangaba tree and fruits) grew from the burial of the mythical caiman, lover of Magika wives. It is a pan Upper Xingu myth; the theme of the women and Caiman, is spread through the Southamerican Lowlands. The pequi is associated, mythically and ritually, to the female sex, the sexuality, the gender opposition. The same narrative, told by another "master of stories" (Tühopese), has been video recorded in july 2001. See pequi_video.
The narrative tells the tragic deeds of the most important ancestral hero of the Kuikuro (and other carib peoples of the Upper Xingu), known as the bow master, a warrior, and killed by enemys, the ngikogo (wild people). Tamakahi is a personage on the border between myth and oral history.
In a typical teaching-learning session, so a non-public and almost secret performance, Moká sings the sequence of one of the set of the Jamugikumalu songs, performed ritually and chorally bi women during the Jamugikumalu ritual (the womenÂ?s feast). Moka gives the names of the clusters of songs inside the set and some commentaries and explanations. There are two types of songs from the point of view of having or not a text or intelligible words: songs "with words" (in kuikuro language, telling mainly about love affairs) and songs "without words".
Narrative telling the deeds of one of the main protagonist (half trickster, half buffoon) of the traditional kuikuro narratives. 1982. See Ahanta 1).
The session contains a sequence of tolo songs performed by kuikuro women during the tolo ritual or feast. Tolo songs contain texts in the Kuikuro language; they are mainly love songs, but they speak also of witchcraft and affinal relations.
Ipí, a mature woman, is interviewed by her son Mutuá and she tells about her life as mother and the experiene of motherhood. She explains pregnancy and giving birth, as well the practices of caring of children in the Kuikuro culture and society.
The session contains the kuikuro translation of the words and sentences list of the "Formulário dos Vocabularios Padrões" of the Museu Nacional (Federal Univeristy of Rio de Janeiro), numbers from 251 to 341 (the end). The Formulario was created with the aim to collect data for a first grammatical sketch, comparison and diachronic studies.
The old Aitsehü performs the magic spell used to move away storms, called isilu agitoho "made to throw away thye storm". The style is formulaic, versified, with a special rythm characteristic of genres of chanted speech. Curing as well as othe "magic" spells are structured in two parts: the first one is performed using the upper Xingu Arawak language (Waura/Mehinaku), the second part is perfomed in the upper Xingu Karib Language. The first part contains the mention to the personnages and events of the related myth (the first and original performance of the curing spell by some cultural hero or creator). The second part contains the true performing formulas, directed to the patient in order to eliminate the sickness.
The informant gives some informations on the kuikuro terms used to designate "hours" of the day, marking the dayly cicle of village activities.
The old Agatsipá remembers the old carib villages localized along the eastern rivers of the Upper Xingu bassin, as well as their chiefs. Agatsipádescribes the trip he made when leaved the village where he was born at the Tahununu lake, to reach the village of Kuhikugu. The old villages are described and the (partial) genealogy of chiefly lines is presented.
The chief Ak performs the sequence of the six ritual speeches or discourses. This kind of ritual speech is called anetü itaginhu, "conversation of the chief". The first one is called tinhü kukapakitoho, "made for the arrival of the messengers". The messengers arrive to the village in order to invite the local group for a feast to be realized in another village. The second speech is called tinhü gekankgitoho, "made for greeting the messengers". The third one is called tinhü itagimpakitoho, "made for receiving the messengers". The forth one is called kukegikatoho, "made for accepting the invitation". The fifth one is the main speech, where the old founders chiefs of the local group known as Kuikuro are mentioned. All the precedings speechs are performed in the middle of the village, the plaza, in front of the men's house. The sixth speech is performed near the inviting village, the village of the messengers; it is a cerimonial dialogue between the chief who is leading the invited village and the messengers, in order to realize a ritual exchange of goods. The next day will be the final day of the feast's cycle. The anetü itaginhu is characterized by a formal style, full of methaphors, versification and parallelisms, and specialized lexicon ("words of ols people"). It is a kind of chanted speech, with a characteristic rythm and entonation. The speeches are learned and memorized by an apprentice, always of chief's lineage, during many learning session with teacher, always an older chief.
Tapualu, a kalapalo woman, and Samuagü, her husband, a kuikuro man, tell the events that caused the sickness of Tapualu: she had contact with the powerful supernatural being (itseke) called the Hyper-Hummingbird, the owner of the pequi. Pequi is a tree whose fruits fall between the months of October and November, at the end of the dry season. Its fruits are an important source of food for all the upper Xingu groups and a whole ritual cycle marks the 'pequi time'. Tapualu tells how she was "beaten' by the Hyper-Hummingbird while she was collecting pequi fruits near the viillage with another woman. She tells about her painful sickness. After Tapualu, Samuagü tells about the actions, diagnoses and cure done by the shamans of the kuikuro village, remembering also the myth of the origin of the pequi. This appeared on the grave of the Hyper-Cayman, killed by the jealous husband of his human lovers. Other plants appeared near the pequi tree, all important for the upper Xingu people. Then, Tapualu continues the story explaining how she was cured by the shamans and how her husband became, for this reason, the "owner of the hugagü festival", realized the first time in order to make the Hyper-Hummingbird harmless with songs, dances, music and offerts. Samuagü explains how the ritual is organized and enacted and the roles of its participants (askers, helpers, dancers and singers). He explains also the work of the owner of a ritual and his family.
Tugupé, Aunu, Takumã, Samuagü and others leaving in the Samuagü's house regard a book with illustrations of insects; they give the kuikuro names for those that they can identify.
The speaker describes the ongoing of the tsitsi ritual. In the tsitsi, villagers performe, during the night, a sort of agression coming from outsiders (shamans and witches). The description ends with some observations on the rituals of the period in the kuikuro village and on chieftainship.
Narrative about the deeds of the creation ancestors
The old Nahu answers to the questions of his grand-son Mutuá about the death of Coronel Percy Fawcett, an english adventurer and member of the British Army, desappeared in 1925, during his travel through the upper Xingu region, somewhere in the territory of the karib speaking goups of the upper Xingu (Kuikuro, Kalapalo, Nahukwa and Matipu). Apparently he, with his son and a small expedition team, was searching for the famous Eldorado, a mythical place in western imageries. His body was never found. Brazilian authorities and journalists declared, at the time, that Fawcett had been killed by the Kalapalo. Two more expeditions to the region were motivated by the Fawcett desappearance. Two expeditions, conducted by G. M. Dyott , in 1928, and by Vincent Petrullo, in 1931, tried without succes to find Fawcett's body. The Kalapalo tell their version of the story (see Ellen Basso, 1995. The Last Cannibal. Austin: Texas University Press). They say that Fawcett was received by themselves very friendly, spending some time in their village. After this, Fawcett decided to continue his trip to the north, despite the many warnings that the Kalapalo gave to him. Probably, Fawcett met "fierce people" (ngikogo) not far away from the Kalapalo and he was killed by them. Nahu tells one more version of the Fawcett story very similar to the Kalapalo version recorded by Ellen Basso.