Conviviality in Native Amazonia


pp. 33-45 – 1. Juan Alvaro Echeverri : "Salt and sexual education among the Uitoto Indians of Lowland Colombia".





"the wooing basket" : "In that basket ... many spirits lost their faces."

{some Kogi (of sta. Marta) spirits lost their faces, which became masks}


"This fire is the true Mother ..."

{Ainu fire-goddess}


"in former times powerful sorcerers who has sufficiently ‘hardened’ their rocks could actually pull them from their foreheads and display them to other sorcerers. These were ... little shiny rocks; some were green, others yellow, yet others red."

{Norse god To`rr sought to have the stone (which had been embedded in his forehead) charmed forth thence}


"women danced with a parrot perched on their shoulders"

{cf. p. 216 "women are linked with the green parrot"}


pp. 46-63 – 2. Peter Gow : "The affective preconditions of Piro social life". ["The Piro people are ... on the Bajo Urubamba, Cushtabay and Manu` rivers in Peru and on the Iaco river in Brazil." (p. 46)]



tribe’s name in Piro

usual name







62, n. 5

Gipetuneru (‘capybara people’)



Kiruneru (‘peachpalm people’)


terminology in Piro




gigle- ‘beautiful, good’


ns^inikanu- ‘memory, thought’


gipnac^ri ‘bone daimon’


samenc^i ‘self’

p. 54 souls after death

"At a person’s death, the samenchi separates from the body. The latter rots down in the grave to the skeleton, which eventually reanimates and leaves the earth to prowl about as the very dangerous ‘bone demon’ ... .

the samenchi ‘lingers by the grave, living on papaya, suffering and crying when soaked by the rain ...’ "

p. 62, n. 9 "Samenchi is the Absolute form of the root –samenu." {cf. Siberian /SAman, s^aman/}

p. 58 shamanry

"In shamanry, the everyday form ... gives way :

to visions of non-humans as ‘human’, yine;

to the non-human spaces of the river and forest as houses and villages of the powerful beings;

to the ‘here and now’ as past, present and future; and

to sick kinsfolk as the wounded prey of powerful beings".

p. 59 shamanic singing

"the sound of shamans singing the drug songs would make the hairs stand up on my arms. Out of the pitch darkness, ... would come the thin sound of the whistled melody of a drug song. The shaman ... was beginning the process of taming the drug spirit people {this taming of helper-spirits is likewise a process done by Siberian shamans} through the entrancing artistry of his voice. Then the shamans would start to sing the strange words of these songs, coming from languages nobody here speaks. ...

And when I had taken the drug too, this unearthly concert would reveal itself to be an extraordinary opera, played out by multitudes of uncanny creatures on an enormous stage of vast complexity."


pp. 64-81 – 3. Joanna Overing : "The ludic side of magic within Amazonian sociality". [Piaroa]





"the interesting private parts of the promiscuous female who later became the supreme deity, and the enormous ones of her brothers"


"the origin of k>iraeu as crazy laughter" : "The creator gods could not sleep because there was no night, only day. The sun hadn’t gone to the other side of the earth because it was stuck against a mountain. The creator gods went to the Rock of Black Liquid (Yuri>do), a mountain and the house of the Grandfather of Sleep. They went with Howler Monkey (Hichu), who was still a man. ... They all went to the Rock of Black Liquid to ask their Grandfather for sleep. He presented the box of sleep to them, and the creator god, Buok>a and Wahari, took it. But Howler Monkey refused the gift, saying he wanted only ‘laughter craziness’, k>iraeu. ... So the Grandfather of Sleep told him he had a little at the top of the house. ... So Monkey told the creator gods, ‘I’ll give you "Laughter Craziness" too. ‘Which way to you want to laugh?’, he asked, ‘men together over women? or women together over men?’ They did not want either, but wanted to be able to laugh with women, not at them.

And this was the birth of k>iraeu, crazy laughter, ... It is when men laugh together over women, and women laugh together over men."


"The creator gods, Wahari and Buok>a, ... came across a tree with a good fruit, turi`. Wahari ordered Howler Monkey to climb up the tree ton get the fruit for them."


Wahari and his sister C^eheru : "he throws her powers of sorcery to the Mountain of Sorcery, and tosses her there too. ... She becomes the ‘Mother of Monkey’, and she makes perfume there too. She creates the Craziness Disease of ... sexual promiscuity – which comes from the perfume she gave the monkeys."


"Back at home, his sister, Cheheru, in retaliation, uses her sorcery to seduce him, her own brother. ... Some time later, when Wahari drops by Cheheru’s house he is shocked to find a young boy there ... . This is Wiritsa".


pp. 82-96 – 4. Mark Jamieson : "Ontology and the role of language in the Miskitu lament".

pp. 89-90 terminology in Miskitu




isinni ‘life-force’


wlasa ‘ghosts / duppies’


raiti ‘cemetery’


sankey ‘mourning-songs’

p. 90 funeral

After "the coffin is lowered into the grave" there is "a vigil (... ‘nine nights’) ... . On ‘the tenth night ...’ ... the mourners ‘turn the bed’ round, thereby releasing the ‘spirit’ or isingni of the deceased".


pp. 152-169 – 8. Elsje Maria Lagrou : "Homesickness and the Cashinahua self".

terminology in Kas^inawa




yuxin ‘a wandering spirit’


nawa ‘stranger’


manu- ‘nostalgia for absent relatives; thirst’


yauxi ‘stingy’


yuda ‘the thinking body’


una ‘knowledge’


yuda baka yuxin ‘body shadow (or, reflection) soul’


dau ‘charm, medicine; good luck’


dua ‘brilliance; health’


xina ‘thoughts’

shamanic and afterlife activities




"while the shaman is unable to eat and kill animals (because they would speak to him before he was able to kill them), he can nonetheless help hunters by playing tricks on the game, seducing them into his garden through the promise of ‘plenty of rotting plantains’."


"part of the girl’s initiation ... is ... with eye drops to induce dreams involving design patterns and the Master [read : ‘Mistress’] of Design, Sidika, the female boa, who appears to her [in dreams] in the form of an old lady and shows her all kinds of weaving patterns, each accompanied by the appropriate weaving songs." {thereafter, by weaving such a design while singing its song, she could establish divine protection for the user of the woven product?}


near-death experience : "what he was seeing : pupu yuxibu (owl yuxibu) announcing his death, his dead sister offering him corn syrup, several of his dead relatives arriving and calling him."


"The destiny of the bedu yuxin (yuxin of the eye) {cf. the [Tenetehara] pabid} is the land of the dead, the heavenly village of the Inka (the cannibal god of the dead). The ill person’s bedu yuxin is said to know he or she will die and starts to explore the pathways leading to the divine village in the sky."


"nixpupima, the rite of passage for children ... who have already shed their milk teeth" : "The child’s body is covered with nixpupima painting, broad black lines ... . This has the function of absorbing ... the medicinal qualities of the liquid with which experienced elders bathe the child, whose body is considered to be ‘open’ to receive the bodily knowledge of adults renowned for their industriousness".


endocannibalism : the corpse "needs ... the transformational process of cooking. This will disengage the yuxin (souls), still permeating and ihabiting the flesh, from the bodily remains that need to be transfomred into ... meat. After twilve hours of cooking, the flesh is held to have become meat, to have released all its yuxin ... . It is, however, never consumed on its own but accompanied with cooked vegetables {is this done so as to encourage the vegetable-deities to assist the souls of the dead person in the land of the dead?} ... .

Concommitantly with the ritual actions..., songs are sung to encourage the soul to acquire a new body by clothing itself with the robe of the Inka." {cf. the Manda< soul (nis^imta) as ‘robe of glory’}

beliefs concerning sexual reproduction




"As for women who refuse to have sex, they are said to be stingy with their vagina (hawen xebi yauxi)."

"childbirth : when a woman’s labour is excessively long, her vagina is said to be stingy with the child".


"the intra-uterine modeling of the bone structure by the father’s penis and semen."

{ALS&E, p. 233 [There may be] "noted from ... the Aitareya Aran.yaka that the woman contributes the skin, blood and flesh, whereas the man contributes the fat, bone and marrow parts of the fetus ... and from the Garbha that from bones arise marrow (majja), and from the marrow semen (s`ukra)".

ALS&E, p. 234 "Also in the Talmud we find ... that the male furnishes the "white" (semen) from which the bones, brain, sinews, nails, and ocular sclerae come and that the female furnishes the "red" (menstrual blood) for the skin, flesh, hair and ocular corneas ... . Among the Venda, Herero, Congolese, and Ashanti, ... it is heald that the bones of the fetus are contributed by the male".}

ALS&E = Carleton T. Hodge : Afroasiatic Linguistics, Semitics, and Egyptology. CDL Press, Bethesda (MD), 2004.

p. 157 myth

"Tene Kuin Dumeya (‘Tene himself ... with tobacco’), is an epic account of his successive victories over yuxibu, monsters that made the forest paths unsafe. Tene’s flesh became so strong that it was as bitter as poison. When he dived into the water to bathe, all the fish died as if they had been killed with fish poison (puikama)."


pp. 170-186 – 9. Carlos David London~o-Sulkin : "Social sensibilities and the transformation of malignant agency among the Muiname". [in the Medio Caqueta` of Colombia]




"their ‘baskets of knowledge’ {cf. [Bauddha] pit.aka} -- ... their thoraces – are the temporary resonating chambers of extrinsic ‘Breaths’ and "Speeches’ ... which ... tobacco and coca ... generate inside people."


"an elder may speak of his children as the arms of his body, or ... his fingers ... when slightly more distant kin are involved."


"at the time of creation, the creator god made several attempts to fabricate human beings. ... Infuriated by the disobedient transgressions of his creations, the deity transformed them into animals, and their tobacco into spurious versions of tobacco."


instances of spurious accoutrements of peoples transformed into animals

the __

of __

is its __





red deer



"the False Woman" : "In mythical times, this feminine spirit bore a penis-shaped tobacco container, the contents of which made her desire sex uncontrollably and indiscriminately. ... She attempted to seduce her own brothers, and therefore the creator banished her".


The goddess "False Woman" induceth in humans paranoia, as (e.g.) a husband’s suspecting his wife of laughing at him or of speaking maliciously to herself about him : "It is all lies!" {cf. the Zaratustrian whore-goddess inducing mendacity among humans}


"evil beings ... cause diseases by placing deleterious substances in them such as ... thorns, darts or pieces of ceramic ... .

Many diseases are treated in rituals as attempts by animals to prey upon human victims. For example, muscular pains are said to stem from having fallen into the perverse hunting traps of animals ... . Some visceral afflictions are the result of being eaten inside by worms or grubs. Some forms of infertility are thought to stem from a mythical turtle biting into the scrotum of a male victim."


"The instrumental Speeches, such as the Speeches of Apprising (myths), of Healing (chants and recipes), of Work, of Maloca Construction and others, spring from tobacco, mambe and other substances, and are the very words of the deity sounding through people."

"The extraction of vegetable salt to be mixed with tobacco paste ... involves the burning of certain palm trees or other plants, an action which the Speeches describe as the incineration of dangerous thorns, itchy bark fuzz, poisonous snakes and scorpions".


"In several rituals ..., the healer and a conversation partner or ‘what-sayer’ ... licked tobacco and coca in order that their thoughts would become ‘open’ and perspicacious, and that their Speeches would have ‘strength’. The healer then narrated or alluded to the mythical events that dealt with the different origins or the disease which affected the victim, trying to pinpoint which particular animal ... had attacked him or her. ... In some of the rituals, they discovered the causal agent because of ... an explosion in the bonfire, or a particular sound in the jungle, signalling the culprit’s culpability, would happen to occur at the very point in the narration of the Speech of Apprising where its name would be mentioned." {did the explosion or jungle-sound oblige the spirit being then being mentioned to accept responsibility for the ailment?}


"The Muinane also use Speeches to deceive game, ants and insects by telling them that in the garden they have made a sleeping place for them, and instructing them to go and sleep there. Finally, when everything is dry, the owners of the garden set fire to it. The burning is also a meal in which the True Fire of Life ‘eats’ ... any unwary insects trapped in the garden." {so, are the game-animals and insects subjugated from their sleeping-mode by means of the divinity of the True Fire of Life?}


pp. 209-220 – 11. Luisa Elvira Belaunde : "The convivial self and the fear of anger amongst the Airo-Pai of Amazonian Peru". [Airo-Pai also known as Secoya, in Alto-Napo region]





cadaye ‘fear’


goa- ‘without purpose; bad’


joyo ‘heart, mind’


cuatsaye ‘thoughts’





"spiritual beings called huati" have "two heads, burnt skin, extreme hairiness."

" ‘huati of people’s hearts’ (pai joyo huati) ... accompany shamans. Young men inherit their spirit companions from a dead relative through dreams. The ‘huati of people’s hearts’ is said ... to have a transparent chest like a glass window, through which one can see all the internal organs moving and the heart beating. ... the most terrifying vision is when the monster opens the window of its chest and takes its heart in its hand." {cf. Tezcatlipoca’s heart which is grasped}


"living people are seen as birds by the spirits."


"Men are related to the oropendola (Icterides chrysocephalus) and

women are linked with the green parrot (Amazona farinosa). ...


Like the oropendola, Airo-pai men produce fibre woven objects, such as hammocks and baskets. ...

Women are like parrots in that they harvest and transform crops ["grind seeds"]".


"The huati spirits feed on human ‘birds’. Nevertheless, these spirits can carry out their murderous deeds only if in association with a sorcerer. ... The spirits ‘invite’ a shaman to ‘hunt’."

p. 212 myth :- "a crying baby that managed to infuriate its mother to the extent that she goty so angry that she threw her child in the fire" : "the birth of the sun, a crying baby rising from the flames of his own fury and mother’s exasperation".


pp. 221-234 – 12. Dan Rosengren : "On kisagantsi in Matsigenka narrative discourse".





kisagantsi ‘anger’


s^ine`tagantsi ‘love, happiness’

234, n. 9

as^a`ninka ‘mis paisanos’





[about Tsoso`ti (a species of bird) :] "a woman visiting a strange house inadvertently kills a baby boy when she is about to cuddle him. ... When the man eventually returns ... he tells the woman who killed his son that from now on she must stay in his house as his wife."


[about Kas^iri (‘Moon’) :] "Moon settles with a family, divulges knowledge and marries the daughter with whom he has four sons who subsequently become the suns that now illuminate different parts of the universe. At the birth of the fourth son the woman dies, but Moon explains to his parents-in-law that ... he will resuscitate her. Moon’s mother-in-law, however, ... upset by the difficult [child]births he had her daughter go through ... forces him to eat her dead daughter."


The goddess "Pareni ... gets angry at her husband when he criticizes her for serving fish that she produces from her vagina, and she therefore transforms him into a hummingbird."


[about S^iani (‘Aardvark’) :] "a young woman does not want to marry the man her rather has chosen for her since she loves Worm (Tso`miri). To escape her father’s wrath she runs away into the jungle where she meets Jaguar (Matso`ntsori) whom she implores to devour her. ... the brother of the escaping woman gives chase and on finding his sister decides to take up residence with her and her husband, Jaguar."


pp. 235-251 – 13. Marco Antonio Gonc,alves : "The production of jealousy ... amongst the Paresi Indians of Mato Grosso".

fraternal polyandry




"The offering of one’s wife to a younger brother and the recognition of his paternity of her children ...,

... brothers ... are expected to share almost everything ..., even women."


"brothers ... can both share the same woman.

... by comparing the features of the child with those of both men, it is possible to identify the genitor."


If 2 "women were not sisters, they could not share the same man lest jealousy grew between them."


If a married man were to commit adultery with women who are not close relatives of his wife, then she, upon suspecting this, may throw beer on him.

p. 238 myth of the creator & his 5 brethren

"The oldest brother, Waza`re, created the world".

"The myth of origin of the Haliti (the Paresi’s name for themselves) states that the subgroups are composed of the children of five ancestral brothers who married tree women. The five brothers left the underworld and arrived on earth through a hole hidden under a stone." These 5 brethren are :






p. myths about animals




"The hummingbird ... was not jealous and ridiculed jealous men. And, to show that no one should be jealous, ... he used to exchange his wife with his younger brother’s wife. Every day each stayed with the wife of the other."


"Okiore was married to Kyawlo. The land turtle and Kyawlo’s mother lived with the couple. The turtle wished he could also be Kyawlo’s husband, but she did not like him. ... So, one day, the turtle announced to Kiore’s mother-in-law : ‘I am going to live in the house of the secret flutes.’ "


"When the husband goes hunting, a hairy armadillo assumes the form of the husband’s brother to visit and have [sexual] intercourse with the wife. ... The husband, ... When he saw it was the hairy armadillo in the guise of his brother, he decided to kill him." {on account of the crime of impersonating, not on account of the adultery?}


"An apacamin eagle was married. His apacamin mother-in-law and a female pedreiro lived with them. The apacamin also called the female pedreiro ‘mother-in-law’. ...


The apacamin reached the ic,a’s nest. He took some eggs home. He gave them to his mother-in-law. ... The ic,a which she took turned into the red ic,a and flew away ... . The apacamin mother-in-law felt like sleeping and went to sleep. The ic,a which remained in the ashes [embers] continued to burn until they turned into ashes, and from these ashes the black ic,a flew away." {the implication is that dreaming (or else dreamless sleep?) is able to transmute color into blackness (by means of, somehow, of fire?}


pp. 268-287 – 15. Fernando Santos-Granero : "The Sisyphus Syndrome, or the struggle for conviviality in Native Amazonia". [Yanes^a]



term (__-ten~ets)




















p. 270 a land for souls of the dead

"Sanrronesho – the land located in the upper most level of the Yanesha cosmos – where the souls of the murdered ones (sanerr) live. A woman decides to travel with her children to Sanrronesho after enemies kill her husband. There, she sees her husband – his body wounded ..., his head crawling with maggots – singing and dancing with other murdered men and women to the sound of cosham~n~ats music. ... At dawn, after celebrating all night long, the murdered ones turn into vultures ..., and ascend to the heavens of Sanrronescho." {this description may be used by local shamans in an effort to incite pity in prospective murderers, so as to deter them from murder}


Joanna Overing & Alan Passes (eds.) : The Anthropology of Love and Anger : the aesthetics of conviviality in Native Amazonia. Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group), London, 2000.