Beyond the Visible and the Material


pp. 57-80 – 4. Laura Rival : "Seed and Clone".

Makus^i of British Wayana




"the marriage of an older and a younger sister to, respectively, lazy Owl (prototo) and hardworking Duck (maiwa). Owl’s garden contains less than ten mounds, but the roots are so big and abundant that his visiting mother-in-law can fill her warishi (plaited basket) with the roots dug out of a single mound. Duck’s plantation, by contrast, is so vast that the mother-in-law ... gets lost in the centre, where she turns into a ground pigeon ... Duck’s manioc ends up ...


as the extremely bitter, poisonous wild variety whose leaves are used to protect farms from the leafcutter ant."

p. 72 Curripaco of Colombia

mythic cultural heroes Iapirikuri and Kaaritairi :-

"They compare They compare Iapirikuri, the orphaned, unmarried, and childless hero who is at the origin of war and hunting to wild manioc ... which has no tuberous roots. ...

Iapirikuri ... adopts the children of war victims, and copulates incestuously with his paternal aunt. ...

Kaaritairi, the garden hero, is, by contrast, married and the father of several children.

Kaaritairi’s eldest son, himself married and a father, resides with his family in Kaaritairi’s longhouse.

Kaaritairi has secretly stolen the knowledge of manioc cloning from Tapir ...

Kaaritairi makes sexual advances to his daughter-in-law. ...

Kaaritairi ... comes ... to teach the art of manioc cultivation to his younger son and daughter,

leaving his murderous elder son and his family to subsist on wild fruit."


pp. 81-100 – 5. Jean-Pierre Chaumeil : "Blowpipe and Tube among the Yagua Indians of the Peruvian Amazon". [Yawa ("Yagua")]

p. 85 spirit of the blowpipe

"A blowpipe is an animated object endowed with a ‘mother’ (hamwo), the spirit or vital principle of the species from which it is made. To mishandle it or lend it out excessively causes it to ... lose its ‘power’, in which case it must be ‘cured’ ... through a therapeutic ritual similar to those performed by shamans."

pp. 86-87 myth about acquisition of blowpipe & flute




"An old woman, busy weeding the garden, ... goes to the village and discovers that all the inhabitants have just been killed ..., she finds two children (the twins, ndanu the older one and ‘placenta’, me:na, the younger) crying next to the inert body of their mother ... Several days later, the twins have already grown up ... Their grandmother teaches them how to obtain a ready-made blowpipe ... released by the blowpipe tree, ...


stealing the poison darts after ... the scorpion caretakers. Arriving at the site of the massacre, they are greeted by a burst of thunder announcing the arrival on Earth of their dead father’s soul ... Playing a bone flute with terrifying power, the soul begins to dance. ... The wins learn to play the magical instrument without being overcome by the terrifying energy of its blowing-sound. ... Arriving close to the enemy village, the older of the twins turns himself into a sparrowhawk (or an egret) and settles on top of the highest dwelling in order to attract the enemy’s attention. ... While the twins organize a big party to celebrate ..., the dead father’s soul ... successfully recovers his stolen flute."


"the mythical Lucuma bifera tree trunk containing the blowpipe opens and closes".

pp. 87-88 myth about the origin of the Maran~on river




"the tree of life (Chorisia sp.) retains in its gigantic trunk the waters which form the Amazon river ... the twins have felled the tree".


"the Yagua also represent the earth in the form of a tapered tree (in contrast to the Chorisia’s dome-shaped foliage) ... to the felling spot, the place where the tree separates from the stump, and this part of the tree is where the first ancestors are still living".

p. 92 spirits of musical instruments (horns, pipes, block-flutes)

"The horn ... incarnates the dominant ancestral spirit (ru`nda) ...

The tube symbolizes the wirisio` spirit. ...

The block-flute representing the wawito`, yurio`, and sipato` spirits ... could be mistaken for a blowpipe."

"The Ticuna, close neighbors of the Yagua, have a myth ... in which the cultural hero Joi extracts colours from a blowgun to paint the bark horn".


pp. 101-122 – 6. Philippe Erikson : "Matis Blowpipes, Palm Trees, and Ancestor Spirits". [Matis of western Brazil]

p. 109 contrasts between Maru and Mariwin categories of spirits



"asocial ... spirits"

"ancestral spirits, who function as positive role-models"

"live in natural clearings"

"haunt cultural clearings, especially ... ancient village sites."

"have no ornaments"

"sport extraordinary ornaments, wearing more labrets than any living person"

"are ... underpierced"

"have remarkable body piercings"

"by taking your ornaments off, you become ‘invisible’ "

"Ornaments are only taken off for ... the use of a bow."

p. 110 myth of scalping

"a maru spirit ... was tricked into being scalped with a piranha jaw before having his anus pierced with a lanceolated spear ...

The hero of a Shipibo myth ... similarly scalps, and later impales ‘toothed spirit’ (yoshin she:taya), a local equivalent to the maru, whose alternative name ... happens to be ‘bald spirit’ (yoshin shatan)."


Laura Rival & Neil Whitehead (eds.) : Beyond the Visible and the Material. Oxford U Pr, 2001. [festschrift in honor of Peter Rivie`re]