"Shamanism ... among the Asurini`"

[except in tribe-names, accent is written /’/ before the stressed vowel]




"The Asurini` shaman (pay’e) ... can invoke ... spirits ... or be possessed by them. In possession, the shaman becomes the spirit he has been calling, behaves like it, speaks it words with its voice.


There are at least 5 classes of pay’e : "tiw’a, apikw’ara, araPo’a and taya’o."


ritual objects and substances : "the shaman’s gourd rattle (yap’u); cigars (pet’imu), wrapped in the thin bark of the tauari tree, ... and ... the shaman’s whistles : the yaw’ara ..., made of a hollow nut in which three holes have been drilled, and a small two-tubed panpipe."


"The shaman’s songs are accompanied by the rhythmic beat of his ritual gourd rattle. ... After several songs the shaman may start dancing, his assistant behind him or to his side repeating the shaman’s words ... . A group of young women and girls may join them in the dance, always to their left, interlacing their arms over each other’s shoulders and those of the shaman. ... Between songs --- ... calls to the spirits ... – the shaman may go to the ritual structure and grasp for an invisible "substance" above the double log".


The shaman "started dancing a heavily stepped, animal-like dance, his body bent forward."


The shaman was "singing the spirit’s words with the spirit’s voice and moving like the spirit. ... this trance ... was referred to as umandoa’ip".

32, fn. 17

spirit with a "shaman in trance" : "an informant ... indicated that an "an~ina" was present about his head and neck."


"four shamans ... were inside the house, smoking and making various blowing, "animal", and grunting sounds. ... The four shamans then came out of the house, each holding a lighted cigar, ... themselves dancing a heavy-stepped, grotesque dance ..., falling frequent to the ground, to the amusement of everyone. They ... represent grotesque or buffoon spirits".


shamanic session to cure ailment : "During the night cure, one of the ritual stones, which ... had earlier received supernatural power ... during the dancing and singing phase, is usually placed, on its bench, under the hammock of the sick person. It ... radiates its accumulated force, transferring it to the patient, to help fight the cause of the disease. ... The various shamans sit on benches around the hammock of the patient. A variety of "animal" and whistling sounds are produced ... . Among the "animal" sounds are a frog-like sound produced by aspirating through the closed lips (as in a kiss) using the cavity left between the palms of the joined hands as a resonator; a whistling sound produced by blowing into the same cavity; another whistling sound produced by using the yaw’ara whistle."

"The most common of the gestures consists of movements of the hands away from each other, the palms facing outward, ... to drive away some fluid surrounding the patient. This gesture (petim’u or petimb’u) is accompanied by vibration of the lips."


"After the curing session ... the officiating shaman ... is then presented with food, water and babac,u [palm-tree] oil which he "purifies" or "blesses" with a light gesture of the hand ... accompanied by blowing in puffs."


"This night dancing, following the curing phase of the ceremony, has now become a very joyful, happy event. The words of some of the songs seem to be very humorous and are sometimes accompanied by funny gestures by the shaman, which have to be imitated by the assistant who is singing ... . All the spectators then burst into laughter."


"the curing method, tiwamow’aim, in which a shaman attracts to himself the disease"

61, fn. 28

"the curing acts end with the extraction of a malevolent being, emamoe. ... emamoe could quite possibly be a cognate of the umae (ymae) of the Tenetehara, the substance that the Tenetehara shamans extract from the sick".

62, fn. 28

"the mama>e` (spirit) of the Kamayura` [in northern Mato Grosso] ... moan (illness-causing foreign objects)" [citing Wagley 1942, p. 287]

64, fn. 33

among the Kamayura`, "Manioc and piqui, for instance, have guardian spirits or mama>e` ... . Tobacco is called petim" (Oberg, pp. 24-25). "tobacco has the power to call the spirits, which then carry out the orders of the shaman." (Ibid., p. 60)

66, fn. 35

"Among ... probable cognates of an~ina we find, for example, the an~anga or an~a~ of the southern Tupinamba ... (Me’traux 1928, p. 60). ... These words correspond to the an~a~y of the Apapocuva-Guarani` (Me’traux , ibid., p. 63), or the an~a (Devil) or ang (soul, shadow, spirit) of the modern Guarani` (Jover Peralta and Osuna, 1950-51, pp. 7, 9, 286). Additional cognates are found among other Tupi` tribes : the an~ang of the Kagwahiw ... "... which include ghosts of the recently dead ..., and certain ... forest spirits, ..."; the anchunga of the Tapirape` (Wagley, 1977, p. 306) : "the generic term for shadows; souls; spirits of game animals and fish ... ."; the azang

67, fn. 35

of the Tenetehara (Wagley and Galva~o 1949, p. 98) "the disembodied souls of the dead"; or the anyang ("spirits of the dead") and ang ("soul, shadow, ghost") of the Urubu-Caa`por (Huxley 1957, pp. 283, 285)."

67, fn. 36

Tenetehara (Wagley and Galva~o 1949, p. 109) : "The supernaturals most commonly "called" by Tenetehara shamans are Ywan, the water spirit; azang, the ghost of the dead, and the spirits of such animals as the monkey, the opossum, and the deer. Only a few shamans are able to "call" such strong spirits as the hawk and the kururu-toad".

67, fn. 36

Kagwahiv : "The spirit journeys the ipaji made in the curing ceremony ... used to take place in a trance. .... the ipaji would go into a trance, during which his spirit would go to visit, successively, all the spirits of the various parts of the earth and levels of the sky – first an~ang, then spirits of various species of animals. At the climax of this spiritual journey, he ends up talking to each of the Sky-people, finally approaching their father and chief Pi`ndova>u`mi>ga. Each spirit he meets sings a characteristic song".

67, fn. 36

Kamayura` (Oberg 1953, p. 60) : "The spirits which assist the shamans are known by the general name, Mama>e`, and, according to the Camayura`, are dwarflike, with white hair and black beards."

69, fn. 39

Kagwahiv : "the spirits ... also ... come down into the tokaia to talk to the ipaji – invited down ... by the shaman’s familiar ga rupigwa`ra. Both voices are heard from the tokaia, ... another helping shaman addresses the spirit, who responds through the voice of the shaman in trance."

69, fn. 40

Kagwahiv : "Dreaming ... in Kagwahiw spiritual life ... is the special province of the ... ipaji, the shamanic healers".

71, fn. 44

Kagwahiw : "In trance in the curing ceremony, the shaman ... used to ascend one by one the levels at which these spirits live in the sky, meeting first the spirits of fish, then of animals and ... birds ... . Reaching the level of the sky-people, he would converse with them one by one; until finally he reached the chief of the sky-people, the one responsible for having lifted up that realm of perfection from the earth in the first place, Pi`ndova>u`miga."

references :-

SOCIOLOGIA IV (1942). Charles Wagley : "O estado de e^xtase do page` tupi`". Sa~o Paulo.

SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION, INSTITUTE OF SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY, Publication No. 15 = Kalervo Oberg : Indian Tribes of Northern Mato Grosso, Brazil. Washington.

BIBLIOTHE`QUE DE L’ECOLE DES HAUTES E’TUDES, SCIENCES RELIGIEUSES, vol. XLV (1928) Alfred Me’traux : "La religion des Tupinamba et sus rapports avec celle des autres tribus Tupi-Guarani". Paris.

A. Jover-Peralta & T. Osuna : Diccionario Ne>e~ngueriru`. Editorial Tupa~, Buenos Aires. 1950-51.

Charles Wagley : Welcome of Tears. Oxford U Pr, 1977.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY CONTRIBUTIONS TO ANTHROPOLOGY, No. 35 = Charles Wagley & Eduardo Galva~o : The Tenetehara Indians of Brazil. NY, 1949.

Francis Huxley : Affable Savages : an anthropologist among the Urubu Indians of Brazil. Viking Pr, NY, 1957.

ARQUIVOS DE ANATOMIA E ANTROPOLOGIA, Vol. 3 (1978), pp. 13-76 = Jacques Jangoux : "Preliminary Observations on Shamanism, Curing Rituals and Propitiatory Ceremonies among the Asurini` Indians of the Middle Xingu` in Brazil".