DER Documentary

Jaguar: A Yanomamö Twin Cycle Myth as Told by Daramasiwä

From the Yanomamö series
by Timothy Asch and Napoleon Chagnon
color, 22 min, 1976
in Yanomamö with English subtitles

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The richness of Yanomamo mythology is again revealed in this film (compare Moonblood and both Myths of Naro ), as is the remarkable skill of another Yanomamo storyteller. The myth in this case is that of Jaguar, a prominent figure throughout South American Indian mythology. Long ago, Curare Woman tasted bitter, so Jaguar did not eat her. Curare Woman hid her pregnant daughter in the roof above Jaguar's hammock, and sent Jaguar far away to hunt while her daughter was fed by birds whom she protected. One day the daughter pissed all over Jaguar. He smelled the urine and smashed the daughter to the ground, killing her. Curare Woman took the daughter's twin fetuses and hid them in a bark container, where they became hekura spirits. When they grew to be men and became Raware', they sought revenge. Through cunning and with an arrow obtained from the sky's edge, they succeeded in killing Jaguar.

Daramasiwa, who tells the myth, remains hunkering on the ground in one spot, yet through his dramatic body movements and versatile voice he conveys a sense of tremendous distance traveled, and of the qualities of the different characters. This film, together with the films of the Naro and the Moonblood myths, suggests reflections on the nature of performance and communication in Yanomamo culture. At the same time the films remind the viewer of the complexity of the intellectual system in this culture, and might nicely complement a reading of Claude Levi-Strauss' Mythologiques.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
American Film Festival Finalist

Other films in the Yanomamö series:
Arrow Game
The Ax Fight
Bride Service
Children's Magical Death
Climbing the Peach Palm
A Father Washes His Children
The Feast
Magical Death
A Man and His Wife Make a Hammock
A Man Called Bee: Studying the Yanomamo
Moonblood: A Yanomamo Creation Myth
Myth of Naro, as told by Dedeheiwä
Myth of Naro, as told by Kaobawä
New Tribes Mission
Ocamo is My Town
Tapir Distribution
Tug-of-War, Yanomamo
Weeding the Garden
Yanomamö: A Multidisciplinary Study
Yanomamö of the Orinoco

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