Foto: Beto Ricardo, 2002

Xingu

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The ritual of the Jawari

Another ritual which involves invitations to other villages is that of the Jawari, held around the month of July. This ritual involves a series of disputes, each of them between two individuals of different ethnic groups, placed about six meters from each other. Each one by turns shoots darts at his opponent, seeking to strike him from the waist on down. The players protect themselves by hiding, dodging, or jumping behind a bundle of sticks, which cannot move from the ground. The darts have their tips blunted with balls of wax and their shafts are stuck in a tucum fruit (called Jawari in the Kamaiurá language, as the ritual became better known), with holes, which makes them hiss, when thrown. The darts are thrown with the help of a propeller, an instrument which was widely diffused in the past, but which today, in Brazil, only exists on the Upper Xingu and the use of which is limited to this sport.

For the holding of this ritual, three emissaries, one main emissary and two assistants, are sent to the village which is to be invited requesting that the villagers appear on the appointed day, at which time they are received by the same emissaries, who bring them cauim [fermented beverage] and manioc bread. The guests pitch camp outside the village. On the following day, they enter to engage in the contest.

On the days preceding the games, the adversaries must undergo assiduous training, using as a target a doll made of leaves tied with embira. Sexual relations and the consumption of fish must also be avoided.

Once the contest has ended, food is offered to the visitors. Near a ceramic bowl, several darts and propellers from each group are broken and then burned. Having finished the meal, the guests return to their village.