Foto: Léo Martins, década de 80.


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  • Where they are How many

    BA2.571 (Siasi/Sesai, 2014)
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The ritual of the toré


In 1974, Kiriri leaders organized a caravan of about a hundred Indians going to the Tuxá Indian Reserve, located in Rodelas, north of Bahia, at first to hold a soccer match between the two people, but also with the clear intention of watching the ritual of the Toré which the Tuxá danced, and to learn how to do it. The Toré is part of a wider set of beliefs – at the center of which one finds the use of jurema – which, very probably, could have been grouped together into a ritual complex which is common to the peoples of the backlands (Cf. Nascimento, 1994). Among the Indians in the Northeast, the Toré represents a symbol of unity and ethnicity, a provider of ideological elements of unity and differentiation and thus, a source of legitimating their political objectives.

The process of adopting the Toré is best made viable on the symbolic plane, on the one hand due to its relation with certain shamanic practices still in operation among the Kiriri, selected with attention to the criteria of ethnic representation. Once the Toré had entered the scene, these practices were progressively de-legitimated and those that did not adapt to the procedures used in the rituals, that did not "ally their guides to the guides of the Toré", were marginalized, prevented from "working".

The Kiriri introduced new elements to the structure of the Toré they had learned: their "enchanted beings" (supernatural beings), were added on to those borrowed from the Tuxá, and progressively assume ever greater importance; The Kiriri added their own rhythms and choreographic variations to the original melodic repertoire and the costumes underwent changes (Martins, 1985).

The Toré is generally held on Saturday nights – there being only interruption during the period of Lent – on large dance spaces next to which there is always some closed off space, where the pot with the “jurema” is kept and private sequences of the ritual are held. The ceremony begins with the concentration of peoples in the area around the dance space and in the closed off space where the blowing of tobacco smoke begins, which is then extended onto the dance space; the tobacco smoke is blown from large cone-shaped wooden pipes, with drawings carved or painted onto them. The ingestion of the jurema also begins at that time, which will be intensified during the dance; it is distributed by the local councilor or by some other notable figure in the ritual and political hierarchy. Dancing onto the dance space, they go on with the works of "cleaning", which are led by the pajé, when, at that time, using whistles, the "enchanted beings" are invited to participate. They begin the songs and dances, at first in Indian file, with the pajé up front, followed by the men, women and children, in that order. The line of dancers moves in snakelike fashion over the dance space in dance steps which are progressively elaborated to the degree the rhythms follow one after another, intensifying the involvement of the participants, until the climax that comes with the “arrival” of the “enchanted beings", which can be seen in evident signs of incorporation demonstrated by the female "masters".

By that point, moods are altered and the horizontal hierarchy of the Indian file gives way to movements around the possessed dancers who occupy a central position on the dance space and move very little, while they begin to speak in a language which is supposedly indigenous, a ritual that consists of a sequence of much repeated sounds that are incomprehensible for the Kiriri today. They are then led to the closed off space, the “little room" – where they are consulted in relation to the most varied questions, providing counsel of a generic nature, that, as a rule, reproduces the ideas of group unity. The main interlocutors and interpreters of their messages are the political leaders of the Kiriri and especially the pajés (Rocha Jr., 1983).