Foto: Maria Cristina Troncarelli, 2000

Trumai

  • Other names
  • Where they are How many

    MT258 (Siasi/Sesai, 2014)
  • Linguistic family
    Trumái

Name

trumai_4

It is debatable whether the term Trumai is the original, ancient self-designation, or whether it was attributed to them by another indigenous group, and later became widely used as a result of its acceptance in common use among the Trumai themselves. The term itself does not fit the phonological patterns of the language, which does not have words with the sequence of sounds tr. Even the borrowings from Portuguese which have junctures of consonants of this type tend to have a vowel inserted between the two consonants (for example: [pa´ratu] prato). This pattern leads us to suppose that the term Trumai may have come from another group, probably non-Xinguan. On the other hand, it is also possible to speculate that it may really have originated from this language, being just a shorter version of an earlier form that had a vowel between [t] and [r], which was later omitted (perhaps tyrumai). This hypothesis is not out of the question, given that the same sort of thing occurs with the name of one of the ancient Trumai villages, which has two ways of pronouncing it: Karajajan and Krajajan. Nevertheless, the lack of greater evidence limits us to the terrain of speculation.

When consulted about the subject, several Trumai today say only that there existed in the past another term used by the group as ethnonym, but there are disagreements over this. According to several people, the ancient term used by the group was ho kod-ke, which meant "the archers, those who had arrows of waxpoint", referring to the fact that these people were the owners of the Jawari festival, which they introduced to the Upper Xingu. According to others, if this was the meaning being expressed, then the name of the Trumai would have been hid kod-ke, because ho kod ke can be translated as "those with a short round-shaped penis". Several Trumai say that the term ho kod ke was used just as a nickname for the group, referring to the fact that in the past, Trumai men tied up their penises, which gave them a certain rounded shape. Thus, seemingly, the term ho kod ke did in fact exist, and is confirmed by several people, but not as a name used for collective self-reference in formal or cerimonial situations.