Foto: Beto Ricardo, 2002


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The female ritual of Yamurikumã

The house of the flutes, in the center of the village, hides the instruments that the women can hear, but not see. The flutes are hung on the centre beam of the roof and can be played at any time, by a group of three men inside the house. At night, when the women have retired, the men can go out onto the patio with the flutes. Also they may be taken out into open air on the occasion of collective male tasks, which are recompensed by food prepared by the one for whom the tasks are done. On these occasions, the women have to shut themselves up in their houses.

But the women invert this situation in the ritual of Yamurikumã (in Kamaiurá terminology, which is the most widespread in the region), held in the dry season, in which they perform with weapons, typically male movements and feather ornaments and ankle rattles, which are normally used by the men; they even wrestle the huka-huka.

Receiving guests from other villages, who remain camped in the vicinity (as in the Kwarup), the participants chant songs that refer to male sexuality. There are various types of songs, some which mention the events which originated this ceremony, many which reproduce the structure of the male performances with the flutes, and other which explicitly simulate the aggressive sexuality of the men before certain women. The men, who can be attacked, withdraw.