The second myth about Brazil that I
encountered, but the first that I will impart to you now is about an indigineous people who live in the town of Maués in Amazonas. I had won a trip to Brazil for two back in 1991 and part of the journey was to include some time in the Amazon where the Saterê-Maûé Indians live. In Maués they celebrate a festival called the Festa do Guaraná. These Indians who now live on a tribal reservation, used to inhabit a large stretch of jungle between the Madeira and Tapajor rivers. They believe that they originated in Noçoquem on the left bank of the Tapajos. Here the rocks are believed to talk. And if you were to listen you would hear the creation myth which ties together the people and the guaraná. At the end of our story you will learn something about food in Brazil, as this area is the largest producer of guaraná.
"Long ago at Noçoquem, in the beginning of all things, lived two brothers and a sister, Ohiamuaçabe. She was also known as Uniai and was so beautiful and wise that all the animals desired her. Of all the animals, the snake was thefirst to express his desire and act upon it. With a magic perfume the snake enchanted Uniai and made her pregnant. Her brothers were none to pleased and kicked her out of Noçoquem. .
|The child was born far from there, but Uniai often told
her son about Noçoquem and the brazil nut tree which grew there.
Although the brothers had a parakeet and a macaw on guard before the brazil
nut tree, the child insisited on tasting the delicious nuts, for as he
grew stronger and more beautiful his desire to taste the fruit also grew.
Finally he convinced his mother to accompany him to the tree. The birds
spotted the ashes of a fire in which mother and child roasted the delicious
brazil nuts. After the birds reported the incident, the brothers replaced
the inept guard-birds with a reliable monkey guard.
Now that the boy knew the path to Noçoquem, he returned to the tree alone the following day. The monkey spied the boy, drew his bow and shot the child full of arrows. Uniai found her dead child beneath the tree. She buried; him and vowed, 'You will be great. The most powerful tree will grow from you. You will cure sickness, provide strength in war and in love'.
From the boy's left eye grew the false guaraná, guaraná-hop, then from his right eye grew the true guaraná, guaraná-cécé. This is why the berries of the guaraná look like eyes. Days later a child was born from the guaraná tree and emerged from the earth. The child was Uniai's and he was the first Maûé Indian.
|To this day the Maûé call themselves sons
of guaraná, and because of this plant their favourite decorative
colours are red and green.
The ritual drink of the Sateré-Maûé Indians is çapoof guaraná which is prepared from the eye-like berries. The berries, collected before the fruit opens, are dried, washed in running water and cooked in earth ovens. Water is added and the guaraná is mouded into black sticks which are then dried in a smoke house. The Maûé shave guaraná flakes from the black sticks, using either the raspy tongue ofthe pirarucu or a rough stone. The flakes are then mixed into water to make the capo. The Maûé drink capo of guaraná on important occasions to affirm the life force, to cure all illness; to gird their loins in times of peace.
Most Brazilians take their guaraná in the form
of a tasty sweetened and carbonated soft drink. Coca-Cola bottles one of
the most popular brands of guaraná soda, Tai Guaraná. Like
Coke, Guaraná is a mild stimulant, although unlike coke guaraná:
is said to have aphrodisiac powers.