Four Traditional Trumai Rituals



The Hopep is particularly important to our community, considering the fact that it was our ancestors who brought it to the Xingu, where it spread, being adopted by all the other peoples of the area. It is about paying homage to a man who passed away some months before, a man who was the « master of the arch, » which means that he was a respected player of darts during the Javari festivities in which he participated.

During the preparatory phase of this ritual, which can last more than three months, the music of the festivity is sung daily during several hours. During this phase, the participants must respect food and behavioural prescriptions. Later, another indigenous group is invited to the festivity and there are duels of darts between the champions of the two groups. The ritual represents a metaphorical form a war, which can often evoke feelings that are not always friendly. According to the oral memory of our group, the Hopep was taught to the Trumai by the Payetan, a people who spoke a language similar to ours, but which has not been identified or reencountered since.



Among the festivities of the Upper Xingu, the Takwara is the most frequently occurring, used simply to enliven the village. Four or five men, accompanied by their female partners, dance from house to house, with each man playing a long flute made of bamboo. Within the Trumai culture, this ritual is the least threatened since, for now, the majority of the men above thirty still know the music. But this may not be the case for the new generation, whose members will need systematic teaching. Thus, it is still important to recover and revitalize the ritual of the Takwara.



This festivity plays a central role in the relations between the sexes in the upper-Xinguan area since it inverts gender roles temporarily: the women, adorned like men, dance and sing alone, without male participation. Moreover, the majority of the songs reproduce the music of the Jakuí flutes ("Kut wal" in Trumai), an exclusively male festivity. If a man arrives from another village on the day of the festivity, he is pursued by the women and, if he is overtaken, is bitten and covered with murukuyu, a variety of urucum used only by women.

In the case of the Trumai, only the elderly women know the songs. Unhappily, they live far from each other, which prevents them from regularly practicing the songs. It is necessary to reunite these various sources of knowledge and to record the totality of the music of this festivity.


Fapt¸ ï fatlak wal

When the majority of the families have one or more sons between 5 and 15 years of age, the ritual of the piercing of the ears ("Fapt¸ ï fatlak" in Trumai) is organized. During approximately one month, two male singers sing in the afternoon and at dawn from house to house. The women sing along with them, while the other men accompany the music with cries of happiness. Then comes the day of the piercing. The boys sit in a row in the village's court, each one facing his "piercer." After the piercing, the boys go into seclusion, which can last from one month to two years, depending on the age and the will of the person.

This festivity last occurred in the Trumai community in 1980. Therefore, none of the men below 25 years have pierced ears. The Trumai elder who was the traditional singer of this festivity passed away in 1994. Our goal is to try and recover the music in order to later organize the ritual again. The son of the last singer has some knowledge of the music, but does not know the totality of the songs. It will, therefore, be necessary to seek the teachings of a singer from another Xinguan group.

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17 février 2010


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