Flutes, Songs and Dreams: Cycles of Creation and Musical Performance among the Wauja of the Upper Xingu (Brazil)

The Wauja of the Upper Xingu say that their musical ritual is simultaneously of and for the spirits. I will address some factors of their cosmology and shamanism, and then investigate men’s kawoká rituals and women’s songs performed in iamurikumã rituals. I consider these two rituals to be integral parts of a single set, the kawoká–iamurikumã symbolic–ritual complex, in which there is a deep correlation between men, women and spirits: the latter transmit their musical creations to humans through dreams. Only the male master of the kawoká flutes and the female mistress of the iamurikumã songs are capable of memorising and reproducing this musical material. During ritual performance, the women transform the music of the flutes into iamurikumã songs and vice versa. Through ritual performance, the musical creation of the spirits is returned to them in a humanised and transformed form

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