Pulupulu and warayumia: history and imagery of the Upper Xingu giant drum

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Abstract

This article analyses the historical, visual, and cosmological transformations of a rare Amazonian ‘musical instrument,’ the giant wooden drum, known as pulupulu and warayumia by the Wauja and Kamayurá of the Upper Xingu, respectively. Historically produced as an embodiment of the anaconda, this ‘musical instrument’ is central to the creation and maintenance of a domain of space-time continuity between the spirits of the aquatic world and the village’s ceremonial house. The giant drum was absent from Xingu ritual life for 42 years, but returned when the Kamayurá made one in 1998. The Wauja, however, have not made one since 1947; although they were excited at the return of the pulupulu, the Wauja preferred a more cautious approach to introducing such a powerful object in their own village. Their main concern was that they would be unable to properly feed a pulupulu, and they ultimately decided against making one. These developments show two things: that the giant drum in fact has a long ritual cycle, and that more subtle ways of embodying the shamanic powers of the anaconda prevail in the Wauja system of material culture. The main hypothesis in this article is that the anaconda-drum is an excellent embodiment of musical and graphic qualities, and consequently results in a “hyper-body” of sensorial expressions.
Translated title of the contributionPulupulu and warayumia: history and imagery of the Upper Xingu giant drum
Original languagePortuguese
Article numbere20190092
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalBoletim do Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi. Ciências Humanas
Volume15
Issue number3
Early online date13 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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