Tobacco visions: Shamanic drawings of the Wauja Indians

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This article analyzes shamanic drawings based on research of two ethnographic collections gathered between 1978 and 2004 among the Wauja Indians of the Upper Xingu. The drawings present a visual interpretation of animal-spirits (the apapaatai) and their transformations, as seen by Wauja shamans in tobacco-induced trances and dreams. This article argues that drawing on paper allowed the shamans to broadly express their understanding of the many potential bodily forms the apapaatai can take, either voluntarily or involuntarily. The lack of a visual canon for visual representation of the apapaatai on paper gave the shamans the freedom to produce drawings which reflect an extraordinary diversity of singular perspectives. These singularities, when associated with the narratives of myths and dreams, potentiate the drawings as a kind of visual exegesis of Wauja cosmology. Further analysis considering material culture objects shows that the appropriation of pencil and paper by Wauja shamans channelled their creative energy towards an unexpected expansion in the conceptual boundaries of shamanic translation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-517
Number of pages17
JournalBoletim do Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi. Ciências Humanas
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

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