Thursday, November 19, 2009
Yurupari -- Sacred Flute
According to Javier Ocampo López, Yuruparí is the god of the indigenous Tucano peoples of Vaupés. He is the product of a pregnancy that occurred when his mother Secuy ate the forbidden fruit of pihycán. After his birth, she hid him in a hollow tree where she would go and breastfeed him several times a day. Eventually, Yuruparí grew and left the tree to seek out his mother.
Apparently, he had been blessed with magical powers. His first magical act was to change all curious women into rocks. Even his mother fell victim to this as he caught her spying on the men of the village while they were in a meeting.
In an attempt to obtain dominance over all the women, Yuruparí started a new religion where women were not allowed to participate. He used a flute to symbolize membership in the cult. The flute also represented the voice of God and the bones of the mythic hero of his people -- Ualri.
Then, Yuruparí was burned up and left nothing but ashes -- from which grew the PACHUBA palm tree. It was from this tree that the people then made the flutes of their religion and the sound of the flutes was said to be the sound of the voice of Yuruparí.
Today, the Yuruparí flute is still a prevalent feature in many Amazonian communities. It is made with the leaves of the Pachuba palm tree, then is is covered in tree bark and tied with vines. The mouthpiece is made of wood from the palm tree.
I have seen other versions of the story of Yuruparí -- though the story of his origins change -- the part about being burned up, the growth of the Pachuba tree and the creation of the flutes all remain the same.