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Jipohan is someone like yourself

Jurusi uhu, Pa'hi and Tatitu, three members of the Zo'é people, talk with a kirahi ("white woman"), anthropologist Dominique Gallois (Zawarakiaven village, Cuminapanema/ State of Pará - 1992):

Jurusi uhu - He made the Zo'é a long time ago. How to the Kirahi call Jipohan?

Dominique Gallois - Jipohan, I don't know!

Jurusi uhu - The one who remade us, in the past? That was when the deluge swallowed us, when the great waters came and swallowed us up. It was when everything burned down, when the Zo'é burnt. The Zo'é had died in the deluge, they no longer existed. They were finished. It was then that Jipohan remade us very small. It was this small that he made us! He remade those who had been swallowed up by the deluge. He made us again, small. You, Kirahi, those of your species had not perished.

D. G. - Who?

Jurusi uhu - You! The Kirahi! It was so that Jipohan could remake the Zo'é that the Kirahi had not perished. They were being taken by the waters. In order to come back, they grabbed turtles at night. The Kirahi were with the turtles. They held on to the warara turtles' back and (thus) they did not disappear.

D. G. - So did the Kirahi appear?

Jurusi uhu - Inside a gourd, they were floating away on a gourd like this one! (...). The Kirahi were moving away, floating on a gourd, floating and moving away (...). They were still close to where Jipohan was making the Zo'é, beginning to make them, small. He worked and new Zo'é appeared. He continued and others appeared. They were beginning to appear. Identical to those who had been swallowed up by the deluge. There were others already in their place! They remade all of them like they used to be. He mounted the bones, holding the bones, the bones of the feet, like these. With the bones, he made the Zo'é again. He made them small. And made another, another, another, he made them again. That was a long time ago.

D. G. - From the bones?

Jurusi uhu - With the bones. He would hold one, and he would stand up! He was almost made, right there. He held one to see. And he was ready. Ready! That was it! That's how they turned out. He was through. And they turned out like this (...). Then the deluge didn't come back. They started to increase. They had children, children and children and became very numerous. Then the Zo'é existed. The Zo'é had children. It was Jipohan who transformed the Zo'é, Jipohan himself, a long time ago. The first Zo'é. He made us! Then the Zo'é began to stand up, stand up again and again, until all of them were there!

D. G. - Where is Jipohan now?

Jurusi uhu - Now it seems that he has become Kirahi. Haven't you seen Jipohan?

D. G. - No, I haven't seen him.

Jurusi uhu - You really didn't see him?

D. G. - But where did Jipohan go?

Jurusi uhu - Far away, towards the Kirahi, very far. That's where Jipohan is.

D. G. - Far, towards Cuminapanema?

Jurusi uhu - Beyond Cuminapanema. I don't know, I didn't go there! I don't know, I've never taken a plane, that's why I didn't see Jipohan, I don't know.

Pa'hi - Only the late Sihe knew it, I heard the late Sihe speak, it was the late Sihe who taught me when I was small.

Jurusi uhu - I didn't say where Jipohan left from. I said he was far, over there, very far.

Tatitu - But you saw him too, Jipohan is a person like you!

Pa'hi - Jipohan is like you. Before, Jipohan used clothes, like yours, like you.

Jurusi uhu - He was like you, he used those things [he points at clothes, notebook, recorder]. He had all that, the same as those things. Jipohan had them too, he was like you. He really exists. He had a body like the Kirahi. Like you see the Kirahi's bodies. Wow! (...) Jipohan has indeed many clothes. It was Jipohan himself who made clothes like those you wear (...). It was far, around the margin of the Erepecuru, maybe he appeared there. Jipohan's home is very far, it's beyond the Kirahi, that's what I say, according to what the late Sihe said...

The whites in the Zo’é’s Landscape of Creation

By Dominique Gallois (anthropologist, Universidade de São Paulo):

In the narratives of the Zo'é, a Tupi group of the Cuminapanema people, the events related to the origin always involve the different human categories recognized by this people. To the East there were the enemy Tapahaj, who are deemed responsible for the explosion that caused the cataclysm – a fire followed by a deluge – that destroyed the first Humanity. Whites, or Kirahi, were present in this landscape of origin, some of them witnessing the moment in which the hero Jipohan remade the Zo'e with what was left of the previous Humanity. Like for other peoples of the Tupi-Guarani tradition, Creation is not conceived by the Zo'é as an event ipso-facto, but instead as an occurrence among others, within a cyclic movement that causes the relations among men to be altered. Thus it is not important whether the hero who remakes the Zo'é after the cataclysm, Jipohan, is white or not. He was “like the whites” and owned goods similar to those of today’s Kirahi. The dialogue, freely edited and translated, was recorded in Zawarakiaven village in July, 1992. The subject of the origin of the Zo'é came up when I was talking with Jurusi uhu and his family about the location of old villages and about conflicts with enemies. Jurusi uhu’s two wives intervened to make me understand that it was up to me, and not to them, to have news of the hero Jipohan, whose fate, after the feats told in this narrative, the Zo'é do not care about. After all, after finishing his work of re-creation, the hero departed towards the whites; so it is us, the Kirahi, who should bring news of him and bring back to the Zo'é all these goods that Jipohan showed them when he created the present Humanity.

Jurusi uhu, who is approximately 50-years old, is not a chief nor a shaman, but an “important man” among the Zo'é, among which the position of ‘representative’ of certain local groups is being built, in the new contexts of relations and contacts with assistance agents and visitors to the area. During my stays among the Zo'é, Jurusi uhu was always interested in chats and teachings, inviting me to come along with his family in various trips in the area. He was always one of the most interested in making the recognition of our “villages”, and it was under this perspective that he led a visit that a group of Zo'e made to the Waiãpi of the State of Amapá in 1996.

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