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
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
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 Zoés Landscape
By Dominique Gallois (anthropologist, Universidade de São
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 todays
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 uhus 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