Each tribe has its own unique language, or dialect, and each has its own ethnology. But there are some belief systems, rituals and ceremonies which are shared. The greatest of these is the Kuarup (sometimes spelled Quarup).
It’s an event that brings the tribes together, once each year, to honor their dead. And it’s one, big party.
The Indians, you see, believe that the spirits of the departed wouldn’t want to see the loved ones they’ve left behind unhappy. So the surviving family members smile and laugh...
...sing and dance...
...and practice sports.
They don’t mourn. They celebrate renewal and regeneration.
One of the central events is the presentation of the young girls who have experienced their first menstruation since the previous Kuarup.
It’s the Indian equivalent of a debutante ball.
Everyone, not just the girls, puts on their best clothes.
Everyone wears bright colors.
Each of the dead from the previous year is personified by a trunk cut from the sacred Kam´ywá tree.
The trunks are decorated for the occasion...
...and placed in front of the burial sites.
The white paint is juice from the jenipampo fruit.
The decorated trunks are referred to as Kuarups. (Hence the name given to the ceremony.)
Few outsiders have ever witnessed a Kuarup, because the Brazilian government has always made it extremely difficult to get permission to visit the Xingu Reservation.
That appears to be changing.
And I don't like it.
To me, it’s tantamount to gate-crashing a funeral.
Leighton - Monday