Balladeer’s Blog presents its latest look at a neglected pantheon of gods and goddesses. The Tupari people live near the Rio Branco in Brazil and though they are far from numerous I find their mythology to be as riveting and full of rich details as the belief systems of any other group.
The deities of the Tupari deserve to stand alongside the gods of the Greeks, Egyptians, Aztecs and others. A striking element of the Tupari belief system is the way in which the word “pod” is used the way “kami” is used in Shinto myths. Pod, like kami, can be used when referring to actual deities but also to lesser supernatural beings, so there is often debate over the exact status of an individual entity in the Tupari’s metaphysical heirarchy.
10. MULHER – The primordial Earth goddess from whom all the other deities descended. In the beginning when there was no life on Earth and no gods in the heavens Mulher existed alone. Her original form was that of an enormous black rock with a very smooth surface, much like Zoroastrian mythology describes the Earth before the evil god Ahriman ruined its pristine perfection. Mulher split open one day like an egg and her first child, the god Valedjad was born amid a stream of blood flowing from Mulher. Again she split open and her second son Vab emerged from within her in a similar blood stream. When earthquakes occur today it is Mulher splitting open again, but no more children are born – rather her blood – lava – flows like the blood from menstruating women.
9. PATSIARE – The god who separated the Earth and the sky. He then created the poles that support the sky above the Earth the way similar poles support the domed roofs of the Tupari’s houses. In Tupari cosmology the world is shaped like a flat round plate with a raised rim. Patsiare’s poles, invisible to mere mortals, project upward from that raised rim that encircles the Earth. Patsiare forever maintains those poles as well, replacing some when necessary. Without the god’s efforts the sky-roof above would fall down upon us, killing us all.
8. VALEDJAD – This destructive storm deity was the first-born son of the primordial goddess Mulher. Along with his younger brother Vab, Valedjad made himself a stone axe which the pair used to cut down trees. Valedjad and Vab then killed a gigantic, monstrous agouti (a species of South American rodent) and used its front teeth as carving instruments, crafting their mates, the first tree goddesses, from the trees they had felled. With these wives Valedjad and Vab spawned the next generation of deities while their mother, Mulher, continued rupturing and giving birth to the deities of the air and the mountains and the seas until her form was no longer smooth but was dotted with the geographical features we know today.
7. ARKOANYO – The bird-creating deity who often protected his fellow divinities. The god Valedjad often grew so angry with his fellow deities that he unleashed powerful storms on them, sometimes destroying lesser deities who dared to oppose him. At one point he grew so angry he caused a storm so powerful it flooded the Earth, killing many of the other gods and goddesses. The surviving deities struggled to devise a way of at last ending Valedjad’s reign of terror. Arkoanyo, the bird-creating deity was the one who took action.
The next time Valedjad was hunting down deities with the intent of killing them, Arkoanyo hid inside a hollow tree. As the storm god passed by Arkoanyo leaped from hiding and poured liquid beeswax on Valedjad, sealing up his eyes and nose and causing his fingers to stick together so that the evil god could not use his magic in any way. The bird god then created a series of birds to try to carry Valedjad off while he was still helpless but none were large enough. At last Arkoanyo created a parrot so gigantic that it was strong enough to do the job and he rode it as it carried Valedjad off to the north, where Arkoanyo imprisoned the storm god in a stone hut, stifling his power so much that, while Valedjad can still cause storms, none are powerful enough to slay gods or flood the entire world.
6. AUNYAINA – The wild boar god. Like Kamapua’a, the Hawaiian boar god, Aunyaina was a humanoid figure who had tusks like a boar. Unlike Kamapua’a, however, Aunyaina was an evil deity who delighted in eating the children of his fellow gods. Once again the bird-making god Arkoanyo came to the rescue. He created a mutum fowl to lure the hungry Aunyaina off to hunt it down (in some versions Arkoanyo assumes the form of that bird and lures Aunyaina away). With the boar god thus distracted Arkoanyo led the assembled deities to the heavens, climbing an enormous creeper vine that connected the Earth with the sky in those days. This is similar to many other mythical belief systems in which a tree or a mountain once connected the Earth and sky.
When Aunyaina returned from his wild mutum chase he realized that the other gods had abandoned the Earth, leaving him no more delicious divine children to eat. He tried following them to their new heavenly home, Kiad, by climbing up the creeper vine. Arkoanyo had his gigantic parrot fly down (or rode it down in some versions) and chew away at the vine while avoiding the arrows Aunyaina shot at him. The vine at last broke and Aunyaina fell to the Earth, crippled by the fall. Arkoanyo created vultures to chew away most of the evil god’s body but Aunyaina’s arms and legs turned into caymans and iguanas while his fingers and toes became smaller lizards of all kinds.
4 and 5. AROTEH and TOVA – The male (Aroteh) and female (Tova) deities of agriculture and civilization. With most of the gods now living up in Kiad Aroteh and Tova were two of the few deities still living on Earth. The couple created nuts, fields of corn and countless bushes of urucu, which was used as a spice and to make dye. The first human beings had been gestating inside the Earth goddess Mulher, and with their subterranean home getting crowded from the growing population some of them had taken to sneaking out of caves and stealing corn, urucu and nuts from Aroteh and Tova then retreating back underground to share the spoils with other humans.
Trailing the footprints of these thieves Aroteh and Tova were eventually able to locate the cavern entrance to the subterranean world. The two gods used their staffs to widen the cave entrance, causing a veritable flood of primitive humans to come pouring out from the world below. At length Aroteh and Tova felt enough humans had been let out and so they sealed up the cave entrance for good, keeping all the remaining humans in the underground world.
The early humans all had tusks and webbed fingers and toes so the two gods reshaped their teeth and removed the webbed flesh from between their digits, but the humanoids who remained underground, the Kinno, retained their tusks and webbed digits. In the future, when the human race has all died off, the Kinno will be let loose from their subterranean lair to become the new inhabitants of the surface world. Aroteh and Tova taught the early humans how to raise their own food, erect shelter, etc.
The Tupari taught that as the human beings freed by Aroteh and Tova rose in numbers many groups began migrating to populate the rest of the world, which is how all the other nations of the world were founded. Since the Tupari remained the closest to the place of emergence they considered themselves the greatest people in the world. Once again we see that such ethnic chauvinism is universal.
Aroteh and Tova moved to the upraised rim surrounding the world, where they resumed growing uruca and other crops. Only Tupari shamans in their astral forms are able to reach the far end of the world to visit Aroteh and his wife Tova and the deities often give advice or uruca seeds to those visiting shamans.
2 and 3. ANATBA and KOLUBEH – The twin goddesses of childbirth, who began gracing humanity with children after they left the underground world. In Tupari myths the only way women can become pregnant is for these two deities to visit them at night and place a baby in the woman’s womb. Before the baby’s presence in the body of the mother it forms from the otherworldly “flesh” of Anatba and Kolubeh, sometimes linking them like the joints that link Siamese twins. It is speculated that the birth of a set of real-life conjoined twins in the distant past inspired this depiction of Anatba and Kolubeh.
No woman will ever give birth if the two goddesses do not choose to bestow a child upon her. Anatba and Kolubeh also insert some meat into the mother’s womb for her to feed on after the exhaustion of giving birth. (Eeewww) Now that’s the kind of fundamental courtesy you just don’t find in deities these days! It’s possible they also include a note that says “We’re so proud of you” in with this lunch they pack but I doubt it.
1. PATOBKIA – The god who rules over the afterlife. Like many other groups of people the Tupari distinguished between an animating force and an actual spirit. While the spirit, or Pabid, proceeds to the land ruled by Patobkia the Kiapoga , the animating force or “ghost” remains in the heart of the dead human. Eventually it bursts from the heart like a bird from an egg. The village shamans clean the Kiapoga, shape its clay-like form to resemble the deceased, and then release the ghost, which forever floats invisibly in the air near the place of death.
The Pabid, meanwhile, journeys far away from the land of the living, completely blind as it makes its way. First it proceeds over the backs of two gigantic male and female crocodiles. The male crocodile attacks the moon god Puepa at times, causing eclipses of the moon, and the female crocodile attacks the sun goddess Karam at other times, causing eclipses of the sun. Though Puepa and Karam are both elderly they are still powerful – Karam more than Puepa in fact – and always drive the crocodiles away eventually.
Next the Pabid walks along the backs of two enormous serpents, again, one male and one female. These serpents are usually invisible to humans but after getting soaked from rainfall they are briefly visible as rainbows. Following this part of the journey the Pabid encounters two gigantic jaguars, male and female of course. The enormous jaguars try to frighten the Pabid away with their growls but as long as a Pabid does not allow itself to feel fear the jaguars cannot hurt it.
At last the spirit, still blind as yet, enters Patobkia’s village on the banks of the river Mani-Mani. A pair of fat worms eat their way into the Pabid’s stomach and then devour all of the spirit’s intestines, removing all traces of earthly foods. Then they crawl out again. Patobkia himself now welcomes the newcomer and sprinkles pepper juice in the Pabid’s eyes, and when the stinging stops the Pabid’s vision returns and it gets its first look at the afterlife.
Patobkia next hands the Pabid a bowl of chicha, the alcoholic beverage the Tupari brew. When the newly arrived spirit is done drinking the god of the dead leads him deeper into the village toward two other deities who are part of his divine court. The male deity is Mpokalero and the female deity is Vaugeh. If the Pabid is male it must have sex with Vaugeh in front of Patobkia and all the other souls of the dead. If the Pabid is female it must have sex with Mpokalero before the entire assemblage. Just as the two fat worms devoured all the last food of the living from the Pabid this sex act is the last lovemaking the Pabid will ever indulge in and it removes the last physical desire from the spirit.
The spirits all live in the same kind of large, round and domed huts the Tupari dwelt in while alive. They sleep standing up with their arms over their eyes. There is much singing and dancing and no work is ever required in the village or “maloca”. Patobkia waves his hands and causes all the farming, hunting, cleaning of the fields and gathering of other food to be accomplished with his magic. Various mystical fruits and vegetables grow in the land of the dead and Tupari shamans can send their astral forms there to obtain those items to cure the living.
FOR MORE GODS FROM AROUND THE WORLD CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/mythology/
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