Stories, Myths, Chants, And Songs Of The Kuna Indians

Overview

The Kuna Indians of Panama, probably best known for molas, their colorful appliqué blouses, also have a rich literary tradition of oral stories and performances. One of the largest indigenous groups in the South American tropics, the majority of them (about 70,000) reside in Kuna Yala, a string of island and mainland villages stretching along the Caribbean coast. It is here that Joel Sherzer lived among them, photographing and recording their verbal performances, which he feels are representative of the beauty, ...

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Overview

The Kuna Indians of Panama, probably best known for molas, their colorful appliqué blouses, also have a rich literary tradition of oral stories and performances. One of the largest indigenous groups in the South American tropics, the majority of them (about 70,000) reside in Kuna Yala, a string of island and mainland villages stretching along the Caribbean coast. It is here that Joel Sherzer lived among them, photographing and recording their verbal performances, which he feels are representative of the beauty, complexity, and diversity of the oral literary traditions of the indigenous peoples of Latin America.

This book is organized into three types of texts: humorous and moralistic stories; myths and magical chants; and women's songs. While quite different from one another, they share features characteristic of Kuna literature as a whole, including appreciation of their environment and a remarkable knowledge of their plants and animals; a belief in spirits as an important component of their world in curing, magic, and aesthetics; and, especially, great humor and a sense of play.

Vividly illustrated by a Kuna artist and accompanied by photographs that lend a sense of being present at the performances, the texts provide readers with a unique aesthetic perspective on this rich culture while preserving an endangered and valuable indigenous oral tradition.

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Editorial Reviews

The Journal of Latin American Anthropology
This book is an ethnographic, folkloric, literary, and scholarly treasure.
— Alexander Moore
The Journal of Latin American Anthropology - Alexander Moore
This book is an ethnographic, folkloric, literary, and scholarly treasure.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292702370
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2004
  • Series: Translations from Latin America Series
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Joel Sherzer is Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin.

Olokwagdi de Akwanusadup is a freelance Kuna artist in Kuna Yala.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction
Part I. Humorous and Moralistic Stories
Chapter 2. The One-Eyed Grandmother
Told by Pedro Arias
Chapter 3. The One-Eyed Grandmother
Written and read by Hortenciano Martínez
Chapter 4. The Turtle Story
Told by Chief Nipakkinya
Chapter 5. The Way of the Turtle
Told by Pedro Arias
Part II. Myths and Magical Chants
Chapter 6. Counsel to the Way of the Devil Medicine
Performed by Anselmo Urrutia
Chapter 7. The Way of Cooling Off
Performed by Pranki Pilos
Chapter 8. The Way of the Rattlesnake
Performed by Olowiktinappi
Chapter 9. The Way of Making Chicha
Performed by Mastaletat
Chapter 10. The Way of the Sea Turtle
Performed by Tiowilikinya
Part III. Women’s Songs
Chapter 11. Chicha Song
Performed by Justina Pineda Castrellan
Chapter 12. Three Kuna Lullabies
Performed by Julieta Quijano, Brieta Quijano, and Donalda Garcia
Chapter 13. Counsel to a Parakeet
Performed by Justina Pineda Castrellan
Notes
References
Index
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