Wakuénai Chronicles

At this point, we're so far through the looking glass, part of me goes into de que vuelan vuelan mode. I mean, it's insane. But we've tried everything else. Why not Dabucurí?

“‘How do you make sound with them’? Made-from-Bone said after he tried to blow through the sacred flute. ‘It’s not like that’, said Squirrel, who took out a feather from a large hawk. ‘With this you can make sound’, he said to Made-from-Bone. Made-from-Bone blew air with the hawk feather, and it made a sound. ‘Heee’, and then the world opened up again, from here to there, this entire world. The sound went up into the sky above. All the sounds of Kuwái spoke —waliáduwa, máaliawa, all of them. Made-from-Bone heard how this one sounds, how that one sounds, how the other ones sound. ‘Now’, said Made-from-Bone, ‘These are going to belong to us men, and we will hide them from the women. This is the son of First-Woman, but we must keep it hidden from her’, he said. Then Made-from-Bone lived with the people and began to hold dabucurí and kwépani ceremonies. First-Woman was furious. ‘Made-from-Bone believes that I don’t know that this is my son’, she said.”

Jonathan Hill, The Celestial Umbilical Cord

Humboldt may have witnessed one. Thirion-Montauban also, though details are sketchy. By the middle of the 19th century, though, travellers meeting the Wakuénai people in Southern Venezuela and Northern Brazil’s Rio Negro region were reporting on them again and again: big ritual get togethers where neighbouring villages exchange gifts, play sacred flutes and dance.


What the ritual means is contested. Some think they’re about subjugating the women folk, others about integrating neighbouring villages. One thing you don’t find in the ethnographic literature, at least on a first approach, is any mention of curses or slow painful deaths inflicted on unjust rulers. Deserved though they may be.

None of this prevented a social media explosion yesterday when Amazonas state governor Liborio Guarulla prounounced the Curse of Dabucurí on the perfidious government officials who disqualified him from running for office for the next fifteen years.

I assure you that their deaths will not come without torment, that before they die they will begin to suffer and their soul will wonder through the darkest and most pestilent places before, somehow, they close their eyes.

Sources tell us that Guarulla is dead serious about this. That he brags that his enemies are all in the cemetery. That this isn’t the first time he’s invoked Dabucurí.

At this point, we’re so far through the looking glass, part of me goes into de que vuelan vuelan mode. I mean, it’s insane. But we’ve tried everything else. Why not Dabucurí?