The Guarana Myth

Guarana harvest in Maues
Guarana Harvest in Maues by Mona Xuna

Once, there were three siblings: Ocumáató, Icuamã and Onhiamuaçabê. Onhiamuaçabê was the lady of Noçoquém, a charming place where she had planted a chestnut tree.

The young woman didn't have a husband; and all the animals of the jungle wanted to live with her. The siblings too wanted her company, because it was her who knew all the plants with from which she prepared medicines that they needed.

Once, a snake, who was talking with others creatures, said that Onhiamuaçabê would end up being his wife.

The snake went to the road she passed every day, and left a perfume that cheered her up, and seduced her.

When Onhiamuaçabê went by the road, smelling the perfume, she said:  "What a pleasant perfume!"

The snake, that was close, said to himself: "Didn't I say it? She likes me!"

He rushed to the road to wait for the girl. When she passed, he gently touched one of her legs. This was enough to make the girl pregnant, because in those days, it was already enough when a man, animal or tree who wished her as a spouse, only looked at her.

However, the siblings didn't want her to be married with people, animals or trees, or that she would have children, because it was her who knew all the plants with from which she prepared the medicines they needed.

When they saw that the girl was pregnant, the siblings were furious. And they talked, they talked and they talked, telling her that they didn't want to see her with a child.

The day of the child's birth arrived.

The young woman, after the birth, in a barrack she took care of herself, washed the child and went on raising it. It was a beautiful and strong boy; and he grew up strong and beautiful until the age that he could speak.

As soon as he was able to talk, the boy wished to eat the same fruits his uncles liked. The young woman told her son that, before bearing him, she had planted a chestnut tree at Noçoquem, for him to eat its fruits, but that the brothers, when they banned her from their company, took over Noçoquem and would not let him eat chestnuts. Besides this, the young woman's brothers had had given the ranch to the Agoutis, the Macaw and the Parroquite to look after it.

The boy however continued asking Onhiámuáçabê, his mother, to give him the same fruits his uncles ate. Then, one day, Onhiámuáçabê decided to take her son to Noçoquem to eat the chestnuts.

This is when the Aoutis, when it went to Noçoquem, looked at the ground below the chestnut-tree, and saw the ashes of a fire where the chestnuts had been roasted. The Agoutis ran off and went and told the brothers of the young woman what had happened. One of them thought that perhaps the Agoutis was mistaken, the other thought this couldn't be true. They discussed. And, finally, they decided to send the little Squirrel Monkey to watch the chestnut tree, to see if somebody showed up around there.

The boy, who had eaten a lot of chestnuts and longed for them more and more, as he already knew the way to Noçoquem, went back there the following day. The guards at Noçoquem, who had gone ahead with orders to kill whoever they encountered there, saw the boy climb quickly up the chestnut-tree.
And, as they were close by, hidden by other trees, after seeing everything, they ran to the chestnut-tree and waited below it, armed with a string to behead the chestnut eater.

After she noticed her son was missing, the woman was already on her way to get him, when she heard him shouting. She ran towards her son, but found him already beheaded by the hands of the guards. Pulling out her hairs, crying and shouting over the body of her son, the young woman Onhiámuáçabê said: It is alright, my son. Your uncles had you killed. They thought the you were going to be a victim, but you will not.

First, she took out his left eye and planted it. However, the plant that grew from this left eye was no good; it was the one of the false guaraná. Next, she took out the right eye and planted it. From this eye the real guaraná grew. And, continuing to talk to her son, as if he were alive, she announced:

"You, my son, will be the greatest power of Nature; you will do good to all mankind; you will be great; you will free them from a disease and will cure them from others."

Next, she collected al the parts of her son's body. She chewed and chewed the leaves of a magical plant, washed with her saliva and the juices of this plant the body of her son and buried it. She fenced off the grave with stakes and left one of her most trusted guards to keep watch. She asked this guard, the Thrush, to warn her as soon as he heard any sound from inside the grave, as she would know who it would be.

After a few days, the Thrush, when hearing a sound from the grave, ran off to to warn Onhiámuáçabê. The young woman came, opened the grave and from the inside, the monkey Quatá came out. Onhiámuáçabê blew over the monkey Quatá and cursed him. It would wander without any rest through the woods. She closed the grave and threw over it the juices from the leaves of the magic plant with which she had washed the body.

Days later, the Thrush went to warn her that he had heard a sound from the boy's grave. The young woman came, opened the grave and from it the dog from the woods Caiarara came out. She blew over him and cursed him, so that no one would eat him. She closed the grave again and went away.

Days later, the Thrush went to warn her again that he had heard, again, a sound from the inside of the grave.
Onhiámuáçabê went there, opened the grave, and from it the pig Queixada came out, taking with it the teeth who would have fitted all Maués and all mankind. Onhiámuáçabê also expelled the pig Queixada.

Every time an animal came out of the grave of the boy and was expelled, the guaraná plant grew and grew.

After another few days, the Thrush heard yet another sound from the grave and warned Onhiámuáçabê.
She came again, opened the grave and from it came out a child, who was the first Maué, the origin of the tribe. This boy was Onhiámuáçabê's son, who had been resuscitated. Onhiámuáçabê grabbed him and put him on his knees. And put a tooth in his mouth, made of earth.

The woman went on and washed everything, everything slowly, the feet, the belly, the arms, the chest, the head with the juices of the leaves of the magical plant which she had chewed. While she was busy doing this to her son, her brothers arrived and forced her to stop washing her sons body.

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