Monday, December 31, 2007

Wayuu Myth 2: Pulowi and the Jewels

Wayuu Myth 2: Pulowi of the Land and Pulowi of the Sea

This myth taken from Michel Perrin's book "El Camino de Los Indios Muertos" tells the tale of two of Juya's wives, Pulowi of the Land and Pulowi of the Sea, who are fierce nature goddesses. Juya, a hunter who controls the rain, was married to Pulowi but later left her for Mma, who gave birth to plants. That is why the spurned Pulowi is so dangerous to people today and can turn those who look upon her to stone, or seduce them in the form of a beautiful woman and then devour them. The jewels that the troupial is sent to steal are tu'uma, made from red jasper or coral. Tu'uma are considered so precious by the Wayuu that they can form part of the "bride price", which is paid by the groom's parents to the bride's parents. Some tu'uma necklaces are considered equal in value to several dozen cattle. Alijuna are outsiders, non-Indians.

The Pulowi from the bottom of the sea
And the Pulowi that lives on land
are the wives of Juya.

The Pulowi from the bottom of the sea is richer.
Her "cattle",
are the turtles, the fish
and all the other food in the sea.
She owns a great deal of tu'uma
and jewels of every kind.

The Pulowi of the Land is poor.
Her "cattle",
are just the deer, the roe deer, the foxes,
and some other animals.

One day, she decided to steal a bag of tu'uma
from Pulowi of the Sea.

"Why don't you send me,"
said the Si'a bird, the troupial.
"Do you have supernatural powers
to try and bring me the jewels?"

"Yes, I am pulashi (magically powerful),"
replied the small Si'a bird to Pulowi of the Land.
"Well go then!"
"And return with the best jewels!"
"I will say you are pulashi
only when you have brought from Pulowi of the Sea,
the best bag of jewels."

The Si'a bird travelled very far,
to the seashore.
Then he went to the home of Pulowi of the Sea,
a very big house,
where her children also lived,
her daughters, the daughters of Juya.

"Hey Guajiro!"
"I've never see you before! Where are you from?"
"What are you after,
Indian who comes from far away from here?"
Pulowi asked him.
"I like to explore the world,
and I want to meet you."

"So you came to stay here?"
"Hang a hammock for this Guajiro!"
Pulowi said to her daughters, the daughters of Juya.

Pulowi of the Sea was very rich.
Her house was very big, very tall.
She had a great number of cattle,
turtles, fish and all sorts of sea birds.

Si'a stayed with her.
A hammock was put up for him
in which he could sleep.

The third day, at dawn,
while everybody was asleep
he flew up above the bags of jewels,
which were suspended very high, under the roof of the house.
He examined them.

One of them was small
but it contained the best jewels.
"This is the one I shall take,"
he said to himself.

When he came down,
he took the form of a Guajiro again
and stretched out in his hammock.

The next night,
he was the only one who did not go to bed late.
Finally, everybody went to sleep.
The old ones were sleeping and snoring.
Pulowi was sleeping.

Si'a was watching the susu
- the woven bags that contained the jewels -
"Where is the fastening for this one?"
"Is it tied to the other one?"
he asked himself.
He went to undo the small bag,
the bag that was secured at both corners.
He put it on his back,
and fled.

He went to deliver it to Pulowi of the Land,
who is also Juya's wife.

When Pulowi of the Sea woke up,
she looked up at her bag of jewels.
The bags weren't there any more!
They had been brought down to the ground.
The smallest, the most precious, had disappeared...

Pulowi could not see the Guajiro any more.
She went to check his hammock.
It was empty.
"Oh, help me," she cried.
"That man has left with my small woven bag!"

Pulowi's children woke up.
"Weren't you with him?"
she asked them.
"Yes, but he seemed asleep."
"I didn't notice anything..."
"What are we going to do?" said Pulowi.
"The bag is very far now,"
said the daughters.

Pulowi jumped into the sea after the Guajiro.
"Ou! Ouuuuuuuuuu! Ou! Ouuuuuuuuuuuuuu...!"
She always does that when she is robbed.
Pulowi was foaming at the mouth, following him.
But he was far away already.
The sea could not reach him now.

Si'a was now close to Pulowi of the Land.
"So have you brought them?" she asked when he arrived.
"Take this bag!"
"You'll find the best she had!"
replied the Si'a bird.
"Let me see!" said Pulowi.

From the bag of jewels she took out the tu'uma
and many necklaces, kakuuna and korolo...
She passed each one to her bag.

Pulowi gave the bag that had served as a wrapping
back to the Si'a bird.
"Take it!"
"Make yourself a hammock from this bag from a far away land,"
she told him.
From that time,
the Si'a bird has had a very good hammock of woven straw.

Do you know the nest of this bird Alijuna?
Have you seen the house of the Si'a bird?
When it's hanging down it looks like a woven bag
whose bottom has come untied.
We call it a chirana.
It was given to the bird by Pulowi.

Translated by Russell Maddicks

Wayuu Myth 1: The Way of the Dead Indians

Wayuu Myth 3: Kasipoluin the Rainbow

Wayuu Myth 4: The Origin of Fire

Video of the Wayuu People and Their native Land

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