Saturday, April 4, 2009

Kariña Myth 2: Kaputa and the Great Flood

This Kariña myth recounts the arrival on Earth of the creator god Kaputa, who comes to warn his people that a great flood is coming. Many similarities have been drawn between this story and the Biblical flood story of Noah and the Ark. The idea of all the animals entering the great canoe in pairs and the seeds of all the plants also being stored is very similar.

Whether it is an adaptation of the biblical story passed on to the Kariña by missionaries and adapted by them, or an original Kariña myth is almost impossible to say, although the annual flooding of the major rivers in Venezuela during the rainy season has given rise to many myths. The text is taken from Father Cesareo de Armellada´s book: "Literaturas Indigenas de Venezuela" (Monte Avila Editores, 1991).

The Great Canoe

One day Kaputa came to the land of the Kariñas to tell them that the world was going to be flooded and nobody would survive unless they quickly built a great canoe and got in.

- My children, a great rain is going to fall. It will rain for many nights and many days.

But out of all the Indians only four couples were afraid; the rest didn't believe him.

- My children, help me to build a canoe we can all get in before the rains swell the rivers. That way we won't drown.

- What do you mean everything's going to be flooded? That just couldn't happen, they said, unconvinced.

- I am Kaputa, the father and creator of the Kariña. I don't want my children to die

- You're not Kaputa, the Indians said, except for the four couples who began to build a great canoe.

When they had finished they began to put different animals inside in pairs, and a seed for each plant.

Then the day turned to night as the sky darkened and it began to rain for months without stopping.

The rivers broke their banks and flooded the land. The water rose so high that it covered the highest trees.

When the flooding began everybody wanted to get into the great canoe but Kaputa said:

- You thought I wasn't kaputa! You didn't want to build the canoe! Well, now you will drown.

Translated by Russell Maddicks

Kariña Myth 1: The Twins and the Origin of Yuca

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