In 2014, at the request of the Kamayura chief, Maloca organized a successful fundraiser to buy a large fishing net. The fishing net arrived in the Kamayura village in late 2014. In the summer of 2015 I spent 2 weeks in the Kamayura village where I was able to see the fishing net being put to use.
The Kamayura were preparing for their most important ritual, kuarup, which honors the people who had passed away in the previous year. 2015 was special because the kuarup was honouring Takuman Kamayura, the chief’s father and former Kamayura chief, also the most powerful paje (healer) in Xingu. During the festivities which lasted 3 days, people from 7 neighboring villages arrived in the Kamayura village. Hundreds of guests had to be fed. For this, the Kamayura had gone fishing for one week on a lake far away in the forest. This is where they used the fishing net for the first time. This was not just any kind of fishing, but a ritual fishing, for which many preparations were made. Before setting the net into the lake, the net was blessed by the pajes. The men then fed it with manioc paste to ensure the net would catch many fish and that it would not get damaged. Everybody pushing the net was also blessed and prayed upon by the pajes; this gives them protection from injuries (by stingrays, piranha, crocodiles). The spirits of the water were appeased, the stingrays were symbolically buried (a stingray poke inflicts days of horrendous pain, fever and suffering).
Until I arrived in Xingu this small project was an administrative and awareness raising effort conducted in New York City. Only when I saw the fishing net stretched on the grass and blessed by the pajes, then stretched in the waters of the beautiful lake with the village men lined up behind it ready to push, only then I fully felt that all the efforts of Maloca’s friends and supporters were paid off. It was an exquisite feeling of fulfilment and content of a job well done and I wished all the people who donated for this project could be there. I asked permission to take pictures so I can share that moment with all the generous supporters. And here it is – the fishing net being used in the middle of Xingu.
The Kamayura were very happy with their new net. It was not only pretty, but it had the right twine. At the end of the day, the fishermen were even happier: the net proved perfect to catch the favorite fish for the festa, the piau.
Fun fact: a couple of weeks after the Kamayura festivities, another neighbouring tribe, the Kuikuro, had their kuarup ritual. They did not have a fishing net. When they participated in the Kamayura festivities they saw the new Kamayura fishing net and borrowed it for their ritual fishing. They liked it so much they almost did not want to return it!
The net was quite successful. Now it is back into the Kamayura village, awaiting the next festival, after the rains will stop, probably late spring of this year.