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Revista de Antropologia

Print version ISSN 0034-7701


BASTOS, Rafael José de Menezes. Leonardo, a flauta: uns sentimentos selvagens. Rev. Antropol. [online]. 2006, vol.49, n.2, pp.557-579. ISSN 0034-7701.

The article contributes to the anthropology of the sacred flutes in lowland South America by retaking the analysis of an episode that occurred between 1947 and 1953 involving Leonardo Villas Boas and the Kamayurá, a Xinguano Tupian-Guarani speaking society. At that time, Leonardo the youngest of the Villas Boas Brothers - had an ongoing and public love affair with Skin of Secluded, one of the wives of the great shaman and chief, Kutamapù. The affair caused a commotion among the Indians, who placed a trio of sacred yaqu'i flutes inside Leonardo's house. From that moment on, every time Skin of Secluded went there, she would see the flutes. As she broke the rule that dictates that women are prohibited of seeing the flutes, Skin of Secluded was collectively raped. This originated her ostracism and the Villas Boas Brothers' unfriendly relations with the Kamayurá. For the Kamayurá, "seeing" contrasts with "hearing"; the former pointing to an analytical form of knowledge ("explanation"), and the latter to a synthetic one ("comprehension"). The Kamayurá interpret strengthening of the capacity of "seeing" as a signal of anti-sociality, as in the case of the witches, or of supreme sociality, as in the case of the shamans. In contrast, the strengthening of the aptitude of "hearing" is considered a signal of virtuosity in music and verbal art. Among the Kamayurá, women are forbidden to see the sacred yaqu'i flutes, yet they are expected to hear them. The clues for an indigenous interpretation of the episode arise from their construction of the senses, genders and power - in short, from their ways of constituting the world: once Skin of Secluded violated the inviolable, Leonardo was transformed into a "flute", his house into the "flutes' house", and the Kamayurá men into a collectivity of flutes. As a result of this, everything started to happen under the flutes' ferocious ethics.

Keywords : sacred flutes; Upper Xingu; Kamayurá Indians; cosmology; world hearing.

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