Juruna Indians

The Juruna Indians are indigenous canoe people who live in the islands and peninsulas around the Xingu River. The Xingu River is one of the most vital rivers in the southern Amazon. For the past century, the Juruna Indians have lived primarily in two regions along this river: Parque do Xingu and the State of Mato Grosso. However, the two areas are separated by a great distance. The Juruna Indians in the middle region, Parque do Xingu, of the Xingu River reside in the tiny Pacquicamba Reservation, and the areas that surround the reservation. The other group of Juruna Indians live in the upper regions of the river. This area is known as the Xingu Indigenous Reservation which officially became known as the State of Mato Grosso in 1961.

Unlike any other tribe living inside the Brazilian frontiers, the Juruna most resemble the stoically built Andean natives of the AltiPlano of Peru and Bolivia and may have descended from these ancient civilizations. They are one of the few tribes in the Xingu that possess the art of textile weaving and cover their lower body with straight-cut cloth and practice communal cooking.

Juruna Indian Mythology

Mythology is an essential part of Juruna Indian culture. Two of the most popular Juruna mythology stories are Sinaa and Uaica.

The mythical creature Sinaa is is an ancient cat-like ancestral god whose father was a gigantic black jaguar who married a mortal woman. Both father and son had eyes set in the back of their heads. Although Sinaa was very old, he rejuvenated every time he took a bath, pulling his skin off over his head. They believe that the end of the world will come when Sinaa removes the forked stick that holds up the sky.

Uaica was out hunting in the forest one day when he noticed a lot of dead animals under a large tree. Approaching the heap, he felt dizzy, swooned and went to sleep. In his deep sleep he beheld Sinaa, the jaguar ancestor of the Juruna, who spoke to him. This happened on several occasions, until finally Sinaa told Uaica not to visit him anymore. Uaica made a drink from the bark of the tree, and acquired many great powers from this potion. He became a great medicine man, who could take away disease with the touch of his hand. Finally marrying, Uaica’s wife was unfaithful to him, her lover trying to kill the medicine man, who saw the blow before it fell, as he had eyes in the back of his head, and left his people in disgust.

Juruna Bowl

The below are photos of a rare hand made ceramic bowl from the Juruna tribe in the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest.

Additional Information

Juruna vocabulary

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