Ayvu Rapyta ✿ A selection

Mbya Guarani

10 February 2021

Andrea Ferrari presents a part of her translation of Ayvu Rapyta, the sacred myth of the Mbya people of South America, compiled in the twentieth century by Leon Cadogan

This story has been shared with permission of the Mbya, as represented by the community of Yasi Pora. Elsewhere in Garland, you can read about the background of this project and the experience of translation by Andrea Ferrari. This project is based on the principles of circular knowledge.

 

from Chapter I

Chapter 1 speaks of Creation, and how Ñamandu Ru Papa Tenondé springs from darkness into being, as a hummingbird flutters around his head and feeds him.

Maino´i 1.T.N.: Maino´i: Hummingbird; some identify the species named as Thalurania glaucopis, (Violet-cappedwoodnymph) ., the primeval bird.

1.
Our Father, the first, the ultimate first,
formed his own body
from primordial darkness.

2.
As he surged, he gave form to
the small rounded stool,
the divine sole of his feet,
in the midst of primordial darkness.

3.
The reflection of divine wisdom 2.His eyes.
the divine hear-it-all perception 3.His ears.
the divine palm of his hands holding the sacred staff 4.T.N.:A staff still used by religious leaders, an emblem of power.
the divine palm of his hands in flourishing boughs 5.His fingers and nails
Ñamanduĩ formed, as he surged,
in the midst of primordial darkness.

4.
In the divine sublime crown of his head
the flowers in the headdress
were dew-drops.
Among the flowers of the divine headdress
Maino´i, the primeval bird,
flew around, fluttering.

5.
While our first father grew
and made his own divine body surge;
he existed in the midst of primordial winds:
Even before conceiving his future earthly abode,
before conceiving his future firmament, his future earth,
Maino´i refreshed his mouth;
the one who sustained Ñamandu with sacred nourishment
was the hummingbird.

6.
Before creating his future abode,
as he came into being,
Our Father Ñamandu, the first,
saw no darkness, even if there was no sun.
He existed in the light of his own heart,
his divine wisdom served as the sun.

from Chapter 2

The Origin of language 6.T.N.: Even if Cadogan’s title seems to assume it is human language, the term in Mbya holds a more general meaning than that of only human language . It is interesting to notice language as such may be used by gods, human beings, animals and plants, or other beings. The concept of words and language is intimately connected to a spiritual dimension of communication for the Mbya Guaraní, including the concept of word-souls, as seen in Chapter 4.

1.
Ñamandu, the true Father, the first,
from a portion of his divine nature,
from his divine wisdom,
from his creational wisdom,
engendered flames and soft mists.

2.
Having risen,7.Assuming human shape.
from his divine wisdom,
from his creational wisdom,
he conceived the origin of language.
From his divine wisdom,
from his creational wisdom,
Our Father created the origin of language
and made it part of his divine nature.
Before the earth existed,
amidst primordial darkness,
before knowledge of things was had,
he created what would become language, 8.The origin of future (human) language. (See T.N. 1).
and the first true Father Ñamandu made it part of his divine nature.

3.
Having conceived the origin of what language would be,
from his divine wisdom,
from his creational wisdom,
he conceived in himself the origin of love 9.T.N.: Even if Cadogan’s footnotes add here “love for others”, it is not present in the Mbya original.
Before the earth existed,
amidst primordial darkness,
before knowledge of things was had,
from his creational wisdom,
in himself he conceived the origin of love.

4.
Having conceived the origin of language,
having created a small portion of love,
from his divine wisdom,
from his creational wisdom,
in himself he conceived the origin of one sacred prayer.
Before  earth existed,
amidst primordial darkness,
before the knowledge of things was had,
in himself he created the origin of a sacred prayer.

The morning prayer of any “orthodox” Mbya is thus quoted by Cadogan:
Oh, true Father Ñamandu, the first!
In your land, the great-hearted Ñamandu
rises together with the reflection of his divine wisdom 10.This refers to the sun coming out (T.N.: As this is a prayer to Ñamandu, the god connected to the sun.
Having disposed that those you provided with bows would rise,
is it that we rise once more.
Thanks to the perennial words 11.Words without evil which at no Time,
without any exception, will ever grow weak,
we, a few orphans of divinity, pronounce them once more as we rise.
Thanks to them, let us be allowed to rise many times.
Oh, true father Ñamandú, the first!

from Chapter 3

After Ñamandu sets the foundation of the First Earth/Yvy Tenonde on five indestructible palm trees, some of its creatures are described performing different actions on it. It is interesting to notice the creatures we now see are just “copies” of the original ones, who exist in spiritual abodes.

5.
The first being which soiled the earthly abode was the primeval serpent 12.T.N.:Erythrolamprus almadensis, Almaden ground snake.as identified by Cadogan, (in his Notes).
only an image of it remains now on our earth: the original primeval serpent
lives on the outskirts of our Father´s abode.

6.
The first being who sang
in our First Father´s earthly abode
The first to ever sing its lamentation on it
was yrypa, the small red cicada 13.T.N.: Possibly, Carineta diardi..

7.
The original red cicada lies
in the outskirts of our Father´s abode:
it is only an image of it that remains
on this earth.

8.
The yamai 14.T.N.:Unidentified water insect, a Gyrinidae water beetle according to Cadogan´s Notes. is the owner of the waters,
the maker of waters.
The one that exists in our earth
is not the real one anymore;
the true one lies in the outskirts of our Father’s abode;
it is only its image
that now remains on our earth.

9.
When our Father made the earth,
it was all forests.
There were no prairies, they say.
Therefore
so as to work on the creation of fields,
he sent the grasshopper. 15.T.N.: Tuku parãrã i, a green grasshopper, probably Tropidacris collaris.
Where the grasshopper’s abdomen touched the earth,
tufts of grass were engendered:
only then did prairies appear.
The grasshopper celebrated
the apparition of fields with its chirping.
The original grasshopper
is in the outskirts of our Father´s abode:
The one that remains here is only an image of it.

10.
The first being to intone a song
on the appearance of prairies,
the first to express its joy at their
appearance, was the red partridge. 16.T.N.:Inambú pytãCrypturellus obsoletus, Brown tinamou.
The red partridge which sang a song
about the appearance of prairies is now
in the outskirts of our father´s spiritual abode;
the one inhabiting the earth
is merely its image.

11.
The first being which dug in the earthly abode of our Father
was the armadillo 17.T.N.: Tatu i, Dasypus septemcinctus, Brazilian lesser long-nosed armadillo.
It is no longer the genuine armadillo
the one present on our earth;
it is only a simple image of it.

12.
The owner of darkness is the owl 18.T.N.: Urukure´a i: Presumably Megascops choliba, Tropical screech owl..
Our Father the sun is the owner of dawn.

from Chapter 4

As a child is about to be engendered, this is what the gods say:

3.
When children are sent to us:
“Well, you will go to the earth”,
The Ones who are above us say.
“Remember me inside 19.In your being, in your life.”.
Thus, I will remember you
and make my word flow 20.Inspiring you
because you have remembered me.

4.
Thus, I will give words 21.For your inspiration.
to the countless sublime children I hold
to be pronounced by them.

5.
In courage,
and in the power to conjure,
no one will surpass
the countless children I hold,
in all the vastness of the earth.

6.
Thus, when you inhabit the earth,
you must remember my beautiful abode.
I will inspire the crown of your head with beautiful, sacred words
and no one will equal you in the earthly abode of imperfections.

from Chapter 7

After the first earth is destroyed by a flood in Chapter 6, due to moral flaws of its first inhabitants in connection to incest, the New Earth or Ivy Pyau is created in Chapter 7. It is worthwhile mentioning that the ones who erred, regain grace and survive the Flood through prayer and chanting. Jakairá is the god who agrees to create it once more, even if he seems fully aware its inhabitants will suffer in it. Thus he says:

“I am already willing to create my earthly abode.
Yet this land already contains omens of misfortune for our children
up to the last generation.
Notwithstanding, I will spread on her my life-giving mist;
the sacred flames, the mists will I spread among the true beings
who will walk the worn path of the suffering of existence.”

5.
“I will create tobacco and the pipe
so our children can defend themselves.
I will shine gently with my thunderless lightning
over all the rainforests and the open spaces among them.”

Species of Ayvu Rapyta

These are species referred to in the text:

  • Maino’i Thularania glaucoponis (hummingbird)
  • Urukurea’i possibly Otus choliba (owl)
  • Tajy Lapacho rosado (tree)
  • mbói yma i Erythrolampus almadensis (snake)
  • yrypa carineta diardi (grasshopper)
  • Tuku parara i Tropidacris collaris (grasshopper)
  • Inambu pyta Crypturellus obsoletus_brown tinamou (hen)
  • tatu i Dasypus septemcinctus (armadillo)

Below is a recording of the launch of this translation on 16 February 2021. We hear from translator Andrea Ferrari, Bunurung elder Aunty Gail Koonwarra Dawson, Taungurung artist Cassie Leatham, Dharug artist Jules Christian and others including perspectives from Brazil. This is offered as a gift to the community of Yasi Pora and hopefully the start of exchange.

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References

References
1 T.N.: Maino´i: Hummingbird; some identify the species named as Thalurania glaucopis, (Violet-cappedwoodnymph) .
2 His eyes.
3 His ears.
4 T.N.:A staff still used by religious leaders, an emblem of power.
5 His fingers and nails
6 T.N.: Even if Cadogan’s title seems to assume it is human language, the term in Mbya holds a more general meaning than that of only human language . It is interesting to notice language as such may be used by gods, human beings, animals and plants, or other beings. The concept of words and language is intimately connected to a spiritual dimension of communication for the Mbya Guaraní, including the concept of word-souls, as seen in Chapter 4.
7 Assuming human shape
8 The origin of future (human) language. (See T.N. 1).
9 T.N.: Even if Cadogan’s footnotes add here “love for others”, it is not present in the Mbya original.
10 This refers to the sun coming out (T.N.: As this is a prayer to Ñamandu, the god connected to the sun.
11 Words without evil
12 T.N.:Erythrolamprus almadensis, Almaden ground snake.as identified by Cadogan, (in his Notes).
13 T.N.: Possibly, Carineta diardi.
14 T.N.:Unidentified water insect, a Gyrinidae water beetle according to Cadogan´s Notes.
15 T.N.: Tuku parãrã i, a green grasshopper, probably Tropidacris collaris.
16 T.N.:Inambú pytãCrypturellus obsoletus, Brown tinamou.
17 T.N.: Tatu i, Dasypus septemcinctus, Brazilian lesser long-nosed armadillo.
18 T.N.: Urukure´a i: Presumably Megascops choliba, Tropical screech owl.
19 In your being, in your life.
20 Inspiring you
21 For your inspiration.

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