Keepers of the sacred chants: the poetics of ritual power in an Amazonian society
The Wakuenai of the upper Rio Negro region in southern Venezuela a form of singing called malikai for ceremonies of childbirth, initiation, and healing. This ritual chanting, a rich amalgam of myth and music, serves as a means of integrating individuals into a vertical hierarchy of powers relations between mythic ancestors and human descendants. In Keepers of the Sacred Chants, Jonathan Hill shows how the musical and semantic transformations of everyday discourse in malikai integrate the everyday world into a poetic process of empowerment. He interprets malikai through mythic narratives that explain the cosmos as an ongoing process of musically naming-into-being the species, objects, and activities that define individual humanness and society, and he further shows how semantic and musical meanings are joined to construct each chant and how these chants are manipulated in different contexts. Hill explains how the musical elements of malikai contribute to the success of performance, comparing different genres for which different musical criteria are appropriate. He considers the integration of speech and song through a close analysis of such elements as microtonal pitch rise, rhythm, and timbre, showing how these features are linked to poetic speech and imbued with social power. Hill's penetrating study of malikai is made within the context of Wakuenai history and cosmology and considers influences resulting from contact with the outside world. Because Northern Arawakan-speaking peoples have received less attention than others of the region, his book thus makes a significant contribution to Amazonian ethnography. It is the author's focus on malikai, however, that commends keepers of the Sacred Chants to all interested in the multitextured uses of song and story by peoples of the world.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
An Introduction to Wakuenai Ritual Poetics i
The Regional and Historical Contexts of Wakuenai
The Genesis of Ritual Power
6 other sections not shown
Other editions - View all
Amaru Arawakan Arawakan language Baniwa bee-spirits body brothers ceremonial chant-owner chant-owner's chants for female childbirth rituals Cubeo curing rituals death dynamic dzeema eenu eenunai embody evil omens female initiation rituals fish flutes and trumpets forest Funes Gavilan groups Guarequena heaping Hernan Herri Hipana historical honey horizontal dimension hot pepper human Icana ienipe Inapirrikuli indigenous initiate's inside iyaruddti kaddpu whips Kalimatu kdridzdmai Kuwai myth cycle Kuwai's mythic Kuwainai kwepani likai manioc mdlikai chants mdlikai songs mdlirrikairi metaphor microtonal movements musical sounds mythic ancestors mythic creation mythic journey mythic meaning mythic speech narrative Neniwdtsa newborn infant performances of mdlikai phratries pitch poetic puddli relations reversal Rio Negro region ritual power sacred flutes sacred food set of chants shaman singing space-time spirit-names sung speech tobacco smoke tobacco spirits transformation Tukanoan umawari umbilical cord Upper Rio Negro Venezuela vertical dimension village Wakuenai wild palm witchcraft women