Baniwa of the Aiary and Içana Collection of Robin M. Wright

Colección del Baniwa del Ayarí e Isana de Robin M. Wright

Object Details

Collection LanguageBaniwa
Language PIDailla:119657
Title [Indigenous]
Language of Indigenous Title
TitleBaniwa of the Aiary and Içana Collection of Robin M. Wright
Collector(s)Wright, Robin M.
Depositor(s)Wright, Robin M.
Project/Collector Website
Description [Indigenous]
Language of Indigenous Description
DescriptionThis is a multimedia collection focusing on the Baniwa people of the Northwest Amazon, and in particular on shamanic practices, ceremony, mythology, prophet movements, traditional knowledge about illnesses and healing, and the history and ethnography of the Baniwa people. Most of the materials in this collection was collected or created by Robin M. Wright during trips to Baniwa communities of the Aiary and Içana rivers of the Upper Rio Negro region of the Brazilian Amazon, and visits to museums and archives. During his career as an academic researcher in Brazil and the United States, Wright has focused on the history of the Baniwa people and their religious practices, including the histories of prophet movements and evangelization within the region, and shamanism publishing several books on these subjects.

The materials in this collection correspond to various periods over 40 years. The first corresponds to Wright’s field trips to Baniwa communities specifically the villages of Uapui and Ucuqui (sometimes spelled Wapui and Ukuki, respectively) during 1976 and 1977. The second is a longer span covering the period from 1990-2010 when Wright was working on projects including the organization of the Waferinaipe Ianheke collection of Baniwa myths, collaborative research projects on traditional Baniwa knowledge surrounding diseases and their treatments, and collaborative projects with shamanic knowledge and sacred sites. Other events recorded in the collection is the building and inauguration of the Malikai Dapana (House of Pajes) in Uapui in 2009, an event during which Wright presented Manuel da Silva with the Living Treasure award for his life’s work as a Baniwa shaman; and the ceremony of Kuwaipan held in Ucuqui in 2008.

We hope that this collection will serve as a useful tool for preserving the traditional knowledge of the elders, and especially the pajes, on the religious and spiritual lives of the Baniwa people. In this regard, the language of the pajes songs is an important part of this collection. The language of the incantations (or iyapakethe) is transcribed using orthography of the 1970s. There is a substantial collection of narratives of the "ancient times" (oopidali) (spoken and transcribed) by different narrators, which is among the most important parts of this collection. Most of this collection is the result of Wright's own fieldwork and interviews with the elders. There are other important collections included here with permission, of creation narratives as told by Matteo Pereira, Dzawinai of Loiro-poco, Rio Aiary, and taped by Andre Fernandes in 1998. There are also Portuguese translations of Matteo's narrations with explanations and commentaries by shamans of Wapui Cachoeira.

A significant part of this collection focusses on beliefs related to Sicknesses and Their Cures including incantations (iyapakethe), plant remedies, terms for the body and its parts, explanations of the cosmos by pajes, and audio-visuals of pajes' cures over a 40-year period. Included in this sub-section is a group of fieldwork interviews conducted by Luiza Garnelo on the subject of sicknesses and their cures.

Another important section consists of a collection of archival materials relevant to Baniwa history, and the indigenous history of the Northwest Amazon. The archives visited are numerous in the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Manaus, and Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira. University libraries in the US were also sources of historical information. Much of this material consists of handwritten notes on materials from all of these archives. There is a translation from Latin of the 1749 document "Sequente Notitiate de Rio Negro" by the Jesuit Ignazio Szentmaronyi, which provides some of the first ethnographic information on the Upper Rio Negro. Besides the archival material, there is a considerable number of Baniwa oral histories - of clans, of past wars, and prophet movements. Included is a group of Wanano narratives, collected by Janet Chernela, on Wanano warfare with the Baniwa.

Finally, a sub-category to highlight is the life history of Manuel da Silva, Hohodene Paje, that recounts his life-story, taped and translated by his daughter Ercilia Lima da Silva. Together with his knowledge of the "ancient stories", and experiences of the cosmos (see, in the collection, all the folders in "Shamans Knowledge"), we understand the worlds of the pajes and their relations to cosmology and the ancient times.

The collection has:
• 264 PDF documents totaling 2,385 pages
• 219 WAV audio files and 6 MP3 files totaling 81 hours 47 minutes
• 185 JPG images
• 63 MP4 video files totaling 16 hours 46 minutes

See for a finding aid in English, and for a finding aid in Portuguese.

The preservation of this collection was supported by the grant PD-260978 Archiving Significant Collections of Endangered Languages: Two Multilingual Regions of Northwest South America from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
ReferencesRobin M. Wright. Mysteries of the Jaguar Shamans of the Northwest Amazon. University of Nebraska Press, Omaha, 2013, 389 pp.
Robin M. Wright. História Indígena e do Indigenismo no Alto Rio Negro. Campinas: Mercado de Letras/Instituto Socioambiental, 2005, 300 pp.
Robin M. Wright. Cosmos, Self and History in Baniwa Religion. For Those Unborn. Austin, TX. : University of Texas Press, 1998, 314 pp.
José Marcelino Cornelio, Robin Wright, et al. Waferinaipe Ianheke = A sabedoria dos nossos antepassados : histórias dos hohodene e dos walipere-dakenai do Rio Aiari. Rio Aiari, São Gabriel da Cachoeira, Amazonas, Brasil : ACIRA/FOIRN, 1999.