Storytellers Update 5

The singing and storytelling of the Matsigenka represent their people and is a fundamental part of their life.
Melanie Dizon
July 12, 2022


Photo: Mike van Kruchten/Xapiri Ground

Throughout our ongoing visits to the Matsigenka community of Shipetiari, we continue to learn about their rich ancestral connection to storytelling. In support of this is a tradition of song carried by certain members of the community, from the youth to the elders. Here we share with you the songs of three Matsigenka elders: Rosamarie, Napoleon (her husband), and Silverio.

Rosamarie sings about:

1) MAKOKAVA / A snake-eating hawk: This song is about a bird that is found throughout the Amazon. It can be heard as a person calling to another its mate.
2) TSIRERI / Huasai Palm Tree: This song is about a very beautiful palm tree that gives a very rich fruit; which means that many men are beautiful but when their age comes, they are no longer like young men, everything changes. In the same way the palm tree looks beautiful but when it gets old it withers and dies.
3) TYORIKITI / Parrot: This song is about the beautiful parrots that fly high. They walk in numbers and are united.

Napoleon sings about:

1) PARARI / Otter: This chant is about 'Parari' (the otter), because the otter likes to eat fish, it always goes around the river looking for its fish. The song also includes the canoe of 'tsiguri' (cicada) because cicadas make their canoe to go to the river to fish.
2) SHIANI / Anteater: The song of the 'Shiani' recognizes that she likes to eat insects such as earthworms. It walks in the woods looking for its meals, making holes in any damp place.

Silverio sings about:

1) MANIRO / Deer: This song recognizes that the deer, which has such thin legs, runs very fast.
2) CHAKAMI / Trompetero Bird: This song recognizes that the bird likes to eat a lot of worms, cockroaches, and is quickly domesticated in the house.
3) OTSITI / Dog: The dog has its own name, it knows how to hunt animals. Her owner loves her very much because she gives her food.


These original recordings are an ongoing part of our many visits to the community. We hope that you continue to follow our progress with this long-standing project of art and storytelling, focused on connecting the youth with the oral traditions of their elders and living culture through creative workshops and relationship building.
This project is made possible through our partnership with SePerú; a non-profit organization dedicated to equal benefits and co-management of Peruvian Indigenous communities and their natural ecosystem.
Support this project so that we may continue to share and learn about the ancestral knowledge of the Matsigenka people.

Video Footage: Mike van Kruchten, Melanie Dizon, Davis Torres
Video edition: Melanie Dizon
Matsigenka Song Interpretation: Gregorio Perez

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