January 9, 2023
Maika nonkekitsatakaro Kashiri... I will now tell the story of the Moon.
ALICIA | songs that weave stories
Alicia moved to the community of Shipetiari over 20 years ago where she lives with her husband Venancio, her son, daughter and niece. She is a wise woman and carries forward many of the traditions taught to her by her Ashaninka mother and Matsigenka father. She is also the medicine woman of the village whereby many come to her for natural healing and remedies for her extensive knowledge of medicinal plants taught to her by her grandmother and mother.
She is also skilled in basketmaking or Kantiri which utilizes a specific jungle vine called Tamishi that is stripped and woven (while fresh) into the desired shape. Here she uses sanipanga leaves to accentuate the strands with a deep purple.
For the Matsigenka, the yuca plant or Sékatsi plays an important role in their cosmology and evolution. In this myth narration accompanied by song, Alicia shares with us a glimpse into the cultural signifiers of the Sékatsi and the fermented beverage which they call Masato.
MOON, MYTH, AND THE MATSIGENKA
Amongst the Matsigenka it is told that in ancestral times the moon or Kashiri appeared in the form of a young man looking for his future wife. He once arrived at a small house where he discovered a young girl locked up in isolation to begin the initial stages of her puberty. And when he had noticed her eating clay soil, he offered her some yuca that he'd brought with him which secretly soothed and satiated her to the point where that was all she desired to eat. This upset her mother greatly, for she would deny the clay that she had offered to her daily. However the daughter would eventually reveal to her mother the truth.
In the meantime the moon had fallen in love with the young girl, and so he gave an offering of yuca to the mother and the whole family. The young girl would then come out from isolation to marry the young man. They had many children, one of whom in time, became the Sun. But it was Kashiri who taught the Matsigenka to cultivate the yuca, and it is in honor to Kashiri that they plant, harvest, and consume the edible tuber to this day.
These original recordings and photography 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: Davis Torres, Melanie Dizon
Video edition: Melanie Dizon
Photography: Davis Torres, Melanie Dizon
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