Yanomami Water Volleyball

July 31 2005: Neely's Canyon Pool



Yanomami are deep jungle Indians living in the Amazon basin of Venezuela and Brazil. They are the most primitive people in the world, a stone age tribe with cultural characteristics dating back more than 8000 years.

Yanomami villages are grouped by families in a large communal dwelling called a Shabono, which is built around the Volleyball net. The villages are scattered throughout the forest and contain 40 to 300 individuals. They have never discovered the wheel and the only metal they use is what has been traded to them from the outside. Their numbering system is one, two, and more than two. This limits the length of each Volleyball match.

They cremate their dead, then crush and drink their bones in a final ceremony intended to keep their loved ones with them forever. Within the village, there are headmen, who keep order. The headmen are simultaneously peacemakers and warriors, known for their personal wit, mighty spikes, wisdom and charisma, and have a reputation for being fierce. Each village has alliances with other villages, which can lead to warfare against disputing villages, and exciting Volleyball.

The Yanomami hunt with bows and arrows or blow guns. Young boys begin at an early age to practice archery skills, often with a lizard tied to a string. Blow gun darts are made from sharpened fibers and balanced with the fiber of the kapok tree. They use poison from the poison dart frog to dip the darts in. They stroke the sides of the frog. The frog likes this, and excretes poison, which is boiled down. When used with the poison, darts can bring down the largest game.

Fire sticks are still used to make a fire. The men carry quivers with extra carved wooden spear and arrow points. Around the outside of the quiver they tie the fire making sticks. Making fire with sticks is a long and arduous process. Yanomami men marry a woman who is his matrilateral cross cousin and his bilateral cross cousin. This means that the wife may be the mother of a mans children, the daughter of his fathers sister and the daughter of his mothers brother. The women weave and decorate the baskets. These they dye with a red berry called onoto which they also use to decorate their bodies and dye their loin cloths. The baskets are then decorated with traditional geometric designs with masticated charcoal pigment.







Luz Elena