National Geographic : 1966 Jan
lip, it is an excellent imitation of a Suya lip disk. He is now chief Pentoti of the Suya, the "big-lipped Indians." He struts into the square in an exact and amusing impersonation. Malakiyaua, dressed in his finest fur head band and necklace of jaguar claws, receives his guest with great solemnity. The two chiefs sit on stools in the center of the square. The maneuvers begin. Two lines of chanting, roaring warriors, stamping the ground with excitement, square off about 100 feet apart. Suddenly the air is filled with whistling, glinting spears un leashed from wooden throwers. The warriors on both sides dodge the missiles and the files close until only a narrow corridor is left between them. Out steps a single warrior holding only a thick bundle of staves. His opponent, armed with a blunt-tipped spear, advances between the noisy columns. They feint and twist. The man behind the loose shield turns to make himself a difficult target. The enemy throws. With amazing agility the defender leaps aside as the spear whizzes past. Shields Scorned by Bravest Waura Now the roles are reversed, as the attacker becomes the attacked. The enemy seizes a bundle shield and retreats. Again the whir of the long javari spear splits the air, and again it misses the target. Two new warriors step into position. The attacks and counterattacks continue. So skilled are the combatants that few are hit. When one is, however, a peal of triumph re sounds. The "wounded" man is expected to nurse his burning bruise with stoic calm. Last of all, the birds of prey and great jun gle cats step forth without shields of any kind. Standing proud in the sunlight, their skins vivid with color, the bravest of the Waura offer their nude bodies to the spears of the enemy. They are seldom hit. Malakiyaua is pleased with his men. In the Slapstick spirits in straw suits and woven masks demand beiju cakes. With falsetto voices, they threaten cooks with a slashing fish-toothed weapon. The happy horseplay, intended to cadge extra food from hard working women, occurs daily. In fashioning the masks, representing dangerous water spirits, artisans follow descriptions by sick persons whose shadows were rescued by shamans. After the author bartered for a mask, Waura friends told him the spirits so resented it they charmed a live fish into the chief's stomach, giving him cramps. 148 morning, swift pariatus-messengers painted all in black-are sent to invite the Suya. But others follow quickly to bring them back. A messenger swifter than any man has entered the village and soon will claim the soul of Kregma's wife. Carefully, the women have closed the doors of their houses. The village seems deserted. Strange flute music resounds from the lake: The jakui, mightiest of spirits, are coming. A procession of young men and boys, wear ing crowns of yellow feathers, crosses the square. They play long flutes (page 140).