National Geographic : 1983 Jan
Despite Jean-Paul's diagnosis a shaman was called to exorcise the yolok that had ob viously taken possession of Tuwa's mother. A small shelter of palm leaves was erected outside Tuwa's house. That night, on the shaman's orders, the patient was rubbed on the stomach, palms, and feet with gratings from a small tuber, and cotton thread was tied around her elbows, wrists, ankles, and toes. Then she was carried into the shelter to join the shaman. There followed a wild rustling of the palm leaves, accompanied by loud sucking and roaring sounds, proof of the violent struggle between the shaman and the yolok. Eventu ally the shaman emerged carrying what ap peared to be a small black pebble, which he said had caused the patient's illness and which he had exorcised from her body. The husband's misbehavior was never mentioned. The Wayanas take such matters casually and even tease one another about supposed infidelities. During my time in Antecume Pata, I stayed awhile with an older couple and helped the wife with daily chores. Then I visited another village and was given a ride back by two young Wayana men in their dugout. Later the wife teased me. "Tasi, your coming and going all the time is just not right," she said, trying to hide a smile. "You are my husband's second wife, and now I see you coming home with two young men. What is that all about? Either you stay where you belong or you leave, that's all there is to it!" Families Suffer Effects of Rum One very serious family problem among the Wayanas is drinking. One afternoon I saw headman Twanke on his return from a trip to Maripasoula. He was staggering across the village toward his house with the help of a neighbor. When they reached the stairs, Twanke had to be half-carried up them and led inside to be deposited in his hammock. My first thought was that Twanke was sick, but a village woman knew better. "He is drunk!" she said with disgust. "Our vil lage headman, drunk! But he is not the only one-other village leaders do the same." The problem, I learned, was not kasili but tafia, a cheap rum sold in Maripasoula and Fabric of everyday life finds domestic chores widely shared.A woman (facing page) spins cotton, which she will weave into hammocks, chieffurniture of the home. Men construct baskets and other straw goods. A man toting a youngster (above) is a common sight since males help with child care. Authority is also shared; the village headmanfunctions mainly as a mediator and seeks a consensusfor major decisions. What Futurefor the Wayanas?