Tahina-Ca

Caraja

Native American Lore



The tale of today comes from the Caraja people. They used to be a hunting and farming society that was partially displaced when a huge iron ore deposit was found in the hills that bear their name, the "Serra dos Carajas". They live along the riverbanks of the rivers Araguaia and Javaé and also in Maoto Grosso and Pará states. Maybe the most important place of the carajas - or at least the most famous - is in the island of Bananal, in the Araguaia river where they have a reservation. Informations I have are that in the seventies that reservation was very badly managed by uninterested government officers and the Caraja there weren't very well off. Anyway things change and I don't know how the situation is now. I also have the information that the Caraja people do make dolls that are highly appreciated and sold as handicrafts. So, let's go to the tale:

Signed,
Emilia Novo

"At long time ago, the Caraja didn't knew how to plant and farm. They lived off the hunting and fishing and life was hard because often there was no food in the village. We didn't knew how to plant corn, mandioc or pineapples. Hunger was specially bitter during the rainy season, when hunting was more difficult.

Now in the village there lived 2 sisters, the older one named Imahero and the younger one Denake. One night, when they were with their father who was telling them stories, Imahero saw a beautiful star in the sky and asked what that thing was and said she would like to have it. She was spellbound by the star, her heart beating hard and breath almost gone.

Her father smiled and said: "It is Tahina-Ca. It is very far away, nobody can reach out for it. The only way how you can get it is to wish it with all your heart. If it listens you and be willing to come, then maybe you will have it"." So Imahero started to wish for the star every night. Until one day she listened to someone coming into their house. She was afraid and asked who that one was.

The newcomer answered: "I am Tahina-Ca". Out of joy she rushed to the fire place were she rekindled and made grow a fire and called her father and sister for all of them be able to see how the big star looked like. But she was really disappointed when she realized that the big glowing star was only a very old man with long white hairs.

She became very angry and shouted for him to go away. "I don't want you for my husband" she said "You are too old and too ugly. Go! Go! Go away!".

Tahina-Ca turned his back and started to cry in a very low voice.

Now the younger sister, Denake, got very sorry for the poor old man that had travelled from the sky up to her village and grabbed his hands saying: "Don't cry! I will marry you".

The old man was very happy and so the wedding was celebrated the coming day.

Now on the day after, the old man turned to his young and beautiful wife and said: "I must go to the forest prepare a piece of land to plant in it lots of good plants that your people Caraja has never seen. I must cut the forest and do all that work but I must go alone".

So Denake, although worried for he was a very weak man, let him go. Tahina-Ca went to the river. He said some magic words and entered it up to his knees. Every now and then he would lean over and dipping a hand into the water would bring from it's inside corn seeds and all the other plants that the Caraja farm today.

After this has been done, Tahina-Ca headed for the forest were he set to the heavy work of cutting the trees, clearing the soil and all that.

Now it has passed a entire day and the night was rushing to take over the sky and we all know that at night the forest is even more dangerous. So Denake, was now absolutely scared, for something must had happened to her old husband. He was so old to do such hard work! He could have been injured and unable to return home! So she decided to disobey him and look for him into the forest.

When she came by the clearing her husband had made she couldn't find him. She was becoming increasingly anxious when she saw in the clearing a strong, handsome young man, toiling in the field as someone engaged in a very important work that must be finished soon.

He was spreading the still hot ashes in the ground. She came to the border of the clearing and asked: "Young man, have you seen my husband? He is an old man and I am very worried for he hasn't returned yet to our village. I am so afraid that something bad has come to him!".

The young man smiled and answered: "Don't be afraid no more. I am Tahina-Ca. I am not an old man. I just took that disguise to see if the one that wished me so much really wanted me. I got the answer. I am very happy that you had wished to marry me in spite of my looks. It was to reward you of your good heart that I offer now to your people all these plants and their products. Come. Let's go back to the village and tell them all".

When, back in the village, Tahina-Ca finished his tale, Imahero, the one who had despised him, said that she was the one who had wished him, so she was the one who should be his real wife. But Tahina-Ca refused so.

Hearing his refusal, Imahero set out a mournful piercing cry and fainted. In a matter of moments her human body disappeared and in it's place was a prey bird, a urutau bird as the Carajas call it, that as soon as the stars start to shine in the sky, it roams endlessly through the night shouting it's piercing cries, for Tahina-Ca's refusal in marring her."

This Lore was submitted by Emilia Novo







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