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  The Waters of the Kamayurás  

The Waters of the Kamayurás

Ricardo Teles

The Kamayurás Indians begin walking towards Ypawu Lake for their first bathe before sunrise. The lake is in Xingu, mid-west Brazil. It is also the largest indigenous reserve in the world. Several bathing sessions are going to be repeated daily until sunset. These waters are a link to their ancestors and keeping them pure is a sacred ritual. The lake is their most important source of food, and also the essence of their culture.

The Kamayurás creation myth tells about a magic bird that, in a dispute with a tribesman, threw up the water that formed the lake and also buried the residents. Since then, it has become an enchanted place, and its water and plants a source of strength for the Kamayurás.

Once a year, the tribe holds the Kuarup, a festival in honor to the dead.  All neighboring tribes are welcomed to their territory on this occasion. The "great spirits" are invoked to make sure there will be enough food for all the guests during the big fishing expeditions to Iananpau Lake. This lake has remained untouched since the previous year´s celebrations and is bursting with life.