The Indian Myths on the origins of guaraná.

The social anthropologist Antony Henman, in his book: "O GUARANÁ; sua cultura, propriedades, formas de preparação e uso. "( Guaraná, it's cultivation, properties, methods of preparation and use), São Paulo, Global, 1983. 77p. describes:

The most complete version of the mythical story about guaraná was published in 1954 by Nunes Pereira, in his book "Os Indíos Maués":

    Long time ago, they tell, there were three siblings: Ocumáató, Icuamã and Onhiámuáçabê.

    Onhiámuáçabê owned Noçoquem, an enchanted place where she had planted a chestnut-tree.
    The young woman was not married: for this reason every animal in the forest wanted to live with her.
    Her brothers, at the same time, always wanted her company, as she was the one who knew all the plants with which to prepare the medicine they needed.

    Once, a little snake, while talking to other animals, said that Onhiámuáçabê would end up being its spouse.
    The little snake then went and scattered on the road where she passed every day a perfume that cheered up and seduced.
    When Onhiámuáçabê passed the road, she smelled the perfume and said:
    - What a lovely perfume!
    The little snake, who was nearby, said to itself:
    Didn't I say so? She likes me!
    And, in a hurry, it went ahead to wait for the young woman.

    When passing her, the little snake touched her, lightly, on one of her legs. This was already sufficient for the young woman to get pregnant, beacause in those days, for this to happen to a woman, it was sufficient if a man, animal or tree who wished her as spouse only looked at her.
    But Onhiámuáçabê's brothers did not want her to get married to a man, animal or tree, as she was the one who knew all the plants with which to prepare the medicine they needed.
    This is why when the young woman appeared pregnant, her brothers became enraged. And they talked and talked and talked, telling her that they did not want to see her with child.

    The day of the birth of the child arrived.
    The young woman, after the birth, in a barrack she built herself, washed the child and went on raising it.
    It was a beautiful and strong boy; and he grew up strong and beautiful until the age that he could speak.
    As soon as he was able to talk, the boy wished to eat the same fruits his uncles liked.
    The young woman told her son that, before bearing him, she had planted a chestnut tree at Noçoquem, for him to eat its fruits, but that the brothers, when they banned her from their company, took over Noçoquem and would not let him eat chestnuts.
    Besides this, the young woman's brothers had had given the ranch to the Agoutis, the Macaw and the Parroquite to look after.

    The boy, however, continued asking Onhiámuáçabê, his mother, to give him the same fruits his uncles ate.
    Then, one day, Onhiámuáçabê, the young woman, decided to take her son to Noçoquem to eat the chestnuts.

    This is when the Aoutis, when it went to Noçoquem, saw on the ground below the chestnut-tree, the ashes of a fire, where the chestnuts had been roasted. The Agoutis ran off and went and told the brothers of the young woman what had happened. One of them said that perhaps the Agoutis was mistaken, the other said this couldn't be true.

    They discussed.

    And, finally, they decided to send the little Squirrel Monkey to watch the chestnut tree, to see if somebody showed up around there.

    The boy, who had eaten a lot of chestnuts and longed for them more and more, as he already knew the way to Noçoquem, went back there the following day.
    Well, the guards at Noçoquem, who had gone ahead, with orders to kill who they encountered there, saw the boy climb quickly up the chestnut-tree.
    And, as they were closeby, very closeby, hidden by other trees, after seeing everything, they ran to the chestnut-tree and waited below it, armed with a string to behead the chestnut eater.

    After she noticed her son was missing, the woman was already on her way to get him, when she heared him shouting.
    She ran towards her son, but found him already beheaded by the hands of the guards. Pulling out her hairs, crying and shouting over the body of her son, the young woman Onhiámuáçabê said:
    It is alright, my son. Your uncles had you killed. They thought the you were going to be a sorry victim, but you will not.

    First, she took out his left eye and planted it. However, the plant that grew from this left eye was no good; it was the one of the false guaraná.
    Next, she took out the right eye and planted it. From this eye the real guaraná grew;.
    And, continuing to talk to her son, as if he were alive, announced:
    You, my son, will be the greatest power of Nature; you will do good to all mankind; you will be great; you will free them from a disease and will cure them from others.

    Next, she collected al the parts of her son's body. She chewed and chewed the leaves of a magical plant, washed with her saliva and the juices of this plant the body of her son and buried it.
    She fenced off the grave with stakes and left one of her most trusted guards to keep watch.
    She asked this guard, the Thrush, to warn her as soon as he heared any sound from inside the grave, as she would know who it would be.

    After a few days, the Thrush, when hearing a sound from the grave, ran off to to warn Onhiámuáçabê.
    The young woman came, opened the grave and from the inside, the monkey Quatá came out.
    Onhiámuáçabê blew over the monkey Quatá and cursed him. It would wander without any rest through the woods.
    She closed the grave and threw over it the juices from the leaves of the magic plant with which she had washed the body.

    Days later, the Thrush went to warn her that he had heared a sound from the boy's grave.
    The young woman came, opened the grave and from it the dog from the woods Caiarara came out. She blew over him and cursed him, so that no one would eat him.
    She closed the grave agin and went away.

    Days later, the Thrush went to warn her again that he had heard, again, a sound from the inside of the grave.
    Onhiámuáçabê went there, opened the grave, and from it the pig Queixada came out, taking with it the teeth who would have fitted all Maués and all mankind. Onhiámuáçabê also expelled the pig Queixada.

    (Every time an animal came out of the grave of the boy and was expelled, the guaraná plant grew and grew).

    After another few days, the Thrush heared yet another sound from the grave and warned Onhiámuáçabê.
    She came again, opened the grave and from it came out a child, who was the first Maué, the origin of the tribe. This boy was Onhiámuáçabê's son, who had been ressuscitated.
    Onhiámuáçabê grabbed him and put him on his knees. And put a tooth in his mouth, made of earth. (This is why the Maués, come from a cadaver and our teeth rot away).

    The woman went on and washed everything, everything slowly, the feet, the belly, the arms, the chest, the head with the juices of the leaves of the magical plant which she had chewed. While she was busy doing this to her son, her brothers arrived and forced her to stop washing her sons body. (This is the reason why the Maués do not shed their skin like the snake)".

According to Henman, because of the close resemblance to the the indigenous narrative structure, reciting forms and way of thinking, it is not surprising that this version found little or no acceptance with the "civilised" population of the Maué's region. That is why at a certain point, a re-interpretation of the myth from the point of view of the caboclos, or poor Portuguese-speaking inhabitants of the interior of the lower Amazon, was introduced. It is characterized by the inclusion of spirits like Juruparí (Devil) and Tupã (God), who do not exist in the cosmos of the Saterê-Mawé. This romanticised version was originally published by J.M. da Silva Coutinho over 100 years ago, in 1866:

    "In a primitive village, there was a couple noted for their virtues.

    A refuge for the unhappy was their hut, it was like a fountain where one would seek consolation.

    From such good parents came an even better son. At the age of six, the boy already performed miracles and earned the adoration of all. Abundant rain showers came and revitalised the dried out plants, if he called for this blessing.

    Like a guardian angel, he settled disputes and preserved the unity of the people; many a sick person was cured simply by the touch of his hand; an aureole of endless happiness seemed to encircle him, and this was passed on to to anyone near him.

    So much bliss caused the envy of the bad angel (Jurupari), who vowed to anihilate his rival. For a long time, the vigilance of the people prevented him from realising such a dark project; but one day, by misfortune, the good boy, without anyone noticing, climbed in a tree to pick it's fruits. Jurupari seized his chance and, after transforming himself into a snake, threw himself at the neck of the boy, killing him instantly.

    As soon as they noticed his absence the word about it went out, causing the whole tribe to take action. They frantically searched everywhere until they finally found the body of the child with eyes still open and appearing very serene to anyone watching him.

    But this illusion was short lived; after a final scintillation, the truth was like a lightining bolt striking the tribe. Hope vanished from all hearts and there was nothing more to look forward to, the reason for all happiness being dead. It was an enormous punishment, condemning the people to eternal disgrace.

    Then, there was an electrical flash that stopped the lamentations, followed by a profound silence. The boy's mother then spoke to the stupefied Indians: Tupã, always good, came to comfort us with this great adversity and stop the pain we are suffering. My son will rise from the dead in the form of a tree which will provide us with food and will preserve our unity while curing all illnesses of our bodies. But for this, it is necessary for his eyes to be planted. I cannot do this. You do this, as Tupã orders. Such words made a great impression.

    Nobody could bring himself to take out the boy's eyes, so it was necessary to let faith decide, the elders ruled. The earth in which the eyes were planted was irrigated with the tears of every one and at that place, the dignitaries of the village kept watch. After a few days, the guaraná plant sprouted."