In the myths of the tribes inhabiting South America, there are multiple metaphors including those depicting the role of humans, animals, and objects of nature. These figurative images reflect the social beliefs of these nations. For instance, they show the role of a man and woman in society; the attitude to educating children; and the redistribution of social roles among all members of the community. The following paper will compare and contrast the origin myths for the Kogi, Mundurucu, Yanomamo, Ona, and Yahgan to identify how humans and nature are intertwined and what symbolical implications these patterns have.
First, the analysis of myths of all the tribes under consideration demonstrates the single most common trait, which is a deep respect for nature. The Kogi, Mundurucu, Yanomamo, Ona, and Yahgan, all view nature as supreme, divine, and at times, mystical and majestic (Wilson 2011). Animals and unanimated objects of nature such as trees, stones, water are shown as the parts of something greater, celestial, and having the heavenly origin (Wilson 2011). Based on these details, a conclusion can be made that the American indigenous people of the Kogi, Mundurucu, Yanomamo, Ona, and Yahgan see the surrounding world as a superior entity of exalted origin and reflect this belief in how they organize their daily graft and lifestyle.
Next, addressing the role of religion and superstitions in the lifestyle organization of the tribes examined in this paper, the evaluation of their myths suggests that all tribes see the spiritual side of their being as the most important factor influencing their attitudes and ideas of living. For example, the Kogi see their tribal buildings for worship as the womb of the Universal Mother, a unique place, where a man can solve one’s problems and receive guidance (Wilson 2011). Therefore, in all these tribes, shamans, or the representatives of the spiritual world act as the social leaders who exercise authority over others and create laws.
Further, speaking about the theme of the origin of women and their social role that is rendered through the use of symbols from nature and animal world, the myths of the tribes under consideration differ considerably with the majority of these supporting men’s superiority. Review of Mundurucu, Yanomamo, and Ono origin myths has demonstrated that in these tribes, women were seen as inferior to men (Wilson 2011). Moreover, analysis of the myths characters and details representing the surrounding nature suggests that there are multiple metaphors in these myths aiming to diminish the female role and demonstrate women in the negative light. The situation is significantly more favorable for women in the Yahgan origin myths. There, women have more respect and authority and enjoy a better attitude from men. Finally, the Kogi appear in full contrast to the above-mentioned tribes, since their myths glorify women as superior creatures possessing dignity and authority (Wilson 2011).
In conclusion, it should be pointed out that the origin myths for the Kogi, Mundurucu, Yanomamo, Ona, and Yahgan demonstrate a row of common traits including the special respect to the surrounding nature seeing the godlike features in the objects of the environment and the representatives of the animal population. Also, these myths indicate the common view of the superiority of spiritual things in nature over the materialistic way of thinking. Finally, all origin myths contain considerable parts of information demonstrating an approach to the role distribution in the society with the majority indicating the women’s role as inferior to men.
Wilson, David. Indigenous South Americans of The Past and Present, New York: Westview Press, 2011. Print.