The one land
In the beginning there was nothing
A primordial ocean
No living beings.
The earth didn’t yet exist
Nor the sun
Nor the moon
Nor the stars
Just the endless original night.
An infinite light burst out
Through the original night,
Our first divine father,
With infinite wisdom
And infinite love.
Nhamandu made apyka,
A divine seat.
A divine headdress of feathers appeared,
Adorned with flower dew:
Jeguaka poty yxapy rexa.
From between the plumes and petals
The first bird,
Flew out into the original night.
While Nhamandu unfurled himself,
The hummingbird offered him nectar from the flower dew to feed upon.
Nhamandu, the dawn keeper, illuminated the original night with the light in his heart.
From Nhamandu’s knowledge, from his divine flame and mist, came the beautiful words, ayu rapyta. He is lord of the word.
… Through his divine power and wisdom he conceived children:
Jakaira ru eterã, the future father of the mist,
Karai ru eterã, the future father of the flames,
Tupã ru eterã, the future father of the thunder, the wind and the breeze.
Next, Nhamandu Tenonde, with infinite love and divine knowledge, created Nhamandu py’aguaxu xy eterã, She who would be the divine mother of, Kuaray, The sun.
Nhamandu created Yvy tenonde, the first earth…
From the point of his popygua, his staff, a small portion of earth extended over the primordial ocean. Nhamandu Tenondegua, for the first time, descended from his divine seat, and put his feet on this round portion of earth…
He didn’t see a single living thing there, but, suddenly, at the centre of this piece of earth, there sprouted a small tree, Nhērumi mirim, that would grow into a forest.
Nhamandu Tenondegua gave this sacred space the name of Yvy Mbete, the centre of the world…
When he had finished making the earth, he let ka’a, the world-forest, bloom across its surface. The first cry of thanks came from Nhakyrã pytãi, the red cicada…
In the forests there were neither rivers nor wellsprings, so Nhamandu Tenondegua, with his divine wisdom, created a water guardian, Yamã, the tadpole, who made the first six wellsprings, which split into thousands of strands.
Nhamandu saw that there was only forest, but no plains or fields, so he made Tuku oby, the blue grasshopper, who placed eggs in the soil which sprouted into the first grasslands.
Then Nhamandu finished his work, Yvyrupa, the Earth, and ascended to Ovya ropy, his seat in the heavens, to rest and care for his creations.
Nhamandu Tenondegua told his children to raise their own offspring on the Earth… the first Jeguakava and jaxukava, now known by the jurua, the non-Indigenous, as Guaranís.
Oguata porã … the divinely revealed pathways.
Our ancient kinsfolk… left Yvy Mbyte, the centre of the world, and walked towards the setting sun to arrive at the western sea. They discovered before them Ytajekupe, the Andres mountains, a wall of stones… [and] Yvyjuky, a land made of salt. Ore retarã ypykuery, our ancestors, did not stay there because it was not a good place to plant, nor to form the tekoa, so they continued to walk...
The Xeramoi [the elders] brought everyone together to follow the path to Tenondere [the east], where the sun is born, in Yy Ramõi, known also as Para Guaxu, the great sea, the Atlantic ocean...
They brought with them the seeds of their plants, jety mirīi, sweet potato; avaxi ete’i, the true corn; manduvi mirīi, the first peanuts, mandi’o mirīi, manioc… pety, tobacco; ka’a, yerba mate, and many other plants….
The great hope for our ancestors was to reach the Atlantic littoral, because Nhanderu had revealed that this was Yvy Porã, good and fertile land… We call this place Para Guaxu rembe, the margin of the great ocean. Like Yvy mbyte, the centre of the earth, Para guaxu rembe inspires us and gives us spiritual strength, to form our tekoa, where our way of life can happen, to live the nhandereko, our way of being, to have yvy poty aguyje, abundant agriculture and plant-life, and for oupyty aguã Nhanderu arandu, to achieve divine knowledge, the place of the Nhanderu.
… and so it was… that the jeguakava and jaxukava… acquired and transmitted to their descendants a vast, inter-millennial body of knowledge about the Atlantic rainforest, to enrich Yvyrupa, our traditional territory.
This text is an edited extract from Timóteo Verá Tupã Popygua, A Terra Uma Só: Yvy Rupa (São Paulo: Hedra, 2017). 13-48. The excerpt was editedand translated to English by Freg J. Stokes with the follow up of the author. "The one land" (Yvy Rupa), was written by Timóteo da Silva Verá Tupã Popygua, Guarani leader, for people of all ages, telling what he learned and thought about the paths he traveled through the Atlantic Forest, in South America, together to their Nhande'i va'e people, also known as Guarani Mbya. The Guarani Mbya narratives about the origin of the land, the human being, the human language and the animals and plants of the Atlantic Forest were documented and translated for the first time by León Cadogan in Ayvú Rapyta, Cadogan has dedicated himself for more than 40 years to the defense of the rights of the Guarani Mbya, by whom he was nicknamed Tupa Cuchuví Vevé. For more than a decade, author Timóteo and organizer Anita Ekman have read and discussed the translations of the Avvy Rapta de Cadogan, inspired by Timóteo's poetic comments (which contrasted with the Cadogan material and the stories he had heard from his grandparents and spiritual leaders), as well as his need to document and publicize the struggle for Guarani land and the preservation of the Atlantic Forest (Ka'a porã), Ekman encouraged Timóteo to the challenge of being the first Guarani Mbya to tell directly in Portuguese, without an intermediary from a jurua (non-indigenous), his version of the history of the world and the your people." (Hedra).
Timóteo Verá Tupã Popygua is a thinker, writer and professor of Guarani Mbyá language and culture. Chief of Takuari village, in the Vale do Ribeira (Eldorado) state of São Paulo and representative of the Guarani Yvyrupa Commission http://www.yvyrupa.org.br/. Her first book Yvyrupa - A Terra Uma, organized and illustrated by Anita Ekman was published in 2017 in the Mundo Indígena Collection by Editora Hedra. Currently the author is writing his second work, dedicated to the history of KA´A - The sacred leaves (Erva Mate) and the history of the Guarani in the Atlantic Forest. The publication is organized and illustrated by Anita Ekman and maps and preface by Freg J. Stokes and will be launched in the Mundo Indígena Collection by Hedra in the second half of 2021.
Timóteo Verá Tupã Popyguá.
Aldeia Takuary, Eldorado. São Paulo, Brazil.
Photo by Edu Simões.
From the séries: Kaa ‘guy Porã, 2015.