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Erythrina ulei





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Erythrina ulei

Amazonian Kichwa value Erythrina ulei (Kichwa: Chuku) in the Fabaceae family as a tree with great powers of social and sexual attraction. Many species of birds flock to the tree to feed on its flowers and later on its seeds. What is striking about the tree’s ability to attract birds is the sheer quantity of the birds, the fact that the birds are of many different species, and the fact that the birds are almost always there when the tree is in bloom. Runa attribute this power to attract birds to a symbiotic relationship between the chawa mangu oriole and flowering tree itself. The chuku flowers attract the oriole and the oriole calls attract many other species of birds to the tree. According to tradition, in beginning times the tree was a man and the oriole was his wife. The couple had many friends who were attracted to the asua (manioc chicha, sometimes called manioc “beer” by anthropologists) they offered. The friends and relatives of the couple have now turned into the many species of birds who still drink at the social gatherings put on by the couple. Instead of chicha they now drink the flowers of the tree. When the tree blooms, its green leaves drop off so that the bright orange of the flowers stand alone. Because the trees grow along river banks their bright orange color can be seen from far away. Hence the physical beauty of the tree stands out more clearly than that of other trees. The orange flowers are said to be the headdress or clothes of the chuku spirit man hidden in the tree. The powers of social and sexual attraction once possessed by the dynamic couple now inhere in the tree. They can be acquired by humans who enter into empathetic union with the tree and his oriole wife by singing songs to the chuku tree and by reflecting on the story of how the chuku was transformed from a human man into the tree in beginning times.

Related Animals

Talking about Chuku

Eulodia Dagua - A Generous Host Becomes The Chuku Tree

Before he was human. The Chuku tree was a man. Now this man had a lot of birds from all over. The white-eyed parakeet the blue headed parrot , the morete macaw, the amazon green parrots, and then yellow crowed amazon parrot, and he had a macaw. So he had lots of people ( around him) like that and then he said ( to them) “If you want I will flower,” He said. “You all drink my flowers,” he used to say. “Really” They used to ask. In those days the macaws, parrots and parakeets were people. And then ( They asked) “Are you telling the truth?” “I am thelling the truth” Do yo want to eat my flowers? “If you do put yourselves into a hole,” He said. “A big holes” The hole was in a mountain like that. In order to drink my flower “zhinnn!” “You all cry out to me,” he said. Then those he had put in the hole stayed there in the hole. The as he had said the cried out “zhiin! Zhiin” And one said Over there! Look! Now he is crying out! Then, having said that one of them heard it clearly. One of heard it clearly and said

Luisa Cadena - An attractive host becomes the chuku tree

Delicia Dagua - Like the Chuku Tree I Bring Relatives Together

Chuku Flower Woman

The purpose of this song to a Chuku tree (Erythrina ulei) is to increase a woman’s power to attract men. The theme running through out the song is the tree’s uncanny power to attract birds. The tree stands for the woman herself and the birds stand for all kinds of men who are attracted to the woman. It would be sung while the woman is alone on the river bank gazing at the tree with no human audience to hear her. As she sings the woman stands meditating (iyarisha shayan) on the tree imagining her body as the trees body. As she reflects on the tree she enters into an emotional union with it such that its powers to attract birds become transformed into her own power to attract men. Songs like this one played an important part in shaping female identity. A woman first sang these songs when she was an adolescent and then continued to sing them throughout her life. Her sense of herself as an attractive woman was thus based on a self-conscious inter- subjectivity with the Erythrina ulei tree as well as with various attractive species of plants. Chuku Flower Woman Singer: Clara Santi Translated by Tod Swanson Chuku Flower Woman Chuku Flower Woman The chuku flower When it stands flowering from the very base of the tree When it gathers birds I am the woman who stands catching them When she stands opening her flowers I am the woman who stands drinking her flowers Chuku Flower Woman Chuku Flower Woman The Magpie Tanager Seeing her flower the magpie tanager Cries “pichin” over here There it stands crying “pichin” Standing there going back and forth A woman with chuku flowers Hanging from the tips of her arms Chuku Sisa Flower Woman When she turns green And her flowers open I will just drink from the tip of her flower I am the woman who stands Picking [her flowers] and bathing [in her fragrance] Seeing her flowers from afar I am the woman who stands bathing only in their smell Santi spirit woman A Woman who stands Bathing in the flowers She sees from afar Chuku Flower Woman Chuku Flower Woman When she becomes (blooms) like that Only I will take them I am the woman who, Without fear of the flowers’ thorns takes them and stands bathing in them. Chuku sisa warmiga Chuku sisa warmiga Chuku sisa, Sikimandapachalla sisarisha shayashshkay pishkulla tandarishkai japisha shayaj warmima yarin, Pay sisarisha paskarisha shayaushkai Paybaj sisata upishami shayauj warmima yari chuku sisa warmiga chuku sisa warmiga algurun pichiiin paiba sisata rikusha kayman pichin chiman pichin kaparisha shayasha tikrai washai shayarisha Paiwaj rigra pundaimi warkurisha shayaj warmima yari chuku sisa warmima yari pay verde tukujpi sisa paskarijpi upishalla paibaj sisa pundata apishalla armarisha shayaj warmi ani yari chashna tukusha Karu sisata rikusha, asnayllawa armarisha shayaj warmima yarin Armarisha shayaj warmi mandarin (warmima yarin) warmi supayga karu sisata rikusha Armarisha shayaj warmi mandarin (warmima yarin) Chuku sisa warmiga Chuku sisa warmiga Pay kashalla tukujpi Nukalla japishami Paybaj sisawa kashata Mana manzhasha Japisha armarisha Shayaj warmi mañarin Kunanga paipak nawita rikusha Chuku sisa ñawita rikusha Nawillawan wakasha Shuj lagrimata shitasha Shayaj warmi mañarin Kunanga allku shina tukushachu Kuruya shayaunmi nin Juyy

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