THE HUNT la versíon española la version française


If the forest is a great wild orchard, it is also the conjunction place par excellence, where mix sexes and the enemies face each other. These activities are not a game for an Achuar and in consequence the forest is neither a place for idler's walk or terrestrial paradise for children. One will always go into it with a very particular reason and to carry out a very precise action. In this space where are exercised, in a privileged way, the relationship and the confrontation with the death, there are guests that deserve consideration. Spoiled and seduced as women, harassed and dead as enemies, the animals demand in their relationship the whole range of conciliatory and warlike abilities of which the men are capable.

With the physical love and the war, the hunt constitutes the third pole of the conjunction relationships that have the forest for theater. Men participate in both at the same time for the pleasures that it offers and for the technical and magic competitions that it requires.

Recapturing for the hunt the provisional distinction used in the exhibition of the process of the horticultural work, we will be devoted first only to the technical procedures. As in all synergetic company, these they are based in the combined domain of the instruments to kill and of the pursuit techniques and of approach. Therefore we should examine the weapons used by the Achuar and the means that they are given to be under conditions of using them quickly.

The main weapon of hunt is the great blowpipe (ilum), A fine and rectilinear tube of about three meters long, with which are projected small, sharpened arrows. This weapon of a uniform shiny black is particularly difficult to manufacture. Contrarily to what could suggest the elegant simplicity of its appearance, the Achuar blowpipe is in fact constituted of two wooden symmetrical tube sections of palm worked to be adjusted exactly, in the sense of the longitude, one to the other one. These half tubes, hollowed in the interior, are tied with lianas and then recovered by a black layer of bee wax. The palm wood used is mainly the chonta, the chuchuk (Syagrus tessmanni) and the tuntuam (Iriartea sp.) - it is extremely hard and not very sensitive to the deformation, because its fibers are long and very tight. Also the maker takes the caution of almost waiting one year between the cutting and the use to give the wood time to dry off perfectly.

Due to its density, this palm wood demands a great work to form and polish, especially to dig the core that should be perfectly round and rectilinear. When the two emptied tube sections are superimposed, it is necessary to polish the core with sand during several days, by means of a rectilinear bar. The external surface of the blowpipe is also delicately brushed to obtain a perfectly round cross-section. For the works of making blowpipe the Achuar uses, besides the polyvalent machete, two dedicated tools made from old leaves of machetes mounted on wooden handles. A triangular leaf whose sharp tip serves to make a groove in the throat of the core constitutes the first one. The other one is a half moon scraper that is used like a brush. Then, to wrap the two tube sections with a liana requires an extreme precision, because the smallest play would make the blowpipe unusable. After it is bound. it still needs to be anointed with a layer of hot wax (sekat) and to have a tip made in a segment of jaguar or pecarí femur. Counting the time to pick up the materials in the forest, and to install the three wood beams that serve as bank, the making of a beautiful blowpipe takes between fifty and sixty working hours.

All Achuar men know how to manufacture a blowpipe but not all are able to make it with the same success. An excellent blowpipe should satisfy demands difficult to reconcile: it has to be fine and light at the same time absolutely rigid. Some men are famous for their know-how in this field and they acquire for this fact one of few technical specializations characteristic of this society. Before using a mediocre blowpipe made with their own hands, one will come from far to visit those experts in order to try to obtain a weapon of quality. One also goes to them to refit an old blowpipe that is no longer perfectly rectilinear, since the smallest curve in the core will deviate the arrow from the foreseen trajectory. By the way, all the hunters take a carefully care of their weapon to avoid a smallest deformation. A blowpipe in rest is always tied vertically to a pillar of the house; outdoor it is necessary to protect from direct exposure to the sun that can twist the wood. In spite of those cautions a blowpipe unfortunately finishes being warped, forcing the hunter to practice an aim correction to each shot.

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