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Ebook Information

Made-from-Bone

Trickster Myths, Music, and History from the Amazon

Primordial, mythic narratives from the indigenous Wakuénai of South America, available in English for the first time ever

Made-from-Bone is the first work to provide a complete set of English translations of narratives about the mythic past and its transformations from the indigenous Arawak-speaking people of South America. Among the Arawak-speaking Wakuénai of southernmost Venezuela, storytellers refer to these narratives as "words from the primordial times," and they are set in an unfinished space-time before there were any clear distinctions between humans and animals, men and women, day and night, old and young, and powerful and powerless. The central character throughout these primordial times and the ensuing developments that open up the world of distinct peoples, species, and places is a trickster-creator, Made-from-Bone, who survives a prolonged series of life-threatening attacks and ultimately defeats all his adversaries.

Carefully recorded and transcribed by Jonathan D. Hill, these narratives offer scholars of South America and other areas the only ethnographically generated cosmogony of contemporary or ancient native peoples of South America. Hill includes translations of key mythic narratives along with interpretive and ethnographic discussion that expands on the myths surrounding this fascinating and enigmatic character with broad appeal throughout various folkloric traditions.


“Interlacing worldview and myth with song and story, [Hill] conveys on various levels his detailed knowledge of Wakuenai ways. . . . Enticing and evocative.”--Journal of Folklore Research

"A great achievement. The clear text allows readers to comprehend the complexity of the Made-from-Bone trickster, a figure that represents the principles of the Wakuénai culture itself. Hill shows that myth is not mere 'folklore' or 'text' but something deeper, a field of unseen forces and powers by which people experience the world through dynamic, shifting forms."--Michael Uzendoski, author of The Napo Runa of Amazonian Ecuador

"An absorbing journey through the mythic history and musicscapes of the Wakuénai people. Jonathan D. Hill masterfully captures the sensuous and poetic dimensions of Wakuénai narratives while highlighting their enduring engagement with the events, struggles, and uncertainties of modern life. This is a painstakingly assembled Amerindian bible complete with its own hardcore exegesis."--Fernando Santos-Granero, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute


Jonathan D. Hill is a professor in the Department of Anthropology at Southern Illinois University and the author of Keepers of the Sacred Chants: The Poetics of Ritual Power in an Amazonian Society.

To order online:
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