Translating tolo: “I sing what she sang that he said...” or “When we sing, we are all hyper women”

2018-04-01T02:47:11Z (GMT) by Bruna Franchetto
<p></p><p>abstract Among the Carib people of the Upper Xingu, a regional multilingual system of the southern periphery of the Amazon, tolo is a ritual, dance and singing performed exclusively by women. The tolo songs form a ritual and musical complex in contrast/complementarity with the kagutu flutes, a masculine domain that is forbidden to women. The tolos are short sung poems that evoke the name of a human lover/beloved as a substitute for an itseke (“hyper-being”), called or named by the kagutu flute. Tolo are, thus, profane musical versions of the kagutu pieces. In this article, previous studies are summarized. At the same time, the present article focuses on the parallel and recursive structure of these songs, whose “texts” in Upper Xingu Carib are narratives of events, feelings and passions that permeate the everyday life of women (and men) in a village of the southern Amazon. Examples taken from a vast and internally complex repertoire of almost 400 songs, collected among the Kuikuro people, illustrate the work of transcription and possible, though arduous, translation of this Amerindian vocal and verbal art.</p><p></p>