1. Muu's Way or
    Pictures from the Uterine World

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This transposition of song to picture writing was the work of Guillermo Hayans, who was mostly using the "less evolved type" of Cuna writing "according to which sentences or situations are represented rather than single words or parts of words." Where single words are shown, "this is done according to phonetic rather than to semantic principles" – punning, for example, as bird (nuu) in the pictures = teeth (nuka) in the text, worms (nusu) in the pictures = penis (nusupane) in the text, etc. But the man who makes the pictures is not only a transcriber but an active intelligence.

The song is used to cure whatever complications of childbirth follow capture of the pregnant woman’s soul by Muu, the power who "forms the fetus in the womb of the mother and gives it its characteristics, or talents, kurgin." In this case the archetypal shaman journey (to free the soul, etc.) is understood as a uterine voyage, in which the road to the goddess Muu is also the vagina of the sick woman, her home the woman’s uterus, etc. To get there the shaman and his helpers (carved dolls, in fact, that he’s turned into "shamans") enter a world, writes Lévi-Strauss, of fantastic animals and monsters, etc. "darkened and completely covered with blood … (through which they find their way) by the white sheen of their clothing and magical hats," to come on her at last in her dark whirlpool (of the "woman’s turbid menstruation" and place-of-the-fetus). A reconciliation is then accomplished, but even so the way out of Muu’s world must be blocked, the vagina "sealed" after birth, etc. – thus the nets, entanglements and striking-with-sticks of the passages given here.

Source. Nils Holmer & S. Henry Wassén, The Complete Mu Igala in Picture Writing, 1953. Revised text in J. Rothenberg, Shaking the Pumpkin.

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