Accepted Paper:

Peyo: song, sense and sign in Araweté vocal art  


Gui Heurich (UCL)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation will ethnographically pursue the description of different semiotic dimensions of the peyo ceremony amongst the Araweté, an amazonian society.

Paper long abstract:

Peyo is the central ceremony of the Araweté, a small amerindian society in Eastern Amazonia (Brazil). During this ceremony, ritual specialists bring deceased araweté kin and divinities called Maɨ to eat and sing among the living. This celebration is, at the same time, a culinary feast, a reception for divinities, and a concert for the deceased. Here, I analyze this complex ritual through an ethnographical description of the ritual specialist's role in conducting different semiotic dimensions of a peyo. These dimensions are the linguistic and polyphonic aspects of songs, the smell of bodily decoration and the taste of ritual food, and the conductor's gestures on bodies and commodities. If the specialist and his rattle are anything like a conductor and his baton, could these semiotic dimensions be thought of as instruments with different timbres? Drawing on 14 months of fieldwork amongst the Araweté, this presentation will ethnographically pursue the description of the different semiotic dimensions outlined above through my interlocutors' descriptions of the peyo ceremony and its components, the form and content of the songs performed, and the role of audiences in listening to and interfering with this ritual.

Panel Lang01
Semiosis as orchestration