January 15, 2015

The White Hummingbird


Tasorensi is the Asháninka word for god or spirit. The Asháninka picture their god to be a ‘white hummingbird’.

In Warriors in Eden, a study of the Asháninka way of life, the author describes the close relationship between man, nature, and the spirit world in the rainforest:

quotemark start I came to understand: Anything that comes from the jungle is provided by Tasorensi, so how could anyone own it?

A man’s battered machete was his own; a woman’s tin cup was her own. But the notion of possession extended only to man-made objects. What came from the land was to be shared by all.

Gradually I realised that, to the Asháninka, working for money was a means to a specific end- to buy something tangible. But no self-respecting Asháninka man would work a paying job in order to sustain his family.

Food came from the jungle- one hunted for food, or fished for it, or harvested it. If you could not feed your family by tapping the resources of the jungle, then what kind of man were you? Nature had provided lumber for building and thatching for roofs.

Working for money was merely a way to secure luxuries… A wage was unimportant compared to the gifts that Tasorensi provided in the jungle. quotemark end


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