The myth surrounding the origin of Karajá tells a story of a fascinating tribe that lived in a village on the bottom of the Araguaia river in Brazil, where they lived and formed the community of Berahatxi Mahadu, or the underwater people. Well feed and content, they inhabited a cold and confined space at the bottom of the river. One day, a young Karajá man who was interested in knowing the surface world, found a hidden passageway, inysedena, the place of our people's mother (Toral, 1992) in the Ilha do Bananal. Fascinated by the beaches and wealth from the Araguaia river and the existence of such vast land to wonder and live, the young Karajá man summoned other members of the tribe and they too came to the surface.
Some time later, the Karajá people that came to the surface discovered death and diseases. Afraid of what they discovered, they tried to return to the bottom of the river, but the passageway was closed and guarded by a giant snake at the order of Koboi, the chief of the underwater people. Unable to return, they decided to spread alongside the Araguaia river in the hope that one day they could return to the bottom of the river.
Through the mythological hero Kynyxiwe who lived among them, they came to know about fish and many good things that the Araguaia river could provide them. After many adventures, the hero Kynyxiwe married a young Karajá girl and settled in the village of heaven, whose people, the Biu Mahadu, taught the Karajá how to make swiddens and survive of the land.
The Karajá are also known for their great crafts, handmade ceramic work with an important aspect of socialization reproducing the social-cultural and family planning aspects of the tribe by demonstrating mythological motifs, rituals, everyday life and fauna as part of the teachings which are then passed on to the next generation. You can see some of their work here.
Pictures credit: SECOM/TO/ arquivo Ahima Jk