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A Legend of the Xavantes

Originally, fire was possessed by the jaguar. One day, the grandchild and the brother in law of a great chief, both from the Xavantes tribe, went out to look for macaw yearlings. The grandchild climbed up a ladder and threw a stone at the brother in law. The brother in law was angry at him and went away, leaving the boy up there on the cliff. The jaguar came, helped the boy climb down and took him to its cave. Then the jaguar cooked him some meat and that is when the grandchild saw fire for the first time. After the meal, the boy went away, taking some charcoal with him, as evidence of fire. Back in his community, he told his people that the jaguar owned fire and they decided to steal it from the jaguar. For that purpose, many Xavantes turned into animals. The first one to steal from the jaguar was the tapir, which gave it to the deer, which gave it to the pampas deer, which gave it to the rhea, which gave it to the capybara. The capybara jumped into the water but before she dived a small bird flew over and took the fire away to the village. With fire and more game to eat, the Xavante people started to develop, more children were born and they became stronger.



The jaguar’s noble spiritual task
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