|Don Roberto Acho Jurama with his shacapa during a ceremony|
|Fransisco Montes Shuña, The Wind of the Shacapa|
The shacapa used by mestizo shamans is a bundle of leaves from the shacapa bush (Pariana spp.) tied together at the stem with fibers from the chambira, fiber palm (Astrocaryum chambira). Mestizo shamans reportedly also make leaf-bundle rattles from the leaves of carricillo (Arthrostylidium spp.), albaca, wild basil (Ocimum spp.), and achiote, annatto (Bixa orellana). In any case, my teacher, don Roberto Acho, was very specific about the plant he wanted for a shacapa when I would go with him to find the leaves.
|Don Julio Gerena Pinedo with his shacapa, at the age of 89|
|Don Ruperto Peña Shuña with his shacapa|
There is thus a continuum of sound from the concrete, verbal, and intelligible at one end to the abstract, sonic, and unintelligible at the other. The continuum begins with intelligible lyrics in castellano, Spanish, and progresses through non-Spanish but human language such as Quechua; purported languages of indigenous people and unknown archaic tongues; the languages of animals and birds and computers; pure vocables; whispered sounds; whistling; breathy whistling; the silent pshoo of the blowing of tobacco smoke; and the susurration of the shacapa. The rarefaction of sound parallels the rarefaction of the shaman’s phlegm, from gross physical flema in the chest to abstract protective air-like mariri in the throat. The more rarefied the sound, the farther it departs from the materiality of intelligible words, the closer it comes to the state of mariri, the most rarefied phlegm in the sound-producing throat of the shaman. Both converge in a state of puro sonido, pure sound, which is the language of the plants.