Jagua Hands by Pascal Giacomini
Jagua Hands by Pascal Giacomini

In my continuing efforts to bring you magical information, mythologies and beliefs surrounding the jagua fruit, here are another couple of excerpts from my book, Jagua, A Journey into Body Art from the Amazon!

Protection from Bad Spirits

The Ecuadorian Tsachila people and the Arakmbut Indians of the Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian rainforest use the jagua fruit to draw lines and smear black patches on themselves in order to protect their bodies and souls from spirit attacks.

Similarly, in the southern Colombian Amazon, the Tikuna and the Yagua people paint themselves to avoid illness caused by witchcraft. These Indians are also known as the “people of huito and achiote” because of both fruits’ significance to their culture (huito is one of the many names for jagua; achiote is a fruit that stains the skin red, but it washes off with water).

Averting Stillbirth and Abortions

As you will learn later on in this chapter, being painted black with the juice of the jagua fruit is tantamount to being painted with the protective amniotic fluid of the Earth Mother; hence, the usage of the fruit in magical rituals performed to prevent infant deaths. Kuna Indians believe that stillbirths, or the conditions that necessitate abortions, are a result of a mother’s womb being too hot. To counteract this overheating, a “Saptur Chanter” (saptur is their word for jagua) is called in to perform specific incantations at appropriate times during a ritual bathing of the mother, father, and child with jagua juice (if born alive, the baby is still considered in danger of premature death from its gestation period in the hot womb). While the chant is being sung over the child, jagua seeds are dug into the sand to “spread darkness in the ground,” which stops devils from climbing out of their underworld habitats to harm him.

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