in the way they manage quantities and, consequently, numbers, geometrical shapes
and relations, measurements, classifications, and so forth (D'Ambrosio 1990:17).
This is exactly what Aturi Kayabi meant by “what goes behind numbers;” that is,
“what the white men actually think” makes all the difference when it comes to
managing quantities - how much land and money the Indians are entitled to or
“deserve,” for example.
CAXIRI : THE OBLIGATION TO GIVE, TO RECEIVE, AND TO RECIPROCATE
The Juruna proceed downriver back to their home village, carrying in dugout canoes
the bamboo arrows they have just exchanged for pottery. They are greeted by Suyá
and Kayabi guests who have been invited for the caxiri 9 ceremony by Chief Carandine
Juruna and his wife. The manioc, sweet potato, and corn alcoholic beverage has been
fermenting for days in specially carved canoes. As the Juruna women lift the straw
mats to show their guests how generous their offering is, the sweet and sour odor that
emanates from the thick foamy drink arouses passionate emotions among both hosts
and guests. While the Juruna women tie their guests' hammocks to wooden poles in
the central plaza, I ask them whether the Kayapó who live down river are also coming.
Not this time. We've already had the Kayapó and the Panará over for a huge
caxiri. This feast is for the Kayabi and Suyá who have recently given us
arrows, fish, beads, cotton and invited us to their ceremonies. We know the
Kayabi harvested lots of peanuts this year, and some of our young men have
been courting Suyá girls lately. [Nunu Juruna, January 1982]
Caxiri, in the Xingu Park, is a gift. As an object of exchange, the caxiri (both the
ceremony and the beverage itself) carries with it the obligation to give, to receive,
and to reciprocate. It is an economic commodity that circulates among the Juruna,
as well as among the Juruna and other Xingu peoples, receiving its meanings from
the responses (or counter-gifts) it triggers - in this case, peanuts and young girls.
Caxiri is also, however, a vehicle and instrument “for realities of another order, such
as power, influence, sympathy, status, and emotion,” embodied in the skillful game
of exchange (Lévi-Strauss 1969:53). These realities are the essence of the
caxiri as “symbolic capital... the most valuable form of accumulation ” (Bourdieu
1991:179, emphasis in original).
As part of their system of reciprocity - of their gift exchange - the Juruna believe that
to refuse to invite, just as to refuse to accept whatever they are offered by other peoples
in the area, is to reject highly praised alliance ties in the Xingu Park. The obligation
to give food to visitors, and the visitors' obligation to accept it and to reciprocate
the offering is a “rule” among the Juruna (Lima 1986:46, Oliveira 1969:69-70).
The production and circulation of caxiri reflect the “basic principles of sociability” of
this people to whom “social inebriation” is the core of adult life. Being inebriated thus
implies “the consumption and retribution of a gift” (Lima 1986:18, my translation). In
Mauss's words, the caxiri is a “total system of giving,” through which